Science is always a great way to get the kids excited. All I have to do is let's start with an experiment and they all get so pumped up for what's next.
To start, I hand out a sheet for them to make tally marks on. We had a sheet available to us in our history books that I used. A white board, or half sheet of recycled paper could work out well. They just need to record two sets of tallies.
You will need to have to colors of tiles, or counters. I chose blue and red. I made sure that for every red I put in my bucket, I doubled it with blue tiles. I put the tiles in a little bucket, so that students can not see the color they are drawing. For the first go around I have about twelve tiles in the bucket. I walk around and have them pull a color. They call out the color and the class records it on their sheet. Make sure they put the tile back. The student who drew needs to write down the color they drew too.
Before we begin the next round, I need them to make a prediction. We are going to the same thing a second time, but this time I tell the class I need to add more tiles. They need to make a prediction of what color will be pulled more time. Some students talk about the red not being very many the first time, but the second time I might change it. They have some good theories. I put about twenty tiles in this time. Again, I make sure that their are more blue. They do not know the color difference.
I have them do the same thing as before. Pull a tile, call the color, and put it back into the bucket. With the end of the round I ask about the tally results.
I have them discuss with their partner the results of both experiments. Remember that I had the students circle the color that they personally drew. I ask them to look at the color they drew the first time. I ask that those that drew blue go to the front of the room and red to the back. I ask the class to make observations about what they notice. The most obvious observation came when a student counted each side. They found that they the two sides were almost equal.
I then ask them to split into the two groups again based on the second color they drew. I do the same thing and ask for observations. The class right away notices the sizable difference between the two groups. I make note of what they have said for both observations.
Now that the class has some good observations and the list of results we are ready to talk about how this relates to our history lesson and the plague. I begin by reading to them about the plague. I explain what it is and how it spread. I also explain how out of control it became in Europe and how they handled it until they figured out the cause.
I then ask them to think back and you might even have them separate gain into their original color groups. I now tell the class that they all live in the same village and there have been visitors from Europe that have come and made friends with you. There is no fighting (yet) and you are both trying to learn from each other. They notice that something is starting to happen that is very bad, and it is happening to some of the villagers. I point out the results from the first experiment and explain that this is how many have died so far in your village from a mysterious disease that is hideous.
For the next part, I have them look at the second results. These results are what has now happened to your village in a very short time. All of the kids that drew a blue tile (most of the class) has dies from the plague. The red chip kids are the only ones that left. This makes quite an impact on them. I explain again how they majority of the villagers died.
The writing piece is trying to connect themselves to what this time in history might have been like. They have a good idea of what the plague is and the effect it has had. I ask them to think now as a survivor or at least a survivor for now. They are going to write a journal entry describing the feelings they are having and what this time might have been like.
I am looking for one fact they remember be included in their writing and that they connect using feelings. They only need to write a paragraph. It is now time to let their creativity roll and see how well they connect.