Talking about Zika virus

Dear Colleagues:

Are you and your students talking about the Zika virus?  Your students from Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador, and Jamaica may be hearing a lot of concern from their circle of family and friends.  And, of course, we are hearing about its spread in the U.S.  Here is some information.  The first two are a bit easier to read.




Greetings One and All:

As we have more warm days, I think students may start talking about preventing mosquito bites.  Here is a newly created/revised document (February 17!) from the CDC.  It is rather good but includes quite a bit of technical vocabulary.

Mosquito Bite Prevention (United States) in English and Spanish.

So, I thought about pairing the resource with the steps described in A First Look at Technical Documents -- Facilitator Instructions. The steps begin on page 2.  Here's a summary:

Step 1:  Set the stage -- While we may not be able to understand everything about a technical document, we can make sense of parts and see what questions remain.

Step 2:  In pairs or small groups.  Students begin by reading the first page of the document, sharing their observations and specific questions, then write them on sticky notes and post them on the document -- one question or observation per note.  They move on through the document using the same procedure.

Step 3:  Organize.  Students then take their sticky notes, one at a time, and place them in categories that are set up around the classroom.  Sample categories for this document might be (but I'm sure you can think of others):  Mosquitoes and Viruses, Chemical Repellents, Warnings, Prevention, Other Questions.

Step 4:  Debrief.  As a group, share observations, develop questions, decide which questions need to be answered first.

Step 5:  Next Steps.  Identify steps needed to answer questions.  Ask for volunteers (pairs might be good) to research the answers and report back to the class.

Cynthia Zafft, Health Literacy Moderator

I really like the Protect Yourself Against Zika video.  I'm normally not too fond of subtitles, but the speed of the audio is on the fast side.  I think my low-high intermediate adults may even be challenged to read the subtitles quickly enough before the next "slide" comes in.  The advanced ones could likely get most of it.   I would probably chop the video into sections so that it is easy to repeat for listening exercises. (I haven't chopped an embedded video though so I'd have to do some research on how to do that.)  I would have them close their eyes, or just play the audio, and listen for gist the first time around and then repeat the sections multiple times to listen for detail.   I might create sentence strips that they would order as they listen for detail the third time through.  This would be a prime opportunity to use Kahoot! - the mobile app - to check for comprehension.   I do love Kahoot! for the adults. 


Ellen Clore-Patron,

REEP, Arlington Education and Employment Program

Arlington, VA

Hi Ellen:

I was wondering about the speed of the audio (and I'm kind of surprised it is so fast).  While having the audio directly available on the screen is more accessible, I miss transcripts because they have a lot of uses for teaching.

Good to hear from you!



Hi Cynthia,

Do you have a sense of which department this video actually came from?  The surgeon general is the voice for the audio. It doesn't feel like a CDC video to me although the CDC is referenced at the end of the video.  It also doesn't have a political feel to it re the emergency budget request for funding.    I actually called the switchboard but the operator didn't have any idea. 

Your Thoughts?






Hi Ellen:

It is from yesterday's White House newsletter.  And, yes, you are right, the newsletter was written by U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.  I can't quite figure out how to link to  the newsletter (I assumed the video was from the CDC since Dr. Murthy directed readers there for more information).  If you send your email address to me via, I can forward the newsletter directly to you.

That said, here is the link they provided in the newsletter

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy <>

Hope this helps.


I tried to find the video on YouTube and through a Google search, but was unsuccessful in my search. My guess is that the video was based on an interview done by ATTN:, which is a kind of news service for Millennials, and not created by CDC. If you go into YouTube and do a search on the video name, you will find a number of videos on the subject, from CDC and others, for which you can turn on closed captioning and slow down the playback speed.

Thanks so much for looking!  The video is unusually well-done, especially the graphics and straight-forward messages.  Definitely will do a search on YouTube and check out the other videos available.