Health Education: 2 Free Resources to Check Out Over the Summer

Amy Lauren Smith

Editors note: Already thinking about next year? Choices teacher-adviser Amy Lauren Smith—a sixth to eighth grade health teacher at the Shanghai American School in Shanghai, China, and the brilliant mind behind our Teacher’s Guide each month—has got the scoop on new online tools that'll make planning lessons so much easier.


We’re extremely lucky to be teachers in the digital age. Gone are the days of outdated textbooks and those painfully awkward videos. We don’t need to be tied to content that’s irrelevant to our students as we can easily find completely free resources online.


That being said, teaching with all these options can also be overwhelming. With seemingly endless possibilities, there is always something better around the bend. I find that I often go through phases—either devouring all that I can and revamping my curriculum with gusto, or slowing down to calibrate and focus on fine-tuning what I know already works. Right now, I'm in a much-needed period of calibration, but over the summer break, I hope to find some time to dig into these new programs and see how we might make them fit.


1. Dove Confident Me: School Workshops for Body Confidence


From the Dove Self-Esteem Project, this five-session unit plan is full of current, ready to go lessons. Many of the best body image lesson starters over the past few years have been videos produced by Dove, so it’s exciting to see that they’ve compiled them into lessons that are classroom-ready.


According to the website, the lessons aim to focus on topics that are relevant to todays’ students:


·       Challenging unrealistic sociocultural ideals of appearance

·       Media literacy with respect to these ideals

·       Reducing appearance comparisons and appearance conversations

·       Encouraging body activism and positive behavior change


The lessons are designed mainly for 11-14 year-olds, but can be used with older students as well. There's also a single lesson for teachers or youth group leaders who might not have time to deliver the whole unit plan. Everything is completely free and downloadable, the lessons all come with presentation slides, and there’s even a YouTube playlist of accompanying videos to show in class.


2. Be Internet Awesome from Google 


This new program is designed to help teach kids about online safety in an updated and tech-friendly way. Covering current topics such as trolling, fake news, and digital citizenship, this classroom-ready curriculum was written with the help of educators and is aligned to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards.


The learning modules are filled with activities and an online game. While designed for younger students, I can imagine that a few of the modules and activities—especially the ones on positive online behavior and spotting fake news—will be useful for middle school health classes.


In addition to teaming up with educators, Google enlisted the help of popular YouTubers, including The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, to create videos that support the program. Considering the huge influence he has on adolescents (he’s often been referred to as “the teen whisperer”), this seven-minute video is great for class.


For more on helping kids filter online content, check out our May 2017 cover story, Which One is #FakeNews?


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