Saturday, October 13, 2012

Re-Inventing Health Class

For most high school students health class is just another filler in their schedule where they can get an easy grade for showing up. This is because many teachers stick with a very "by the book" approach to this class. Simply, a little creativity and imagination could make health a student's favorite class of the day. There is an immense amount of topics that can be covered in health, ranging from eating disorders and drugs to current events and world news. There are many basic activities that can be used to enhance a health class if given the chance. Any activity that helps the students have a hand in their own learning will instantly be more interesting. Health should not simply be a class filled with PowerPoints and lectures. Since the entire class applies to real life experiences students may have, then the activities should do just the same. Lessons should be based around the students themselves and their thoughts and feelings rather than just a fountain of facts.
Classroom based discussions are popular among English and History classes, but how about incorporating them into a health class. A discussion on a current event could have the students enticed for hours. One way to do this is through a Socratic Seminar. This is basically a class discussion lead by the students themselves. With an interesting topic, students will talk about and feed off each other's ideas. As long as everyone agrees to respect each other's opinions and disagree courteously the Socratic Seminar will be a success. Teachers may even be surprised by the participation of some students who may usually be quiet or shy. Teachers, do not worry, you will not lose control of your class. If the discussion goes in an unintended direction the teacher can simply ask questions to the group that direct the discussion any way they choose. Students will really enjoy this because it is a way for them all to be involved with no pressure to give the right answer. Since health class lends itself to so many interesting and controversial topics, the Socratic Seminar can never fail.
There are numerous activities that can be developed around health content, because, again, health content is so extensive and easily relatable. Skits or puppet shows depending on the content are a great way to get students thinking and enjoying themselves at the same time. No one ever said that learning couldn't be fun. Students can be given a specific topic and after doing research or using facts given to them, they can put together a skit or puppet show encompassing the information. This is a creative way to get information across to students and it lets them have a hand in their education. By creating the skits and by watching the ones other students present they are learning the information. Students are more likely to remember the information presented also. If there is a funny or creative skit students will remember more of the information presented then they would from taking notes during a lecture.
For most people when they remember things they learned in school it is not information from notes. No one says "oh yes, I know that the cranium is another word for the head from Dr. Smith's lecture from Anatomy class my junior year in high school." Instead people remember information based on something they did when they learned it, for example someone many people remember all the states in the U.S. from the states song they learn in music class. Any of these creative teaching techniques can be applied to multiple subjects, but health class clearly lends itself very well to these techniques. Students can directly relate to the topics being covered and for many of them the topics directly affect them so they have opinions and ideas to share. By embracing these techniques teachers can re-invent the notions behind high school health and transform it into a subject that students enjoy and find great benefit in.

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