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Planning Inclusive Student Health Instruction

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we'll discuss strategies for planning health instruction that reflects the abilities, needs, interests, developmental levels and cultural backgrounds of all students.

Inclusive Instruction

Amanda is a health teacher in a diverse school district. She wants to know how she can best reach all the students no matter what their background. Amanda does research to learn about different socio-cultural dynamics within her school system so that she can provide all students with the information they may need.

This word cloud highlights many characteristics of an inclusive health education program
word cloud

Ability

Amanda knows that some of the students that she will teach have different abilities than other students. She is mindful to exclude ableist language from her instruction, and she encourages students to recognize ableist attitudes. When someone is being ableist, this means they have language or attitudes that reflect discrimination against those who have disabilities.

For example, students in her class get in trouble if they say something is lame, which once referred to someone who had a disability that impeded mobility, but is now a common word for youth to express their dislike. There is a strict moratorium on the 'R' word, which was once an accepted description for someone with a developmental or intellectual disability. Over time language changes to reflect more accepting attitudes toward people who are different.

Needs

The diversity in Amanda's group of students is no different than the diversity represented across humanity. Because of this, each student may have different needs than their classmates. These needs may be physiological, psychological or emotional and may represent different circumstances or situations unique to each student.

For example, a student living in poverty at home may have nutritional needs that other students may not face. A student who is sexually active may need education and access to resources not yet needed by younger students. Amanda accounts for these diverse needs and adjusts her instruction accordingly so that each of her students can have those health education needs met.

Interests

Research indicates that student interest is one of the biggest motivators to learning. Amanda understands this dynamic and works hard to make her lessons interesting to her students. This keeps them engaged in their learning and makes it easier for the information they learn to seem relevant in their own lives.

One way Amanda accomplishes this goal is by asking the students what they are interested in. Every student gets a medical history form at the beginning of each school year. Amanda has encouraged her school district to include a brief survey with that medical documentation to send home with each student. This survey asked about what the student is interested in and the activities students may enjoy. Then she has information about the different things students like to do so she can encourage them to actively engage in their physical health.

Developmental Levels

Children can develop at different rates as they age. While schools are typically graded by age level, this can represent a wide range of developmental abilities. Amanda caters her instruction to ensure she reaches students who may be the same age as their classmates, but have developed at a different rate. She differentiates her instruction to provide for any developmental level that may be in a given class.

Differentiated instruction is an instructional methodology that recognizes the different developmental levels and academic abilities within a group of students and adjust instruction accordingly to meet everyone where they are, no matter their age. She finds age appropriate content from credible sources like the American Pediatric Association to inform her curriculum development.

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