IMPROVING TEACHING AND LEARNING PROCESSES
A HEALTHY SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT (back to top)
Attention must be paid to the ethos of the school. The climate or atmosphere of the school is a web of interacting components including the physical, emotional, and social environment, cultural values, procedures and policies, and positive outreach to home and community. All are important influences on the learning, behaviour and health of children and teachers.
Research has suggested that when there is representative planning team, meeting regularly, with a written action plan to develop procedures and policies for the school then a positive morale for both students and teachers results. This is characterised by enthusiasm, low absenteeism by students and teachers, high expectations for teacher and pupil performance and a positive morale.
Balanced development of the daily timetable to provide refreshing variety in subjects throughout the day is an important consideration andprovision of a sound physical development program of human movement studies may be crucial.
Stress management, encouragement of the girls, a spirit of non-violence and the creation of learning situations in and out of the classroom which will enable students to analyse situations critically, solve problems, make decisions and to learn from the consequences of their actions are to be encouraged.
An atmosphere of love, care and concern, of tolerance towards one another isimportant and devolvement of responsibilty to the children is essential so that the students have a real investment in actions and behaviour in the school.
The establishment and development of school buildings and surroundings to make them health promoting environments and visually attractive is essential. Involvement of parents, even in the poorest of communities, can frequently lead to development of arrangements where joint action is taken to improve the physical environment to provide a healthy, stimulating setting in which community, students and teachers may take pride. The provision of well maintained toiletand washing facilities for males and females, strong rules for general hygiene, clean water, ongoing refuse disposal, play areas, shade trees, quiet areas are minimum requirements.
An outlook of positive encouragement should extend to every classroom with each pupil being viewed as a valid and valued member of the school community.
Public policy which sees the school as a centre of the nation's development and resources it accordingly is essential. But more importantly, a community which sees its children as responsible agents for change has the potential for a healthy future.
THE USE OF LIVING SKILLS METHODOLOGY (back to top)
In the Schools Total Health Program, the curriculum processes involved with planning lessons establish a practice ground for pupils to employ skills for everyday living that enable them to deal effectively with the demands and challenges which may confront them.
Such adaptive and positive behaviour is needed in receiving health promoting messages, in developing values and in solving health problems at their level of understanding. These may include:
Communicating; skills of clear, effective verbal and non-verbal self expression and listening in a culture appropriate manner to express opinions, desires, needs and fears so that they may facilitate interpersonal relationships.
Critical Thinking; skills needed for assessing situations in a non-biassed manner, to analyse information in an objective way, to challenge cultural and other norms. This is essential in understanding the factors, values and understandings which influence health behaviour.
Decision Making; skills needed to internalise knowledge, identify options, select appropriate responses (even under pressure) in order to take clear-headed, unbiassed, constructive action in a situation. The young person may assess the different options and assess what effects different decisions may have and the consequences of the decisions for total health.
Negotiating; the skills needed for bargaining, for persuasive communication, and for putting a point of view in an attempt to reach agreement on some issue.
Listening; giving full undivided attention with ears, eyes, head and heart to assimilate in a clear unbiassed way the ideas and argument put forward by the other. It is a means of learning and a means of giving respect to the other.
Problem Solving; the skill involved in clearly identifying, analyse and describing a problem in order to reach a valid decision to respond to the matter.
Analysing; The skill to examine critically and to determine the essential features of a situation or matter so that clear exposition and understanding is resolved. Then rational action may be taken. Unless clear understanding is possible many health problems may remain unsolved.
Co-operating; the skill of working or helpfully acting together or jointly to meet a situation or solve a problem. This may require pupils to use interpersonal skills to relate in positive ways and keep friendly relationships with those they work or live with. It may thus be a source of support for each individual.
Planning; the skill of organising, arranging, designing a scheme of action to undertake a project or solve a problem. It may involve personal or co-operative effort that will require an open and receptive frame of mind.
Valuing; the ability to estimate, appraise and esteem highly the qualities, usefulness, merit or worth of a person or approach. It may require empathy to imagine the position or situation of the person or thing valued which may be very different to that to which the pupil is accustomed. It may require the pupil to accept that person and help those in need of assistance.
Personal Choice; at some point in time the pupil is going to make a personal decision at the level of thought, attitude, declaimed point of view or course of action, regarding their lifestyle and health. It is important that the choices are made as a result of reasoned personal decision making rather than prejudice, peer pressure or ignorance.
EFFECTIVE PLANNING OF LESSONS (back to top)
The Lessons developed should follow the lesson plan to present a simple health concept which is important for the child, in that class, in that school, in that community. It must be relevant to children's needs. It must involve the child in a practical way.
The Health Lessons should:
This program places an emphasis on a participatory, child centred teaching/learning approach, so it is important for the teacher to use many methods for getting students involved in all phases of the units of work and lessons as possible. Each lesson should contain at least one of the activity methods or strategy.
A systematic approach to lesson planning is encouraged by the following layout. The teacher should practice preparing suitable, relevant lessons using this format.
SUPPORTIVE CLASSROOM ATMOSPHERE (back to top)
This health program attempts to guide individual development in the context of society through recognisable stages towards perceptive understanding, mature judgement, responsible self-direction and moral autonomy. Children will only learn self-control and self-discipline if they are given the opportunity to practice these. It is wonderful how well they respond when given the chance. No violence should be used in the classroom, for if the teacher uses violence, then the child is being actively taught that a valid way to solve problems is by violent means.
To give depth to the student-oriented teaching approach in Health and Living Skills lessons, it is important that teachers set-up a sound learning environment. A warm, interested, supportive, workmanlike atmosphere in the classroom and playground may best accomplish this. Prior agreement with the students on modes of working and organisation of resources will assist. A set of operating rules may be designed and should be adhered to. These may include:
Individual sets of rules may be developed to suit each individual classroom and these rules should be agreed upon and adhered to by all.
The development of a stable, warm accepting classroom environment where each person is treated as a valid yet unique member is important. Each pupil should feel welcome, to want to be there. Each girl and boy should be able to express their individuality without infringing the rights of others. People who know that they are worthwhile and cared for are much more willing and able to learn and grow. At a time when a drop-out problem exists in many countries and the girl-child is too often neglected, the approach of this program, with its emphasis on values, is essential. The development of open, respectful relationships between the teacher and the pupils and among pupils in the daily life of the class are essential. The teacher should treat all pupils with courtesy and respect and may expect the same in return from all pupils. Effort to get to know each person better is important. The use of violence in any form is abhorrent and the complete antithesis of the spirit of the Schools Total Health Program. If corporal punishment is used, all that is being demonstrated is that violence and assault are answers to antisocial behaviour. Topics which explore answers and responses to conflict and violence should be included.
The physical arrangement of the room should be considered in order to enhance communication. It should encourage whole-group communication as well as small-group activities. Flexibility to meet the requirements of a particular task or teaching strategy should be considered. At all stages communication between the school and the home and the child and parents should be fostered. Health Education can be a key in getting parents involved in the school program, in their children's learning and in improving their own health practices. Every lesson provides for the key ideas to be taken to all members of the home and the pupils are encouraged to become teachers and learners in their own community.
A BROAD RANGE OF ACTION-ORIENTED TEACHING METHODS (back to top)
To acheive genuine student participation and involvement, a variety of different methods must be employed. The following ideas and descriptions provide an overview of the possibilities available. It is also important that the living skills which are the curriculum 'processes' feature in the design of the health lessons.
Creative Activities - involving construction
An exact scale model provides children with a clear idea of how a building or construction may look and may be built. It requires more skill on the part of children but is much more realistic in appearance because it is three dimensional and may be touched and felt by hand. Children may learn more about the nature and function of the object and may use their imagination and creative abilities. The model may be simplified so that the idea is still conveyed, but detail is omitted. In the mock-up the whole grade/class may construct the materials and then they may be assembled at one place to form the whole model situation.
Simple, safe specimens may prove useful in showing children the actual details of the object or insect etc.
A collage may be constructed by collecting a large number of drawings or cut-out pictures and arranging them on a piece of paper, pasting them down to form a new picture.
Drawings, sketches or cartoons may be a useful means of children gaining understanding of an event or a series of events. A cartoon-like approach may be useful in conveying a series of events.
Posters, pictures and paintings are very useful in placing a clear idea before a class in a pictorial way.
Diagrams should show enough detail to convey the required ideas clearly an should be uncluttered in appearance. Pupils should become familiar with the use of maps to pinpoint areas of health concern. Similarly interpretation of graphs is of importance in conveying data.
Charts can often be obtained from local health centres or may be made by pupils. They should be of only a few colours and the message should be readily understood when walking by. If displayed, to be effective, they should be changed regularly as they are soon no-longer noticed.
Bulletins are small magazines produced by a class to record material from their health lessons, or special research which they have carried out. They may be reproduced to take home to the family, or could be a single edition put up for display. The actual writing of the bulletin copy may be validly undertaken in language classes as an exercise in written expression.
Creative Activities - involving participation and observation
A play can a be very useful way to add reality to the child's learning. It may be impromptu, with outline of role or character but no script, or with a script which may be read or learned and acted - even in costume. It is useful to maintain a 'props' box in the classroom where simple clothes may be kept so that the students may dress in order to 'be' the person portrayed.
Impromptu drama can be a very effective way of reinforcing the ideas brought forward in a health lesson. A situation may be outlined and the children asked to enact a typical aspect of the situation. At first some ideas may have to be given, but when encouraged, pupils become very insightful and innovative.
Role plays are a useful method of allowing students to experience the feelings and thoughts of a person cast into unusual situations. The teacher or a group of students may plan the situation and then members of the group can act out the dialogue and responses that seems natural for that situation.
Mask plays are frequently effective when students are shy. When wearing an appropriate mask the student is able to express personal feelings, 'being' the portrayed character. Suitable masks can be simply constructed in craft lessons.
Radio plays have long been popular as a means of telling a story. They encourage effective use of voice and the development of sound effects to accompany the dialogue. If equipment is available the play can be developed and then 'broadcast' from the next room using a microphone and speakers.
Story telling always attracts the attention and interest of children. A well chosen story will convey a health message to children of all ages, involving them in the drama and encouraging them to be a participant in the story. The story, which may be told or read, should be adopted to meet the situation or language needs of the children.
Puppetry The puppet play has attracted the attention and interest of children and adults through the ages. A simple appropriate stage may be constructed using timber or curtains. Backdrop scenery may be painted and music used to accompany the presentation of the health play. There are a variety of puppets which may be constructed by the children. A collection of these may be assembled and utilised in varying health plays according to character required. Script writing for the puppet play may increase students' interest in written expression and can vary the methods of getting the health messages to others. Simple puppets which may be made include the following: Stick puppets with varying expressions on the back and the front to portray different responses are easy to construct, yet can be very effective. A bag puppet may also be easily developed and with the 'mouth' movement will still convey the health knowledge and attitudes of the lesson. The glove puppet may be constructed using paper and paste paper mache. Suitable dressing of the puppet adds to its effectiveness.
This includes assigned reading (with worksheet), case studies, problem centred lessons, study lessons, research, excursions, study tours, field trips, inter-school visits and activities, surveys, interviews, experiments, demonstrations, peer assessments and values clarifications.
Discussion This is a teamwork activity which facilitates thinking, learning, and sharing of ideas involving a strong level of participation. Topics may be chosen by the teacher, but pupil initiated discussion may also be very useful. Note: If the teacher is the only one talking or discussing, then there will be very little child interest. So the aim is always to involve the students in the discussion.
Guided Discussion This type of discussion requires the teacher to set the topic and outline the relevant matters which may be covered in group discussion activity. After a suitable time has elapsed, the groups may then report back to the whole class.
Leaderless Discussion Free and open talk is invited on the topic so that a diverse range of ideas may be introduced.
Small Group Discussion By utilising a limited number of children in the group, greater student participation may be achieved. Greater opportunity is provided for all students to put forward their ideas.
Moral Dilemma This method may be a good means of encouraging thought about particular issues and problems. A problem is posed, a story told or script provided and students are required to reach a decision on the morality of the characters involved. The pupils may be divided into small groups to make their decisions and then report back to the class.
Brainstorming A situation or problem is placed before the class and the class then asked for diverse and immediate answers which are written quickly on the board. Small groups are then established to reach consensus on a possible solution. Group leaders report back to class supporting their choice with arguments and the class decide and may vote for a preferred solution.
Lecturette A lecturette may be used to introduce a new topic or as a means of evaluating a previous lesson. The child is asked to speak for two minutes on a topic, either with notice to prepare for the next day, or to speak immediately to check on present knowledge. The child should be encouraged to speak on the topic rather than read prepared notes.
Debates A question for discussion and decision may be set for the class. Teams are appointed of three or four persons on each side under strict rules. A Chairperson conducts the debate, with speakers from each side alternating. The class may decide, or an adjudicator may be appointed to decide, which team has presented the most convincing argument.
Quiz An interesting method of stimulating interest is to hold a competitive quiz between groups where the children are asked questions taken from recent health lessons. Either a teacher may design the questions, the children ask questions or pupils write questions and answers which are handed to the teacher. Answers may be oral or written.
Story Telling Motivation; capturing attention; retaining interest: are prime reasons for using storytelling. It may be a known story, one from a book or a story written by one of the children. The health story is always of interest.
School Newspaper/Magazine A good way of spreading health messages is by using a school health newspaper which may be developed every 3 months. The paper may be printed or may be a single wall newspaper developed by an editorial committee of children. It is important that relevant health messages and accurate information are an essential feature of the work.
Media Analysis Wherever we go we see hoardings, newspapers, magazines, television advertisements, etc., passing on messages. Trying to decide what information is valid is a real problem for children. A selection of advertisements may be taken from various sources and one given to each group to analyse. The method used by the advertiser will be discussed and analysed and the groups report back to the class in each case. Even television advertising may be used, with taping of actual advertisements from television, then analysis of the methods used by the advertiser discussed in class. Reference to advertising manuals and texts may further assist in this work.
Audio Visual Methods
Story A story attracts the attention of the children easily and can incorporate a simple health message. A story is easily remembered by a child and may be retold by the child to further enhance understanding and memory.
Picture Story Pictures aid the children to visualise a story and retain their attention while a story is being told. By using simple cut-outs, the story-picture may also be built up during the narrative. As revision, children may be asked to repeat the story using the visuals developed.
Slides Slides are useful in that they may be used to show examples in real life of subjects being discussed in the class. It creates a focus for particular points, for example how to apply a pressure bandage.
Film strip Film strips produced by many authorities on health themes may be adapted to meet the needs of children in varying grades throughout the school.
Video film Videos on relevant extension topics may be borrowed or recorded from television and used in the classroom to widen the outlook of the children.
Audio recording A device with which very important health messages could be caught, whenever and wherever given, and used later in many teaching–learning situations. For example, a 3 minute health message taken off the radio or a speech made by a health worker.
Radio program A “radio” program could be directly made by the children, taped and later used in class. In addition, broadcast radio programs for many target groups may be recorded and used.
Television A television program may be a boon for learners and teachers. The teacher must plan beforehand to use a program when telecast directly or else it may be recorded and used later. In either case it must be part of the ongoing health program. It is important that there is sufficient introduction to the topic before the broadcast and a planned follow-up for the program.
Computer More and more use is being made of computers to initiate student enquiry and learning at both individual and group level. Compact disc programs may be developed by the teacher or the pupils for classroom or individual use. Interactive programs may incite additional interest and study. A number of CD-rom programs are available commercially.
TEACHER AS CLASSROOM MANAGER (back to top)
Teachers who are faced with large classes tend to resort to extensive use of the chalkboard, yet there are a number of group methods which will allow the students to examine aspects of knowledge, behaviour and experience. The teacher may then operate more as an organiser and manager, setting up situations where children become more responsible for their own learning, and and in many cases absorb more in terms of health knowledge, attitudes and skills. One way of facilitating this is by the appointment of class monitors or peer leaders who help the teacher in classroom management, assist to arrange activities and demonstrations, actas group leaders and as activity reporters, as well as models for other students. In certain activities all students, in turn, may be given opportunity to lead, but in other circumstances more permanent peer leaders may be appointed. The teacher may then be able to spending more time planning activities, preparing work and supervising operations in the classroom in a professional manner.
The development of skill in the teacher as a classroom manager who is able to establish an open environment where children may learn and develop is essential. One important strategy is the use of student-involving group work with the teacher employing skill as facilitator.
Points to Consider:
How to divide the class into groups?
Organisation of Group Activity.
EFFECTIVE ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION STRATEGIES (back to top)
Functions of Assessment
Too much emphasis is frequently placed on meeting the demands of assessment and evaluation rather than gaining the understandings and skills inherent in the course of study. Stress must be placed on gaining the health skills for the whole of life. However the following are purposes for which assessment may be of service:
Scope of Assessment
Assessment and evaluation should thus be one means of seeking a better learning and teaching environment and thus improved personal and group health. Some examples of methods of assessment Tests Tests are often used to evaluate knowledge, which may be a starting point for change in thinking, attitudes and behaviour. It is difficult to devise valid, reliable tests and it is often desirable to use a variety of types.
1. (a) What are three ways in which infectious disease may spread? ___________,
(b) Why is safe waste disposal so important for health? _____________________
(c) Describe how you may assist your little sister or brother to play more safely. _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________.
(d) Your friend has a bicycle accident. What would you do to help? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________.
True or false
2. (a) Are the following statements true or false?
Hepatitis B is a form of STD. ____________
Smoking can produce cancer of the lips. __________
Noise pollution can cause deafness. ________
The joint at the elbow is a ball-and-socket joint. __________
Myopia sufferers are unable to distinguish distant objects clearly. _______
3. (a) If we cut down forests we risk ending up with: (tick the correct answers.)
- no ground cover, ___
- eroded land, ___
- cleaner water, ___
-more soil mulch, ___
- less oxygen being produced. ___
4. Sickness may be transmitted at home by ( & )
(a) keeping food covered,
(b) washing hands before eating,
(c) keeping water uncovered,
(d) eliminating places where mosquitoes breed,
(e) not using a toilet.
5. Draw a line to join each disease with the correct route of transmission.
7. Complete the following by putting a mark on the line to indicate your attitude.
(a) By smoking, I am placing my health at risk. 1_____________3_____________5 strongly strongly agree disagree
(b) To maintain fitness, both sensible exercise and balanced diet are necessary. 1_____________3_____________5 strongly strongly agree disagree
(c) I would dislike having someone in my class with gonorrhoea. 1_____________3_____________5 strongly strongly agree disagree
8. What has the Social Health area unit taught you about family relationships ?
9. Without writing your name, discuss the best thing about this program.
10. What does your son/daughter feel about the lessons on drugs?
11. What areas do you think need more emphasis? Surveys Anonymous collection of information about behaviour and behaviour change.
12. How has this program on Environmental Health changed your behaviour at home and at school?
13. What are the important things which you can do to protect yourself against contracting HIV or STDs. Feedback sheets Immediate response to a lesson or a workshop may be obtained by using the feedback sheet.
14. In this workshop I felt ___________________________________________________. I learned _______________________________________________. I liked _________________________________________________.
16. Data that may be useful for planning units / lessons or for extension study is often available from census figures, surveys carried out by various agencies, magazine or newspaper reports.
17. Young children may be asked to walk or ride a bicycle over a set course to determine ability to follow safety rules and road laws.
18. A class group are asked to arrange a debate on a controversial topic which has arisen in the class. The ability to organise, to listen to opposing viewpoints without prejudice, to argue a viewpoint which they don't necessarily support may all be indicators of lesson success.
19. Young children may be asked to draw a scene from their 'healthy home'.