By: Mary McCarley, 2016 Southern District SHAPE America® Health Teacher of the Year
Supercharge your health class with an innovative homework assignment that your students will be sure to love. This homework series is intended for ninth graders, but can be modified for middle school students.
Let’s Talk Homework Series
Do you ever wonder how to involve your parents in the valuable health lessons that you teach in class? How amazing would it be if your parents reinforced the information you taught in class? The Let’s Talk homework series is a way to achieve these goals by increasing conversations between parent and child on valuable health topics. These homework assignments are completed with the help of a parent and are intended to create a real-life scenario with discussion questions on topics such as drug use, nutrition, relationships, alcohol use, and mental and emotional health. These homework assignments allow parents to have tough conversations with their children on the effects of risky decision making, which is essential for the short and long term success of students and their health. Students will gain valuable information from their parents and feel more supported while parents will appreciate the help initiating these conversations.
This is how I implement the Let’s Talk homework assignment. If I am teaching the nutrition unit, I would assign Let’s Talk Nutrition near the end of the unit. Prior to assigning it, I send an email to all my parents, attaching the homework assignment so that they can preview it prior to the discussion. Students have two nights to complete the assignment with their parent/guardian. After the discussion with their parent/guardian (takes about 20 minutes), the student is required to write a paragraph reviewing the conversation and the parent signs the homework.
I have received very positive feedback and emails from my parents about these homework assignments. Also, I have been so impressed with students’ responses and their willingness to reflect on the discussion. One of my students, Isaiah, stated the following in his essay on Let’s Talk Mental and Emotional Health: “If there is ever a time where I feel like I need to hide my emotions, my mom reminded me that I can always talk to her. She admits that she is not the best talker and doesn’t really enjoy talking through situations like the one given in the scenario. Despite this, she said she will always be willing to talk. My brother and sister also advised me to come to them whenever things are not going so great and I feel kind of weird talking to my mom.”
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