Liveblog: Curricula: In Classroom & Out

Teaching Sexual Health Initiative – Ray Harrison, Alberta Health Services – – @teachsexhealth

Our initiative was designed to build capacity for teachers to teach sexual health content themselves and became province wide

  • Theoretical foundations: Social Learning Theory, Comprehensive School Health, & Resiliency Theory.
  • Teacher & Parent Portals
  • Lesson plans, teaching tools, resources, community agencies, and questions.
  • Social Media Marketing/Webisodes
  • Online Workshops

Workshop Objectives

  • Increase knowledge in teachers about human sexuality.
  • Address concerns teachers may have about teaching sexuality.
  • Explain difference between sex & sexuality & how to set ground rules with students.
  • Identify your personal values around sexuality.
  • Become familiar with human sexuality curriculum & our website
  • Focus on how to make parents partners & allies & diffuse conflict

Tool Development

  • Website platform using WordPress
  • Developed using Moodle CMS/LMS (open source)
  • Videos created with Screenflow for Mac

Evaluations created with SurveyMonkey

Demographics: teachers have rarely received formal training in sexuality (only 1/4). for about half, this is their first year teaching it. most teachers felt it was useful.

Recruitment strategies: email was the best recruitment strategy. we had champions within each school district, and promoted at annual teacher conventions.

Engagement strategies

  • Keep all assignments and activities within Moodle platform – don’t make people upload & download files
  • Profile pictures for everyone made it more real – “see face”
  • Introductory forum to give teachers a voice & set tone
  • Weekly check-in emails sent to everyone so people can reply if they’re stuck as well as prompts for teachers who haven’t logged in
  • Feedback on the assigmnents (the ones that went privately to the facilitators)
  • Discussion prompts throughout to encourage conversation
  • coffee room where you can post anything, like news articles about sex
  • give certificate of completion.


  • Timing – plan around school vacations  & busy times like report cards; teach in spring as teachers primarily teach this then.
  • Formal Marking Criteria – some just want to pop in for content, don’t want a certificate; those who do needed criteria
  • Content is not static
  • Make as interactive as possible

Really? We get to learn about THAT in school? – Christopher Pepper, SFUSD, @mrhealthteacher 

He opens with a hilarious video of abstinence-only sex education where a gym coach says: “don’t have sex. don’t have sex sitting down, standing up, cause you might get pregnant and die. Okay, everybody take some rubbers.”

When we talk about “comprehensive sex ed” it frequently means we talk about birth control & just throw in some anatomy. Comprehensive is a big word – how can we re-envision that to be something better?

We spent 2 years developing a new curriculum with many organizational partners. We wanted to be inclusive – of race, gender, relationships, more – show lots of diversity. We wanted to use the class to create a close connection between students and their nearest health clinic – bringing in staff really establishes a comfort level with the clinic that means more students will use services.

We want to talk about what relationships are, and what is a healthy relationship. How to approach someone in a respectful way and set up a first date.  We talk about gender roles – including the film Straitlaced: How Gender Has Us All Tied Up – talks about trans & LGBQ issues in a way that is both accessible and also explains how everyone, not just GSM folks, can experience restrictions based on society’s genders.  We talk about LGBTQ issues & how to be an ally. We talk about anatomy, sexual development, etc – including menstruation, masturbation, the sexual response cycle, and what’s ‘normal’ (with this unit it is important to provide lots of help for teachers who feel uncomfortable with the issues).  We explain pregnancy & birth.  Finally, we explain birth control & STD prevention, including guest speakers who are teens who have been pregnant or HIV+ people. We guide students through activities designed to help them explore the question “are you ready for sex?”  Finally, we have students use the best sex ed websites for teens to research questions their classmates submitted anonymously.

Engaging Teens: Taking Health Class Out of the Classroom – Jessica Ken, YTH @justjken – Today is For Tomorrow

  • The digital divide is vanishing: 98% of teens use the internet; 78% have cell phones.
  • Designing a website – What’s hot? Is it easy to use & read? (think about your users, not yourself) Will it come up in search?
  • Creating text messages – these were the “hook” to get people to the Today is for Tomorrow website. Youth driven messages. Diverse topics. A dash of pop culture. A distinctive “voice.”
  • You’ve got to keep up with the “trends” and figure out where teens are at – we used Tumblr instead of other sites for this reason.

Kelly Schryver, Common Sense Media

Media literacy has been one strategy used in schools to combat gender biases in american culture – but the focus really has been on traditional media – TV etc.  But gender norms play a critical role in how teens express themselves, too.  How can we shift media literacy to include social/new media?

Gender & Digital Life Media Toolkit

The lessons:

  • Elementary School – Selling Stereotypes, Picture Perfect
  • Middle School – Gender Stereotypes Online (in avatar selection games), Cracking the Gender Code (unspoken rules about how boys & girls express themselves online), The Reality of Digital Drama (digital drama from perspective of teenagers)
  • High School – Feeling on Display, Overexposed: Sexting & Relationships

The lessons are modular & have lots of content (videos, etc) as well as exercises – they were built on the assumption that teachers would cherry pick their materials.


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