Two class periods
- review healthy behaviors;
- choose one of their own behaviors they'd like to change or improve; and
- write a letter to themselves pledging to make that change, detailing why it's important to their health and outlining how they might enact the change.
- Computer with Internet access
- Print and online resources about healthy behaviors (exercise) and dangerous and unhealthy behaviors (smoking, taking drugs, drinking alcohol)
- After watching the video, ask students: How would you describe a healthy person? Write their answers on the board. Possible answers include
- exercises often,
- eats healthy foods,
- doesn't eat a lot of junk food,
- doesn't do drugs, and
- talks about their problems with someone.
- Ask students to write down an aspect of their lifestyle that they'd like to change or improve-for example, "eat a healthier diet" or "get more exercise." Then, have them to list one or two specific ways they could make that change-for example, "eat five fruits and vegetables every day" or "take walks after school, at least three times a week."
- Explain that they're going to research the lifestyle aspect they'd like to change and then create an action plan in the form of a letter to themselves.
- Once students have chosen a lifestyle aspect to change, give them this list of questions to address in their letter:
- What aspect of your health would you like to improve?
- Why is this change important to your health? What could happen if you don't make this change?
- What behavior do you need to modify? Explain one or two specific behavior changes you can make.
- Imagine how changing this habit would improve your life.
- Have students use print and online resources in their research. These Web sites contain helpful information:
Food and Fitness
TeensHealth: Food and Fitness
Discovery Health: Nutrition Center
USDA: The Food Guide Pyramid
Dole: 5 a Day
Smoking, Drugs and Alcohol
TeensHealth: Drugs and Alcohol
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency: Facts and Information
Discovery Health: Diseases and Conditions Encyclopedia: Depression
Teen Health: Depression
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: Depression
- Because students' letters may be personal, you shouldn't share them with the class. Instead, ask students to pull a few lines or a short paragraph that they believe might motivate another student wishing to change the same habit. Tell them that these quotes will be anonymously posted on a "healthy habits" board.
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
- Three points: Students were highly engaged in class discussions; wrote a detailed, thorough letter answering all of the questions provided.
- Two points: Students participated in class discussions; wrote a satisfactory letter answering most of the questions provided.
- One point: Students participated minimally in class discussions; wrote a simplistic letter answering few or none of the questions provided.
Access this resource at:
Your Genes: Your Future
Definition: Physiological dependence on a drug
Context: An addiction to drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes can be very dangerous and difficult to treat.
Definition: A medical condition that leads to intense, prolonged feelings of sadness or despair
Context: A person suffering from depression may lose interest in things they enjoy, feel tired or irritable, or experience a change in appetite.
Definition: The food and drink that a person consumes; a balanced diet is based on the scientific principles that healthful foods and appropriate nutrients must be consumed each day.
Context: Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet.
Definition: Substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and cocaine, which are unhealthy, often illegal, and can lead to addiction
Context: Although alcohol and nicotine are legal drugs, they can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs like marijuana and heroin.
Food Guide Pyramid
Definition: A visual representation of the number of recommended daily servings in each of the six food groups
Context: According to the Food Guide Pyramid, people should eat two to three servings of dairy foods, like milk or cheese, every day.
Definition: Substances, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, found in foods that people need to stay healthy
Context: Eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Definition: A poisonous substance derived from tobacco; the substance that causes addiction to cigarettes
Context: When people smoke cigarettes, nicotine enters their bloodstream.
Definition: The dried leaves of the plant Nicotiana tabacum or related species
Context: Tobacco, used in cigarettes and chew, contains the poisonous substance nicotine.
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Credit: Joy Brewster, curriculum writer, editor, and consultant