Student Workbooks as an Effective Instructional Resource

Educators have debated the effectiveness of worksheets, handouts and workbooks for years.  Similar to technology use in the classroom, efficacy all depends on how they are used.  Here are a few nuggets to contemplate from a review of literature on the subject:

  • Graphic organizers help learners to understand tasks by nurturing active participation, decrease dependency on rote learning and memorization, tap into learners’ prior knowledge, and show association between concepts to build new understanding (Kirylo & Millet, 2000).
  • Worksheets help students to construct knowledge, help to assess students and get feedback, are used as supplemental material to textbooks in authentic lessons, and build scaffolding for  some teaching strategies (Demircioglu & Kaymakci, 2011).
  • Using Multiple Intelligences learning theory, teachers should vary instruction and assessment strategy because all students do not learn and exhibit learning the same way (Smith 2002, 2008) Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences.

We are happy to announce two new student workbooks now available as supplemental resources to the RealCare Baby Simulation Experience and the Pregnancy Profile Simulation.

The RealCare Baby Experience Workbook includes all handouts needed for the simulation experience. Rather than photocopying dozens of pages, it is all ready for use in this handy workbook. Graphic organizers, rubrics and quizzes are included. Students will also complete journal and self-assessment exercises to reflect on their learning.  The completed workbook is a great addition to student portfolios for highlighting this project.

The My Life Student Workbook is a companion product to the Pregnancy Profile simulation experience. Rather than photocopying and assembling these workbooks in class, you can use that valuable time to teach the key objectives. Many of the handouts involve setting goals, reflecting on what a teen pregnancy would do to those goals and journal on a wide variety of questions relating to the impact of an unplanned pregnancy. These exercises strengthen student writing and research skills. The completed workbook provides a meaningful take-home manual that students can keep and refer to.

Follow this link to learn more about these effective student workbooks and how you can use them in your program.

Recent Sex Ed Briefing Confirms Need for Effective Sex Education Programs

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

Earlier this month, the Guttmacher Institute published a new State Policies in Brief – Sex and HIV Education report. This timely briefing contains updated statistics and information by state on key sex education mandates and metrics.

In the past decade, sex education has been in the news frequently. The new National Sexuality Education Standards were published in 2012, while federal funding underwent a fundamental shift away from abstinence-only programs. Additionally, schools have been urged to select sexuality education curricula that follow the characteristics of effective sex education developed by Douglas Kirby.

Realityworks has watched these developments with great interest, as it is part of our mission to provide educators with useful resources and experiential learning tools to help young people make good decisions. We have two comprehensive, abstinence-plus sex education curricula available that follow the Kirby principals.

On the fourth page of the State Policies in Brief – Sex and HIV Education report, you’ll find specific content requirements for sex and HIV education according to the Guttmacher Institute. Our Healthy Choices Sex Education Program curricula includes much of the content requirements found on this document. Topics such as contraception, abstinence, health decision-making, communication, and avoiding peer pressure are all part of the lessons found in Healthy Choices. In addition, the Healthy Choices curricula aligns to the National Sexuality Education Standards.

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To learn more about our Healthy Choices Sex Education Program, including a lesson sample and standard alignments, click here. Additionally, the Guttmacher Institute‘s website provides a plethora of helpful sex education resources. This organization’s goal is to advance sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy analysis and public education, and their website features an interactive map for state-specific information as well as a searchable database.

Why do you value comprehensive sex education in schools? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Recognize World AIDS Awareness Day in Your Classroom with These Free Resources

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

Did you know that 50,000 people become newly infected with HIV each year? Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that prevention efforts have helped keep the infection rate stable recently, continued growth in the number of people living with HIV may lead to more new infections unless prevention efforts, like the recognition of World AIDS Awareness Day on December 1 each year, continue. Keep reading to learn how you can recognize this important day in your classroom.

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Realityworks’ high school and middle school sex ed curriculum contain age-appropriate activities and information about HIV and AIDS.

Established in 1998 by the World Health Organization, World AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year to help educate people around the world about HIV and AIDS. The 2014 theme for World AIDS Day is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.”  Realityworks is proud to be helping educate youth regarding the prevention of AIDS through our Healthy Choices Sex Education Program and the lessons in it that focus on HIV and AIDS. Both our high school and middle school curriculum contain age-appropriate activities and information about this important health topic.

To help educators recognize World Aids Awareness Day in their classrooms, we’ve made two tools from our sex education curriculum available in this post: an STI/STD and HIV Fact Sheet from our high school curriculum, Healthy Choices: Sexuality, Relationships and Family Planning, and an HIV & AIDS slide presentation. Both of these tools can be used in family and consumer sciences classrooms, health classrooms, teen pregnancy prevention programs and more to educate students on the prevention of AIDS.

For fact sheets, webinars, videos and other free resources, visit the World AIDS Awareness Day website here. We hope you’ll find these resources helpful and relevant as we work together to achieve an AIDs-free generation!

How are you recognizing World AIDS Awareness Day in your classroom? Share your ideas in the comments!

Highlights from the RealCare Curriculum: Practicing Refusal Skills Through Group Dialogue

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

In addition to offering powerful experiential learning products, RealityworksRealCare product line also offers effective, standards-based curriculum. In this blog series, we highlight various activities, lessons and free downloads from each product’s curriculum to help ensure that our product users are making the most of their tools.

For this post, we’re focusing on lesson 1.4 from our Healthy Choices: Relationship, Sexuality and Family Planning curriculum, which focuses on communication in relationships. Just like any skill, you need to actively practice communication to become proficient, and the free activity highlighted below was designed to help students acquire the refusal and communication skills needed to respond to sexual pressure.

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Like any skill, you need to actively practice communication to become proficient, and our Healthy Choices curriculum includes lessons that help students practice refusal and communication skills.

Before commencing with this activity in your classroom, be sure to explain to your students that while they may be motivated to abstain from sex, it can be difficult to follow through with the decision without practice negotiating for abstinence. This activity provides an opportunity to start developing the vocabulary and skills needed to communicate with their partner about abstaining from risky sexual behavior.

Download the Lines and Responses – Refusal Skills handout here, then follow these steps:

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Responding to Lines Activity

  1. Divide the class into groups of 3-4 people.
  2. Have each group assign a group recorder.
  3. Explain that each group will be given a sheet of paper that features a short scenario about two people trying to negotiate a potential sexual situation. Each group is to read the scenario together, then work together to create the next line in the dialogue. When that line has been added, the group is to pass their sheet to the next group. Each group will create the following dialogue line until the original sheet returns to each group.
  4. Distribute one Lines and Responses sheet to each group, then give groups a few minutes to develop their dialog responses and pass their sheets along.
  5. When all sheets have gone around the room and are back with the original group, have two members of each group read the dialog aloud.
  6. Conduct a class discussion around each group’s dialogue and their opinions of each person’s response to sexual pres­sure.

Be sure to review the additional scenarios included in the curriculum to provide your students with additional practice, or encourage them to make up their own scenarios.

How do you engage your students in such an important discussion topic? We’d love to hear your ideas. Share them with us in the comments!

Must-See Highlights from the RealCare Curriculum: Preventing STIs through Correct Condom Use

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

In addition to offering powerful experiential learning products, RealityworksRealCare product line also offers effective, standards-based curriculum. In a new blog series called “Must-See Highlights from the RealCare Curriculum,” (see the first post here) we’re going to highlight various activities, lessons and free downloads from each product’s curriculum to help ensure that our product users are making the most of their tools. This week’s highlighted lesson comes from lesson 9 of our Life Skills and Healthy Choices for Middle School Students curriculum: How to prevent STIs through proper condom use, and how to teach that proper condom use while adhering to any guidelines this topic might fall into for your district.

This is a topic that can be delicate content in some districts. The National Sexuality Education Standards for Grades 6-8 has a specific standard: PR.8.SM.1: Describe the steps to using a condom correctly.

Many schools will not allow teachers to demonstrate the correct way to use a condom with an anatomy model (or a banana!). However, it is important that young people have this information to help protect themselves. One way to teach the content while still keeping within your district guidelines is to use the “How to Use a Condom” activity that comes with the curriculum.

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Preparation:

  • Photocopy this How to Use a Condom sheet and cut apart the ten cards.
  • Make one set for each small group in your class.
  • Place the cards in an envelope

Small Group Activity:

  1. Tell students that condoms are highly effective in preventing STIs and HIV. They also reduce the risk of pregnancy.
  2. Divide the class into small groups of approximately 5 students. Give each small group an envelope. Inside the envelope are cards that include the 10 steps for correct condom use.
  3. Tell the students that each group should read the cards in the envelope and put the steps into what they believe is the correct order for effective condom use.
  4. When all groups have finished, tell the class the correct order, or give each group a photocopy of the correct order for them to compare and see how they did.

Whole Class Alternative:

  1. Put each of the 10 steps on a 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper.
  2. Ask for ten volunteers. Give each volunteer one of the pages.
  3. Give the volunteers time to discuss among themselves what they believe is the correct order.
  4. Have students make a line in the front of the room in what they believe is the correct order of the ten steps to using a condom.
  5. Each student should read their step aloud in order.
  6. Reveal the correct order to the entire class. If some of the students are not in the correct order, have them move to the appropriate spot.

How do you teach this important lesson to your health or child development classes? Share your tips in the comments below!

Why have US teen birth rates plummeted? Sex education may be one answer.

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

A brand-new report has just been published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics that traces the decline in the U.S. teen birth rate from 1992-2013. Although there is no clear-cut reason for the historic 57% decrease that the report documents, a number of factors have contributed to these numbers.

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Some of the factors that an article in yesterday’s HealthDay blog, part of the CBS News network, offer as reasons for this decline include:

  • The fact that teens have access to and are using effective methods of contraception.
  • The fact that teens today are less likely to have sex.
  • The fact that reality shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” paint teen pregnancy as sobering, and have likely have contributed to the steep decline in recent years.

Bill Albert, Chief Program Officer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, offers in the article that “teenagers’ caution regarding sex might be tied to the federal government’s investment in tried-and-true sex education programs.”

Realityworks is proud to offer a comprehensive sex education program for middle and high school students. The Healthy Choices Sex Education Program, which is aligned to National Sexuality Education standards and Health Education standards, includes two comprehensive curricula that incorporate the following experiential learning tools into unforgettable lesson plans:

Whether educators choose to use our sex education program or another available educational resource, we applaud the people who work every day to teach our young people to make healthy life decisions.

What factors do you think have contributed to the decline of the U.S. teen birth rate? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Update: Teen Dad Successfully Campaigns for Revised High School Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

The following is an update on teen father Devin Davis, who we first posted about here. A senior at Ticonderoga High School in New York and a teen parent, Devin dedicated his final project to creating a new sex education curriculum for his school that focused more on teen pregnancy prevention. On May 29, 2014, he presented his project to the Ticonderoga Central School District Board of Education.

Ticonderoga High School Senior Devin Davis has a lot to be proud of. Within the next week, he will not only graduate from high school, but celebrate the acceptance by the Ticonderoga Central School District Board of Education of his revised sex education curriculum.

This curriculum was designed as part of his senior project, which Davis chose to help reduce the high rate of teen pregnancy at his high school. A teen parent himself, Davis knows firsthand the challenges of being a father at his age, and believes that giving his peers a taste of that experience will help them make better decisions regarding their sexual activity in the future.

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“The world is changing. According to a study I conducted at school as part of my project, 59 percent of students are sexually active before they start high school,” said Davis, who also recommended that sex education be a mandatory course for high school freshman. “You’re not going to be able to teach just abstinence anymore; rather, we have to figure out a way to control the activity that’s already happening.”

On May 29, 2014, Devin presented his revisions to the board of education, which feature the incorporation of RealityworksRealCare Baby infant simulators. The board voted to accept his revisions, which Davis and Ticonderoga High School Health Teacher James Decker will finalize this summer.

Those revisions include the following changes to the school’s current curriculum:

  • A shift in focus from STDs, contraception efficacy and brief discussions of relevant topics to the experience of parenthood and its “harsh realities” through the use of RealCare Baby infant simulators and the Total Parenting Experience program
  • Live panel discussions from teen parents
  • A change from abstinence-based discussion to discussion that features contraceptives
  • Help for students in determining what birth control method would best suit their lifestyles

In addition to incorporating the curriculum revisions into the school’s sex education program, Devin hopes to find the funding for 30 RealCare Baby infant simulators, which he views as the curriculum’s main component.

“The big purchase is the simulators,” said Davis, who will return to Ticonderoga High School next year to monitor program progress. “After all, it’s the experience. With them, the lessons won’t just go in one ear and out the other – students will get it.”

Author’s Note: For your review, Davis has shared the PowerPoint presentation used to propose the health class curriculum changes to his school board. Davis’ goal is to finish the curriculum with his health teacher and have in effect for the 2014-2015 school year. Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation.

Realityworks, Inc. Releases New Sex Education Program

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A complete solution that incorporates experiential learning tools and standards-based curriculum for sex educators.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis., April 2, 2014 – Realityworks, Inc., an Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based company, announces the release of the Healthy Choices Sex Education Program. A combination of standards-based curriculum and experiential learning tools, including Realityworks’ flagship product, RealCare® Baby, this program is a complete solution designed for health education classes.

The Healthy Choices Sex Education Program includes lessons in relationships, puberty, sexuality, reproduction, Sexually Transmitted Infections, abstinence and family planning for middle and high school students. The comprehensive curricula pairs Realityworks’ line of hands-on simulators with standards-based curriculum to create realistic situations and promote healthy decision-making. The program aligns to National Health Education, National Sexuality Education, Common Core and Common Career Core Technical standards, and has been developed to fit abstinence-plus and abstinence-only curriculum.

“The Healthy Choices Sex Education Program is intended to address the real-world situations that our youth face,” stated Timm Boettcher, Realityworks President and CEO. “By aligning our product to multiple standards and making it highly customizable, we hope to help decrease the teen pregnancy rate, promote goal setting and encourage smart decision-making.”

Realityworks introduced the new program to health and physical education professionals at the National American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) National Conference and Exhibition in St. Louis on April 2 – 4. The conference hosted over 5,000 of the industry’s lead­ing researchers and professionals from across the globe.

For more information on Realityworks’ Healthy Choices Sex Education Program, click here.

About Realityworks, Inc.
Established 19 years ago to better address teen pregnancy prevention, parenting skills, child abuse and neglect through educational products, Realityworks, Inc. is dedicated to creating experiential learning tools that engage students while improving the human condition. Most famous for their RealCare Baby infant simulator (formerly known as Baby Think it Over or BTIO), Realityworks has developed several other simulators and programs over the last decade that address career preparation areas like business management, finance and entrepreneurship, and most recently, welding through the teachWELD Welding Simulator. With simulators in 62 percent of U.S. school districts and programs in more than 89 countries around the world, Realityworks has made a worldwide impact. For more information, visit www.realityworks.com, or call toll-free 800-830-1416.

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Media Contact:

Janelle Krause
Realityworks
Public Relations and Event Specialist
Janelle.Krause@realityworks.com
715-858-7121