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Lessons > High School > Abstinence, Personal & Sexual Health
Abstinence, Personal & Sexual Health

18 Lessons


This lesson introduces students to the idea of leading a healthy life. Students discuss life expectancy and brainstorm factors that contribute to life span and quality of life. They examine health risk factors that could compromise their quality of life or life expectancy, as well as protective factors that could contribute to their health and quality of life. They complete a self-assessment of various health choices to refer to in the subsequent lessons on disease prevention and health habits.


After exploring the distinction between infectious and noninfectious illness, students learn how infectious diseases can be spread. They discuss common modes of transmission, including direct person-to-person contact, as well as indirect contact, and review how different infections can be passed in these ways. Then they brainstorm ways to prevent or stop the spread of infectious disease, practice handwashing and covering a cough or sneeze, and review their own health habits related to preventing infections.


This lesson teaches about chronic disease, with a focus on chronic diseases common among young people. Students examine factors that contribute to the development of chronic disease, including risk factors related to health and wellness habits. They apply what they’ve learned by completing an analysis of the risk factors for a particular common chronic disease and how it would affect a person’s quality of life.


In this lesson, students examine how preventive health care can support their efforts to be healthy. They learn about the importance of annual exams, screenings and immunizations, and practice assessing when to see a health care provider if they feel ill.


In this lesson, students learn key questions for evaluating the reliability of online resources. They then apply their skills in accessing information to research strategies for protecting vision and hearing, reducing harmful sun exposure and getting enough sleep. After individually completing the research assignment on one of these topics, they work in small groups to prepare a presentation for the class.


In this skills-based lesson, students set a goal to improve a health habit or behavior. The teacher reviews a series of questions to use in setting a goal, and students practice the steps using a sample goal. Then they review their earlier health choices assessment and choose a behavior they’d like to change or improve on. They set a specific goal around the behavior they choose and create a plan to reach it.


This lesson introduces the topic of sexuality. After developing groundrules for discussion, students complete a survey to determine what they know about sexual health. Then they examine different aspects of sexuality, including sexual choices, sexual orientation and gender identity, and discuss the benefits of respecting sexual differences.


This lesson reviews reproductive anatomy and physiology, including how pregnancy happens. After taking a pretest to assess their current knowledge, students review the organs and functions of the reproductive systems.


In this lesson, students read about taking care of sexual health and find answers to particular questions. They learn about the importance of self-exams and how to do them. They discuss why it is important to take responsibility for their sexual health and have a parent or other trusted adult to talk to about any concerns. Then they offer advice on some common sexual health issues teens might have.


In this lesson, students begin to define and explore the concept of sexual abstinence and consider how it can apply to their lives. After discussing the various choices people can make about sexual activity, they work in pairs to brainstorm benefits of being sexually abstinent, and come up with solutions for challenges to an abstinence choice. Then they consider a variety of ways teens can express feelings of sexual attraction toward others and evaluate which of these ways are safe and healthy and support the choice to be abstinent.


In this lesson, students analyze responses to the homework survey and draw conclusions about perceived norms. They brainstorm ways the influences of family, culture, peers, and personal values and beliefs can affect choices about sexual activity in both positive and negative ways. They discuss how using alcohol or other drugs can influence a person’s choices about sexual activity. Then they complete an activity sheet about influences on the choice to be sexually abstinent.


In this lesson, students continue their analysis of influences on sexual choices, focusing on the role of media and technology. After considering how media and technology affect their lives in both positive and negative ways, students brainstorm ways media and technology can encourage sexual behaviors, and ways they can support abstinence. Then they participate in a 2-part media analysis activity by first conducting individual research into the sexual messages sent by a particular form of media or technology, then working in small groups to form conclusions based on their research and create a report for the class. The small groups present their findings in the final class session.


In this lesson, students learn the importance of setting personal limits to support being sexually abstinent and taking care of their sexual health. They consider various situations or activities that could lead to pressure to become sexually active, and classify these according to the challenge each poses to a choice to be abstinent. They use their analysis of the pressure situations to discuss the kinds of personal limits that could help them avoid pressure and remain abstinent. Then they identify people who can support them in sticking with a choice to be abstinent.


his lesson focuses on using decision-making skills to support sexual abstinence and setting personal limits for sexual behaviors. Students learn decision-making steps and see them modeled for a decision about going to a party with a date. They work in pairs to read a sample scenario and use the steps to recommend a healthy and safe decision that will support sexual abstinence. Then they consider situations that could affect their own sexual choices and follow the decision-making steps to set sexual limits that can help them remain abstinent.


Students learn about refusal skills that will help them stick to their personal limits and resist pressure to engage in sexual behaviors. They brainstorm pressure lines and other things someone might say or do to convince another person to have sex and think about the techniques being used. Then they learn about refusal skills, including clear NO statements, alternative actions and delay tactics. They see these refusal skills modeled by the teacher, then practice using them in pairs to resist different pressure lines.They also practice ways to show they respect another person's refusal. 


Students practice refusal skills using roleplays. After watching demonstration roleplays to review effective refusal skills, students complete a half-scripted roleplay by writing responses to pressure lines. They practice their roleplays in pairs and receive feedback on their refusal skills. Then they create their own situations, pressure lines and refusal lines and perform their original roleplays.


This culminating activity assesses student learning for the unit through a written exam.


In this culminating activity students do a gallery walk, similar to visiting an art gallery, in which they view and respond to “works” that explore various aspects of personal health. To help them experience greater depth of understanding of the works in the gallery, students prepare for their visit by reviewing information they’ve learned in the unit. They explore multiple questions related to personal health ahead of time, so they’ll be well informed when they create, view and critique the works in the gallery. During the gallery walk, they work in small groups to answer questions about a particular aspect of personal health and review their classmates’ responses to questions in other areas.