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Lessons > Middle School > Abstinence, Puberty & Personal Health
Abstinence, Puberty & Personal Health

18 Lessons


In this lesson, students learn that practicing healthy behaviors can be a path to lifelong health. They discuss the meaning of the phrase common sense, then brainstorm common-sense steps for staying healthy and identify benefits of lifelong health. After discussing sources of information about health and the popularity of online resources, they learn about and practice asking key questions to evaluate online resources for the quality and usefulness of the information they provide.


In this lesson, students continue to explore the idea of practicing healthy behaviors as a path to lifelong health. After briefly reviewing the important functions of the ears, the eyes, the skin and sleep, they work in small groups to brainstorm ways to prevent common health risks teens face with regard to hearing, vision, skin damage and lack of sleep. Then they create and present original public service announcements that advocate for selected health behaviors in the areas of adequate sleep and rest, protection of vision and hearing, and prevention of sun damage.


In this lesson, students develop their understanding of how to prevent infectious and chronic disease. They identify the symptoms of illness and learn the differences between infectious and noninfectious disease. They examine how common infectious illnesses are transmitted, and discuss and practice ways to prevent them. They then learn about behavioral and environmental factors that can influence the development of chronic disease. They summarize their learning by making a simple plan they will follow to help prevent disease and promote lifelong health.


This lesson introduces the topic of sexuality and puberty. Students develop classroom agreements for discussion, then define and look at different aspects of sexuality. They discuss why it is important to be able to talk about sexuality and identify sources of accurate information.


This lesson teaches about the vagina and related reproductive anatomy. After learning the names and functions of these reproductive organs, students test their knowledge through a matching activity. They then complete an activity sheet about what they’ve learned.


This lesson teaches about the penis and related reproductive anatomy. After learning the names and functions of these reproductive organs, students test their knowledge through a matching activity. They then complete an activity sheet about what they’ve learned.


In this informational lesson, students learn about puberty. Small groups brainstorm physical, emotional and social changes they think occur during puberty. The class discusses and evaluates the groups’ lists, and then students complete an activity sheet on the changes they learned about. As homework, students interview parents or other adults about puberty and sexuality.


This lesson teaches about ovulation, the menstrual cycle and fertilization. Students read about the menstrual cycle, then work in pairs to answer questions about the reading. They also read about and discuss fertilization and how pregnancy occurs. Then pairs complete an activity sheet that reviews the material covered in the last 4 lessons.


In this lesson, students learn about taking care of their sexual health. They revisit the definition of sexuality, then, in small groups, read about ways young people can protect their sexual health. They complete an activity sheet to show what they’ve learned.


In this lesson, students explore appropriate and inappropriate ways to show feelings of attraction toward others. They discuss how feelings change during puberty and the negative consequences of having sex. They learn about sexual abstinence and setting personal limits as a way to avoid those consequences. Then they complete an activity in which they list healthy and safe ways to express romantic feelings.


This lesson reinforces the choice to be abstinent. Students identify the benefits of sexual abstinence and vote on a list of the top 10 benefits. Then they use what they have learned to compose a letter of advice about abstinence.


In this lesson, students examine influences on the choice to be abstinent. They identify and discuss various positive and negative influences on a person’s choice to be abstinent. They identify situations and people that could threaten their choice to be abstinent, and discuss ways to plan ahead to avoid these threats. Then they personalize the learning by analyzing positive and negative influences in their own lives. As homework, they interview friends about remaining abstinent.


This norms-based lesson reinforces the fact that most teens are not having sex. Students examine their beliefs about how many students their age are having sex. They discuss how perceived norms can differ from actual norms, and what effect this can have on sexual behavior. After sharing their peer interviews from the previous lesson, students discuss reasons to be sexually abstinent and the consequences of not remaining abstinent. They identify ways to help themselves remain abstinent.


This lesson introduces refusal skills. Students think about pressure situations that might threaten a choice to be sexually abstinent. They examine how it feels to be pressured and why people might pressure others. After discussing why it’s not OK to keep pressuring someone into something they don’t want to do, the teacher explains that, because other people may not always respect limits, it’s important to practice how to resist pressure. Students work in small groups to suggest pressure lines that can threaten their choice to be abstinent. After learning about effective words and actions for resisting sexual pressure, students practice resisting pressure using the lines their groups created. They also practice what to say to show they respect another person’s refusal.


In this skills-based lesson, students practice refusal skills using roleplays. After watching a demonstration roleplay that uses 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.


This lesson helps students examine how being abstinent can contribute to reaching their goals for the future by helping them avoid unplanned pregnancy. Students think about personal goals they have for the immediate and short-term future. Then they review the negative consequences of being sexually active, with a focus on teen pregnancy. Small groups brainstorm how becoming a teen parent could affect various aspects of their lives. Then they complete an activity sheet on how avoiding pregnancy by being abstinent can help them achieve their goals.


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


In this culminating activity, students use a case-study approach to analyze the activities of a teen to identify behaviors that enhance health and behaviors that place health at risk. They draw conclusions about the consequences of various behaviors, and make recommendations to further enhance personal and sexual health.