Skills Based Health Class

One of the many highlights from my attendance at #SHAPEMinneapolis was attending a session from Dr. Sarah Benes and Dr. Holly Alperin in which they talked about the concepts and principles covered in their new text The Essentials of Teaching Health Education. The book “presents a skills-based approach to teaching K-12 health education—one that will prepare your students for success in school and beyond.”

We are fortunate in America to have a great set of National Health Education Standards (NHES) that were developed to establish, promote and support health-enhancing behaviors for students in all grade levels—from pre-Kindergarten through grade 12. Initially created in 1995 and revised in 2007 these 8 standards have been around for some time now, but with the relatively new push towards an emphasis on more skills-based instruction Holly and Sarah’s book provides teachers with a resource for all teachers to evaluate their curriculum and instruction. The book will be of use to future teaching professionals as well as the more experienced health teacher and will act as an accessible document that you can continue to go back to as you make the transition towards placing more emphasis on teaching skills that develop health enhancing behaviors.

The book is well laid out, is easy to read AND comes with an additional online bank of extended resources. The book and all that it expounds does not mean that teachers have to throw all content (and those packets and powerpoints that they’ve created) out of the window. Content is still important and can be used a medium through which we teach the skills of:

  • Accessing valid and reliable information
  • Analyzing influences
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Decision making
  • Goal setting
  • Self-management
  • Advocacy

The emphasis on skills and skill development should allow us as health teachers to teach the skills, develop the skills, give students multiple opportunities to practice the skills before assessing the skills. Teaching content alone allows students to know, but in terms of making decisions we are aware that knowing isn’t sufficient to encourage people to do. Our aim as health educators is not only to allow students to do but to do it well in unfamiliar situations.

I’m excited to use this book as a framework to allow myself and other colleagues (making this transition on your own might be tough!) to collaborate over the summer and develop ways in which we can start to weave more skills-based instruction and assessment into a curriculum that needs to move away from a reliance on content. There also exists a Voxer chat group that is working as a book study to allow health educators from across the globe to discuss their thoughts about each chapter. Both Holly and Sarah are also in the group and this gives us a great opportunity to dive deeper into the book knowing that both authors can help us through the process.

Here are this week’s #slowchathealth questions. Feel free to answer them all at once, or as they are released daily on Twitter.

IMG_1357.JPGQ1 Where does your dial point in terms of your curriculum? (see picture) #slowchathealth


Q2 What does a skills-based approach give us that a content-based approach doesn’t? #slowchathealth

Q3 Why might teachers be wary of or opposed to a skill-based approach to teaching? #slowchathealth

Q4 How can we help teachers that are reluctant to move towards a skills-based approach to teaching? #slowchathealth

Q5 Share some resources for those who want to know more about skill-based teaching #slowchathealth


3 thoughts on “Skills Based Health Class

  1. Pingback: Hot Topics in Health – #slowchathealth

  2. Pingback: The Book Discussion – #slowchathealth

  3. Pingback: The #PhysedSummit2016 – #slowchathealth

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