Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Melanoma & Sun Exposure: Melanoma Prevention Experts Project

I'm hoping to have a few posts this week about our melanoma and sun exposure unit that we're just finishing up. This year I've been able to utilize different resources and try some new lessons out, and I'd like to share them.

In 8th grade we have a unit on the topic of sun exposure and melanoma. Focusing on the preventative angle, we use modules from the "Take Control of Your Sun Exposure" binder of the Michigan Model for Health Education. Our students do receive basic information on melanoma in seventh grade if we have time during our trimester together. This information is provided free to us by the Melanoma Education Foundation, and we get into more detail in 8th grade. The Michigan Model contains modules that we can use, in any order, to supplement what the students already know.

Initially, many students wonder why we learn about melanoma and sun safety. It can be a rather bland topic to many. I'm still figuring out if the unit actually creates behavior change, but if anything it makes them more aware of the need for sunscreen and other forms of sun protection. I'll have the results from a pre-test/post-test (not actual graded tests) next week, and I'd like to try to reword it so I can get an idea of any behavior changes that occur as opposed to just knowledge. I do notice that eventually, it gets a little more exciting.

The end-of-unit assessment I use for this unit is called, "Melanoma/Sun Exposure Prevention Experts." I want my students to show their expertise relating to tanning, sun exposure, and melanoma. A PDF is at the end of this post; here are the objectives (and changes I would make in parentheses):
  1. Identify at least seven facts about sun exposure, tanning, and/or melanoma
  2. Describe at least three ways people can protect themselves from the sun (and how these will protect them)
  3. Create an action plan, utilizing the three protection methods above, (that will reduce the risk of harm from sun exposure)
  4. Advocate for the importance of sun protection in teenagers (and defend your reasoning)
Those are the objectives, on a basic level. I toyed with the idea of going more in depth with my explanation, but I kept it simple for now. More likely than not they will be re-written for next year.

Well, how are students accomplishing these objectives, you ask? Anyway they want that is approved by me. I want students to dip into their creative sides during this unit. I book the laptop carts for this unit, and most projects are submitted electronically. Students simply drop their file into a "drop" folder with my name on it, and I can open it from my computer and grade it. It makes the whole process a lot easier! I give examples of project ideas on the handout: posters (created in PPT, similar to how research posters are created, except these are never printed), songs, essays, comic strips, stories, radio shows, etc. For this trimester, I'm asking the students to stay away from Power Point. That's too basic; I want them to challenge themselves.

The "Prevention Experts" theme could work well with any topic in health education. I've used this idea for my ATOD unit and have tweaked it so it's never the same. It can be different depending on the objectives of each unit, too.

Some examples from last trimester of this project:
  • An educational Power Point, using the MTV show Jersey Shore as a main component (the characters frequently tan as part of their G.T.L. (gym, tan, laundry) routine).
  • A song called "Brown" set to the music of the song, Down by Jay Sean ("So baby don't worry: you can use bronzer, or a self-tanner....are you brown, brown, brown?...")
  • Adapted lyrics to the hit song Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees, with a guest appearance from yours truly ("Whether you're a mother or whether you're a brother you got mel-a-noma, mel-a-noma...Well I can't run, and I can't hide, from the blaring sun, right in the sky....")
All of the above did accomplish the project objectives, and did so in a creative way that went beyond just putting facts on a poster. While the objectives for this trimester's project are a little different (I'm always revising...heck, as I was typing this I noticed something I wanted to change in the objectives), the above examples are worth mentioning.

After day one of this project with trimester three, some ideas from my current students: an audio-story, a cartoon strip (created using a computer program...I can't recall the name), a melanoma rap, and a short story, among others. When I used this last year for sexual harassment (before we switched things around), most students tended to shy away from the longer writing pieces, but I did receive a couple stellar essays, persuasive letters, etc about the issue from students.

For a PDF of this project, please click here! It may very well change by the next time you check back in (if you do at all), so make sure you adapt it for your own use! As always, please feel free to e-mail me with any questions, comments, or concerns.

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