Saturday, December 17, 2011

Puberty Education Resources: Part 1

It's been a while since I've posted any sort of information relating to what I've done in my classroom. There's really no reason, but between teaching, head-coaching a team of 75 kids this fall, and grad-school, things get pretty busy. With that being said, I ran into some grad school classmates of mine who are student teaching and we were exchanging teaching ideas, which lead to my thinking about posting again. Combine that with my PLN on Twitter, and there's a whole-lotta information being exchanged that I want to get in on once again. I'm still getting hits every week from Google, so it's time to shake of the cobwebs and get back into blogging.

Given that I have just taught puberty to the sixth graders this year, I figured I would post some of my favorite resources for puberty education that I use in my classroom.

NOTE: I have posted about some of these before. Links to old posts are provided, but when I have changed things I've made notes in this post.

PBS Kids: It's My Life: "Puberty: Whole Lotta Changin' Goin' On"
PBS Kids is one of my favorite resources to use in the classroom. When I started teaching, I found it difficult to break down certain body processes (nocturnal emissions, menstruation, etc.) down into language that sixth grade students would understand. Looking back on it, it's not too difficult to do; I was still in the college mindset my first year and now I have no problem doing so. By the name, you may have surmised that PBS Kids is written for kids. The information about puberty is part of a larger PBS Kids website called, "It's My Life." It's my life contains information for kids on topics such as puberty, depression, staying home alone, school, family, and emotions. The website is very content rich and contains numerous videos, games, and interactive activities. Off-line activities are also available on the website.

The website is a helpful resource that children can check out on their own time if they need more puberty information. It is an accurate, safe resource for kids. Reproductive System Diagrams.
A few months into when I first started blogging, I posted a quick post with links to virtual reproductive systems from Their diagrams match up almost perfectly with the diagrams from our puberty curriculum (Michigan Model's "The Wonder Years") making them easy to use in the classroom.  get a kick out of the fact that each part lights up when you click on it, and up pops a quick little summary of each body part. In addition to these diagrams, KidsHealth has a lot of useful information about the changes that occur in both males and females during puberty. With a plethora of information online about puberty and other human sexuality topics, parents can rest assured that the information on is medically accurate; it is written and reviewed by doctors. There is plenty of information on the website for students to review containing vocabulary, too.

You can view the male reproductive system diagram here and the accompanying information here. The female reproductive system diagram may be viewed here, while the accompanying information is here. Note that the male diagram contains a side angle view and a front angle view. The female diagram contains an internal view (front angle) as well as an external view. There is also an animation about the menstrual cycle, which is simple yet thorough in its explanation of menstruation.

Reproductive Systems "Mapping Lab"
After we learn about the various parts of the male and female reproductive systems, I have the students complete a "mapping lab" as a review during the next class. This idea was taken from the geography teacher across the hall, who uses this to help her students review countries, capitals, and physical features of the continents. Each group is given a blank copy of the reproductive system diagrams, a sheet protector, and a dry erase marker. Students are to label the reproductive systems using the dry erase marker, which easily erases off the sheet protector when needed. They are provided with a handout where they are to match the name of each body part with its function, too. also has a parent site with useful information parents can use to talk to their children about the challenges of puberty. I don't provide parents with this information directly, but I do mention at open house that I know of some resources in case they feel in the dark about discussing puberty with their child. This feels weird to say to parents because in a lot of cases I'm young enough to be their son, but I put it out there anyway. Planned Parenthood has some great information on the topic, too.

To end on a lighter note, here's a video montage on YouTube containing clips of old-school puberty videos. We no longer use videos in our district at the middle school level, choosing instead to have a unit taught by the health teachers. When looking at these videos, it's hard not to laugh at how tongue-in-cheek they are, and I feel that puberty education deserves more than what those videos provide.

So, best of luck using these resources for your puberty endeavors! Here's a picture of me getting pumped up to teach puberty to my sixth graders:

Please e-mail me with any questions, comments, concerns, or other feedback. People generally don't comment here, but I do receive Tweets and e-mails every now and then. I'm hoping to get two more posts up before the holidays: one a lesson about YRBS data and the second about how my colleague and I are trying some literacy/vocabulary strategies in health education.
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