Saturday, December 1, 2012

"I Can't Breathe" Pam Laffin Video: Streaming on Vimeo

During my later elementary school and early middle school years, I remember seeing many anti-smoking advertisements sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The advertisements that I remember the most focused on a local woman named Pam Laffin. Pam was in her late twenties and suffered from emphysema. The advertisements were more graphic in nature than other advertisements I had seen, and I'm sure the DPH wanted to hit viewers with emotional advertisements.

If you know me as a teacher or have seen some past posts of mine, you know that I am not a fan of showing videos in a health education classrooms. I feel that videos are too often used as a cop-out by teachers who have no health education experience, or that they are not used appropriately. I do use a handful of video clips in class, but I only show two or three videos that could be considered somewhere close to a full length class period. Videos CAN be used appropriately, and the students sometimes enjoy them, but as I am shifting to a more skills-based classroom I don't see the need. Plus, it's not as fun as actual teaching!

One of the videos that I do show is an MTV True Life Episode entitled, "I Can't Breathe." "I Can't Breathe" was produced by MTV with assistance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and documents Pam Laffin's experience with cigarette smoking and the negative health effects (cumulating with emphysema and a failed lung transplant) she dealt with. The video is short and to the point, and I use it to tie together the previous lessons we dealing with tobacco: smoking's effects on the body and the straw walk. The video is only twenty minutes long, but by using my go-to video viewing protocol (Record, Elaborate, Extend) as well as answering the numerous student questions that come up, this takes the full 53 minute class period.

I will say that some students will find this video a little graphic. They compare a healthy lung to a smoker's lung on an autopsy table, and the lungs are cut into to be examined. There are also some clips of Pam's lung transplant surgery. I know where these points are and give the students warning before they come up. 

You can stream "I Can't Breathe" directly from Vimeo. My district blocks YouTube and for some reason Vimeo is not blocked. Please note that I am not sure how that video is posted there or the copyright laws it may be violating. All I know is that this video has been effective in my classroom and you may find it effective in yours.

Here is a link to "I Can't Breathe" on Vimeo. Here is another link to the video viewing protocol I use for the few videos I do show.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns.


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