Summer Research Program for Science Teachers


Nicky Kram                                                                                                                 Mott Hall School, Manhattan


Defining Health in a Comprehensive Way

To define health in a comprehensive way

To gain a concept of health that goes beyond illness to encompass a healthy state of mind and being. [5-8 Content Standard F- Personal health]

Time Frame:
2-3 class periods


Part I.
A.   Start with a discussion: Ask if anyone in the class have ever fallen sick.  Most likely everyone will have at least have had the flu.  This is something worth noting to create a sense that such a personal experience is also very common, if not universal.

B.    Then ask students to volunteer some of the illnesses they have had and how it made them feel.

C.    If no one mentions broken bones or other injuries like this ask about them.  Ask are these also health problems?

D.    Then open up the discussion more: Ask students apart from illness and injuries, have there been moments when they have "not been feeling well"?   Ask them to describe some of these.

E.    As students talk about these things create a list on the chalkboard, or ask one or two students to keep notes for the class.

F.    Now compare all the different things that have been said and then ask how are some of these things similar and how they are different.

G.    Based on this discussion have students write a paragraph or two defining health in the broadest sense.

Part II.
Have the class then come together to create a class definition.
Begin the discussion by presenting the students with the following incomplete sentence: "Health in  its broadest sense is.."  Have students finish the sentence using their individual definitions.  As each student shares their idea of health with the class, write down all the phases and definitions that everyone in class agrees with.  Gradually, the definition of health will grow and be acceptable to everybody.

Part III.
A.    enter each one of you class's definitions of health in the discussion forum at the CyberSchoolBus web site.  Post the definitions on the Health Forum discussion board. [Teaching Standard D- Make accessible technological resources; Identify/use resources outside the school]

B.    You can read other people's definitions and comments on them.

C.    You can print out some of the definitions posted and share them with your students if you have limited access to a

computer and the Internet.

D.     At the end of the scheduled week of the curriculum, the definition of health as defined by the World Health

Organization will be posted to share with all your students.

E.    Stress that there is no one right definition for health.   This is meant as an exercise to create a dialogue so we can

discuss important ideas with all kinds of people and learn from each other.



Taken from the Health Curriculum, which is part of CyberSchoolBus website, maintained by the United Nations and the World Health Organization


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