Using the Lesson Plans
Instruction in human sexuality (bolded and italicized outcomes) requires schools to provide notice to parents about the learning outcomes, topics and resources. All of the lesson plans address at least one of the human sexuality learning outcomes from the Grades 4 to 9 Health and Life Skills or CALM curriculum. Many of the lessons address multiple outcomes from the program of studies, including outcomes that are not bolded and italicized.
Language is complex, evolving, and powerful. In these lessons, gender-neutral language is used to be inclusive of all students, including those with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations.
Gender neutral language is used when the gender of the person is unknown or when discussing a mixed gender group of people. In the lesson plans, it primarily occurs when describing a scenario in which the gender of the person is not defined, so that people of any gender identity may feel included in the description*. This includes the use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun. It may feel awkward or stilted at first, but using ‘they’ can help everyone feel included in your classroom and the lesson. Using s/he or alternating the use of she and he, reinforces the notion of gender being a binary construct, which is not inclusive of all gender identities.
All of the names of people in scenarios are gender neutral names, with an attempt to include names from a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities.
Here is an example with gender-neutral language:
Zhenya has just found out some older kids are buying drugs and sharing needles at the mall near the school. Zhenya is very worried. What do you think they should do?
Example of gender-specific language:
Paul has just found out some older kids are selling drugs and sharing needles at the mall near his school. He is very worried. What do you think Paul should do?
There is no reason for the scenario to involve only a male, as someone of any gender could be in this situation.
Some other examples of inclusive language are below.
|Mother or Father||Parent|
|Boyfriend or Girlfriend||Partner|
|Husband or Wife||Spouse|
|Boys and Girls||Class, Students, Everybody|
|Manmade||Artificial, Synthetic, Constructed|
For most people, using gender-neutral language is a huge shift and will take some time to get used to. Don’t worry about making mistakes, just make the effort. Your students will appreciate your intentions!
Throughout the resources, the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ are used when referring to sex (sex assigned at birth), such as when discussing reproductive anatomy. A person’s reproductive system can be male, female or intersex (not clearly defined as either male or female).
People are assigned a sex at birth based on their reproductive anatomy. Sex assigned at birth is independent of gender identity. Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of identity as female, male, both or neither, regardless of their sex assigned at birth.
For many people, their gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth (cisgender). Others may identify as being transgender or gender diverse if their gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. A person’s gender identity can be girl, woman, boy, man, transgender, gender fluid, gender queer, agender or others.
The intention in this material is to use language that reflects these many possibilities. The intention is not to ‘ban’ the use of boy, girl, him, her, she or he. For example, when speaking to or about a student who identifies as a girl, using the terms she, her, and girl are perfectly acceptable. The goal is to expand who feels included when using language and talking to or about groups of people.
*Content translated into French is excepted, as French grammar does not allow for gender neutral language.
Diagrams can be a particularly useful tool when teaching anatomy and physiology; however students need help to interpret what the diagram represents. In general, showing the external (outside of the body) diagrams first and then showing the internal (inside the body) diagrams that include the whole body will help students understand what they are seeing, before showing the more detailed internal diagram of a specific organ, system or region.
All of the diagrams and slides are grouped together in one PowerPoint file per grade. The diagrams can be displayed or printed as needed. Diagrams that are intended to be used as student handouts or worksheets will be found in the lesson plans as well. Answer keys are provided in the lesson plans for all worksheets.
Homework assignments and grading
Some of the lesson plans contain assignments that can be collected and graded. The Evaluation Overview for each grade identifies assignments that are more appropriate for grading. If you are assigning grades for student work, remember that students whose parents have opted-out of sexual health education must not be penalized for not participating.
Some of the lesson plans contain homework assignments. The majority of the assignments are questions meant to inspire discussion at home with the student’s family. While most students and families will benefit from open discussion about sexuality and sexual health, there are times when this may not be true. For example, if a student is being abused by a parent, homework discussing the types of abuse and what to do if a friend is being abused may in fact be dangerous for a student to complete. You may also wish to have alternate assignments prepared or inform students that the activity is optional, in order to meet the needs of your students. It is also recommended that homework assignments be discussed or reviewed in class but not graded.
Some students may have had traumatic experiences and these experiences can impact their learning, behaviour and relationships at school. Trauma-informed practice is a whole-school approach to creating a school environment where every student feels safe and supported. For more information about trauma-informed practice, see the Alberta Education resources.
Differing abilities lesson plans
Students with physical and developmental disabilities experience the physical, social and emotional changes associated with developing into a healthy adult. However, many students miss out on sexuality education and have gaps in knowledge and understanding about how to cope with puberty changes and develop healthy relationships.
All of the lesson plans available to use in this section can be adapted to the needs of individual students and groups. The lesson plans often give options e.g., activities for students who may need more support versus activities where students can work more independently in small groups. Combine activities to produce a lesson that fits your students.
Here are some tips and strategies for teaching human sexuality to your students:
- Ensure that ground rules are established before starting your lessons. Sexual health education occurs most effectively in a classroom where there is a mutual feeling of trust, safety and comfort.
- Whenever possible be as hands on as possible using everyday objects and examples e.g., use hygiene tools when talking about puberty and practice hygiene routines at school.
- To help students develop skills, use role play, experiential opportunities and problem solving scenarios. For example, students learning about private and public space can tour the school to identify which areas are private and public and the types of behaviours and activities that are appropriate in these spaces.
- Include the students’ family or guardians by letting them know what topics you are covering in school and suggesting activities to do at home that reinforce the teaching points from class e.g., students could identify private and public spaces at home.
- Sexuality is just one part of overall health and well-being and can easily be linked to other health topics. For example, when discussing puberty changes include discussions and activities for healthy eating and active living as both contribute to students’ development.
- The question box can be used to encourage students to ask questions privately. It can be adapted for students who do not read or write by using a teacher or teaching assistant as a scribe.