A very important aspect to education is warning signs for the variety of drugs available to the genera public and allow them to understand the key distinctions between the different types and overall understand that a drug is simply any substance other than food which changes the way the body or mind functions.
Recently I started the module with my third years about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol irresponsibly. So far the students have co-operated well with the module and have asked a lot of questions contributed greatly to the lessons. I found that there was a colossal amount of resources on this topic so it made lesson planning very easy in comparison to some other social topics.
One Power point I found was on the various drugs types and the category each one falls under. However, as I always say, a PowerPoint is only as good as the teacher who is using it. To begin the series of lesson,s start with the lesson of what is a drug?
Secondly, inform them of what qualifies as a drug, e.g. caffeine, and what it is categorized under;
Carry on the lesson appropriately that suits you class understanding and ability. Have the pupils read from slides and incorporate higher and lower order questions and using a variety of methodologies that permits students participation and discussion.
The various PowerPoint and worksheets on resources websites like TES.co.uk, are so effective and once examined properly they can be incorporated into the lesson effectively. Drugs and alcohol is of course an important and arguably difficult topic to teach especially since the frequent things that adolescents are exposed to in modern society. So like many social topics, you have to teach it from an outside perspective, not judging those who have or have not taken any form of drug that effect their body whether it is for medical or recreational purposes and of course making no presumptions or putting any pressure on students in the class. A ‘Say no to drugs’ rant maybe very irrational, but instead ensure it is an illustration of their effects and how the consequences can be dangerous. Know the difference between informing and lecturing.
In addition to the PowerPoint, there is a documentary you can show parts of at the end of each lesson that is perfectly divided to allow you to show different parts on different lessons. The documentary : What drugs do in your body, illustrates what several different drugs effects drugs have on the body and the mind. The documentary is just over 40 minutes but shows how intoxicated people react to the different everyday and emergency situations under the influence of narcotics. If you divide the video to 3 lessons based on the 3 scenarios that take place in the video.The documentary is engaging in many ways as it shows how people react to under the influence and while they are sober. The idea is not to put a shock value for the pupils but to provide them with the heads up as to what is out there and whats ahead of them.
Assessment can be tricky with this section. The topic is an important but not a mandatory lesson for the Junior or Leaving certificate. This is ideal, as the lessons should not require a need for examination. However, if in an exam subject it still has its benefits, for religious education it can be used to illustrate the choices in morality and ideally can used as an example of respecting yourself and moral codes. For S.P.H.E. its very relevant for obvious reasons, drugs are very relative to peer pressure, a common issue for teens. It is also appropriate for seniors under social ed or non-exam RE as maturity is important. Avoid the topic with first years and second years as instead the maturity of the topic requires the pupils to be more aware about the world and themselves.
The topic can cross over with science and P.E. for effects of drugs on the body and even C.S.P.E. with importance of raising awareness of the dangerous impact abusing drugs can have on both the users and those around them. It is an important topic to inform the pupils on this area and although not a polite area to teach, holds a lot of necessity for their social and mental development throughout their school days. Most importantly from, it appropriately incorporates the key skills of the NCCA. Communication through class discussion, managing information through breaking down the types of drugs, critical thinking for the striking factors that are raised, working with others for pair discussion etc.
Its an important and mature topic, Don’t be afraid to answer controversial questions or listen to students inputs. However, for any inappropriate comments from students you may have, promote a disclaimer prior to beginning the lessons. Inform the pupils that their opinions can be respected as long as they are appropriate and do not offend any other pupil in the classroom. If pupils do not co-operate maybe disallow them from contributing in discussions. You do not know what issues students sitting in front have that may relate to drink or drugs. Again don’t let this put you off, but ensure respect is maintained from your part too. Remind the students that if they feel uncomfortable in any shape or form about the class they are welcome to address it privately afterwards, and in case you are worried the students are too shy to say talk about their concern, the post it method for class reflection works wonders. It can provide yourself with a decent reflection on how the lesson went and realize if there is any concerns from the students.