Health Curriculum Home Page

Overview of the Curriculum and Its Implementation

This curriculum uses an easy-to-follow format. There are six broad units. Within each unit are several lessons. The lessons contain the following parts:

  • Objectives: State what the client should be able to do or what the client should be aware of by the conclusion of the lesson
  • Materials: Lists materials--such as overheads, illustrated cards, charts, and other objects--needed during the lesson
  • Preparation: Lists things that the trainer must do before the lesson takes place
  • Note: Some lessons include notes of things the trainer should keep in mind or be aware of or do before or during the lesson
  • Procedure: Contains the body of the lesson with sequenced steps the trainer is to follow

    Having a sequence of steps to follow suggests that the curriculum is a cookbook and the lessons are recipes--that is the steps are carefully followed, a perfect "cake" will result. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! Without a motivated trainer who uses effective instruction, a curriculum is nothing more than a lifeless collection of paper and materials. It is the trainer who breathes life into a curriculum and helps make it relevant to clients' lives and ways of learning. By using effective instruction, the trainer breathes life into the lessons. This section focuses on instructional strategies and offers general guidelines for effective delivery of the curriculum.

    For the most part, the instruction in this curriculum is based on a specific body of research called "Effective Teaching" (Rosenshein, 1986). The Effective Teaching research looked at schools that served poor students to discover what was different about schools in which students achieved academically and those in which students did not. The researchers found the following teaching behaviors, or practices, to positively influence student achievement: review, presentation of new material, guided practice with feedback and correctives, independent practice, and periodic review. Although the Effective Teaching research was conducted with school age, hearing students, the Effective Teaching behaviors have been used in other curricula designed for traditionally underserved deaf adults.

    Following are explanations of each of these teacher behaviors and how to use them:

  • Review: Learning is meaningful when new material is related to what clients already know. Many lessons begin by reminding clients what they have previously learned about the topic or by asking them what they already know. Although the review portions may take only one or two steps, it is important to take sufficient time, and clients should be encouraged to communicate knowledge they have that is relevant to the topic. In listening to clients' responses, trainers can gather crucial information about clients' existing understandings--which, in some cases, may be misunderstandings that need to be addressed during the lessons.
  • Presentation of New Material: Most lessons require the presentation of new material. Since we cannot assume that clients understand new material, frequent checks for comprehension are included in the presentations. These checks are often in the form of questions and are usually preceded by the words, "To check for comprehension..." If these checks indicate clients do not understand, the trainer should go back and reteach the previous material before proceeding.

    In addition to frequent checks for understanding, the lessons include many examples to help make abstract concepts concrete and understandable to clients. Another way that abstract concepts and procedures are made concrete for learners is through visuals, which are shown on the many overhead transparencies and illustrated cards.

    Even more effective than examples and visuals, however, are real objects. Whenever cost considerations allowed, the curriculum provides these objects, such as condoms and breast models. In other instances, the trainer should gather these materials before hand. The trainer might also ask clients to bring materials to class. In the lessons on medication, for example, the trainer might bring his or her medicines and ask clients to do the same. In the lessons on nutrition, the trainer might ask clients to bring samples of their favorite foods. By doing this, lessons not only become more concrete, they become more relevant as well.

    In some cases, the presentations use familiar analogies to help clients understand new material. For example, in the introductory lesson on body systems, a row of dominoes is toppled to illustrate how all parts of the body are interrelated. Depending upon particular clients, these analogies may not be helpful. In trying the initial version of the curriculum, one trainer indicated that the dominoes analogy only confused her clients who did not grasp the connection. However, another reviewer stated that the domino analogy was especially helpful with her clients. Each trainer, then, should carefully consider whether analogies provided in the curriculum are appropriate for his or her clients. The trainer may decide to omit some analogies altogether or may use alternate analogies that are more relevant.

  • Guided Practice: Most lessons provide opportunities for clients to use the material, with the trainer's assistance, contained in the presentations. Sometimes clients answer questions related to material covered in the presentation, sometimes they practice procedures demonstrated by the trainer, and sometimes they engage in other activities. In recalling the leading causes of accidents among young people, for example, clients play a memory game. To practice the use of condoms, clients practice applying them to models, fingers, or bananas. To practice classifying foods, clients place pictures (or actual food) in the appropriate categories of the Nutrition Pyramid. To help them understand the many steps involved in a visit to the doctor's office, clients sequence illustrated cards.

    An integral part of Guided Practice is feedback with correctives. The trainer, of course, should tell clients whether their responses are correct or incorrect. But, whenever possible, the trainer should prompt clients until they provide the correct response or demonstrate the correct procedure. Imagine during the first aid lesson on burns, for example, that you have asked clients what they should do if they receive a third degree burn. Suppose a client responds, "Call 911 and wait." You might prompt by asking, "What can you do to feel better until help arrives? How should you wait? Should you move around?"

    Guided Practice with feedback and correctives should continue until the trainer is fairly certain clients understand the material. If clients do not understand, the trainer should reteach before proceeding.

  • Independent Practice, Review: Some lessons provide opportunities for clients to independently use information and skills contained in the presentations and practiced during the guided practices. For instance, clients are urged to keep nutrition journals and to add new medications to their medical cards. Most of the time, however, we cannot follow clients into their everyday lives to be sure they are using what they have learned. Thus, it is important to continually reinforce what clients have learned in previous lessons. For example, regarding nutrition, the trainer might ask a client who arrives early for class, "Did you eat breakfast today? Why is it important to find time for breakfast?"

    The above subsection provides explanations of specific teaching behaviors and tips focusing them successfully. The following subsection suggests general guidelines for the effective implementation of the curriculum.

    There is a central, "umbrella" guideline: Be flexible, and even creative, in your approach to the curriculum. You should not have to "reinvent the wheel" or make substantial modifications to the curriculum, but you will need to exercise flexibility and creativity. We have made every effort to anticipate the needs and ability levels of the diversity of clients who constitute the population of traditionally underserved persons who are deaf. These needs relate to culture, age, gender, linguistic ability, communication skills, reading level, and general cognitive capacity. But you know your clients far better than we do. So long as you remain true to the content and the wellness orientation of the curriculum, you are free to adapt lessons to meet the needs of your particular clients.

    Use additional materials as needed to facilitate clients' understanding. The curriculum provides numerous overhead masters, illustrated cards, some charts, and some models. We would have liked to provide more, but they would have added to the cost of the curriculum package, and we wanted to keep it affordable. We have provided sources and addresses for suppliers of health education aids, such as a device that shows the effect of smoking on developing fetuses and models of penises.

    Although we hired the services of a very talented artist, black and white drawings cannot accurately depict everything--for example, the appearance of first, second, and third degree burns. Photographs would surely facilitate clients' ability to classify kinds of burns. Such pictures should be fairly easy to locate in books in your local library.

    Community agencies and local branches of not-for-profit national organizations are valuable resources for services and material. Women's centers, for example, may provide speakers or information, or both, on domestic violence. For the lessons on birth control, Planned Parenthood may provide a birth control kit free or for a small fee. For the lessons on first aid, the American Red Cross may provide materials, such as photographs of burns, as well as instructors to enrich the curriculum with classes on the Heimlich maneuver and CPR.

    Communicate in whatever way is appropriate for your clients. No doubt, you are accustomed to adapting your communication style to fit your clients' needs. In an earlier version of the curriculum, what the trainer was to say was written in ASL. We decided this was too prescriptive and restrictive and changed to straight English--with the intention that trainers adapt the language as they saw fit. While we used straight English, we did try to retain the conceptual nature of sign language as much as possible.

    An additional comment is in order about the use of language. Aware of many clients' low reading levels and frustration with verbal tasks, we tried to keep the need for verbal learning to a minimum. In some cases, however, we deemed it important for clients to know certain words, such as "doctor," "nurse," and "latex." In some lessons, including most of those in Unit 2--Body Systems, we included labels for various body parts and organs. In the lesson the digestive system, for example, the trainer traces passage of food through the system while pointing out and naming organs. It is helpful, but not essential, for clients to know the names of these organs. What is important are the concepts: the food does not simply disappear upon being eaten, that it passes through and is acted upon by the digestive system, how to recognize digestive problems, and what to do about them. In this particular lesson, as in others, the trainer should use discretion as to requiring clients to learn verbal labels and terms, or even whether to mention them. The goal is to educate, not to frustrate.

    Strive, as much as possible, to connect the curriculum to your clients' particular, real-world experiences. Numerous pictures are used throughout the curriculum to depict real-life situations related to health care. No matter how accurate, though, pictures are abstractions of the real thing. Thus, field trips and the use of tangible objects will enhance the concrete relevance of the lessons. Immediately following lessons on the hospital, for example, clients might take a field trip to a hospital they would likely use in case of emergencies. With regard to the use of objects, the trainer and the clients might bring real food for nutrition lessons. Using real food, in addition to the pictures provided in the curriculum, will enable clients to consider the nutritional value of food particular to their various cultures.

    Finally, become thoroughly familiar with the lessons before teaching them. Remember that the curriculum is not a cookbook and the lessons are not recipes. You, the trainer, are an essential ingredient to the curriculum's success. If you are familiar with the lessons' content and teaching procedures, you will exhibit confidence, and your clients are likely to achieve the objectives. Before beginning, we suggest that you read through the entire curriculum. Then, in preparation for teaching a particular lesson, carefully read it. Rehearse the lesson, mentally going through each step--deciding where to position yourself, thinking about the mechanics of using transparencies and other aids, anticipating clients' responses, and deciding on adaptations.

    It is our hope that this curriculum, used creatively by competent instructors who are able to adapt to the unique learning requirements of each and every traditionally underserved deaf customer, will begin to address a very great need for enhanced health education for this population. We further hope that this curriculum will lead to an increased interest in health education, prevention, and wellness among this population as evidenced by the development of needed programs and high-quality research on the efficacy of this and other approaches.

    Sue Ouellette
    Wendy Burgess
    Carla Shaw

    Preface Introduction Unit 1 Unit 2 Unit 3 Unit 4 Unit 5 Unit 6 Resources

    Uploaded by: Melissa Close/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major