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IMGALTTAG Volume IV: Healthy Minds/ Healthy Bodies


Nutrition and Fitness: Adolescence 2004
By Terry Cowden
Carrick High School

The United States now has the highest obesity rate of any industrialized nation in the world.  More than half of all American adults and about one-quarter of all American children are now obese or overweight.  Those proportions have soared during the last decade, along with the consumption of fast food.  This global epidemic of fast food and fat-foods has caused obesity to shoot up, particularly in American children. Just a few years ago there were balanced meals with salads; now it’s McDonald’s with french fries.  Kids diets have changed immensely.  In 1960, the typical American ate 81 pounds of fresh potatoes and about 4 pounds of frozen french fries.  Today the typical American eats about 49 pounds of fresh potatoes every year – and more than 30 pounds of frozen french fries.  Ninety percent of those fries are purchased at fast food restaurants.

Although the current rise in obesity has a number of complex causes, genetics is not one of them.  The American gene pool has not changed radically in the past few decades.  What has changed is the nation’s way of eating and living.  The cause is as obvious as the noses on our faces.  In simple terms: when people eat more and move less, they get fat.  A generation ago, mothers made their kids go outside and play.  That meant basketball, baseball, hopscotch, running in tall grass, roller-skating or just biking.  Today, it’s video games and full-length movies on DVD’s with surround sound.  The typical American child now spends about 21 hours a week watching television – roughly one and a half months of television every year.  That does not include the time children spend in front of a screen watching videos, playing video games, or using the computer.  Outside of school, the typical American child spends more time watching television than doing any other activity except sleeping.

This curriculum will aid any instructor in implementing a plan to reverse this fat epidemic in not only American youth, but all involved.  Obesity is a major contributor to ill health.  Enough is enough.


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Healthy Minds/Bouncy Bodies
By Linda E. Grice
Oliver High School

This unit is designed for students who are taking the Childcare/Child Development Applied Technology and Career Development course. The students are eleventh and twelfth graders, sixteen years of age. The students will learn how to select nutritious snacks that will be relevant to a child’s culture and demonstrate healthy practices and activities for children in day cares. The students will plan and implement snacks and activities and create games to start toddlers and preschoolers on the road to good health.


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What’s for Lunch?
By Sarah Hornung
Mifflin Elementary School

The students I teach are from low-income families, and they often come to school hungry due to a lack of food in their homes. The students rely on school breakfast and lunch to meet their nourishment needs. More often than not, my students make poor choices within their limited diet. They refuse to drink milk, throw away fresh fruit, and discard vegetables at random.  When my students do have a few dollars in their pockets, they make even worse choices at the school store by purchasing items high in sugar and fat.

This unit will be used as a tool to educate my students about food. They will learn about nutrition, appropriate serving sizes and how to make good food choices on a limited budget and with limited control. The unit will begin during a lunch period. We will eat lunch together and discuss the items that are included in the free school lunch. If students have brought a lunch from home, we will talk about their lunch as well. This will lead us to a conversation about food groups and what items in our lunch are located in which food group. We will discuss serving sizes and create food pyramids together to identify food groups and appropriate serving sizes.

This unit will be presented to my Emotional Support class at Mifflin Elementary School, where I teach third, fourth, and fifth grades. I am responsible for instructing all areas of the curriculum including English, Reading, Spelling, Science, Math and Social Studies. The unit can be implemented in classes such as general education classes, and learning support or life-skills classrooms. This unit meets standards in different subject areas of the Pittsburgh Public Schools standards.


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It’s All About Nutrition
Elyse L. Karpa
Westinghouse High School

The purpose of my unit is to provide high school students with information about the importance of nutrition. My goal is to help them to realize that they are what they eat. Our obesity and heart disease statistics did not appear out of nowhere. They slowly and calculatedly grew with the evolution of food processing. This unit will provide the students with information about how our eating and exercise patterns have changed over the years. It will give them insight into new and innovative ways to avoid /limit unhealthy foods as well as add or increase the amount of exercise in their lives. The simplicity and variety in the unit assures that the students will have plenty to think about in terms of how and what they eat. They will also have an opportunity to complete an informational writing piece and a research project for their portfolio.

I am currently teaching Health on the high school level, but this unit can also be used in the middle school curriculum. It will satisfy many of the Health and Physical Educational Standards and provide the students with an ability to apply nutritional information for the prevention of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.


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Safe and Healthy Foods for Daily Living: A Curriculum for Secondary Special Needs Students
Ron Allen Medley
Oliver High School

The unit I designed is to be taught over the course of a semester. It is broken up into six sub-categories and targeted toward special needs high school students. The subcategories include food safety, buying foods, handling foods, cooking food properly, food supplements, and how different foods affect the body. I am currently a social studies and civics teacher at the high school level, but as such a teacher I realize that all aspects of society are interrelated. I think it is important to teach scientifically factual information (types of bacteria, micronutrients, biomagnification, and /or the scientific method) to my students that have a basis in historical facts. Also, due to the nature of my students, I feel it is important to make the material I teach as real world applicable and hands-on as possible. For that reason, students will be graded on participation and completion of labs and related hands-on class activities. I would also include several field trips in this unit to give students a chance to see the topics we are discussing first hand. Some examples of this might be a trip to a farm, McDonald’s, or the back room of a grocery store. This unit contains ideas that can be used in the regular education classroom in grades 6-8 as well as ideas that are specifically geared towards high school students with special needs.


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Women’s Voices/Women’s Dreams
Carol Petett
Taylor Allderdice High School

Women’s Voices/Women’s Dreams was created to be used in either the English or social studies curriculum grades 8-12. The unit may be used as a stand-alone unit in U.S. History and Civics or it may be used as part of an interdisciplinary unit with English and history teachers. Also the curriculum is designed for students in grades 8-12 with the teacher making any adjustments to the curriculum to meet particular needs. The underlying theme is people with agency. Agency is defined as the ability of a person or people to navigate within their own environment and take action in their own best interest. In this curriculum unit the focus is on women with agency, particularly women writers of the early 19th century. These women writers lived during a time when a woman’s opportunity for education equal to that available to men was not realized.  Through their writing in domestic advice journals and popular magazines of the 19th century a number of women campaigned for quality education for women. Many of these women’s voices are not heard today. This unit is an attempt to give voice to a few of them.


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The Truth about Nutrition: a Research and Presentation Project
Renee C. Tolliver
David B. Oliver High School

This four-week unit is designed for a ninth grade gifted English class, but it can easily be adapted to any class.  As the title of this curriculum unit suggests, the purpose of this project is to engage students in meaningful research and to improve their sadly deficient public speaking skills. The focus of the research will be the investigation of facts about health and nutrition. Yes, health and nutrition, not Shakespeare or the literature of the Harlem Renaissance. This approach of selecting an area that is atypical for an English project will help students to understand that skills they acquire in this class should be applied to all subject areas.  The presentation aspect of this project provides an authentic experience for the students as they weather the challenge of taking the stage in front of their peers in a large health class to present their findings. While learning the process presented in this unit is key to the students’ proficiency in research and public speaking techniques, the content is crucial in motivating them to engage in the process.  Once students have gathered the necessary information, they will use Publisher to make a brochure that contains the important information they found.  They will then reinforce what they have learned by using their creative talents to make a board game that tests the players’ knowledge of the topic.  Finally, they will create a PowerPoint presentation of their findings and present their research and brochures to one of the health classes. Students will also have a chance to play each other’s games on a specified “game day.”


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Eating Right
Priscilla Witten
Oliver High School

In this unit prepared for grades ten, eleven and twelve, we will explore the six basic nutrients, the Food Guide Pyramid created by the United States Department of Agriculture, the right foods to eat, correct portion sizes, the right combination of foods and how often to eat them.  From examination of these topics, participants will gain knowledge and understanding.  They will readily be able to transfer this knowledge into making healthier food choices on a daily basis.  The long term effect of this unit is that participants remain inspired to continue putting into practice what they know as it inspires the participants to become students for life because new research is constantly being made available.


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Chemistry of Healthy Diet
Raymond Zanetti
Schenley High School

The purpose of this curriculum unit is to address the need of students to understand how making wise choices concerning the types of foods that they plan to eat relates to good health. A current hot button in the mass media is the issue of obesity in the American culture. Every day on television news shows or in the newspaper we read about the growing number of Americans that are overweight. What has happened to our diet that has caused this dramatic change in body mass?  This unit will supplement the nutritional content that students are exposed to in health class by explaining the types of chemicals that make up foods, and the changes that take place within the human body when different types of food are consumed.  It will examine the chemistry of foods that students tend to eat.

My unit will begin with a study of nutrients along with various activities to identify which substances make up a student diet. These substances are often called macronutrients, and they make up a part of a pattern of eating that can lead to obesity and other health related problems; especially foods that are high in fats, and carbohydrates. Normal intake of these molecules provides the human body with an ample supply of energy to function properly, and contributes carbon atoms for the production of organic polymers. Over consumption of items in these two food groups can lead to obesity and poor health. In addition to fats and carbohydrates, this unit will also explore the role that proteins play in maintaining a healthy body.


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Chatham University
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IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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