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Health and Civic Literacy Discussed At Final Iowa Core Curriculum Meeting

By Staff | Apr 13, 2010

In a continuing discussion on what skills students need for future success, parents, teachers, and school administrators met Apr. 8, at the Emmetsburg Middle School/High School library. This was the final in a series of four public meetings to discuss the Iowa Core Curriculum and 21st Century Skills. During this session, discussion focused on Health Literacy and Civic Literacy.

“We’re winding the meetings down, but this is going to be an on-going thing,” said Superintendent John Joynt. “It’s going to be a big part of school from now on.”

The Department of Education for the State of Iowa has created a plan called the Iowa Core Curriculum, a statewide effort to improve teaching and learning. The Core Curriculum includes the core content areas of literacy (reading and writing), math, science, and social studies, as well 21st Century Skills, developed to help students be successful after leaving school. These 21st Century Skills include employability skills, financial literacy, health literacy, technology literacy, and civic literacy.

Deb Jurrens, member of the Iowa Team Core, led the group in discussion activities to determine what health and civic skills today’s students need to be successful in their future endeavors. She kicked-off the discussion with Health Literacy.

Comments heard in regards to demonstrating functional health literacy skills: “Hygiene, cleanliness;” “Disease prevention, health promotion;” “How to find resources and information regarding disease prevention and health promotion;” “High school students view themselves as untouchable;” “Elementary level health is very specific;” “High school students may respond better to the shock factor of diseases, such as through video;” “There are many community resources, but the volume is overwhelming so it is hard to determine what is pertinent for education;” “It is important to go back to the basics and address hand washing;” and “Students in our part of the state can seem to be isolated from the communicable diseases.”

Under synthesizing interactive literacy and social skills: “Conflict management, helping self and others;” “Advocate for family and community health;” “This area seems civic-related (blood drives, community service times, Relay for Life, Pennies for Patients, JEL, SADD, Nutrition and Diabetic Awareness);” and “Giving opportunities for students to be part of groups that promote health.”

Comments heard about applying critical literacy/thinking skills related to personal, family, and community wellness: “Use knowledge of relevant terminology (such as deductible, co-pay, catastrophic, coverage) to ask questions and make decisions about health benefits;” “Seek multiple perspectives when asking for assistance to make health-related decisions;” “Being able to understand why getting involved in helping people make good decisions is important;” “Ethical practices, good judgment;” “Using labels when making good nutrition decisions;” “People need a basic understanding of insurance;” and “Knowing who to call with insurance questions.”

Under using media literacy skills to analyze media: “Knowing that the Internet is not always true;” “Knowing how to doubt ‘fad’ diets;” “Understanding commercials and advertising strategies;” “Understanding your own genetics;” and “Understanding the importance of cultural diversity.”

Comments heard about demonstrating behaviors that foster healthy, active lifestyles for individuals and the benefit of society included:  “Engaging in activities to promote overall health” and “Stress management, risk avoidance, healthy eating, healthy behaviors, positive mental and emotional health.”

Jurrens then moved the discussion on to the subject of Civic Literacy and what concepts and skills are necessary for success.

Comments heard about understanding the rights and responsibilities of each citizen were: “Civic action: voting, participating in community-betterment activities, volunteering;” “Instill the importance of volunteering/community service while students are young; this can be hard with busy schedules of students;” “This can carry over into adulthood;” “Working with students to get them involved in community groups that make policies;” “Flag courtesy;” and “Let students talk to people who have not grown up in a democracy.”

Under understanding the rights and responsibilities of each citizen: “Understand how lobbying groups work and how effective the process can be;” “Promote membership in organizations for your professional field;” “Teach political action. Be able to give your point of view to a legitimate organization;” “Understanding biases;” “Understanding branches of government; understanding how a bill becomes law;” and “Public services.”

Comments about understanding how law and public policy are established: “How to lobby a new law; seeing the process through from start to finish;” “Easy to make relevant curriculum; use a school policy as a project to allow students to lobby (examples: open campus, bike trail, casino);” and “Having knowledge of politics and knowing what media to trust and what drives media (such as political biases).”

Jurrens wrapped up the discussion by inviting one or two interested community members and/or parents onto the district’s Iowa Core Curriculum and essential skills and concepts planning committee.

 “We don’t often do this, but you could help us make decisions and formally set some of these policies,” said Jurrens.