It was a busy day at Webster this Friday. In addition to my classes with the kids, I also got to participate in a school emergency drill (the kids followed directions and it went well). Here’s what we talked about:
4th Grade – A Different Slant on Tobacco
I spoke with the 4th graders about the difference between facts and opinions, and the difference between reporting and advertising. We read a couple of stories together as a class; the first was about a fictional report about a new advertising campaign from a tobacco company, and the second was a fictional report from doctors about the negative consequences of using chewing tobacco. We talked about why its important to be able to value opinions differently; is an advertisement telling us the whole truth or just saying the “good stuff”? Why should we value a doctors opinion on health over the opinions of a tobacco advertisement?
Also, as entertainment, advertising and news seem to be merging more and more every year, its important that our kids learn to decipher facts from opinions in all the media they are taking in. Why should we value an experts opinion more than a blog entry? What should hold more weight: the recommendation of your family doctor, or the entry you just read on WebMD? Its great to be informed, but an article we read on the internet probably shouldn’t trump the expertise of someone that has spent years studying the issue in question.
5th Grade – Keep Off the Grass
After asking the kids what they already knew about marijuana (they had all heard of it, but there were a lot of misconceptions about what it actually is: a plant that contains the drug THC), we watched some clips from a video called “The Marijuana Files”. The video discusses the ongoing studies into the permanent negative effects of THC on the brains of kids. The show follows two teenage hosts that travel across the country to interview researchers. While we watched the video, the kids filled in a handout that points out the effects of THC on the heart, lungs and brain.
I think its important to talk to the kids about marijuana in depth at least once a year, and each presentation builds on the material from the previous year. I emphasized to the kids that no matter what the laws are for adults (they are continually changing), drugs like THC, alcohol and nicotine have been and always will be against the rules for kids. But every kid knows they are not allowed to have it, so I want to spend the time I have in class talking to them about how using these drugs at a young age can not only be dangerous in the present but also damage their future. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.