Dist. 11 seeks updated health materials

The Anoka-Hennepin School District is looking to update its health materials in the next few years.

The district seeks parental input throughout the process.

Staff discussed proposed updates with the school board at a work session June 16 and board meeting June 30.

The current health curriculum is 15 years old, and the subject has changed significantly in those years, according to Ellen Delaney, director of secondary curriculum, assessment and instruction. For example, the food pyramid no longer exists, she said at the work session. Now, the United States Department of Agriculture uses a plate to illustrate a balanced diet.

To incorporate such changes into lesson plans, staff wishes to utilize a free online resource from Health Teacher, sponsored by Children’s Hospital, and purchase updated DVD resources for current textbooks in secondary schools. The DVDs will cost the district less than $500, Delaney said.

Both resources will be for teachers, not students; there is no budget for new student materials at present, Delaney said.

“There’s no change in content,” Associate Superintendent for Middle Schools Jinger Gustafson stressed at the board meeting.

The materials still align with the Minnesota state standards, and certain parts of the textbook will continue to be unused in high school health classes, Gustafson said. Health classes do not study certain portions on sexually transmitted diseases, she said at the board meeting.

Making changes to health curriculum can be a longer process than it is with other subjects, according to Gustafson.

“Health is a huge concern for our parents,” Delaney said at the work session.

“We want to make sure that we give our families ample opportunity to review the materials,” Gustafson said in an interview.

Parents are able to evaluate the proposed teacher resources through the District Media Services Department at the Educational Service Center from July 1 to mid-October.

Anoka-Hennepin’s Systems Accountability Committee will also review the resources before the board votes whether to approve them in late October.

Additionally, staff’s hope is to get new materials into students’ hands in the fall of 2016 in the form of a flexbook, which would allow the district to more easily update content in the changing field of health, Delaney said.

School Boardmember Jeff Simon thinks flexbooks are a smart model, he said at the work session. They would be a “money-wise decision,” he said.

When the time comes, parents will also have the opportunity to review the flexbooks.

If the board supports the health flexbooks, teachers would begin writing curriculum in the summer of 2016 for use in the 2016-2017 school year.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]