13 Reasons Why: Compiled Resources for Educators

The Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why” has started many conversations around mental health and suicide prevention among educators, school counselors, and school administrators. It’s also caused some painful memories to flare up for students or adults who have struggled with mental health issues. The series is based on the book by Jay Asher, a book that I read a few years ago in basically one long sitting (interrupted by some sleep and a few hours of track practice) after noticing a lot of my students reading it. I enjoyed the book and I recently watched the series, which I also enjoyed. However, I was surprised at some of the things they decided to include in the series. The Netflix series is more graphic in nature and expands upon events in the book (which takes place in only one night) over a series of days and weeks. There is a lot more detail and more graphic depictions of events than in the book, which is why the series is generating a lot of buzz that the book did not.

Netflix shows can be watched by teenagers at any time, on their phones, tablets, computers, or TV. Often, teenagers will watch alone or a few friends, but not their parents. I understand the increase of concern based on this one series, but I would hope that this will make parents and educators more aware of what their teenagers/students are accessing on their own time, whether it be from Netflix, YouTube, books, etc. It is increasingly more difficult for adults to keep an eye on the media their teenagers are consuming. And, as always: why does it take a major television show to promote discussion around sensitive topics that have always been areas of concern? But, conversations and awareness are good, so I guess that’s another topic for another day…

Many local school districts have proactively sent information home to families about the television show with the goals of informing parents of its content and providing talking points for adults to use when discussing the show with their children. As I write this post, my district has not yet done so. Since starting my program to obtain administrative licensure, I’ve found myself thinking about how I would respond to different things as an administrator. For me, this is the perfect opportunity for collaboration among multiple components of the WSCC Model: in particular the components of health education, counseling, psychological, & social services, health services, social & emotional environment, and community involvement. Assembling a school wellness team, with support from central office and other community members, can help in determining how to be proactive when handling a topic like this. This is an opportunity to connect with their students and their families while they are paying attention to a very important topic: we cannot lose this opportunity! Unfortunately, many districts will remain silent.

Below you’ll find a list of resources that have been sent my way that may be helpful in discussing “Thirteen Reasons Why” with teenagers. These were obtained from multiple resources: my school psychologist, the CTAPE email list, and my PLN on Twitter/social media. I haven’t fully examined all of them, but a link and brief description is provided. I hope these links are helpful to you! Thank you to those who have been sharing their resources with others!

Netflix 13 Reasons Why: What Viewers Should Consider (The JED Foundation). Information viewers should consider before and while watching the show.

13 Reasons Why: Talking Points (The JED Foundation). The talking points mentioned in the resource linked above.

13 Reasons Why: Considerations for Educators (National Association of School Psychologists). Guidance for educators and students, with additional resources for more information.

In Response to 13 Reasons Why (To Write Love on Her Arms). A perspective from the founder of an organization helping individuals with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.

What Parents Should Know About 13 Reasons Why (Riverside Trauma Center). Information for parents and recommendations about conversations to have with their adolescent children.

“This Is What’s Missing From ’13 Reasons Why’” (Teen Vogue). An op-ed writer explains the red flags they noticed in the series.

Risk Factors & Warning Signs (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). A list of warning signs and risk factors for suicide.

Netflix Series ’13 Reasons Why’ Has Parents, Mental Health Experts, and Educators Worried (Good School Hunting). Erika Sanzi writes from the perspective of a parent and a former educator.

7 Essential Discussion Questions for “13 Reasons Why” (We Are Teachers). Questions educators can use should the series come up while conversing with students.



Skills Based Health Education & Bloom’s Taxonomy

I still need to write my final SHAPE Boston reflection, but I remembered something that came up in our presentation and wanted to share it. Implementing a skills based curriculum and following a set of steps to teach the skills in health education involves higher order thinking. It’s important for health educators to be able to articulate this using eduspeak that administrators or their evaluators, many of whom are unfamiliar with health education, will understand.

One characteristic of an effective health education curriculum, as defined by the CDC, is the following: 

An effective curriculum builds essential skills — including communication, refusal, assessing accuracy of information, decision-making, planning and goal-setting, self-control, and self-management — that enable students to build their personal confidence, deal with social pressures, and avoid or reduce risk behaviors.

For each skill, students are guided through a series of developmental steps:

    1. Discussing the importance of the skill, its relevance, and relationship to other learned skills.
    2. Presenting steps for developing the skill.
    3. Modeling the skill.
    4. Practicing and rehearsing the skill using real–life scenarios.
    5. Providing feedback and reinforcement.

These developmental steps directly mirror action verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy. All educators are aware of Bloom’s; it’s a commonality shared among all subject areas, including health education.

The screenshot below indicates which portions of the NHES Skills Sequence are included in an example skills-based unit, as well as where each lesson (the “#” column) falls under Bloom’s Taxonomy. The number of lessons may differ based on your own schedule, so if you were to make this chart it may look a little different. Action verbs, based on what students will be doing during the lesson, are also included. Feel free to use this image in your own evaluation binders, blogs, or presentations to school committees. For my Massachusetts folks: Standard 1-A-1 on the teacher evaluation rubric.

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The progression from general information to specific information, and from simple to complex on Bloom’s Taxonomy, demonstrates a progression of learning experiences that allow students to, “acquire complex knowledge and skills.”

Most educators are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, and administrators would certainly be looking for students to demonstrate higher level thinking during class. This chart can be used to justify the shift towards a skills based health curriculum, or as evidence of the higher level thinking that takes place during the teaching of skills and performance indicators from the National Health Education Standards. Health education IS academic, even when the focus is on teaching skills over content.

Now, about that grading…


New Trimester; New Student Created Expectations

I still have to write my final SHAPE Boston reflection, but one of the ideas I took from SHAPE Boston to implement immediately in my classroom was the “R.O.P.E.S.” acronym explained by Andy Milne in his session on participatory activities in health education. Today we began a new trimester, and I had all new 7th and 8th grade classes (I dropped my 6th grade today). What better time to try a new activity?!

A lot of teachers go over the same song and dance on the first day of a class. It’s a “here’s the course information sheet, yawn, tell me your name, blah blah blah, here are the rules, is your butt numb yet?!” routine. Today we did our usual “turn in your cool card” dance lesson, and then I moved into the “R.O.P.E.S.” activity. As explained by Andy & Andy:

R.O.P.E.S. is an acronym that we use to set a tone in the classroom. We have students come up with words that pertain to classroom environment that start with these five letters. Students are encouraged to provide an example (“what would that look like in our classroom?”) for the word they choose. It has been an effective way to get students to participate in creating classroom expectations. Usually we hang a copy of the ROPES list on the wall so that students are reminded throughout the year of the expectations.

I did this with four classes, giving each group a piece of paper to brainstorm words letter by letter, and then we discussed each letter and word one at a time and created a visual on the white board. After we had a completed list, I had the students individually reflect on what they could do to make these words a reality in our health class. I snapped a picture of each list after it was finished. Tonight, I quickly typed up all of the words from my four classes and put them into a Wordle

Some classes had words that were more reflective than others, and some words might leave you scratching your head, like “pancakes” (the student who came up with that said to make sure to flip your viewpoint to another side…like a pancake. That’s outside the box thinking!). Here’s an example of what one individual class (the 1st one I did this with) came up with, complete with a plethora of lost & found books missing their owners because #middleschool:


Below you’ll see four different layouts of the completed Wordles. I plan on printing these out in color to post around my classroom. I’ll post them in Google Classroom, and may even adjust the dimensions to use as a header for each Google Classroom page, too. Overall, I liked the interactive element of this activity and the opportunity for students to have a voice in what they wanted health class to look like. I’m glad Andy shared this activity that him and his colleague (another Andy) use in their health classrooms.  This is an activity I’ll be repeating and one that you could implement in your classroom tomorrow. Click the link at the start of this post or just click here to access the R.O.P.E.S. document from Andy & Andy.

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Now, about that grading…

SHAPE Boston Day Four Recap!

The fourth day of SHAPE Boston was on St. Patrick’s Day, and the convention attendees decked themselves out in a lot of green. Me? I wore blue. I should have worn my green t-shirt from sendateacher.com, but because we were presenting today, I felt a tie was appropriate for our first national presentation. I was able to grab lunch with some college classmates and helped two people set up a PLN on Twitter. My brain is still spinning from all the information that I learned, and I need some more time to reflect moving forward. Some changes I can implement quickly in my own classroom; other changes need time to be researched and developed. There will be blog posts about all of these. Onto the recap! 

Members of my PLN I Met: No one. Guess I met most of them already!

Sessions Attended…

  • “Physical Activity During School/The Kinesthetic Classroom – Teaching & Learning Through Movements” (Dana Chambers & Magaera Regan). This session explained some of the neuroscience behind the effects of movement on learning and armed educators with details to justify the importance of movement in the classroom. The biggest take away for me was the importance of explaining to other educators that movement doesn’t take away time from academics when it is an integral part of how you teach. 
  • Ad-Hoc Twitter Session! I took some time to show a friend and college classmate how to set up an online PLN on Twitter. She was a quick learner, and I look forward to seeing examples of her student’s work online. Afterwards, I wandered around the exhibit hall with my colleague, Danielle.
  • “Take Action in Your State: Success Stories from Advocacy Champions” (Michael Doyle, Jenny Dearden, Jamie Sparks). If you’ve been reading all of my recaps, you’ll notice that I’m particularly interested in advocacy at the state and national levels. This session began with a recap of ESSA and shifted to experiences in Minnesota and Kentucky related to advocating for health and physical education in their own states. Seeing what was going on in other states was motivating, and as much as they have accomplished, everyone knows there is still a lot of work to be done, and we need a “sustained, strategic effort” from teachers and advocates in ALL of our states.
  • “Five Strategies to Supercharge Your Health Class” (Mary McCauley). Mary led another health education session with different ideas to amp up your health class. Many activities were content heavy, but I attended this with my colleague Danielle, and we came away with a few ideas to implement during different units. 
  • “Shifting From Content-Based to Skills-Based Health Education” (Jeff Bartlett & Danielle LaRocque). Hey, that’s us!! Danielle and I have taken our health curriculum and made it a skills-based health education curriculum. It’s not perfect, and we’re not 100% there, but we are well along. I was thrilled to present with Danielle, and we had a GREAT audience who shared their own ideas, too. We presented at 4:15, on a Friday that was St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, and had almost 50 people attend! I enjoyed the follow-up conversations with other health teachers afterwards. Looking for our Slides? Check them out here. It’s easier to understand if we explain them, so if you have questions, shoot me an email: jeffreybartlett at danvers dot org. 

Resources to Share…

  • We stopped by the Common Bytes booth at the expo. Although they aren’t available for purchase yet, they have some cool little nutrition activities that fit into our unit objectives and would be more engaging than the way we currently teach the content part of nutrition. Another plus? When we looked at the prices they were budget friendly! They’ll also have an online component, for schools interested in that.

One Takeaway to Implement ASAP…

Final Thought….

  • I had a few conversations with fellow Massachusetts teachers who are doing GREAT things in their classroom. We need more teachers to present! It’s a great experience, and we all learn together. Please consider presenting at your state, district, or national conference if you haven’t done so already. We want to learn from you! 

Now, about that grading…

SHAPE Boston Day Three Recap!

Days Three (Thursday) of the SHAPE America Conference continued the professional learning and networking from the first two days of the conference. Here’s a recap; the day four reflection and a final reflection will be posted sometime this weekend or early next week! I don’t go into crazy detail about all of the ideas I obtained from sessions, but hope to write about them as I implement them during the school year.

Members of my PLN I Met: Keith (@MrKNoel), Chad (@ChadDauphin), Melanie (@MelanieLynch52), Adam (@pe_mullis)

Sessions Attended…

  • “TOYs (Teachers of The Year) Just Want to Have Fun In Health Class” (Melanie Lynch and Mary McCauley). This session with Melanie & Mary gave me some ideas for the content portions of our skills based health curriculum. I’m always interested in seeing how other teachers teach the same content areas that I do, and I left with some ideas specific to nutrition and even some classroom management techniques. Melanie and Mary were engaging presenters who exude passion for health education.
  • Exhibition Hall. I spent some time browsing the exhibition hall. I clearly had to spend time at the Springfield College booth (Class of ’08), and networked with a doctoral student there. I picked up a book from Human Kinetics on promoting health and academic success in schools using the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child approach. I had a great conversation with the representatives from the CDC’s School Health branch, and the Melanoma Foundation of New England. We were fortunate to obtain a facial analyzer machine from a similar foundation, the Melanoma Education Foundation. I swung by the Dove Self Esteem Fund booth to have a chat with Jessica Lawrence, and talked about all things health education on a macro level.
  • “Health and Physical Education Advocacy Using the School Health Profiles” (Regan Dodd and Kim Kato). This was a brief, 30 minute presentation about using the school health profiles from the CDC to advocate for health programs. I fill out the survey every two years, but never looked at the end report, which I now plan to do!
  • “Bye Bye, Binary: Inclusive Secondary Human Sexuality Education” (Emily A. Owens-Edington). I attended this session because the information around LGBTQ education is constantly shifting. Since we shifted our human sexuality curriculum, I’m always trying to stay up to date on the most current terminology, especially because the students stay right on top of that information. This session featured a lot of crowd sourcing from the audience, and I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of other teachers. Although I knew a lot of the information that was presented, I left with some ideas about how to promote an inclusive environment in my classroom, and a GREAT three sentence response to anyone who is using offensive language relating to someone’s sexual identity or orientation: “We don’t use people’s identities/orientations as insults in this space. We value and respect each other. Thank you.”
  • “Physical Activity in the Classroom, Pittsfield, MA: A Success Story” (Linda Avalle). I’ve been attending a lot of sessions about implementing changes on a school wide level to increase student movement and engagement. Linda Avalle and representatives from the Pittsfield (MA) Public Schools shared their success story of shifting from a district where 2.7% of elementary students were physically active for the SHAPE/CDC recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day to 75% of students meeting that benchmark. Discipline referrals also went down significantly, AND they have the data to back it up! A 5 minute activity break in the morning and afternoon, a 20 minute structured recess, and 30 minutes of physical education daily did it.

Resources to Share…

  • The Genderbread Person. I’ve used this in health class during human sexuality, and it does a great job with the differences between biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 

One Takeaway to Implement ASAP…

  • The three sentence response for when students use hurtful/negative language towards other students is a good one for teachers to have: “We don’t use people’s identities/orientations as insults in this space. We value and respect each other. Thank you.”

Final Thought….

  • One of the best aspects of conferences like SHAPE America? The conversations that happen between sessions or in the before/after moments when people are settling in. When you’re in a place surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things you are, it’s almost impossible to not have a great, profession enhancing conversation. 

Now, about that grading…

SHAPE Boston Day Two Recap

Day Two of the SHAPE America Conference was jam-packed with learning and meeting friends from my #healthed and #slowchathealth PLN. I wrote this in a rapid fire way, so please pardon any typos for now!

Members of my PLN I Met: Andy M (@carmelhealth), Matt (@Physed_Pomeroy), David (@WstprtWellness), Collin (@CollinBrooksie), Nick (@NicholasEndlich), Rich (@richwiles), Jo (@LovePhyEd), Allisha (@RunDanceLive)

Sessions Attended…

  • “Action Academics” (Kenny Clark). This session focused on incorporating physical activity into the regular classroom. This is a topic I’ve been interested in and been thinking about since our school became a 1:1 school with Chromebooks. Kenny had some ideas that can be implemented by teachers of any subject, and some school-wide ideas, too. I’m thinking about compiling some of the information with other movement resources to present to our entire teaching staff. With a new term starting Monday, and a new group of students, there are one or two changes I think I can make almost immediately to my teaching. I’ll probably blog about them in the future.
  • SHAPE General Session. John Jacobs, the Chief Executive Optimist, gave a FANTASTIC presentation to the convention attendees about positivity. It’s hard to put into words if you didn’t experience it. 
  • “Participatory Activities to Engage Students Within The Health Classroom” (Andy Milne). I was BUMMED that Andy Horne wasn’t able to make the convention, but THRILLED that I was finally able to meet Andy M. and see his presentation. I’ve been following Andy & Andy on Twitter for a while, and have collaborated with them on Voxer and the SHAPE America Podcast as well. Andy’s session was engaging and thrilled with ideas that I think we can add into our health curriculum to fill some gaps. 
  • “Facilitating Role Plays in The Health Education Classroom (Jessica Lawrence). Jess presented another engaging session that was relevant to our work in the health classroom. We use role plays in two of our three grade levels, and this session helped connect the dots for creating additional steps/protocols for our students. We spend so much time, for example, trying to teach students about interpersonal communication skills, that we forget they need to know how to write an actual role play. I think we’ll now give students a half script to fill in and then will bring in an administrator to demonstrate a role play and the processing that happens afterwards.
  • SHAPE Social. I spent the evening networking and connecting with other health and physical educators. A lot of talk centered around advocacy and what we can do as health educators to help schools, families, and communities understand the importance of being healthy. I was able to meet a few more members of my PLN, and even found a way to go 2-0 in a new game.

Resources to Share…

  • Tools2Engage: This website by Andy & Andy has a bunch of their health education teaching resources. It’s worth checking out! (That’s an understatement)

One Takeaway to Implement ASAP…

  • Action/Participation Cards. Kenny shared a template for action/participation cards. I plan on making copies or developing a similar template on cardstock for all my students. Each direction of the compass is associated with a specific movement activity. Students have a “Movement Activity Partner” and link up with them to perform the movement and answer my prompt.

Final Thought….

The #healthed crew from Twitter and Voxer is like one big family. I have never met any of these individuals until this week, but I have shared resources with them and discussed a lot of health education “stuff” in Voxer or in a podcast. Despite never having met any of them, it felt like we had already met and known each other for a long time. The power of individuals to create change is big, but when it’s added to the power of other individuals, obviously it multiplies. This group of health educators and physical educators are onto something, and big things are on the horizon.

Now, about that grading…

SHAPE Boston Recap

Today was the first day of SHAPE Boston! Mother Nature and her friend by the name of Stella allowed me to head into an extra day of SHAPE Boston due to a snow day. I plan on briefly writing a short recap post after each day at SHAPE, whenever I can based on the evening events, to reflect and share some resources from my notes. My brain is always SPINNING (in a good way!) after I attend conferences, so I guess this is my way of working through some of the information now working its way through my cerebrum.

Members of my PLN I Met: Jessica (@cairnguidance), Amy (@teaching_health), Mary (@PrideandjoyMary), Bob from PE Pep Talk (@PEPEPTALK). 

Sessions Attended (each 4 hours long)…

  • “Systems Thinking, Systems Changing: Institutionalizing School Health Programs” with Jessica Lawrence. This session tasked attendees with completing a simulation board game that simulated a three-year process to implement a system-wide change in school health. It was research based, fun, and VERY informative yet frustrating. It was a real eye opener to see all the work that has to take place to get multiple stakeholders on the same page in order to implement a systems change within your school or community. I’m currently getting my administrator’s license, and for me, this was a valuable experience in making sure to build relationships and create buy in before attempting to implement a wide scale change. It’s hard to explain in detail, but I know the handouts and information provided will inform my career when I eventually make the move into administration of some kind. My ideal admin. gig? Being responsible for a school or district wide culture of educating the whole child through wellness initiatives (or something like that).
  • “Ready to Go Health Projects For Any School On a Budget” with Amy Lauren Smith. I’ve worked online with Amy before, and I used to write for Choices (she still does), so I was looking forward to this session. Amy actually messaged me last night and asked if I could help out due to her co-presenters being unable to get into Boston due to the snow. I was happy to help out a member of my PLN, if only for a short period of time during the session. Amy focused on project based learning in health education, and I’ve been thinking about how we can use elements of the PBL Framework in our skills-based health education curriculum. I left the session with some ideas of my own to share with my colleague as we further refine and improve our scope and sequence.

Resources to Share…

One Takeaway to Implement ASAP…

  • During Amy’s session we were using sticky notes to share our goals for the session. Sticky notes are commonly used for formative assessment. I thought about using sticky notes during project work, and having each group write their goals for the class period on a sticky note before sticking it to the wall. At the end of the class, the group can reflect on their progress working towards that goal, and make a game plan for next time.

Final Thought….

  • We had a great discussion in Amy’s session with a pre-service teacher who is preparing to student teach at the undergraduate level. The conversation was focused on boundaries between students and teachers, specifically about disclosing or not disclosing information. I think the student left with some valuable insight from experienced educators. It’s refreshing to see future educators at conferences like this, and more importantly, not being afraid to ask questions.

Now, about that grading…