Teaching teens about reproductive organs is an uncomfortable and intimidating task for anyone. Taking this topic in a scientific approach will relieve much of that stress. Reproductive organs apply to everyone. This is the anatomy of our bodies and from a scientific standpoint, it’s not any different than discussing the heart, brain, etc. Students may be wondering and talking to one another about their reproductive health as it is, so it’s essential to give them accurate information in a controlled classroom environment.
Covering this topic is a must for health educators at the high school level, and often earlier. It’s better to accept and embrace this as an important aspect of your curriculum, rather than dreading it. Making reproduction a fun topic will turn the tables around on the potential awkwardness and make you a much more approachable teacher. Start on the right foot by defining the words you will be using. I post the reproductive words on the board (penis and vagina) and making them say it out loud (real loud). This gets the kids laughing but also engaged, comfortable, and loosened up for the upcoming unit. Make sure to give your neighboring classes a heads up!
Following that ice breaker activity, I usually continue with a reproductive bingo or matching terminology. This will continue to build more fun and openness with a topic that originally is thought to be awkward. These activities could help but if not done with all students demonstrating maturity, it’ll follow into your following lessons. It’s key to walk that fine line and reinforce maturity of your students. The following activity suggestions will strengthen a usually intimidating unit into your new favorite one, and they can be tailored to fit the needs of your classroom!
Providing students with template worksheets allows them to take notes and follow along with the lesson. Students can even choose to create a character that looks like them on the online template, which adds a little comfort to a potentially uncomfortable topic.
A perfect way to get students comfortable with discussing reproduction is giving them a few bits of information about the topic and building their confidence with success. Some students hold back vocalizing their thoughts because they fear being wrong. This fear is magnified when they’re expected or asked to vocalize their thoughts on a subject like reproduction. An activity like matching is a great method of going over information in a safe way.
Playing a game like bingo could be a great way to break the ice with this topic. Ask the students to create their own bingo sheets from the template and make use of the "Move Cell" feature of Storyboard That. Cut out the terms and put them into a bowl for the kids to pull and yell out.
Cutting the reproductive organs or printing them onto a blank puzzle paper could be a great summative activity. Asking the student to put them in order from the production of sex cells or direction sex cells must travel for reproduction is another way of showing cognitive learning.
Another fantastic way to ensure students are learning what they need to know is to create custom worksheets that can be tailored to how your students learn. All of the imagery used in the storyboard activities above can be used in worksheets! If students need more help with vocabulary or understanding each part, it's easy to create materials for them to assess how well they've comprehended the information they've learned.
Students should understand that not everyone may fit into either male or female boxes. Intersex individuals are born with several variations of genitals, gonads, sex hormones, or chromosomes. Having students sort similarities and differences into boxes helps shift conversation into gender and sexuality. You can refer to Storyboard That's article on gender and sexuality for additional activities.
Filling in the blanks for guided images helps students retain information and understand how it fits. Ask the students to fill in the description based on where the arrows in the images are pointing. They'll be able to demonstrate their understanding by themselves or with a partner.