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Lesson Plans

Use this Lesson Plan with the following health topics or with other relevant content from the textbook:

  • Substance Abuse
  • Risk Behaviors

Reading Skills Lesson Plan: Identifying an Author's Purpose
Student Resource: "Research Shows TV PSAs Effective In Reducing Teen Marijuana Use"
Media Type: Research Report


After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the risks of using marijuana or any other illegal substance for recreational purposes.
  • Describe factors that lead some teens to experiment with drugs and other harmful substances.
  • Apply the reading skill of identifying an author's purpose to a research report detailing a strategy for reducing teen marijuana use.

Introducing the Lesson

Download and display photos of well-known daredevils (e.g., Evel Knievel and his son Robbie, both of whom have risked their lives doing highly dangerous motorcycle stunts). Discuss with students the notion of daredevils. Ask students to speculate on what makes some people take extreme risks. (Possible responses might include a desire for attention and a feeling of invincibility.)

Note that a group of researchers at the University of Kentucky, seeking an answer to this same question, recently came up with a new theory. According to this theory, extreme behavior is the result of a personality trait called "sensation seeking." Add that this personality trait has been linked to people who engage in another potentially deadly risk: marijuana use.

Teaching Strategies

Point out that every author has a reason, or purpose, for writing. Sometimes the purpose is to persuade, other times to inform, still others to entertain or delight. Observe that in order to make the most of a reading passage, it is important at the outset to identify the author's purpose.

Distribute copies of the study report. Ask students to:

  • Read the headline silently.
  • Skim the article briefly to get a sense of what it's about, paying special attention to abundance of statistical numbers.

Note that these steps provide clues to the author's purpose: to provide information. Urge students to be on the alert as they read for what specific information the author is giving. Suggest that they take notes as they read.

*After students have completed the reading, you may use the following either as class discussion questions or assign them as individual or group work.

Follow up

  1. Summarizing. State in your own words what information the author of this report provides about: (a) PSAs targeted at teens and (b) SENTAR.
  2. Evaluating. The article quotes a number of statistics from NIDA's Monitoring the Future study about teen marijuana use. Which of these statistics do you find to be the most alarming? Support your answer with information from your health text on the risks associated with marijuana use.
  3. Synthesizing. The report analyzes one reason why some teens use marijuana and other harmful substances. What are some other factors that lead teens to experiment with these substances?
  4. Analyzing. Would you agree that the PSAs aimed at sensation-seeking teens have been successful? Why or why not? Can you name other strategies that you think would be effective at reaching people your age?

Writing Your Own PSA

Combine your thoughts and ideas from question 5 above with those of three or four other members of your class. Use the best of these ideas to develop your own PSA. Before you write, consider your group's purpose. Ask yourselves these questions: What high-risk factors of this behavior will we specifically mention? What words will we use that are likely to reach out to sensation-seeking teens? Perform your PSA for your class.

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