Ewww … That’s Gross! Now What?

Today was our first day back at school after the holidays, and I couldn’t be happier! It was so nice to see the students again, and I was excited to start with our new routine. As readers of this blog know, I’m definitely a “jump right in” kind of person, and today was no different.

When I got to school this morning, I put these plaques out on the table. I was hoping that they could be our “voluntary provocations” for today, and that they might inspire some discussion during our Talk Time this morning.

2014-01-06_19-26-10This certainly happened period 1 for my Grade 3/4 Health Coverage. They couldn’t get enough of these plaques! They were talking about what they saw, what connections they made to what they’ve learned in previous years, and what questions they had. I wish that I videotaped their discussions — the buzz in the room was contagious — but instead, here are a couple of photographs of the students talking together.

While these plaques weren’t directly tied to our Grade 3/4 Health unit, when a student was learning more about the effects of smoking on the human body, he used this plaque today to help him out. These plaques were definitely valuable!

2014-01-06_19-32-12But then my class came back from French … and that’s when things got interesting! They saw the plaques, and while some started discussing their initial observations, others started discussing their fears about this unit. In their minds, learning about the human body only meant learning about male and female anatomy, and they didn’t want to go there yet.

I tried to put their fears at ease.

  • I showed them the cool models that they could create together for the skeleton and other organ systems.
  • I spoke to them about some of the human body apps — which have reading and writing connections, but are also a lot of fun!
  • I pointed out many of the new books that are full of interesting information and do not deal with anatomy.
  • I told them that we’re not learning about male and female anatomy right now, and while yes, some books and charts may have a few photographs, I really tried to avoid  these resources for this unit. I told them to think about any pictures as just a “model” or a “skeleton,” with our real focus being on organs like the heart or lungs.

This explanation seemed to help, but as students looked and spoke about these plaques more, I continued to hear comments such as, “Ewww … that picture is so gross!” So I tried to listen. After school today, I moved around some of the plaques to capitalize on student interests. I put out more of the “building activities” that I thought would be more popular for many of the students. I added sticky notes, white boards, and even thought bubbles with, “I wonder …,” near some of the resources to hopefully help inspire more writing and discussion. Tomorrow I’m going to show them the Human Defense App that I think might intrigue them. It’s also time for the students to explore our Pinterest Page, with various videos and activities that I’m optimistic will make them as excited about this unit as I am.

What am I missing though? How would you help students get past their fears about this unit and increase their interest in it? I would love to hear your suggestions!




10 thoughts on “Ewww … That’s Gross! Now What?

    • Thanks for chiming in with this suggestion, Nancy! We are actually going to create this model and/or models of other organ systems. I think that this 3-D perspective will help, and I know that the students will love anything that has a building/art overlap.


  1. I’m not sure grossed out is a bad reaction. It is a first reaction. My guess is that even if they they said it was gross they kept looking. Acknowledge their reaction and encourage them to move on to new reactions. Ok, so it’s gross. What else is it? What questions do you have? What do you find interesting? What learning could you do that doesn’t gross you out? What learning could you do that might gross someone else out? Let them have their first reaction just don’t let it be their only reaction. They’ll come around.

    • Thanks Kristi! I love these questions. I still have the plaques out for tomorrow, and I’ve added some new items as well. We’re going to get a chance to look more closely at all of these items during AWARD Time tomorrow. I’m definitely going to use your questions to help spark discussion and hopefully move us past the “gross” part.

      To be honest with you, I don’t think that I expected this, “ewww … gross” reaction, and then when it came, I wasn’t sure where to go next. I want students to get as excited about this unit as I’ve gotten learning more about it over the Break. This is why I love blogging: I can step back from what happened, share what I heard, and have others help me with the problem solving process!

      Many thanks for always being one of those people that helps me see things differently!

  2. Agggh – I struggle with this one – I think that talking about the sexuality part of the health curriculum is UNBELIEVABLY (yes, I did put that in all caps) important….but I agree that we have to get them past the “eww, that’s gross” part….I almost want to throw some “whys” at them – why do you think this is the way we react to this kind of thing? Where does that come from? (and why don’t the younger kids have the same response?)

    Think you’re on the right track in working to make the other biological systems less threatening, too – if we can just see the reproductive system as one more, that would be a great step.

    I also think that the biology is the least important part of the sexuality information we can teach, for the record. (My husband and I have this dream, in our retirement, about volunteering to teach intermediate and high school students about healthy relationships and sexuality – he’s a couples counsellor.)

    • Thanks Lisa! It was definitely interesting that students that were only 1 or 2 years younger had a very different reaction to these same plaques. Your initial suggestion here actually overlaps with Kristi’s suggestion too, and I really like it. Questioning them and getting them to ask questions are both important. As I said to Kristi, I think that I was initially surprised by their response, and then I wasn’t sure where to go next. Thanks to my AWESOME PLN (and yes, I’ve purposely put “awesome” in capitals too :)), I now know where to go tomorrow.

      I’ll definitely let you know how things go. As Kristi said, this could just be the “first reaction,” and I need to give students a chance to move past this reaction. I have faith in questioning … and the addition of some other resources/activities. I’ll let you know how things go!

      Thank you for chiming in on a topic that you’re obviously very passionate about! I so appreciate your thoughts!

  3. Interesting… that happens everywhere though. In my class, many students already know the main things, yet many don’t and don’t want to. It is actually just a little hard for teachers to get that thought out of their head. They see a picture of the digestive system and see… you know. They say ooohhhh and start pointing at it and saying ‘That’s so wrong!’. The best thing to do is see what they will learn. But, to guide them away from that you can just talk to them about the different organs in the body, for example the heart, and try to lower the amount of pictures where you will recieve the reaction. I take back to @kkeerbyi and say that yeah, it’s just a first reaction. I am sure soon, when they learn about the amazing human body, they might forget about this topic.
    I am not sure if this was much of a student topic, but I told you what I thought.
    Yusra! :mrgreen:
    Once again I am sorry if I was not supposed to comment on this particular post 😳

    • Thanks for the comment, Yusra! You’re always welcome to comment on any of my posts, and I’m so glad that you did. It’s great to hear this student perspective.

      You make a great point here, and I think that some time, a look at some other organ system, and some better questions really helped. Students were way more willing to talk about the human body today, and there were actually some great discussions. You can listen here to one of them: http://youtu.be/BFE9CT6HX8A.

      Thanks for the help!
      Miss Dunsiger

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