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A Design Proposal for a Comprehensive Teacher’s Kit Used to Educate & Engage Children & Parents in Sex Ed

ME-YOU-WE-US by Dana Shalab Alsham November 18, 2013


ME-YOU-WE-US Design Proposal Dana Shalab Alsham YSDN 4044 Workshop Maria Gabriele November 18, 2013


Contents

Project Statement

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Objectives

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user definition

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Primary Target Audience

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Secondary Target Audience

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Tertiary Target Audience

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core proposition

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Substantiation for the proposition

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Description of deliverables

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Brand Design

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Packaging

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Breakdown of Content

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Other Information

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Casual Interviews

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Activity Samples

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Visual Research

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Project Statement

The current Ontario Sex & Health Education curriculum is over a decade old. With the rapid advancement of technology and the increased popularity and use of the internet over that period of time, various types of content that would be deemed “inappropriate” by many are now easily accessible by young children. Society and laws have also advanced and what may have been seen as unacceptable fifteen years ago is the norm for many today. It is important that the school system adapts to these changes. Not only is preparing our kids a priority, but so is making them feel included and considered. A new curriculum is in the talks and steps are being taken to update the old one, but what’s missing are complementary, regulated, and consistent tools and resources for teachers to use in classrooms in order to make sure that all content is covered in a timely and effective manner. This means that it has to be something that the children will enjoy doing in order for them to remain engaged and retain the information. ME-YOU-WE-US, a teaching kit, aims to solve this problem by providing tools for elementary school teachers (Grades 1-5) that will help them plan and execute activities in the classroom which will encourage participation and instil essential knowledge in students. It will act as a foundation for which proceeding kits will be built upon for older age groups. This solution has great potential for success because [1] it saves teachers time when it comes to planning the lesson and choosing what to include and what not to, [2] streamlines children’s education by ensuring that the same and all topics are covered, [3] engages children through orchestrating play and creates a safe and inclusive environment, [4] involves and notifies parents of what goes on in class and what their child(ren) is/are learning. The following are some of what will be designed: branding (for the current and successors), packaging (to contain the various elements and objects), one or two games, a schedule calendar and booklet for teachers, posters for the classroom, a brochure for parents, a website (responsive) for parents.

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Objectives

ME-YOU-WE-US will help teachers plan for and execute activities and lessons that will facilitate the creation of a strong foundation for children to have a better relationship with sex, themselves, and others. It will involve inclusive and comprehensive activities that engage students on multiple levels (i.e. emotional and not just scientific/textbook based) and allow them to feel comfortable discussing various related topics. In addition, this kit will provide parents a more clear and detailed breakdown of what their child will be learning, and will allow them to engage in the process and/or prepare them for questions their child(ren) may have outside of school and at home.

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user definition Primary Target Audience Children (Ages 6 – 10, Grades 1 – 5) Children are the ones that most of the research was conducted on/around and which the final application of the design will impact – after all, it is their education that needs to be advanced and whose concerns are to be addressed, so if that information is not relayed effectively to them, the essential goal of the project will fail. At this age, it would more likely that they will be getting information about sex from TV, the internet (if they have access to a computer or other personal electronic device), magazines, books, and other people (like their friends, family members, or a stranger, depending on their experiences). A lot of this information may not be reliable and something dangerous could be taken in and accepted as a norm or standard after the child gets older. The goal is to provide children with a strong foundation of knowledge and tools to help them adjust and be prepared as they grow older. Puberty usually starts between the ages of 8 and 13 in girls and 9 and 15 in boys (KidsHealth). Although the target age group may not have a particular interest in the topic, the curiosity will be there and their bodies will be starting to change. It is important to keep in mind that the children come from varying backgrounds and have families that hold different beliefs and value systems. Therefore, the final design will remain inclusive, open, and non-judgemental or biased. They will also be of varying socio-economic backgrounds, from upper to lower class, and will reside in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Their authoritative source of information are parents and teachers.

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User Definition SECONDARY TARGET AUDIENCE Elementary Teachers (Ages 25 – 50) It is important that the design be easy for teachers to understand, use, and implement in their classrooms. Important also is taking into consideration the average age of elementary school teachers in the design production. Most schools are simply provided with documents that the teachers are required to go over and then select a few things to cover in the short amount of time allowed for sexual health education in the classroom. Creating something like ME-YOU-WE-US that eases this process and allows for them to cover all important points in class would be beneficial and time saving. Important to keep in mind is that these teachers come from varying backgrounds and have families that hold different beliefs and value systems. Therefore, what they teach must (as much as possible) be free from personal bias or influence. Elementary school teachers come from varying socio-economic backgrounds, but are mostly middle to lower class and have a postsecondary education as a minimum requirement. These teachers teach and reside in the GTA. Their authoritative source would be the government and school board. This audience includes married and single teachers, as well as those with or without kids. They could even be homosexual or part of a family unit that strays from the typical and ideal nuclear one. They also can personally have an impact on the issue of better sex and health education. Their attitude and what they choose to share in the classroom and in the teacher’s lounge, as well as in meetings, can advance the education and create a more open dialogue about the issue. Studies show that most teachers are in support of a new and revised curriculum. So, teachers will be considered supportive and willing to use the kit.

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user definition Tertiary Target Audience Parents (Nuclear, Single Parent, Divorced, Stay-at-Home, LGBT) Studies have shown that over 85% of Canadian parents agreed with the statement “Sexual health education should be provided in the schools� (Ophea). This suggests that they have an interest in the topic and do care, since it affects their lives directly through their children. The sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, value system, race, and political affiliation of each parent completely varies (as is the reality in Canada and Ontario). They reside in the GTA and vary in socio-economic backgrounds, from upper to lower class. An authoritative source to them would be the government, school board, and themselves. Many feel it is their responsibility to teach their children, not the responsibility or role of others (or at least not the sole one). The level of education of these parents ranges from high school onwards. They can be married, single, with or without kids. They may also be homosexual or part of a family unit that strays from the typical and ideal nuclear one. Parents can personally affect sex and health education by participating and/or staying informed about what is happening in the schools, and through helping their children by being there to answer questions and being prepared and open. There have been many groups against the revised Ontario curriculum, so for this purpose, parents will be considered as both supportive as well as antagonistic. It is important to focus on the more antagonistic ones in order to help them change their minds or adapt (show them why it is better and why it is okay).

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core proposition ME-YOU-WE-US will accomplish its objectives through inclusion and the reinforcement of acceptance by creating a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for children to discuss and learn about sex and connected topics, such as differences, family, and gender in a thoughtful, responsible, and open way. The design will also reflect credibility and create a sense of approachability on an important topic in a fun way in order for parents to become engaged and accepting as well.

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substantiation for proposition This kit should be incorporated and used in schools and classrooms across the province in order to make sure that everyone receives an accessible and inclusive education around sex and health. Children will be better prepared to face the media and technology age that pushes them to mature faster, and will help them realize that it is okay to ask questions since they are, after all, natural and a part of growing up and being human. Children are naturally curious, and at such a young age, they don’t have a good grasp or understanding of things other than by how they are addressed by others and the reactions they receive following their actions. Therefore, instilling encouragement and reassurance at this crucial developmental stage will help shape more well-rounded individuals who are aware of the facts of life and are able to filter through the media-fabricated fantasy they are bombarded with in daily life.

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description of deliverables Brand Design This involves the design of ME-YOU-WE-US’ logo to be carried throughout all of the kits for different grades and age groups. The logo and overall brand/identity design must be clean and professional looking, as the kit will be used in schools and must maintain a certain level of credibility. Parents can personally affect sex and health education by participating and/or staying informed about what is happening in the schools, and through helping their children by being there to answer questions and being prepared and open.

Packaging This pertains to the way in which all of the materials, objects, elements, content, etc. will be contained together. It will be compact, easy to carry around, and durable.

Breakdown of Content Games These games will help facilitate the lessons and enhance the learning experience of the children by keeping them engaged, getting them excited, enabling interaction, and creating a safe and fun environment (while maintaining the important nature of the lesson topic). There will be one or two of these games designed for this project. Schedule & Calendar This will be for the teacher to see and know how the class time will be divided up while covering all the necessary aspects of the curriculum. Teachers will be able to move things around and remove units with lesser priority (will be indicated) if they run short on time.

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Description of deliverables Posters These will be included in the kit for teachers to put up in their classrooms, office, or school hallways. They will be simple, include a statement or message, and have the ME-YOU-WE-US logo visible as a reference. Brochure for Parents This will provide a summary for parents of what will be covered during the sex and health education unit (similar to the calendar teachers are given). There will also be a link to a website where they can visit to keep track of what their child is learning and to be prepared for questions their child might ask them at home, or if they would like to give their child a talk in preparation before lessons, etc. Responsive Website for Parents As mentioned above, this is where parents can keep track of what their child is learning and make note of things they want to talk to them about before or after specific lessons, and to prepare them for questions their child might ask them directly if addressed (or not) in class.

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Other iNFORMATION cASUAL iNTERVIEWS Two local libraries were visited: the Mississauga Central library and Mississauga Valley library. I spoke with a few librarians and got some interesting and useful information. First, I asked where I could find books on sex and health education for young children, and specified the age group between Grade 1 and Grade 5. All of the librarians’ first instinct was to direct me to the non-fiction section. I then asked about books on similar topics in the fiction section, which left most of them a little stumped, so I narrowed it down to things like “types of families, gender roles, differences, health” which made it easier for them to locate and remember specific and popular titles. Mississauga Central Library I talked to two librarians here. The first one was really open and did not have a problem answering my questions. The second one was a little hesitant to answer certain ones, but was really helpful and spent time recommending books and even put some on hold that were unavailable. Librarian #1 (Questions with paraphrased responses, mostly about non-fiction books.) 1. How often do these books get checked out, and by whom? We usually get parents coming in and asking for them when they want to have the “birds and the bees” talk with their children. Most of the time, they are mothers, and about 6 times out of 10 it is for girls, not boys. And some parents come with concerns like “oh, my boy wants to play with dolls” and want help for that. The parents can choose which book is best depending on what they want to teach their child and what they feel comfortable with. 2. Do children or younger kids ever check them out? Not usually. If the book doesn’t look enticing or appealing enough, it isn’t likely that they will pick it up and be interested in reading it. They like a lot of pictures.

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oTHER iNFORMATION 3. Do you get a lot of teachers coming in here asking for these books? Sometimes, yes. I’m not sure what their school library collection is like, but if they come in they usually ask for the more scientific ones explaining the reproductive system, etc. 4. Additional Comments: The kids’ section here is separated with pre-grade school on that side and then grades 3 to 6 here. — This is interesting to note because she did not include Grades 1 and 2, which reflects the old curriculum where kids start learning about the reproductive system, body parts and developmental stages at that age. Librarian #2 (Questions with paraphrased responses, mostly about fiction books.) 1. Fiction books related to sex & health education for children? There are a lot of books on adoption, if you’re asking about different types of families. A lot. There are also a few good ones on families with two moms or two dads, and interracial families. A lot of books on babies and where they come from and what it means when a mom is pregnant are available as well. There aren’t really any on sex or body parts though. 2. How often do books on this topic get checked out, and by whom? Oh, we don’t store or collect information like that. And I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling you what kinds of people check them out. But, it’s mostly parents. 3. Can you show me where I can find books on same-sex parents? This one [The Different Dragon] is a good and really popular one. There is also a really good one by Todd Parr called It’s Okay To Be Different, but I can’t find it here. It talks about all kinds of differences and it’s great, with nice visuals and colourful. It’s popular. I’ll put it on hold for you. This librarian also mentioned that some children in my target age group are already having sex. She also added that their sex & health sections are being updated.

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Other iNFORMATION Mississauga Valley Library This library is smaller and there was not many staff available, so I only talked to one librarian who was older and seemed more experienced (I was directed to her by a younger librarian). I was not able to get a lot of information from her, and she ended up directing me to online resource and encyclopedia links. Librarian #3 (Paraphrased) We don’t really have a lot of fiction books on this topic. We’re pretty small, but the Central library should have more. There is one about body parts and privacy… I can’t remember the name and can’t find it here, but that’s all that comes to mind. And yes, usually parents check out these books, but not the fiction ones, they take out the non-fiction ones to explain or show how things work. Although I didn’t find any new or different books on sex ed from what I got from the Central library here, I did end up checking out some fiction books in the reading level of my target age group. They will help me in deciding how big fonts should be, the complexity of sentences, and the types of visuals that appeal to young kids.

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Other iNFORMATION Activity sAMPLES

ME.EDU by Sofia maRTINS This kit has similar elements to be included in this proposed design project: posters, brochures and booklets, games. Since the target age group is really young, a board game would be a good idea to get them to feel more comfortable around the topic of sex & health education with their teacher, peers, and create a safe environment to speak and ask questions in a fun and more engaging way. The visuals are non-threatening, friendly, and inviting.

Barriers to Protection by Health EdCo This is an effective activity format that would be appropriate and fun to use. The teacher could stick categories or subjects on the wall (ie. the “Girls”, “Boys”, “Either Gender”) and the kids could be given statements or feelings to place underneath each category, respectively. This may help the teacher evaluate what to cover or if there are certain things they might need to address and clarify. It also gives them a good idea of how the children think and feel. It allows asking questions in a fun and engaging way.

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Other iNFORMATION Visual Research Books (Reading Level 1 – 2, Ages 4 – 7) The illustrations in these picture books are simple and flat, with bold colours and lots of primary tones. Some have a hand-drawn feel, alluding to a child’s drawing (relating back to what they know and are used to). Also, lines of text are short and the font large and most often a heavy weight.

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Other iNFORMATION Books (Reading Level 3 & up, Ages 7 – 10) The illustrations in these picture books are more complex, involving shading and a wider range of tones and hues. They still have a hand-drawn feel and look, but more refined and detailed. Also, lines of text are longer and the font smaller and most often a regular weight rather than bold.

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Other iNFORMATION Games (Ages 3 – 8) Just like in the picture books, for younger age groups, bold and bright primary colours dominate, but as the target age group increases, more pastel and light/varied colours are introduced. However, what is consistent is the simple graphics/imagery and lack of complexity. The games below (from top left to bottom right): Barrel of Monkeys (ages 3+), Memory Game (ages 3+), Guess Who? (ages 5+), Draw Something (ages 8+), Pictureka! Mega Mat with Cards (ages 3+). Underneath the board games is a blurred snapshot of the colours found in the girls’ toy section vs. boys’ toy section in Walmart. The design project will challenge these stereotypes (which is already done with games like Bejeweled).

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ME-YOU-WE-US