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Andrea Doremus Cuetara

Teacher Bio
Andrea Doremus Cuetara (now at Academy of Public Service) taught Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Health Professions at Brighton High School, a School to Career School. Her background in Social Studies qualifies her as an adjunct curriculum developer with the NEH-funded "Making Freedom," an African-American history project now being edited at Primary Source. Andrea's wide ranging career includes teaching at BPS middle schools, and helping launch the El Centro/BPS Alternative High School at a community-based agency serving Latinos. There she helped establish the peer leadership program, an art program, and the school's first Community Service Learning Day.

Subject Areas
Science, English Language Arts, Math

Grade Levels
9 - 12




Tough Questions - Honest Answers
Teen Sexuality & the Spread of STD


Key Question What strategies can high school students develop to help stop the near epidemic spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

Overview Supporting the work of the school nurse and the priorities of the School-Based Health Center, students in two Health Careers classes study the biology of reproduction and STD transmission; learn about the public health field and its methods; develop and distribute student surveys to identify common behaviors and false information that lead to the spread of STDs. A 5-week training with the Adolescent Wellness Program (AWP) of the Boston Public Health Commission provides them with strategies to disseminate material. They use their data to create informational brochures, video skits, and presentations during the school's Character Education Day. Educating their peers to understand and help prevent the spread of these diseases is a sensitive mission that depends on tough questions, careful research, and honest answers.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Review information on reproductive systems.
Research cause, prevention & cure of Chlamydia & Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Take Internet pre-test & conduct STD web quest.
Reflect on personal habits & behavior.
Learn public health concerns, strategies & terms at AWP.
Study survey design & data collection.
Conduct survey & assess data.
Respond to pre-test on camcorder use.
Write scenarios for video skit on STDs.
Produce Brochures & Videos on STDs.
Design brochure drafts.
Plan presentations for Character Ed Day.
Brainstorm how to educate about STDs.
Contact teachers about participation of other classes.
Write explanatory letters to parents.
Hold round table discussions & rehearse video skits with peers from other classes.
Work with collaborating graphic design class to produce brochure.
Present videos, workshops & materials, & organize display table on Character Ed Day.
Disseminate project information to local health agencies & community centers.
Share information & reflections with family.
Host & interview visiting physician specializing in STDs.
Agree to video tape physician's presentation & present it for educational dissemination.
Reflect on physician's visit.
Discuss STD epidemic with Registered Nurse & BPS health educator.
Address related mental health concerns & strategies with psychiatric social worker from Mass. Department of Public Health.
Meet with graduate students at the Harvard School of Public Health & tour school.
Research careers in Health & Social Work that relate to STDs, sexuality & adolescent medicine.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards Science
Recognize that while viruses lack cellular structure, they have the genetic material to invade living cells.
Describe how the functions of individual systems within humans are integrated to maintain a homeostatic balance in the body.
Pose questions and state hypotheses based on prior scientific observations, experiments, and knowledge.
Predict, observe, classify and record results clearly in journals or logs.
Identify possible reasons for inconsistent results, such as sources of error or uncontrolled conditions.

English Language Arts

Facilitate discussion groups independent from the teacher.
Actively listen, respond to, and build on ideas generated during group discussions.
Summarize and evaluate what they have learned from the discussion.
Deliver informal and formal presentations, giving consideration to audience, purpose and content.
Conduct interviews for research projects and writing.
Demonstrate understanding of reference materials.
Develop fluency, accuracy and understanding when reading different texts.
Write in a well-organized manner using logical organization, effective supporting evidence, and variety in sentence structure.
Use different levels of formality, style, and tone when composing for different audiences.
Create media presentations that effectively use graphics, images, and/or sound to present a distinct point of view on a topic.


Collect, organize, and analyze data from real problems using graphing calculators and other technology to create tables and graphs.
Describe and explain how the relative sizes of a sample and the population affect the validity of predictions from a set of data.

School to Career Competencies

Communicate and understand ideas and information.
Collect, analyze and organize information.
Identify and solve problems.
Use technology.
Initiate and complete entire activities.
Act professionally.
Interact with others.
Take responsibility for career and life choices.


Teacher provides feedback on survey and data results. Students and teacher engage in group and self-assessments on presentation skills, brochure contents, and familiarity with subject and resources after Character Ed Day workshop. Video and Brochure is graded based on Guidelines and Rubrics.

Software or Materials Used For technology: Canon ZR50 digital camcorder with still photo card and associated software for downloading & editing still images, Microphone for enhancing sound, VCR and monitor for classroom viewing of videos, Power Point, Adobe PhotoShop; for literature: Changing Bodies, Changing Lives A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships by Ruth Bell Alexander, Ruth Bell 3rd Revision Edition 1998: Times Books

Teacher Developed Materials Web Quest research assignment, Letter to Parents, Guidelines and Rubric for Brochure and Videos, Project Evaluations, PowerPoint Presentation, Lessons on Collecting and Displaying Data

Student Developed Materials Brainstorm Strategies, Student Surveys, Group Reports on Survey Questions, Digital Photos, Brochures, Video Skit, Videos, Reflections.

Web Sites Adolescent Wellness Program, ASHA The American Social Health Association, ASHA links to sites related to STDs, Boston Youth Zone Teen Health Guide, Health Literacy Studies (HLS), Department of Health and Social Behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Adolescent & School Health,
Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines 2002, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System & Questionnaire.

Final Words Because of its sensitive nature, this project is challenging. By approaching the topic "scientifically," and by assuring confidentiality, students can distance themselves and look at common teen assumptions about sexuality (by tforge solution jaris). As they examine perceptions for accuracy and relativity to personal circumstances, they become more comfortable with addressing issues and educating their peers.

Teacher Tip Be sure to write an engaging parent permission letter whenever in doubt about a sensitive topic. Most parents welcome these activities, but be prepared to develop an alternative activity or project for students who may choose not to participate.

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