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The Answer Blog

Archive for January, 2015

Answer Welcomes New Executive Director

January 22, 2015

Answer is pleased to announce that Nicole Cushman, MPH, Director of Education for PPFA, will become Answer’s new executive director, effective February 16, 2015.

For over 30 years Answer has trained educators to provide high-quality sexuality education and educated young people through its teen-written, award-winning publication, Sex, Etc. Answer is poised to continue this great work under the leadership of Nicole Cushman.

Nicole has nearly 15 years of experience in sexual and reproductive health as both an educator and trainer. She began her career as a sexuality educator with Planned Parenthood in the San Francisco Bay Area, working directly with teens and parents in schools and community settings. In her role as Director of Education for PPFA, Nicole has worked with Planned Parenthood affiliates to strengthen sexuality education policies and programs across the country. She holds an MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where she undertook research on promising sexuality education programs across the U.S. which was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Sex Education. Her work improving and expanding access to sexuality education nationally has well prepared her to take the helm at Answer.

Answer is delighted to have Nicole’s leadership and passion for empowering young people through honest, accurate sexuality education. We look forward to her expanding on Answer’s current initiatives and continuing the work of providing and promoting comprehensive sexuality education. In her new role, Nicole will provide strategic vision for Answer, oversee the implementation of its strategic plan, provide budget and operations oversight and manage key relationships with national- and state-level organizations.

Answer is pleased to share this news with you, and we know this transition will further strengthen the field of sexuality education.

Using a Historical Lens to Teach About Roe v. Wade

January 22, 2015

At Answer we often talk about how sexuality intersects with every other core topic taught in schools. Health and physical education teachers aren’t the only ones fielding questions about sex or finding sexuality pop up in their lessons. That’s where Answer’s blog series—Inter(sex)tions—comes in. We are kicking off a series of blog posts highlighting resources, lesson plans and tips to support health educators in teaching about sexuality through the lens of other core content areas. We see an opportunity for health educators to collaborate with their colleagues who teach other subjects and promote cross-curricular learning. Not to mention, integrating other subjects into the health classroom helps support students with varying learning styles and academic interests.

Our inaugural post on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade focuses on how history can be used to teach about abortion. Over the coming months, we’ll be covering how not only history, but also math, science and English can be used to teach about sexuality.

A Focus on History

Lots of educators may understandably shy away from teaching about the still controversial topic of abortion; they may even be barred from discussing the procedure in their health classes. In cases like this, we at Answer think a really great way to address the topic is by studying the landmark case that made abortion legal in the United States. By using a legal or historical lens, students can study the case and explore their values related to the procedure. While the topic of abortion itself may feel easier to explore in this way, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to know where to start. But, not to worry, we’ve got you covered with resources, videos and lesson plans from trusted resources below.

Stick to the facts. A great place to begin with students is learning about the Supreme Court’s decision—who concurred and who dissented—and what amendment to the constitution they believe upheld the right to abortion. Here are some resources to help you teach the history of Roe v. Wade.

  • The Oyez Project is a wonderful database of Supreme Court recordings and decisions. Get your students engaged by having them listen to the oral arguments. The audio files and documents here can be adapted for different age groups and learning levels.
  • Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court has something for educators looking for a quick activity or several days to fill with this topic. Educators can sign up to access the answers to the questions and activities as well as differentiated-instruction suggestions. Please note that these lessons tend to skew older and would probably best for high school students.

Help students explore their values. Once students have a basic understanding of the case, they can begin to explore values about abortion. Have students debate as the lawyers in the case or write their own concurring or dissenting opinions. If you’re looking to use video, PBS LearningMedia has a short documentary-style video that offers some historical context to the case and great questions to begin discussions of values. Questions like “Why was the issue of abortion important to the women’s movement?” are a good way to have students examine their feelings and values. These questions also create the space for some critical thinking and values development.

Utilizing this approach not only addresses abortion—a pregnancy option that is often overlooked—but also provides history teachers a way to meet the National Standards for History that require students to identify issues and problems from the past and analyze different values and viewpoints.

You’ve hopefully discovered a new way to teach a tough topic or a new resource or lesson if you’ve taught Roe v. Wade before. Looking at sexuality through different disciplines can be an exciting way to enliven lessons. We’ll be back with more in this series in the coming months!