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Health Literacy Special Collection
Mini-Grant Lesson Plans


Stress is a Part of Life

Mazie Wilson and Thea Zimmermann
Melvina McDowell and Fred Stallworth
Adult Literacy Program
Southwest Georgia Technical College
Thomasville, GA 31792


Lesson Summary

Two students recommended from a GED class form a teaching team with a health literacy teacher. They discuss which topic they will teach to a GED class and decide on stress. After surveying the classes on the topic, they become familiar with the Internet via the LINCS Health Literacy Special Collection. They use it to research the topic and help prepare the lesson. Together with the teacher, they introduce the topics and lead discussion as well as giving assistance to those needing help with the Web. Time:25hours

Class Description

Southwest Georgia Technical College provides adult literacy services to three Southwest Georgia counties-Thomas, Grady, and Mitchell. Adult literacy classes are taught using a state-approved competency-based curriculum in a variety of classroom settings and times throughout the Service Delivery Area. In addition, Southwest Georgia Technical College offers a health literacy component. In health literacy, students learn to apply reading and numerical skills to health care settings. Students learn to comprehend the concepts and tasks necessary to meet their health care needs.

Description of the Teaching Team

The team submitting this lesson plan on stress includes the Health Literacy instructor and two ABE students, Melvina McDowell and Fred Stallworth. Both were recommended by their GED instructor, Ms. Susie Butler. The students selected the topic for this project. Although neither had used the Internet previously, they were very proficient with its use at the project's conclusion.

Description of classes receiving instruction

One of the first steps in developing this lesson was distributing a questionnaire to all Thomas County GED classes. We asked the students to define stress, tell how their body feels when they are under stress, three ways they cope with stress, and what would they like to learn about stress. Their answers were used in the development of the lesson and in the creation of our two handouts.

We taught this lesson to Ms. Susie Butler's GED class at Southwest Georgia Technical College.

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Learning Objectives

The purpose for the class ( as well as the students on the teaching team) was to increase students' skills in use of the Internet to read and understand health literacy information.

Students will be able to:
1. Define stress
2. Identify how stress can be both "good" and "bad"
3. Identify signs of stress
4. Understand how stress can affect our physical health
5. Identify healthy ways for coping with stress
6. Understand and use the Internet

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Preliminary questionnaire on stress

Lesson plan prepared by teaching team

Instruction sheet for students

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a. Have an adult literacy instructor recommend two students.

b. Meet with the students, explain the project, and agree on a subject.

c. Meet with the students to discuss questions they personally have about stress. Some of these questions are used as the objectives for the lesson and in developing a questionnaire to be completed by other adult literacy students.

d. The instructor and students become familiar with the Internet and the LINCS Health Literacy Special Collection website. As the website is explored, articles relating to stress are noted for further research.

e. Continue researching the site, searching for answers to questions previously developed.

f. Complete an outline for the lesson. This allowed the students and teacher to narrow the search and concentrate on links and specific articles found in the Student/Learner Literacy Resources.

g. Collect the questionnaires from the adult literacy classes. One student tabulates the results.

h. The instructor writes the lesson plan from the outline and research.

i. Meet with the students to review lesson and develop handouts. The questionnaire is used to develop the handout "Stressed Out?" Student/teacher research is used to develop the handout "Evaluate Your Stress."

j. The students and instructor prepare to teach the lesson. Each person is assigned a specific role.

k. The students and teacher teach the lesson. One student introduces the topic and both students are involved in the discussion that ensues. The students and teacher rotate around the room to assist students with accessing and using the site. At this time, we identify strengths and weaknesses in our curriculum and revise, if necessary.

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The articles used in this lesson can be changed based on student's reading levels. The NIH site <> may not be appropriate for low readers or ESOL students, although Spanish articles are available. Instructors could divide the class into different reading levels and determine sites/ research articles based on this.


The students said they enjoyed the lesson. Several students had never been on the Internet before and didn't realize that there was so much information. One woman shared that she was the caregiver for her invalid father. She found articles on relieving stress for caregivers that she thought were very beneficial. Others commented that they would return to the site, especially and NIH Consumer Health Publications, to learn more about certain diseases.

Ms. Butler's GED class has various levels of students. The students also varied in their personal knowledge of the Internet. It will be helpful to give the students instruction on accessing the Internet before starting the actual lesson or use a PC/TV adapter so that the students can access the sites along with the instructor. The directions to the sites were written on the board and given orally. We revised our lesson to include a Directions handout for the students. The handout allows students to move through the sites at their own pace and reading ability.

Melvina McDowell stated "Learning about stress is important so that I can deal with it better and I can help others, including my 16 month old son. I had never used the Internet before and really enjoyed working on this project." When Melvina completes her GED, she plans to continue at Southwest Georgia Technical College and major in nursing.

Fred Stallworth stated that "Learning about stress is important so young teens learn healthy ways to deal with the stress in their lives. Working on this project showed me how useful the Internet is. I appreciate being asked to work on this." Fred also said "The reason I am working on my GED now is that when I was younger, education wasn't really important. I would like to work with young adults in the future so that they won't have the hard time that I did."

We were able to teach this lesson in Ms. Susie Butler's class where the response was favorable and gave us the information to revise our initial lesson plan.

In addition to thanking Ms. Butler, we would also like to thank Lisa Carroll, Administrative Assistant, for designing the student handouts.

We hope others can benefit from our research in completing this lesson on stress.

(Completed 2004)

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