Here’s a ramble ramble about some of the materials I use in RSE together with some ideas for how to use them.
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Printer, photocopier, paper trimmer
Sadly, for those of us who produce RSE resources, it’s no longer financially viable to create hard copy sets of resources. So often our resources require you to print them out yourself (same with DO…). I’ve printed a lot of resources in my time and my printer and I have a very difficult relationship. Over the years I have learnt the following:
- Get the paper suitable for my printer otherwise the ink smudges
- I don’t bother laminating, I just print onto thick card
- I use a paper trimmer/guillotine
- If I’m cutting out lots of squares for a card sort I start lengthways and don’t cut all the way to the end of the page. Then I rotate the page and cut across and voila, all the cards are cut
Whiteboards, large paper and pens
Whenever I’m in a classroom it makes me sad how much space the projector screen takes up. As I say in this piece (yes I am quoting myself)
“young people are tired of being told what the problem is without being given the chance to think for themselves. Thankfully, teaching really great SRE goes hand-in-hand with interactive learning methods and facilitating discussions.”
I think that the way a classroom is setup and the teaching materials we use can have a big effect on whether the students will feel that the lesson is about them, or us.
So for cracking RSE you need lots of paper and also or lots of whiteboard, Magic Whiteboard, and for students to be able to use the smart board. At times your lessons can look a bit more like an art class (in fact, why can’t we have RSE in art classes?) and our lesson about gender expectations in the second lesson of DO… involves students drawing portraits and creating real life characters. So lots of different colour marker pens, or even paints, would be great.
Flipchart paper or poster paper are also crucial for being able to collect the thoughts and views of students in small groups. Paper can get expensive and it’s just another thing to lug around (also the blu-tac in case you need to stick them up). So you could take a leaf out of the book of this history teacher who uses dry wipe markers on desks for her silent debates https://twitter.com/HistoryMissW/status/827198689718448128
— Katie Wilson (@HistoryMissW) February 2, 2017
I would definitely like to write my thoughts about why people have romantic relationships on a desk.
Small bits of paper
Post it notes are a really great way of getting ideas from students. Maybe some advice on how to take care of ourselves and each other for example. They can be stuck on walls and used as a semi-permanent display which can be added to and moved around. They can help people to express themselves if they are too shy to talk about the subject matter in a group.
However I’m also a huge fan of memo blocks. These are blocks of paper that you keep by your landline so you can take a message if someone calls. Like magazines and newspapers, maybe these are a bit old school too, but they are really useful and only cost about £1 from stationers and from big supermarkets. I use these to get lots of ideas down (for example, sexual activities that people may enjoy) that can then be moved around on the floor.
If you are generating all these brilliant thoughts, ideas, characters, and arguments from students then it’s good to capture them. With the permission of the students I work with I like to take pictures of what they’ve done. This gives evidence for the work I’ve done but also it helps me when I’m doing evaluation and developing new resources. If you use our DO… resources it would be great if you could share some pictures with us!
However smartphones are also super valuable as they contain the answer to pretty much everything and they are in our pockets. When we were designing the DO… resources we wanted to shift the learning style from just learning information because students can get that from their phones. What is more important is to point them in the direction of good websites and where they might be able to access services in real life. This then means that the school teacher can focus on facilitating lessons about skills and values. We rely on the fact that many students will have smartphones with the final lesson in DO… which is an independent learning activity (putting into practice everything they have learnt from the previous sessions).
Like Plasticine or Play Doh can be great for if you are doing any work about bodies. Students could use lumps of clay to create different bodies and use those to think about the kinds of bodies that are seen as being ‘beautiful’. They could be used to explore ableism, but also to explore how the differences between different bodies are often not related to sex or gender. You could also ask students to create genital sculptures (without showing them pictures of what they ‘should’ look like). You could use these to create a gallery demonstrating the many differences that exist between people’s genitals. For more on this you might be interested in my Genitals resource.
Cutting out images from magazines and newspapers is something that us sex educators have been advocating for years. It can be a really useful way of exploring some of the social messages that we receive about bodies, sexuality and gender. However I can’t remember the last magazine I bought. Instead you might be able to create a slideshow of images of adverts, featured images for articles, or the top images from google search. Students could be asked to take screenshots of adverts on their instagram feed for instance. Or they could take pictures of images they see out in the wild. You could perhaps curate the images into a slideshow and use this to start a classroom discussion in tutor time at the beginning of the day.
Depending on your filter settings and your classroom internet connection you could find video online to show to get a conversation going about sex and relationships. I’ll write another post about my thoughts about videos (summary, be very very careful about showing CSE videos) but I think they should be used sparingly to generate conversation.
Students could take it in turns to find clips from YouTube and use these to address the class in tutor time to give their thoughts about what it says about a topic. You would need to trust that your students will show something appropriate or that your filter settings are set quite tightly.
I avoid showing videos really but some students recommended that I show them this 2 minute video from the Inbetweeners in order that we could have a discussion about gender, sexual scripts and consent. This would work absolutely brilliantly after the handshakes activity in DO… (or in my new Consent Teaching Pack).
(Note how they are a combination of first and second handshake but not third handshake at all. Notice the body language and non-verbal communication.)
Students could also bring in clips of storylines from soap operas to highlight healthy or unhealthy relationships. Or, for a primer in self-care, they could show examples of a clip that made them feel really good about themselves or videos that just made them feel relaxed, or happy, or content. For me it’s
Fruit and vegetables
Lastly we come to the condom on the banana. I’ve always used plastic condom demonstrators but they are a bit harder to get hold of than they used to be. Also I think for a condom lesson it’s better to have a few so that students can practise in small groups. If you can’t get hold of demonstrators you could use fruit and vegetables. Bananas might work okay but they need to be held by someone else. You could also use carrots, courgettes, baby aubergines (for that classic emoji reference). Try to get a range of different sizes (average erect penis size is 5.5 inches but the variation of penis size is huge, from over 1 inch to over 10 inches).
You could also use peaches, or peppers, or similar to show how condoms can be turned into barriers (known as dams) and used for safer oral sex (use your teeth to tear the condom lengthways so it forms a square).
You’ll also need some condoms which, thanks to budget cuts and the commissioning of sexual health services, can be a bit harder to come by. If you get hold of your local sexual health service they might be able to provide you with a few. I think it’s important to use in date ones because they smell fresh. Even though we are sponsored by Durex feel free to use any brand you like.
If you do do a condom/dam lesson you will also need some tissues and maybe also some wet wipes. You might also want a separate bag to collect all the used items.
© Justin Hancock, 2018