The goal of the social studies curriculum is to connect health to the social and physical characteristics of a region. Students will work on a case study of Japan to highlight the impact of urbanization, land use, education level, standard of living, and economics on the health of a population. Students will regularly use the World Health Organization’s website to study additional countries in order to compare them to Japan.
This unit will include large amounts of small group discussion, current events assignments, a research-based writing assignment, and a culminating activity based on their research that will feed directly into the Healthy Living Fair.

Habits of Mind

There are 5 habits of mind that are essential to understanding social studies. The first is the ability to seek evidence. Often, students will be asked to predict the answer to a discussion in class or for homework. When making a prediction, students must offer some rationale for their thoughts. The second habit of mind is appreciating perspective and bias. In social studies, there are very few articles, books, or other documents that are completely objective. It is essential to provide students with an understanding of perspective, especially during the research phase of this unit. The third habit is understanding cause and effect. There are reasons outside of an individual’s personal decisions that help a society have a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. By understanding the causes of unhealthy behavior, it becomes easier to change the behavior at the source. The fourth habit of mind in social studies is making connections. For a unit on our health, this is perhaps the most important habit, as it helps students recognize the importance of what they are studying as it relates to them. Studying Japan’s health is meaningless if the students cannot apply what they learn to their own lives. The final habit is reflecting on the process of learning, and on the information learned. Students should take time throughout their schooling to think not only about why they learned, but also about how they learned it.

Study Skills

The history curriculum in this unit also introduces research elements such as finding sources, margin noting and fact sorting readings, asking good qeustions to develop thesis statements, and creating a concise presentation with a group.


History and Geography

1. Use map and globe skills learned in prekindergarten to grade five to interpret different kinds of projections, as well as topographic, landform, political, population, and climate maps. (G)
2. Use geographic terms correctly, such as delta, glacier, location, settlement, region, natural resource, human resource, mountain, hill, plain, plateau, river, island, isthmus, peninsula, erosion, climate, drought, monsoon, hurricane, ocean and wind currents, tropics, rain forest, tundra, desert, continent, region, country, nation, and urbanization. (G)

Civics and Government

9. Give examples of several well-known international organizations (e.g., the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the British Commonwealth, and the United Nations) and explain their purposes and functions. (C)


15. Compare the standard of living in various countries today using gross domestic product per capita as an indicator. (E)

East Asia

NEA.3 Explain how the following five factors have influenced settlement and the economies of major East Asian countries. (G, E)
A. absolute and relative locations
B. climate
C. major physical characteristics
D. major natural resources
E. population size
Describe the general level of education in selected countries in East Asia and its relationship to the economy. (G, H, E)

Essential Questions

- How does the geography of a place affect the health of those living in that place?
- How does a country's economy affect the health of its citizens?
- What makes a healthy lifestyle?
- What is the correlation between a person's standard of living and their health?
- How does education affect people's health?

Daily Lesson Plans

Introduction to unit: Read article about Japanese health insurance law
- Discuss the situation in Japan that led to this law.
- Allow students to make predictions about why this law was created.
- Generate questions about Japan and health.
HW: Students will use the WHO website to research Japan’s health statistics. Read and margin note.
- Check homework (margin notes).
- Discuss the perspective and biases of the WHO reading compared to the news article. Was one more biased than the other?
- Using an atlas, each student will examine the geography of Japan, noting the land uses (rural, suburban, urban, etc.), climate, and geography of the region.
- In small groups, students will discuss their findings, and predict how they relate to the health of the society.
HW: Write ½ page predicting how land use affects the health of a population, based on class discussion.
- Check homework.
- Read section of Lands and Peoples about Japanese education as a class.
- Think-pair-share about the relationship of Japan’s educational system, the cultural expectations on students, and stress. Do Japanese students practice healthy habits when it comes to education?
HW: Pick Asian country out of a hat and research it on the WHO and CIA website.
- Check HW and discuss findings in small groups.
- Are there any correlations forming between health and certain aspects of the societies?
- Can anyone make connections between the researched locations and their own lifestyle? How is it similar or different?
HW: Read Lands and Peoples, pg. 464-471: “Japan’s Economy”
- Cover the transition of the Japanese workforce from farmers to industrial workers.
- Corners and small group discussion about the lifestyles and habits of Japanese workers. Is this a healthy lifestyle?
- HW: ½ page: How did this work ethic and lifestyle develop, based on your understanding of the society?
- Check homework.
- What is the standard of living in Japan? Is it the same for everyone?
- How does a change is the standard of living affect the health of the population?
HW: Pick another country from the WHO and CIA website and research the health of the population.
- Check homework and discuss the results of the research. Are the correlations made earlier becoming stronger or weaker in your group?
HW: Write 3 questions that you have about the content in this unit.
- Discuss questions from homework.
- What make s a good question for research?
HW: Revise questions and begin to decide a topic for research project from a list.
- Check revised questions.
- Group students based on topic picked.
- Cover what makes a good source.
- Begin Research assignment by assigning groups based on interest in each topic.
- Cover how to turn margin notes into material ready to footnote in a paper.
HW: Begin researching topic.
- Research topic individually or in small groups.
- Research topic.
- By the end of class, students should have a thesis statement in mind.
HW: Write an introduction; continue researching.
- Continue researching.
- Continue writing paper (Draft DUE MONDAY W4/D1)
Continue writing paper. (Draft DUE MONDAY W4/D1)
Submit rough draft of paper. Meet in small groups to plan presentations and podcast script.
HW: Work on presentations and podcast script.
Work in groups on presentations and podcast script.
Create podcasts.
HW: Prepare presentation, DUE TOMORROW.
Present research to class.
Healthy Living Fair at CCMS

The research project in this unit is designed to allow students to gain experience using research skills, while expanding their understanding of the issues that affect health in a society. Students will pick one of the major affecters of health in Japanese society (education level, lifestyle, use of land, or economics), and research how that idea correlates in health, both in Japan and in another country that they have researched during the unit, using the World Health Organization’s database and Lands and Peoples.
There will be several finished products at the end of this process. The first is a 2–4 page research paper. The second is a 5–10 minute group presentation that reflects the research done by the individuals. The last is a podcast version of the presentation, which will be displayed during the Healthy Living Fair.

Materials Needed

- Lands and Peoples
- Computers for research and presentation development
- PowerPoint and GarageBand
- Projector
- Sound systems to broadcast Podcasts


Lands and Peoples, Grolier Educational Inc. Danbury, CT. 2001
World Health Organization Database, retrieved from http://www.who.int/en/
CIA World Factbook, retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
"Fat in Japan? You're Breaking the Law" by David Nakamura. Global Post, 11/10/2009.