What is a healthy lifestyle? The answer to this question is difficult to find in our fast-paced, eat-to-live North American society. Fad diets and popular forms of exercise may come and go, but we must each learn to create and sustain an intentional, healthy lifestyle while living in a society that often promotes exactly the opposite. It is clear that doing so will not be easy. We want them to know and clearly understand the importance of fighting against the unhealthy norms in our society. After all, it is likely that their lives will depend on doing so. Through the implementation of this unit, it is our goal to give students the motivation, knowledge, and perspective they need to enact change in their own lives and the lives of those close to them.

The lessons in this unit will be challenging, but we are confident that students will be engrossed in exciting content and motivated to work hard to answer the essential questions we are asking. Students will work together to find answers that require critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and significant research. Teamwork is critical: students are helping themselves and each other. We have designed a four-week unit that is student-centered and explores the theme of “What is a healthy lifestyle?” This unit will be taught to seventy sixth grade students at a public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is interdisciplinary in that it involves the four main content areas, as well as the unified arts. In an effort to instill a strong sense of social responsibility in our students, we have also integrated service learning into the unit so that students can make real-world connections to the content they are learning in school.

By the end of this unit, students will understand that a healthy lifestyle is achieved through mental, physical, and emotional well-being. They will understand that health cannot simply be achieved – it is an ongoing process that requires self-care and balance. The culminating assessment will require students to articulate their learnings to both the school community and the community at large. We intend to change the way our school thinks about healthy living and also hope that by doing so we will change the way the community-at-large thinks about it.