Life Skills Curriculum
The Life Skills class at Stowe Middle School includes units on Advertising and Media Messages, ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs), Communication Skills, and Positive School Culture. Our School Counselor, Wendy Shea, and our SAP Counselor, Pierre Laflamme, co-teach the class. One of the many resources we use for class is the LifeSkills Training program.
The LifeSkills Middle School program is a research-validated substance abuse prevention program proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and violence by targeting the major social and psychological factors that promote the initiation of substance use and other risky behaviors. This comprehensive program provides adolescents and young teens with the confidence and skills necessary to successfully handle challenging situations. LifeSkills Training (LST) is a groundbreaking substance abuse and violence prevention program based on more than 25 years of rigorous scientific research and is one of the most effective evidence-based programs used in schools today. In addition to helping kids resist drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, LST also effectively helps to reduce violence and other high-risk behaviors.
LifeSkills Training is backed by over 30 scientific studies and is recognized as a Model or Exemplary program by an array of government agencies including the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.
- Drug Resistance Skills
Enables young people to recognize and challenge common misconceptions about tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Through coaching and practice, they learn information and practical ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug use) resistance skills for dealing with peers and media pressure to engage in ATOD use.
- Personal Self-Management Skills
Students learn how to examine their self-image and its effects on behavior; set goals and keep track of personal progress; identify everyday decisions and how they may be influenced by others; analyze problem situations, and consider the consequences of each alternative solution before making decisions; reduce stress and anxiety, and look at personal challenges in a positive light.
- General Social Skills
Students develop the necessary skills to overcome shyness, communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings, initiate and carry out conversations, handle social requests, utilize both verbal and nonverbal assertiveness skills to make or refuse requests, and recognize that they have choices other than aggression or passivity when faced with tough situations.
Rather than merely teaching information about the dangers of drug abuse, Botvin LifeSkills Training promotes healthy alternatives to risky behavior through activities designed to:
- Teach students the necessary skills to resist social (peer) pressures to smoke, drink, and use drugs
- Help students to develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence
- Enable students to effectively cope with anxiety
- Increase their knowledge of the immediate consequences of substance abuse
- Enhance cognitive and behavioral competency to reduce and prevent a variety of health risk behaviors
- Unit 1 - Advertising and Media Messages
- The class looks at a variety of media formats (internet, videos, print, games, etc.) and the messages they are seeing regarding males and females in those formats. They also look at advertising specifically and learn about a variety of advertising techiniques, target audience, demographics and messages about society's expectations around gender roles in various cultures. The goal of the unit is to position students to become educated consumers, and to use critical theory when looking at advertising.
- Unit 2 - Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD)
- Students learn the differences in stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens. We also discuss alcohol from an aspect of how it affects the human body and the legal aspects of alcohol, drug and tobacco use. An outside presenter discusses driving, vehicle safety, and drinking issues. As a class, they complete a small group research project they then present to the larger group on one of the drugs we discuss in class.
- Unit 3 - Refusal Skills
- Through role-playing, discussion and small group work, the class practices refusal skills. The goal of the unit is to look at the dynamics of adolescent social life and how being able to navigate situations effectively can impact their successful management of making the right choices. They develop personal strategies around potentially dangerous situations involving drugs, alcohol and risky behaviors.
- Unit 4 - Communication Skills
- Communication skills covers a wide range of social skills including, but not limited to, conflict resolution, effective communication, negotiation skills and assertive communication. The goal of the unit is to encourage students to develop strong and appropriate communication skills they can use as they move through high school and into college or the workforce. We also reinforce having effective refusal skills in place for social situations, and anti-harrassment plans in place.
Class projects may include the following:
- Advertising and Media Messages - identifying different advertising techniques used by the media, recognizing secondary media messages in print and electronic advertising, and creating an ad using different techniques and formats for a product.
- Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) - research and presentation project on stimulants and depressants, using internet and print research materials.
- Bullying and Harassment - role play and self-assessments on social skills, assertiveness, communication skills, and situations of power and control. Possible poster design and suggestions for programs within the middle school.
- Guest speakers - working with students on subjects of drinking and driving, substance abuse, and career/college planning.