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Lesson Plans Library 9-12 > Health
Headaches image
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: Health Duration: One or two class periods
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Students will
  • review what they've learned about different types of headaches, their causes, and treatments; and
  • work in groups to create a commercial for a headache treatment.
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Print resources about headaches
  • Supplemental materials such as poster board and markers
  1. As a class, review the definition of a headache. (Definition: Headache is a pain that comes from nerves surrounding the brain. When irritated, the nerves fire off pain signals.) Ask students to name situations or experiences that have caused them to have headaches. (Their suggestions may include allergies, noise, fatigue, stress, and exercise.)
  2. List the different types of headaches covered in the video. (Examples included tension headaches, exercise headaches, sinus headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches.) Which of these headaches is most common? Which are most severe? Briefly discuss the cause, symptoms, and treatments for each type of headache. Keep a running list of headache treatments on the board.
  3. Have students work in groups of four or five to create a commercial for one type of headache treatment. They may focus on an over-the-counter medicine; a prescription drug; or a service such as acupuncture, massage therapy, or yoga. Their commercials should address the following questions:

    • What type of headache does this treatment claim to remedy?
    • Who gets this type of headache? (How many Americans does it affect?)
    • What does it feel like (i.e. what are the symptoms)?
    • What are other symptoms, if any?
    • What are some external causes of this type of headache?
    • What are the internal causes?
    • Why does this treatment work?

  4. Each group should write a script for their commercial. Encourage students to use facts and statistics from the video, as well as from their own research. The Web sites below from Discovery Health Online provide helpful information:

  5. Have groups present their commercials to the class. (Depending on your time and resources, groups could perform their commercials as skits and possibly videotape them to be shown in class.)
  6. Conclude with a discussion about severe headaches. What are the signs of a serious migraine or cluster headache? What are some symptoms that should cause you to seek help? (Answers include severe or frequent headaches, "stabbing" feeling in head, pain in eye, loss of vision, or numbness.)

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students were highly engaged in class discussions; they produced a creative and thoughtful commercial that was based on several facts from the video and their research.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; they produced a somewhat creative and thoughtful poster that included some facts from the video and their research.
  • One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions; they produced a simplistic commercial with few or no facts from the video and their research.

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cluster headache
Definition:Sudden, severe headaches that occur in groups; may feel like a stabbing sensation on one side of the head
Context:Cluster headaches often occur one to two times a day for several weeks.

Definition:Painful sensation in the muscles, the skin, or one of the organs in the head or near the brain
Context:Common over-the-counter pain medicines for headaches include aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Definition:A moderate to severe headache affecting one or both sides of the head; may be caused by changes in the blood flow in the vessels of the head
Context:Common symptoms of a migraine include a headache that can last for hours or days, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and sensitivity to sound, light, or smell.

tension headache
Definition:A painful sensation in the head or near the brain caused by stress or abnormalities in the neck, muscles, or bones
Context:Episodic tension headaches occur when a person experiences a stressful event; chronic tension headaches are associated with contraction of the muscles in the head and neck.

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This lesson plan addresses the followingNational Science Education Standards: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Personal and community health; natural and human-induced hazards.

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Joy Brewster, freelance education writer, editor, and consultant

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