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the lost children of rockdale county
teachers guide

LESSON 4: Health Outreach--Creating Research-based Pamphlets on STDs


Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

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STDs present a real threat to sexually-active individuals. This lesson plan explores a specific syphilis outbreak investigated in the FRONTLINE video and Web site "The Lost Children of Rockdale County" and directs students to research the disease and create their own informational pamphlets.

Estimated Time: 1-3 class periods (block scheduling)

Lesson Objectives:

Students will:

  • Interpret information from the video "The Lost Children of Rockdale County" through a series of written questions and answers.
  • Research the causes, symptoms, and cures of a sexually-transmitted disease.
  • Create a pamphlet to display their research findings.

Correlation to National Health Standards:

(from http://www.aahperd.org/aahe/natl_health_education_standards.html)

Health Education Standard 1:
Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention through analyzing how the prevention and control of health problems are influenced by research and medical advances.

Health Education Standard 2:
Students will demonstrate the ability to access valid health information and health-promoting products and services through evaluating the validity of health information, products, and services.

Health Education Standard 3:
Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and reduce health risks through analyzing the short-term and long-term consequences of safe, risky and harmful behaviors and developing strategies to improve or maintain personal, family and community health.

Materials needed:

  • TV and VCR
  • Video of "The Lost Children of Rockdale County"
  • Internet Access
  • Encyclopedias and medical reference books
  • Paper and markers or colored pencils (or appropriate software such as Microsoft Word and printer)

Teaching Strategy:

Day 1:

1. Introduce the topic by posing a question such as: "You are all aware that sexual activity can result in pregnancy, but what are some of the other risks involved with sexual activity?" OR "What are some of the risks involved with sexual activity?" After a brief discussion of their responses (which should include mention of STDs--prompted if necessary) introduce the teenagers in Rockdale County who participated in risky behaviors. Show video segment (00:00 to 09:15.. Have students take notes or write responses to the following questions:

  1. When did this incident occur?
  2. What health problem prompted a close look at the community's teens?
  3. What alerted the authorities to the situation?
  4. What was unusual about this particular outbreak?
  5. How many positive cases of syphilis were recorded?
  6. How many teenagers were exposed to the disease?
  7. Describe the lifestyle, or socio-economic status, of most of the teens involved in the incidents.
  8. Where did the teenagers meet for their activities?
  9. What factors contributed to the syphilis outbreak? (What do you think caused it?)
  10. How could it have been prevented, in your opinion?
  11. Were the teenagers concerned about their exposure to the disease? Should they have been?

2. After the video segment, discuss the answers or notes about the incident in Conyers. Ask the students how much they know about syphilis. Remind them that Nicole mentioned reading the pamphlets afterward and ask what kind of information should be included in a pamphlet. Write the responses on the board or overhead as they are given.

3. Tell the class that they will be designing pamphlets to help teenagers (such as those in Rockdale County) to learn about syphilis. You may want to include other STDs as possible research topics as well, and assign students to a particular disease. As a class, design a scoring guide for the finished pamphlets, including the responses to the question stated above about what kind of information should be included in a pamphlet. Things that should be included are:

  • What causes it?
  • What are its symptoms?
  • Does it have any long-lasting effects?
  • What are the treatments?
  • How is it diagnosed?
  • Other facts and figures about who gets it, how prevalent it is, perhaps some historical data

Be certain that students realize the design of their pamphlet is important, too. They should keep in mind who their audience is--teenagers--and try to make the pamphlets appealing and interesting to teens. Include an assessment of "teen-appeal" in your scoring guide.

It would be a good idea to have an assortment of various pamphlets (health related, preferably) available so that students will have some ideas to work from. You may want to have the students bring in pamphlets of their own, perhaps from local agencies. They could be asked to identify where they found the pamphlets and to evaluate the usefulness of their pamphlets.

If the students have access to Microsoft Word, they can use that software to design their pamphlets. Some guidelines to using it can be found at: http://www.elementkjournals.com/msw/9901/msw9911.htm

Day 2:

Allow the students research time, either in class or on their own. Encyclopedias and medical references would be a good place to start, but have them include some Internet reference as well:

Be sure to direct students to these links from FRONTLINE's "Lost Children" Web site:

Other references that will help in their research include the following:

Other STDs:

Day 3:

Allow students time to create their pamphlets. Collect and display them. Ask students to evaluate their peers based on the scoring guides you create.


  • Completion of notes or questions from video
  • Participation in discussion
  • Finished pamphlet, based on class-created scoring guides


1. Have students review the segment of the video, especially from 08:03 to 09:15. Ask them to write a paragraph, based on their new knowledge of syphilis and/or other STDs, describing their reaction to the lack of concern the teens in Conyers seemed to display regarding the syphilis outbreak.

2. Write a list of questions or a letter to one of the teens in the video.

3. Post their own ideas or thoughts on the FRONTLINE Web site at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/georgia/talk/

4. Create and implement an anonymous poll to test local teens' knowledge of STDs.

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