I think as a school librarian, there are some collaborations that come really easily, like language arts and social studies, while there are others that you have to work really hard to set up. It never occurred to me when I was in the middle schools that I should make an effort to work with the Health/PE teachers. I just didn’t feel like information literacy really fit with their programs. But lately I’ve been examining the North Carolina Essential Standards for Healthful Living, and I found some standards here that make me think I should’ve tried harder.

Because I work in North Carolina, that’s where I’m focusing, but I imagine the standards in other states have something similar.

Beginning with the fourth grade standards, there is a focus on analyzing health information and products. This is a great opportunity to teach critical literacy. You could have students watch clips from infomercials, examine magazine ads, etc. You could have them explore the internet and find conflicting information and try to resolve that information. This focus proceeds all the way through high school, with the objective “Monitor the effects of media and popular culture on normative beliefs that contradict scientific research on health."

If you’re currently in a school, I encourage you to talk to your health and PE teachers about how you can work together beyond just pulling books about the rules of certain sports (all that I really did for those teachers, I’m sad to say). This is a great opportunity to ask kids to think critically. It is incredibly relevant to their daily lives and will continue to be so as they become adults. Just figuring out what’s the healthiest food to eat requires us to use these skills daily.

If you collaborate with your health/PE teacher in this way, I would love to hear about it. Comment here or email me: kimberly at kimberlyhirsh dot com.