Understanding Alcohol
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Understanding Alcohol

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Teacher's Guide

Lesson 1—Engage

Alcohol: Separating Fact from Fiction

At a Glance

Figure 1.1
Figure 1.1.
When it comes to alcohol, it's not always easy to separate fact from fiction.

Overview

For teachers with Web access, the first lesson of the module begins by having students watch two short video clips of mouse activity. Students then record their observations of the behavior of the mice. Students come to realize that the differences in behavior are due to the effects of alcohol intoxication. Students are then confronted with a series of statements about alcohol and asked whether they agree or disagree with each statement. This activity helps you assess students’ prior knowledge of the topic while helping students clarify their own understanding.

Major Concepts

Students receive mixed messages about alcohol consumption. On the one hand, they observe that society considers drinking alcohol socially acceptable. Movies, media, and advertisements often portray the use of alcohol as part of a desirable lifestyle. Simultaneously, however, students are warned that alcohol is dangerous and should be avoided. This situation leaves many adolescents with incomplete understanding and misconceptions about alcohol use and its effects.

Objectives

During this lesson, students will

Teacher Background

Consult the following sections in Information about Alcohol:

  1. 1 Introduction
  2. 2 Alcohol Use, Abuse, and Alcoholism: Definitions
  3. 3 Misconceptions about Alcohol Use, Abuse, and Alcoholism
  4. 7 Alcohol: Behavioral Effects

In Advance

Web-Based Activities
Activity Web Version?
1 Yes
2 No
Photocopies
Activity 1 no photocopies needed
Activity 2 Master 1.1, Alcohol: Is This Right? (Make 1 copy for each student and prepare an overhead transparency.)
Materials
Activity 1 computers with an Internet connectiona
Activity 2 no materials needed (except photocopies)
a Ideally, videos are presented to the class using a single computer whose monitor is projected to the class. Alternatively, students view the videos on computers individually or in small groups.

Preparation

Check with your computer lab personnel to determine which type of Internet connection you will be using. For Activity 1, you need to know whether you will use a modem, an ISDN line, or a T1 connection.

Procedure

Web activity icon

Activity 1: What’s Up with This Mouse?

Teacher note
This activity is for classes with access to the Internet. The activity is designed to be conducted by students before they are told they will be participating in a module about alcohol. Students are asked to carefully observe the behavior of two mice and record their observations. One mouse has been given a dose of alcohol sufficient to render it intoxicated, while the other mouse has not been given alcohol. The students’ observations are discussed in this activity and referred to again in Lesson 3, Responding to Alcohol: What’s Important?

It is not essential that the students are unaware that they will be participating in a module about alcohol for this activity to be useful. During field testing of this module, even when students knew that one mouse had been given an intoxicating dose of alcohol, they could not always identify which mouse was intoxicated. Regardless of whether the class knows that alcohol is the topic under investigation, the discussion of which aspects of mouse behavior are caused by alcohol and their relevance to humans who consume alcohol is a useful one.

Figure 1.2. Mouse standing upright
Figure 1.2. Alcohol has many effects on mouse behavior.
  1. Log onto the Web site http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/alcohol/student and click on “Lesson 1—Alcohol: Separating Fact from Fiction.” Select the type of Internet connection you are using (56k modem, ISDN, or T1) and click to play a mouse video.
  2. Explain to the class that they will view two short video clips of mice. Ask the students to observe the behavior of each mouse and record their observations on a sheet of paper. If some students are aware that the module is about alcohol, do not reveal which video clip shows the mouse that has been given alcohol.
  3. Discuss the difference between an observation and an inference. Ask students:

Answers may vary. An observation relates to what a person can actually see. It involves the noting and recording of facts.

An inference is a conclusion that follows logically from available evidence but is not a direct result of that evidence. This means that people may make different inferences from the same evidence.

This statement is an observation because you can see that the mouse is white.

This statement is an inference because the mouse cannot tell you that it is happy, and it cannot display a behavior that indicates only happiness.

If you see a mouse drinking water, then the statement is an observation. You can infer that, because the mouse is drinking water, it is thirsty.

National Science Education Standards icon
Content Standard A:

Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.

Observations provide the facts that all scientists can agree on, while inferences are subject to individual interpretation.

  1. Ask students to take out a piece of paper and label it as follows:
Mouse 1
Observations Inferences




Mouse 2
Observations Inferences




  1. Click on “mouse 1 to play the first video clip. Ask the class to observe carefully and record the behavior of the mouse.

Do not mention anything about the mouse or why you are asking them to observe it. This first clip shows the mouse that has not been given alcohol being placed on the center of a table. The mouse is nervous and tentatively explores its environment. It cautiously moves short distances in a circular pattern around the spot upon which it was placed. It occasionally rears up and sniffs the air. Replay the video if necessary.

  1. Invite students to share their observations and inferences about the behavior of the mouse. Ask students if they agree or disagree with the statements.

Students report various descriptions of the mouse’s behavior. Some of the words and phrases provided by the field-test students are listed in the following table.

Mouse 1
Observations Inferences
sniffing
moving slowly
moving in circles
moving head up and down
rising on back legs
confused
hungry
tired
afraid
drunk
  1. Click on “mouse 2 to play the second video clip. Again, ask the class to observe carefully and record the behavior of the mouse. As before, do not mention anything about the mouse.

This second clip features the mouse that is intoxicated with alcohol. It has lost its sense of inhibition and immediately runs off the edge of the table. Each time the mouse is repositioned and released, it again recklessly runs off the table’s edge. Replay the video if necessary.

  1. Invite students to share their observations and inferences about the behavior of the mouse. Ask students if they agree or disagree with the statements.

Once again, student descriptions of the mouse’s behavior will vary. Some of the words and phrases provided by the field-test students are listed in the following table.

Mouse 2
Observations Inferences
running
moves in a straight line
doesn’t sniff
falls off table
stays low on table
scared
alert
not hungry
not cautious
drunk
  1. Point out that the behavior of the second mouse was clearly different from the first mouse. Ask students to suggest reasons that could account for the differences in behavior.
National Science Education Standards icon
Content Standard A:
Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions.

Their answers will vary but may include sickness (either hereditary or infectious); exposure to drugs, alcohol, or chemicals; and age. Accept all responses that could reasonably account for the differences in behavior. List the responses on the board.

  1. Explain that, in fact, the second mouse was intoxicated with alcohol. Ask the class how the behavior of the intoxicated mouse is similar to that of intoxicated humans.

Answers will vary. Make sure that students appreciate that alcohol causes the mouse to lose its normal cautious nature in a manner similar to that in which humans lose their inhibitions after drinking alcoholic beverages.

Activity 2: Alcohol—Separating Fact from Fiction

assessment icon
Assessment:

Listening to students’ explanations gives you another opportunity to assess whether they understand the difference between observations and inferences.

Teacher note
The purpose of this activity is to assess students’ prior knowledge about alcohol. Explain to the class that the handout they are about to receive is not a test or a quiz and it will not be graded. At the conclusion of the entire module (all six lessons), the class will receive another copy of the handout and again will have an opportunity to react to the statements. This enables you and the class to see how attitudes and beliefs change as a consequence of the module.

  1. Explain to the class that they will now participate in a discussion to see what they know (or think they know) about alcohol.
  2. Pass out a copy of Master 1.1, Alcohol: Is This Right?, to each student.
  1. Instruct students to write their names on the handout. Ask them to circle whether they agree or disagree with each of the numbered statements.

Students may ask you to clarify some statements. It is not necessary to define terms at this point. The idea is to provoke students into assessing what they currently know or think they know about alcohol. Through the lessons of this module, students will become more familiar with terms associated with alcohol. Remind students that this is not a test.

assessment icon
Assessment:

The discussion of students’ responses to the statements on Master 1.1 provides you with an assessment of their current understanding about alcohol.
  1. After students have had an opportunity to respond to each of the statements, collect their handouts and save them until the conclusion of the module.
  2. Show the class a transparency of Master 1.1, Alcohol: Is this Right? Read each statement aloud and ask them to raise their hands if they agree with it.

At this time, do not judge the students’ responses or provide them with additional information.

  1. Invite students to share their views about each statement with the class. Allow several students to respond to each statement.

As students discuss their beliefs about alcohol, they may bring up issues related to their family life. Such circumstances require sensitivity on your part. If other students make judgmental or inappropriate comments, be sure to reinforce the idea of being respectful of others’ experiences. If necessary, talk to affected students individually to determine whether they have issues that might require professional help. Also, refer to How Can Controversial Topics Be Handled in the Classroom?, on page 14.

National Science Education Standards icon
Content Standard A:

Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations.
  1. Ask students how they learned about alcohol. Use the following questions to guide the discussion.

Students will list a variety of sources that may include parents, siblings, friends, television, movies, magazines, songs, and observations of people.

Figure 1.3. Teacher   Figure 1.3. Father and daughter   Figure 1.3. Two boys
Figure 1.3. Students learn about alcohol from different sources including teachers, parents, and friends.

Responses will vary. Information from another person depends on the level of trust they have with that person. Students may regard information from doctors or news reports to be more accurate than that from movies or friends.

Students may respond that scientists conduct research, sometimes using animal models, to learn about alcohol. This may involve making hypotheses, recording observations, gathering data, making inferences, and reaching conclusions based upon evidence. Scientists also review the work of other scientists who have investigated the topic.

This is an opportunity to reinforce the idea that gathering and analyzing data are critical to scientific investigations.

  1. Inform students that they will think about these statements again at the end of the module.

Lesson 1 Organizer
Activity 1: What’s Up with This Mouse?
What the Teacher Does Procedure Reference
Log onto Web site and click on “Lesson 1—Alcohol: Separating Fact from Fiction.” Select the type of Internet connection you are using. Select a mouse video clip. Web activity iconStep 1
Instruct the class to pay close attention as you play each of the mouse videos and to record their observations of each mouse’s behavior. Web activity iconStep 2
Discuss the difference between an observation and an inference. Step 3
Replay the video clip of mouse 1 and invite the class to share their observations and inferences. Web activity iconSteps 4–6
Replay the video clip of mouse 2 and invite the class to share their observations and inferences. Steps 7 and 8
Ask the class to account for differences in behavior between the two mice. Step 9
Discuss how the behavior of the intoxicated mouse relates to that of intoxicated humans. Step 10
Activity 2: Alcohol—Separating Fact from Fiction
What the Teacher Does Procedure Reference
Explain to the class that they will discuss what they know (or think they know) about alcohol. Step 1
Have the class indicate whether they agree or disagree with a series of statements about alcohol on Master 1.1, Alcohol: Is This Right? master iconSteps 2 and 3
Collect their responses and save them until the end of the module. Step 4

Using a transparency of Master 1.1, read each statement and ask students to indicate whether or not they agree with it.

  • Allow several students to share their views about each statement.
transparency iconSteps 5 and 6

Discuss with the class how they learned about alcohol.

  • Where did they get their information?
  • How do they know if the information is accurate?
  • How would a scientist learn about alcohol?
Step 7
Explain that you will return to these statements about alcohol at the conclusion of the module. Step 8
Web activity icon= Involves using the Internet.
transparency icon= Involves using a transparency.
master icon= Involves copying a master.

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