Create Lesson Plans for High School
Health Classes Using Movies

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

When a Man Loves a Woman -- With a Lesson Plan on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism The movie is an in-depth dramatic exploration of the effects of alcoholism on a marriage and the changes that one couple must go through when the alcoholic member enters recovery. Michael has learned to protect Alice from the consequences of being drunk since the very beginning of their relationship. Someone he loves is in pain and Michael does what he can to reduce that pain. Alice encourages Michael's enabling behavior because it allows her to live an intoxicated life without paying the price. Over the years, this interaction has become deeply imbedded in their relationship. However, when Alice hits bottom and enters a rehab program, she needs Michael's enabling behavior to stop.

The Lesson Plan that accompanies the movie covers the basics of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. It contains a student handout, a comprehension test, and discussion questions.

When a Man Loves a Woman MPAA Rating: R for language; Drama; 1994; 126 minutes; Color; Recommended for ages 13 and up. (The profanity in this movie consists of the f--- word and the s--- word. They have been heard and used by the vast majority of children over the age of 12. The rating is egregiously undeserved, especially in light of the tremendous educational value of this film. In our opinion, this movie is suitable for ages 13 and up.)


Gracie's Choice (Health; U.S./1991 to Present; SEL: Alcohol & Drug; Abuse; Families In Crisis; Mother/Daughter; Parenting; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Responsibility; Caring) [12+]

Any other movie in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse section of the Social-Emotional Learning Index can serve as the basis for an essay or extra credit.


To protect his son, the hero humiliates the high school bully in a way that charms the audience and provides a platform for discussions about the psychology of bullies.

17 Again — Snippet Lesson Plan on the Psychology of Bullies [14+; snippet: 4 minutes, 15 seconds; lesson: 30 minutes]


Family Systems and Dynamics

The following films show families in dynamic change and are good platforms for a discussion of family dynamics.

The Glass Menagerie Age: 12+; MPAA Rating: PG; Drama; 1967; 134 minutes; Color.

Gracie's Choice (Health; U.S./1991 to Present; SEL: Alcohol & Drug; Abuse; Families In Crisis; Mother/Daughter; Parenting; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Responsibility; Caring) [12+]


Pay It Forward Age: 13+; MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements including substance abuse/recovery, some sexual situations, language and brief violence; Drama; 2000; 123 minutes; Color.

Billy Elliot Age: 12+; MPAA Rating: R for language; Drama; 2000; 110 minutes; Color.

Babies (Health; SEL: Parenting; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Responsibility) [12+]


This film traces the grieving process of a 13 year old girl whose mother was killed in a car accident.

Fly Away Home (Health (Grieving); ELA: theme, characterization, back story, allusion, complication; Science(Biology); the Environment; World/Canada; SEL: Grieving; Parenting; Father/Daughter; Caring for Animals; Teamwork; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Responsibility; Caring) [10+]



"Dear Frankie" will be helpful in Health and ELA classes. Students will gain a deeper understanding of how to interact with non-hearing members of society.

A Lesson Plan for Health Classes based on "Dear Frankie" Age: 12+; MPAA Rating -- PG-13 for language; Drama; 105 minutes; Color.

Music Within (U.S. 1945 - 1991; Health (disabilities; effects of early-life trauma); SEL: Disabilities; Work/Career; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Respect; Citizenship) [14+]


Obesity and Fast Food

"Super Size Me" is an entertaining and revealing documentary. It alerts kids to a major health care crisis and can actually change the way that some of them eat.

Forks Over Knives (Health; Medicine; SEL: Taking Care of Yourself; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Responsibility) [12+]


A Lesson Plan for Health Classes based on "Super Size Me" Educational Version: Age: 11+; MPAA Rating PG; Documentary; 2005; 100 minutes; Color.

Transmission of Infectious Disease

The first half of the film Outbreak presents an excellent description of how infectious diseases spread.

Outbreak — Snippet Lesson Plan on the Spread of Viral Infection Using Film Clips from Outbreak (Health; Science-Technology (Biology)) [14+]


Contagion (Health; Medicine; Science-Technology; U.S. 1991 - present; World/Asia; SEL: Courage; Surviving; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Responsibility; Citizenship) [13+]

Social Structure of a School

She's Too Young was intended to warn kids of the dangers of STDs. However, the film is best used to get kids thinking objectively about the social structure of their school society.

She's Too Young - (Health (social structure of school; STDs); SEL: Peer Pressure; Bad Associations; Romantic Relationships; Self-esteem; Taking Care of Yourself; Families in Crisis; Parenting; Moral-Ethical Emphasis: Respect; Responsibility) [15+]


The Use of Therapy to Cure Mental Illness or Neuroses

"Good Will Hunting" is a psychologically correct presentation of attachment disorder and its cure through talking therapy. The Learning Guide to this film contains a commentary on the film by Dr. Froma Burack, Psy.D.

Good Will Hunting Age: 14+; MPAA Rating: R for strong language, including some sex-related dialogue; Drama; 1997; 126 minutes.


For Learning Guides that will help teachers create lesson plans for health classes on other topics, see's Social-Emotional Learning Index.