Section 7: Planning for Teaching Healthy Living in a Focus Course Using the Inquiry Process

As in all H&PE courses, the Healthy Living expectations and the living skills must be addressed within every focus course. This is further reinforced by the title of all focus courses where the “Healthy Living and” prefix has been explicitly placed before the “focus” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2015, p. 20).

Course descriptions for all focus courses use the full description for the “parent” Healthy Active Living Education (HALE) course. This indicates that students are expected to demonstrate achievement of the same expectations, including the expectations in Strand C: Healthy Living. As such, where possible, the Healthy Living expectations may be contextualized to the particular focus of the course. This can be accomplished by teachers adopting an inquiry approach to learning.

As outlined in Ophea’s Inquiry-Based Learning in Health and Physical Education guide, the inquiry process can be used as a vehicle through which knowledge and skills can be developed related to the various topics covered in any course. "Students engaged in inquiry-based learning develop higher-order thinking skills (i.e., analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating and reflecting) and they become more independent as they take responsibility for their own learning. As students pose their own questions, their curiosity is piqued and as a result they are more engaged in the learning process. Throughout the inquiry process students also learn and practise collaboration and communication skills" (Ophea, 2016b, p.7).

The inquiry framework can work as a tool for teachers to develop an effective strategy for approaching the curriculum to meet the needs and interests of the students in a focus course. The framework will provide teachers with the necessary provocation to raise the questions about how to differentiate content delivery and allow the collaboration needed to develop a solution as a part of the collaborative process within the department. In this way, the learning in a focus course, both at the same grade level and at the next grade level, can be better differentiated (Ophea, 2016b, p. 7-12).

It is also helpful for teachers to consider adopting an inquiry approach to healthy living when teaching blended courses. The teacher might begin by adopting a thematic approach to the concepts such as well-being, making healthy choices or healthy relationships. Students create their own inquiry questions to investigate a specific focus connected to the theme based on the learning goals and co-constructed success criteria established at the beginning of the learning. Ophea’s Ophea’s Inquiry-Based Learning in Health and Physical Education guide provides further support for helping students generate inquiry questions.

This chart provides sample questions for a variety of focus courses offered at the same grade level and at different grade levels. These sample questions are not meant to be an exhaustive list of questions nor are they meant to cover all content within the Healthy Living strand. They are meant to be used by teachers as a guide when planning their own lessons and units using the inquiry approach.


Curriculum Expectations: C2.1, C2.2, C3.1Inquiry Question: How can you inspire people to choose healthier foods? 

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C3.1Inquiry Questions: How can different diseases affect what you choose to eat?

Is genetic modification of crops necessary?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.1, C3.1Inquiry Question: How will our food choices and nutritional needs change over time?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C2.3, C3.2Inquiry Question: How should we respond to harassment in the locker room or on the field?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C1.3, C2.1, C3.2Inquiry Question: "Why do we sometimes take risks that can cause harm to ourselves or others?" (Jay McTighe & Associates, 2013)

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C2.2, C3.2Inquiry Question: Are some coping and conflict resolution skills more effective than others in dealing with bullies?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C2.4, C3.3Inquiry Question: To what extent do various addictions impact your local community and beyond?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.2, C3.3Inquiry Question: What risks might be associated with the use of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C2.3, C3.3Inquiry Question: How would coping skills help you develop resilience?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.5, C3.4, C3.5Inquiry Questions: How could you end a relationship respectfully?

How important is it that you have a sexual health plan?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.4 C2.3 C3.4 C3.5Inquiry Question: What does it mean to be in a healthy relationship?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.3, C2.4, C2.5, C3.4Inquiry Question: Is it possible for a stereotype to be neutral or positive?


Curriculum Expectations: C2.1, C2.2, C3.1Inquiry Question: How does what I choose to eat impact my fitness?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C3.1Inquiry Questions: How can people with health conditions eat healthy while training for endurance events?

How do we determine our food choices?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.1, C3.1Inquiry Question: Why might multiple food options be needed when preparing a menu for a group of athletes preparing for the same competition?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C2.3, C3.2Inquiry Question: What role do conflict resolution skills play in addressing possible harassment at a gym or fitness club?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C1.3, C2.1, C3.2Inquiry Question: How can we most effectively promote safe behaviour to reduce injuries in the fitness studio/weight room?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C2.2, C3.2Inquiry Questions: Are harassment and abuse policies needed in school if there are already laws in society to protect people?

What makes a school safe?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C2.4, C3.3Inquiry Question: What is the best way to respond to being offered steroids/drugs?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.2, C3.3Inquiry Question: How do you know if your substance use is a problem?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C2.3, C3.3Inquiry Questions: Is taking illegal substances ever justified?

Should Health Canada support e-cigarettes as a means to help smokers quit?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.5, C3.4, C3.5Inquiry Questions: How can we create a comfortable environment where everyone feels a part of the group regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity?

How can you know if you are ready to be intimate with your partner?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.4, C2.3, C3.4, C3.5Inquiry Questions: How would having a mental illness or addiction impact your personal health and well-being?

How is sexual health just as important as physical, emotional and psychological health?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.3, C2.4, C2.5, C3.4Inquiry Questions: Why is knowing what your strengths and interests are important?

In what way can you establish boundaries with your partner?


Curriculum Expectations: C2.1, C2.2, C3.1Inquiry Question: How do the physical and emotional demands of outdoor activities influence our food choices?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C3.1Inquiry Question: How might different diseases and health conditions impact meal planning for winter camping?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.1, C3.1Inquiry Question: What should you consider when buying food for a prolonged camping trip in the different seasons?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C2.3, C3.2Inquiry Questions: What is the best way to support someone in the outdoors if you see signs/symptoms that they aren’t doing well mentally or emotionally?

Does the stress we experience in the outdoors impact us differently?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C1.3, C2.1, C3.2Inquiry Questions: Why would the consequences of risk taking change by being in the outdoors?

How can a trip with many safety checks fail?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.1, C2.2, C3.2Inquiry Question: How would you deal with the disruption of accessing your regular support network while away on trip?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C2.4, C3.3Inquiry Questions: How might you deal with someone asking you to go smoke up or drink in the woods away from the campsite?

To what extent would smoking up on a trip impact the rest of your peers?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.2, C3.3Inquiry Question: Why do people choose to use drugs when they are aware of the negative effects?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.2, C2.3, C3.3Inquiry Question: Does the use of extreme outdoor activities in alcohol advertisements have an impact on substance use?

Curriculum Expectations: C2.5, C3.4, C3.5Inquiry Questions: How can we promote the development of healthy relationships while on a trip?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.4, C2.3, C3.4, C3.5Inquiry Questions: How would the outdoor environment affect someone dealing with mental illness or addiction?

How can you be proactive about your reproductive and sexual health while in the outdoors away from medical help?

How would you help someone get through a stressful situation while in the outdoors far from home and their regular supports?

Curriculum Expectations: C1.3, C2.4, C2.5, C3.4Inquiry Questions: How do our relationships change during adolescence?

What will you do to continue your involvement in outdoor pursuits?

How does my emotional health influence my relationships with others while on trip?

"How do we learn to understand and respect diversity in relationships?" (Jay McTighe & Associates, 2013)

Using the inquiry approach, H&PE teachers may avoid the duplication of material so that students are better able to understand and communicate their learning in the focus course that is most authentic for them.

For further support in addressing Healthy Living expectations teachers may consult Ophea’s Approaches to Teaching Healthy Living: A Guide for Secondary Educators (for school boards that have purchased access) and Ophea’s Inquiry-Based Learning in Health and Physical Education guide.