Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

I Can't Stress This Enough

Stress Management

Adam Yeargin, Morgan Myers | Published: May 31st, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th, 8th
  • Subject Subject
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3-4 class period(s)


This stress management lesson will challenge students' ideas about stress and its effects on the body. Students will participate in a high-pressure competitive activity, learn about good and bad stress, research and evaluate articles about stress, and create SMART goals for stress management. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy stress, evaluate the credibility of health information, and identify healthy behavior for managing stress. This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included.

Essential Question(s)

What effect does stress have on my health? How can I effectively manage stress?



Students play a high-pressure, low-stakes game to experience the physical symptoms of stress.


Students read about the body’s physiological reactions to stress, then share and discuss their findings.


Students complete a table listing the physical indicators of stress and discuss scenarios in which they might experience these indicators.


Students evaluate high-quality, corroborating sources for authority, currency, and credibility.


Students create a SMART goal for dealing with stressful situations.


  • Computers or devices with Internet access (one per student)

  • Internet-connected and sound-enabled device to share video(s) with students

  • Tournament materials (may include stackable cups, spoons and table tennis balls, or straws and tissue)

  • "I Can't Stress This Enough" lesson slides (attached)

  • Stress Indicators table (attached)

  • CER Notetaking handout (attached)

  • Website Evaluation Checklist handout (attached)

  • SMART Goal Organizer handout (attached)


Use the attached I Can't Stress This Enough lesson slides to guide the lesson. Begin with slides two though four, introducing students to the lesson title, the Essential Questions, and the lesson objectives.

Go to slide six. As the students enter the room, use a Bell Ringer instructional strategy to have them make a claim based on this question: Can stress be beneficial? Ask students to keep these claims to be used in a later phase of the lesson.

Go to slide seven. Organize students into groups of four. Invite them to compete in a high-pressure activity that you have determined. Make sure a tournament-style bracket is displayed on the board to heighten the stakes of the competition. Most students will be familiar with cup stacking. See video links of cup stacking competitions here and here, also listed in the lesson slide notes and in the Resources section below. These videos can be used for your own reference and to exhibit a high-level competitive atmosphere.

Add some pressure to your classroom atmosphere with your own play-by-play commentary and by encouraging students to cheer for their teammates to succeed. As the competition unfolds, make sure the atmosphere is simultaneously fun and competitive, as you cultivate pressure to succeed.

After the activity, ask the groups to discuss what they were experiencing physically during the competition. Have the students categorize what they were feeling as good or bad (healthy vs. unhealthy). Ask the students to decide whether felt the feelings were more healthy or unhealthy, and illustrate their decision by moving to opposite sides of the room—one side representing “the tournament was stressful in ways that made me feel unhealthy” and the other side being “the tournament was stressful in ways that were healthy and fun.” Some students may have difficulty deciding.

Wrap up the activity by asking the students if they believe that stress is good, harmful, or a little of both. This conversation is less about the results of the poll and more about getting students thinking about the “good/bad” dichotomy of stress.


Go to slide nine. In the same groups of four as before, invite students to use the Jigsaw strategy to read the online article, "Why Stress Can Be Good For You—No, Really." Share this link with your students (the full URL can also be found in the Resources section below.) Each group will read a different section of the article and become the "experts" on that part of the reading.

Tell the students that while they are reading they should make note of any vocabulary or concepts they don’t understand and then clarify among their group (this is an informal use of the Stop and Jot strategy).

Go to slide 10. Have the students share their findings within their groups and come to a consensus about what the author is saying in their assigned section. After sufficient time, ask a representative from each group to share out a summary of their section with the entire class. Then, prompt the class to make connections to their own lives.


Continue to slide 12. Begin by sharing a portion of the video, "How to Make Stress Your Friend." Follow the link here or in the slide presentation (the full URL is also listed in the Resources below.) Stop the video at the 7:29 mark.

Prompt the class to explain how the information they heard in the video or read in the article that can help them turn their physical responses to stress into a benefit.

Distribute the attached Stress Indicators table. Ask students to work independently to complete the table, following instructions on slide 13.

After sufficient time has been allowed to complete the handout, move to slide 14. Ask students to discuss their work with an Elbow Partner.

Transition to a whole-class discussion where students can share their thoughts. Encourage the students to fill in any gaps in their table based on the information gleaned from the group.


Go to slide 16. Have students reassemble into the same groups of four that participated in the opening activities. Introduce the class to the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) strategy. Distribute the attached CER Notetaking handout and ask the groups to choose one group member's Bell Ringer claim from the Engage phase (in response to the question "Can stress be beneficial?"). Or, referencing multiple group members' responses, groups can formulate a new claim. Ask the groups to write their agreed-upon question in the space next to "Claim."

Invite students to gather evidence for their claim with a provided list of websites. Let students know they will first need to evaluate the reliability of these websites, as well as to corroborate information found in multiple sources.

Distribute copies of the attached Website Evaluation Checklist handout to each group. Engage the class in a discussion over each category in the checklist (Authority, Accuracy, Currency, Objectivity, and Purpose). Ask for volunteers to share ideas about why each area is necessary to determine the quality of a source.

Go to slide 17. Have students select two or three articles from the list below to evaluate in their groups. Each group should complete one Website Evaluation Checklist for each source they evaluate. Ask students to keep in mind two overarching questions while reading: "Is this a quality resource?" and "Does this resource give any evidence to support our claim?" Have students use the CER Notetaking handout and the Website Evaluation Checklist to complete this activity.

After the groups have completed the website evaluations, ask them to record evidence they found that supports their claim in the "Evidence" section of the CER Notetaking handout. They can use the "Reasoning" section to take notes for how the evidence they found supports their claim.

Ask students to, on a separate sheet of paper, write a three to four sentence conclusion that supports their claim, based on their evidence and reasoning notes, and incorporating the evidence and sources they found credible.


Using slides 19–22, review the SMART acronym and share an example of a SMART goal with the group.

Go to slide 22. Students will work independently to create a SMART goal for managing stress using all available resources from the lesson. Pass out the SMART Goal Organizer handout for students to complete. Have the students refer back to the Stress Indicators table that they completed earlier in the lesson as they work.