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Project ALERT Curriculum

An overview of the curriculum, lesson summaries, and classroom materials are available on this page. Materials can be downloaded either grouped by lesson or as individual files.

Curriculum Overview

Project ALERT is an evidence-based curriculum proven to motivate middle school students against substance use, provide skills and strategies to resist drugs, and establish non-use attitudes and beliefs.  

Project ALERT uses the power of practice and repetition to give students the self-efficacy, skills, and resources to resist peer pressure and misleading, pro-drug messaging. It works on two levels: helping students reduce their current substance use—or avoid experimenting in the first place. 

Statistics and long-term survey research demonstrate Project ALERT’s success. Unlike most other programs, Project ALERT has been, and continues to be, thoroughly tested in multi-year, multi-community studies. This scientific evidence means that administrators and teachers can be confident about what the program delivers, who it impacts, and the effort involved in making its results last. 

Project ALERT is designed to be delivered over two years. In the first year, 7th grade students receive the initial 11 lessons, or Core Curriculum of Project ALERT. Eighth grade students receive three Booster Lessons in the second year that are critical for maintaining early prevention gains. 

Both the Core Curriculum and the Booster Lessons offer a variety of activities, audiovisual materials, student handouts, and homework assignments.

Lesson Format 

Each lesson is organized into two sections: lesson overview and lesson plan. Student Handouts and other teacher supplements are standalone files 

 Lesson Overview 

On the first pages of each lesson, you will find an outline of goals and activities for that lesson, a summary description of what you hope to accomplish in the lesson, pre-class instruction on how to quickly prepare, and a checklist of materials needed. Specifically, you’ll always see the following sections: 

  • Lesson Goals. These are the proximal goals for the lesson, and can be achieved in a single class. Lesson goals guide each activity. A student-friendly version of the lesson goals are in the introduction. 

  • Scope and Sequence with Pacing Guidance. This section lists the activities in the lesson with pacing guidance. We assume class periods of approximately 45 minutes to inform pacing guidance. If your class period is a different length, you will need to adjust accordingly. 

  • Brief Lesson Plan Description. This section provides a summary of the lesson in a few paragraphs. It explains how the activites align with the goals of the lesson. 

  • Background Knowledge: Pre-Reading. We embed the main information teachers need to know before delivering the lesson in this section.  

  • Materials and Supplies to Prepare. In most lessons, the materials and supplies to prepare means confirming the Project ALERT posters and videos downloaded correctly. We recommend testing the technology necessary to display before delivering the lesson. Some lessons ask teachers to create charts to facilitate class discussions or small group activities. These can be electronic or paper charts, depending on your preferences. 

The lesson overview concludes with a key of icons (shown below) to indicate what to say during the lesson, what to keep in mind as you facilitate the lesson, and what to display in the classroom throughout the lesson. 

Lesson Plan 

Each lesson begins with an introductory activity that communicates the goal of the lesson. Subsequent activities are aligned with the core components of the curriculum: 

  • Teacher-facilitated class discussions, that refer to Project ALERT posters and teacher-created visuals 

  • Role plays, including Project ALERT videos and skits performed by students 

  • Small group activities, that include the Project ALERT posters and teacher-created visuals 

The varied activities are designed to move at a quick pace to sustain students’ interest and accommodate limited teaching schedules. Each lesson concludes with a wrap-up activity to acknowledge that the goal has been accomplished.  

Download the program overview to learn more about Project ALERT, why it works, how it works, and how to deliver it as designed.