Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

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Prior Knowledge Required

Students demonstrate an understanding of how individual Canadians have contributed to the development of Canada and to an emerging sense of Canadian identity. They should have the necessary research and note-taking skills from expectations for the Grades 7 and 8 curriculum.

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. Students answer questions on Trudeau and Pearson based on their homework readings. This part of the lesson should draw from students’ understanding of the reading they did for homework. A focus is placed on the major contributions of both prime ministers. It would also be useful to draw from the previous unit and review Diefenbaker’s and the Conservatives’ contributions. This helps students understand that a new party was in power during the time period discussed in this lesson. If the textbook provides biographical information on the prime ministers, compare the personalities or leadership styles of Diefenbaker, Pearson, and Trudeau; this may help to make these political figures more personally relevant to the students. Key points are recorded on the board.

2. Students create a chart in their notebooks with two columns: one for Trudeau and the other for Pearson. They then compare the two prime ministers in the following areas: personal background, personality traits, and major contributions to Canada.

3. Students are introduced to the unit’s culminating activity. They prepare a biography on either Pearson or Trudeau. They gather information from the textbook, multimedia resources available on CD-ROM in school Library/Resource Centre, reading material provided by the teacher to supplement textbook, and library reference material. Therefore, it may be necessary to book the library for one or two research class periods. Their biography is formatted as a book complete with an original and creative cover and at least three peer book reviews which appear on the back cover. Show students published biography book covers and prepare a student sample as a model. Once completed and evaluated by the teacher, the student presents his/her project in an oral presentation that is called a “book talk” in this assignment. Throughout the duration of this unit students keep a folder containing their research/learning log that consists of research information, rough drafts, and reflections on their work. A checklist to assess student progress should be kept in the folder. The teacher shows students biographies on various prime ministers as samples.

Assessment/Evaluation Techniques

  • Teacher-student conference, peer and teacher evaluation for culminating activity

  • See Appendices 4.2.2 and 4.2.3 for a rubric and checklist to evaluate the biography.

  • Checklist for reflection.


  • The length of the reflection can be altered for students with weaker writing skills. They may also need peer or teacher assistance to help recall information.

  • Students with weak research skills may be given a research partner to help locate and organize information in their log for the culminating activity. The student(s) may need more frequent conferences with the teacher for help with the written portion of their assignment.


Sample biographies (see Resources)

Note: These biographies may be difficult for students to read. Their sole purpose in the classroom is to give the students an idea of what a published political biography looks like, i.e., cover design, chapter titles, content. The teacher may find them useful for background reading.

Appendix 4.2.2

Rubric for Biography


Level 1


Level 2


Level 3


Level 4


Demonstrates an understanding of contributions of prime minister to the Canadian identity.

- demonstrates with limited accuracy

- demonstrates with some accuracy

- demonstrates with considerable accuracy and breadth

- demonstrates thorough and extensive understanding

Demonstrates an understanding of the background and career of the prime minister.

- demonstrates with limited accuracy

- demonstrates with some accuracy

- demonstrates with considerable accuracy and breadth

- demonstrates thorough and extensive understanding

Ability to organize research information in a meaningful way.

- demonstrates with limited accuracy

- demonstrates with some accuracy

- demonstrates with considerable accuracy and breadth

- demonstrates thorough and extensive ability

Demonstrates use of a variety of information sources for research.

- demonstrates limited use and variety

- demonstrates some use and variety

- demonstrates considerable use and variety

- demonstrates thorough use and variety

Demonstrates an ability to draw conclusions based on adequate and relevant supporting evidence.

- demonstrates with limited and inconsistent accuracy

- demonstrates with some consistency and accuracy

- demonstrates with considerable consistency

- demonstrates a consistent and insightful ability

Demonstrates competence in research and writing; uses correct notation methods.

- demonstrates limited competence

- demonstrates some competence

- demonstrates considerable competence

- demonstrates consistent accuracy

Ability to use terms related to historical organization and inquiry correctly.

- limited ability

- some ability

- considerable ability

- high degree of ability

Overall Level: Student Name:


Area to Review:

Next Steps:

Note: A student whose achievement is below level 1 (50%) has not met the expectations for this assignment or activity.

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