CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Greatest Canadian

Social Studies, English Language Arts, Science
2 to 3 lessons
To form an opinion; to write a persuasive essay
Students will write a persuasive essay to support or refute the claim that Frederick Banting should be considered the greatest Canadian.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students whether they know about the CBC television programs that had viewers vote for the greatest Canadian and the greatest Canadian invention. According to these programs, Canadians ranked insulin as the number one Canadian invention, while Banting was ranked as the fourth greatest Canadian. You can find additional information online.

As a class, develop a list of qualities and characteristics that a "great" person would possess. Students may find it helpful to refer to this list as they prepare their essay.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students view the clips titled "Banting and Best develop the 'miracle cure'", "Egos and ownership", "A life cut short: Sir Frederick Banting", and "Remembering Dr. Charles Best" on the topic Chasing a Cure for Diabetes on the CBC Digital Archives website.

As they view these clips, they should note the information presented about the life of Banting as well as his connection to the discovery of insulin. Students might also want to view the clips titled "The Biography of Frederick Banting" and "Scientist, national hero, father - Frederick Banting."

Using the information they have gathered, students will write a persuasive essay supporting or refuting Frederick Banting as the greatest Canadian. Before they write, students may wish to discuss and develop their ideas in small groups. Encourage students to read one another's essays and offer constructive criticism.

Assessment Tip
You can assess student work using the Position Paper rubric in the Assessment Suite in the For Teachers section of the CBC Digital Archives website. Provide the rubric to students to help guide them as they write.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students read their essays to the class such that both points of view are represented. Ask: What characteristics constitute a great Canadian? Does a person have to be famous to be considered great?


Students can research other notable scientific discoveries from the "history of science" perspective (e.g., Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA, Gregor Mendel's laws of genetics, Galileo's view of the universe).

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