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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: A Prime Minister’s Journal

Type: Webquest
Subjects: History, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Political Studies
Duration: 3 to 4 lessons
Purpose: To perform online research, to analyze events and write creative accounts of those events
Summary: Using a variety of web-based resources, students will examine Jean Chrétien’s life and career and produce journal entries, in-role, depicting his feelings and thoughts.


During Jean Chrétien's 40 years in politics, he evolved from being known as the "little guy from Shawinigan," to Pearson's parliamentary secretary, to minister of eight different portfolios, to one of Trudeau's most trusted MPs, and, finally, to three terms in Canada's highest political office. Trudeau once told the mayor of Quebec, "See Chrétien. He's the one who gets things done around here."

The Task

Discuss with the class the relevance of journals and personal diaries. Ask them if they use one and if it plays a significant role in their lives. Ask: Is it valuable for a political figure to keep his/her own record of experiences, thoughts, and reflections? Students will prepare four to six journal entries from Chrétien's viewpoint, ensuring that the entries cover at least a decade. Students should consider the following as they perform their research:

What are some of the key issues that might have particularly challenged Chrétien?

How might his private journal entries differ from his public response to challenges?

How might he have expressed his personal feelings, fears, and dreams?

Encourage students to be creative and design the journal to reflect what they think Chrétien might actually have used for his records. Students may include illustrations.

The Process

Students should begin their research on the life and times of former Prime Minister Chrétien on the topic Jean Chrétien: From Pool Hall to Parliament Hill on the CBC Digital Archives website. Students can then expand their research to include other relevant online resources. Students must cite and credit all sources as necessary.

Have students work in small groups to peer edit their entries prior to submission. Students should be prepared to ask and answer questions, giving their personal opinions on the issues addressed in the journal. They should be able to provide supporting details from research. Students may choose to revise some entries based on peer feedback.


Have students share one or two of their entries aloud. Encourage students to compare and contrast the entries. Do most entries reflect Chrétien in the same way? What are some adjectives you could use to describe Chrétien? What major differences are there in the way that you have represented Chrétien and his thoughts and feelings? Display the completed journals in the classroom and give students time to view one another's work.

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