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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Diabetes Defined

Type: Introductory
Subjects: History, Physical Education, English Language Arts, Science
Duration: 2 lessons
Purpose: To locate and synthesize information about diabetes
Summary: Students develop a glossary to help them understand the history and science of diabetes.

Before Exploring

Provide each student with several strips of paper. Give them two minutes to write the names of diseases on the strips, one disease per strip. Collect the strips and remove as many duplicates as possible until you have one strip per student. Give each student a strip. Have students sort themselves into two groups: diseases with cures and diseases for which there are treatments, but no cures. (You may wish to provide some medical texts for their use.) Discuss how students sorted themselves and establish the difference between "cure" and "treatment."

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic Chasing a Cure for Diabetes on the CBC Digital Archives website. Have them browse the clips to learn about the history and science of diabetes. Discuss the word "glossary" and its root "gloss." Ask: How is a glossary different from a dictionary? How does a glossary entry differ from a dictionary entry? Talk about glossaries as a feature of non-fiction books. Have the students build a personal diabetes glossary as they explore the site. Students should write down key words and names on index cards, and compose one- or two-line definitions for each word.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their glossaries orally in alphabetical order. Have them compare definitions when several students have selected the same word. Build a list of words on the chalkboard. Ask: Why do so many medical words have Greek or Latin roots? Would it help your understanding of English to know Greek or Latin? How can looking at the roots of medical words, especially the names of diseases, help us understand what early researchers knew about the diseases?


Students can work in groups to polish their own and their classmates' first drafts of glossary entries to create a revised comprehensive glossary. Students can search the dictionary for words whose origins are rooted in scientific pieces of knowledge, check to see which have changed, and make new words that better reflect our understanding of what they describe.


Strips of paper