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        8-10, 13+

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        Character Development: Cancer - A New Treatment

        Students answer questions about what motivated chemical engineer Mark Davis to search for a better treatment for his wife's cancer. They then write a journal entry where they compare his motivations and goals to their own.

        Lesson Summary


        Students will watch a video segment that introduces Mark Davis.  Students will see him explain how his goals change throughout his life, from wanting to be a track star to becoming a chemical engineer.  Students will answer questions about what motivated Davis to search for a better treatment for his wife's cancer.  They then complete a journal entry in which they compare his motivations and goals to those they’ve established for themselves.

        Why is this an important concept?

        In order for the learner to be able to understand the major theme or lesson of a work, they must first be able to relate to the main character.  If the learner can relate to the character’s personality, situation, motivation, or actions, it becomes easier for the learner to derive the deeper meaning from the work.

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        (2) 45-minute periods

        Media Resources


        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        Day One

        1. Provide the purpose for this activity: for students to relate Mark Davis’ goals and motivations to the goals and motivations they have set for themselves.

        2. First, ask the students what motivates them to try something new or work hard to meet a goal? Is it encouragement and support from friends and family, or is it an inner drive? 

        3. Tell the class that they will be watching a video about Mark Davis, a chemical engineer who was motivated to research a new treatment for cancer.  As the students watch the video the first time, ask them to determine what motivated Mark to try and find a new cancer treatment.  Also ask what made this challenge so personal for him. Play the  segment, Cancer : A New Treatment. Lead a large group discussion about these questions once students watch the video segment.

        4. Distribute the A New Treatment Video Questions handout, and ask students to complete it while watching the video a second time.

        5. After viewing, ask students to share their answers with the class during a teacher-guided question and answer session.  Focus on the video details students use to support and explain their answers.  Students add to their answers as needed.

        6. Pass out the Character Development Essay Directions handout.  Tell students they will be writing an essay in which they describe a goal or challenge they set for themselves.  Ask students to explain how they reached this goal and what motivated them to not give up.  They should also compare their goals and motivations to those of Mark Davis.  Students use their answers to the video questions to help them with the Character Development Essay rubric.

        7. Distribute copies of the Character Development Essay Rubric.  Discuss so students know the expectations of the essay. 

        8. Students write rough drafts of their essays using the Cancer: A New Treatment Video Questions handout and the essay rubric as a guide.  They may also consult with the teacher as needed.

        9. Students complete the first draft for homework if needed.

        Part II: Assessment

        Day Two

        1. Students exchange essay drafts with fellow students to peer-edit and discuss needed revisions and/or additions.

        2. After making needed revisions, students complete final versions of essays and hand in with the first drafts and rubrics for a grade.

        For students who need additional guidance:

        •  Meet with students between lessons to support their note-taking and essay-writing skills.
        • If needed, arrange for students to watch video again.
        • Use websites to find additional details about cancer and cancer treatments, as well as proofreading guidelines and proper essay formats on a writer’s website.



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