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Lesson Plans

Reading and Understanding Charles R. Drew

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grade level 11–college/university | subject - history and social studies

time needed

three 45-minute class periods


Students become familiar with the Profiles in Science: The Charles R. Drew Papers website as a pre-class assignment. In Class 1, students examine selected materials on the site, and use them to review what primary and secondary sources are. They then work with two speeches, one by Dr. Charles Drew and the other by his wife, Mrs. Lenore Drew, producing a précis, or summary, of each speech in a guided-writing classroom activity. In Class 2, students continue to revise and finalize their précis using peer editing and feedback. Afterwards, they review the key features of a précis, and use their final précis for writing a comparison essay of the two speeches. They are assigned to bring their draft comparison essays to the next class. In Class 3,  students work in pairs for peer feedback on their draft essays. Several students provide an overview of their essay structure, topics, and primary sources included. Student presentations are used to review the criteria in Compare-Contrast Essay Assignment, in order to focus their revising and finalizing the essay in the class or as homework.

  • learning outcomes
    Students will be able to
    • Identify what a primary source is, as well as read and analyze primary source materials.
    • Describe the key features and purposes of a précis, a concise summary.
    • Examine primary sources and write a précis of the source material.
    • Use reading and writing strategies that help them write a well-written précis.
    • Compare and contrast primary sources and develop a compare-contrast essay
    • Describe Charles R. Drew, MD, and his dedication to teaching and mentoring young African American physicians.
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  • background information

    African American surgeon Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) has been called "the father of the blood bank," for his outstanding role in conceiving, organizing, and directing America's first large-scale blood banking program during the early years of World War II. While best known for the blood bank work, Drew devoted much of his career to raising the standards of African American medical education at Howard University, where he trained a generation of outstanding surgeons, and worked to break through the barriers that segregation imposed on black physicians. His premature death in a car accident generated enduring stories that he was a victim of medical segregation, though this was repeatedly proven false.
    (Excerpted from "Biographical Information" in Profiles in Science: The Charles R. Drew Papers. // Courtesy National Library of Medicine)

    Teachers are encouraged to preview all sections of the Profiles in Science: The Charles R. Drew Papers website, where extensive online materials documenting Dr. Drew's life, his achievements, and his legacy are available.

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  • vocabulary
    The following words may be introduced or incorporated during class discussions:
    • Reading/Writing terms: primary source, secondary source, précis, thesis
    • Content terms: infirmary, prodigious, discipleship, brethren, covenant, accredited, forged, woefully, validate, sorely
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  • materials

    Print All Materials

    Internet access to the following websites:
    • Optional, What Primary and Secondary Sources Are (PDF)
    • Précis Assignment (PDF)
    • Temple Israel Speech by Dr. Drew (PDF)
    • Address Given by Lenore Robbins Drew (PDF)
    • Compare-Contrast Essay Assignment (PDF)
    Other materials:
    • a display set-up for the class—e.g., overhead projector and screen, interactive whiteboard, or blackboard
    • computers for word-processing and Internet access for students
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  • class 1 procedures
    Pre-class Assignment: Students explore and read the following four sections of the Profiles in Science: The Charles R. Drew Papers website, and identify one detail about Dr. Drew, or a digitized item, that they find particularly interesting to share with the class:

    1. Display the homepage of Profiles in Science: The Charles R. Drew Papers , and ask students to share one interesting detail about Dr. Drew that they learned from exploring the site. Record those details.
    2. Select several details students mention and discuss whether they are from primary or secondary sources presented on the site. Use the discussion to define and model how to identify what a primary or secondary source is. For a direct instruction, see What Primary and Secondary Sources Are.
    3. Review as a class a wide range of primary and secondary source types that are available on the site, using the All Visuals and All Documents sections.
    4. Select and review Speech for the Temple Israel Brotherhood and Address given by Lenore (Robbins) Drew to medical students, introducing the information about the items (a.k.a. "metadata"), transcripts, and digital images of the original typed and hand-written speeches.
    5. Tell students that they are going to write a concise summary of the two speeches. Introduce the term "précis," using Précis Assignment.
    6. Divide the class into two groups and assign Dr. Drew's speech to one group and Mrs. Drew's to the other. Conduct a guided writing exercise 1-4 under "Guided Précis Writing" in Précis Assignment as noted in steps 7-9 below.
    7. Have students read their assigned speeches online, or hand out copies of Temple Israel Speech by Dr. Drew and Address Given by Lenore Robbins Drew, so that they can get a general sense of the content and tone.
    8. Ask students to read the speeches again, looking up unclear words, analyzing important details, noting main points, etc., all of which promote full comprehension of what they have read. Encourage students to share their notes from the second reading.
    9. Have students independently write a first draft of a précis, then read and revise their précis. Ask students to prepare a new draft of a précis at home and bring it to the next class.
    10. Class 1 Evaluation: Teachers may use the class discussions and the draft précis that students produce in class.
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  • class 2 procedures
    1. Display and review the guided writing exercise under "Guided Précis Writing" in Précis Assignment. Have students bring out their draft précis and continue with the remainder of the exercise as noted in steps 2-3 below.
    2. Pair students with the same speech, and have each pair exchange their draft précis for peer review and editing.
    3. Allow time for students to review the feedback they received and revise their précis.
    4. Ask students to describe key features of a précis, then how a précis differs from an essay. If needed, use Précis Assignment to review as a class. Point out to students that in a précis the focus is on summarizing another's ideas; and in an essay, students synthesize their own ideas about a topic based on their observations and analysis of another's ideas.
    5. Tell students that they will use their précis in writing a short essay that compares the two speeches.
    6. Pair students so that each student with the précis of one speech is partnered with a student who wrote a précis for the other speech.
    7. Have students work in pairs-first, read the other speech and their partner's précis, and then compare how the two speeches relate to each other-e.g., both speeches focus on Dr. Drew's advocacy for teaching and mentoring African American physicians.
    8. Distribute Compare-Contrast Essay Assignment. Review the assignment together as a class. Ask students to brainstorm and plan the essay in class then draft their essays at home to bring to the next class.
    9. Class 2 Evaluation: Teachers can use the class discussion, final précis, as well as the preliminary work on the essays students write and hand in at the next class.
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  • class 3 procedures
    1. Display Compare-Contrast Essay Assignment for the class for students to refer to as they work with their pair partners for peer feedback on draft essays.
    2. Have several students present briefly about the structure, thesis, main points, and primary sources they used in their draft essays. Use the presentations to review specific criteria for the essay outlined in Compare-Contrast Essay Assignment.
    3. Allow time for students to revise the essay in the class. Based on the progress being made in the class, have students turn in their completed essays at the end of class, or assign students to finish them as homework.
    4. Class 3 Evaluation: Teachers can assess student progress based on peer reviews, oral presentations, and the final essays collected at the end of this or next class.
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  • evaluations and extension activities

    In addition to observing and assessing students during class assignments and discussions, teachers can evaluate students' progress by reviewing the précis of the two speeches and completed comparison essays.

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  • National Education Standards
    Common Core State Standards: College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards
    • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusion drawn from the text.
    • Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
    • Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. (Extension Activity)
    • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
    • Draw evidence from literary or informative texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
    Common Core State Standards: Reading
    • Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
    • Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
    • Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.
    • By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
    Common Core Standards: Writing
    • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
    • Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
    • Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes
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