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Lesson Plans

Mobilizing People: Public Health Campaigns in China

High School Lesson Plan

Time needed

three 40-minute class periods


Mobilizing People: Public Health Campaigns in China uses several online Chinese public health posters from latter part of the 1900s and early 2000 as primary sources. Students work with these posters, applying their existing knowledge of spoken and written Chinese as well as acquiring new vocabularies. In Class 1, Procedures below students review and learn vocabulary in the context of several key events in China from 1949–1970s, and four Chinese Public Health posters from the same era. In Class 2, Procedures below students learn and practice command sentence structure in Chinese from those public health posters used to mobilize people. In Class 3, Procedures below students closely examine a poster from 2003, to assess how language is used to mobilize people in public health campaigns in China—e.g., rhymes, simplified vs. traditional characters, command sentence structures, etc.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Students will be able to:
    • speak and read Chinese characters for the Patriotic Health and Four Pest campaigns.
    • name at least two key events or people in China between 1949–1970.
    • acquire a minimum of five new Chinese words in one of or both simplified and traditional characters.
    • interpret written and spoken language from the public heath campaigns posters in China.
    • For extension activity: create a public health poster in the style of the Chinese posters to achieve the goal of communicating a health message and mobilizing people.
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  • Background Information

    The Chinese public health posters used in this lesson plan has been selected from the “Public Health Movement” and “Prevention of Diseases” sections of Chinese Public Health Posters (2006), an online exhibition by the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine. Teachers are encouraged to view the Chinese Public Health Posters exhibition as a whole and select other posters to meet the needs and interests of students, as well as incorporate other subject areas such as health education, communication, or social studies. Brief information about Chinese “barefoot doctors” is available online at the “Serving the Community” section of the Against the Odds: Making a Difference in Global Health (2008) online exhibition.

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  • Vocabulary

    Class 1-Vocabulary List and Class 2-Vocabulary List provide both traditional and simplified Chinese characters used in this lesson plan.

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  • Materials

    Handouts: [Note: Student handouts with Chinese characters are both in simplified and traditional Chinese. Teachers are to review and determine whether to use one or both characters based on the established practices of their respective school systems.]

    • China: Prior Knowledge (PDF) (MSWord); Teacher’s China: Prior Knowledge (PDF)
    • Key Events in China: 1949–1970s (PDF) (MSWord)
    • Class 1: Vocabulary List (PDF) (MSWord)
    • Class 1: Homework Assignment (PDF) (MSWord); Teacher’s Class 1: Homework Assignment (PDF)
    • Class 2: Vocabulary List (PDF) (MSWord)
    • Command Sentence Structures (PDF)
    • Pair Worksheet: Command Sentence Structures (PDF) (MSWord); Teacher’s Pair Worksheet: Command Sentence Structures (PDF)
    • Anticipation/Reaction Worksheet (PDF) (MSWord); Teacher's Anticipation/Reaction Worksheet (PDF)
    • Class 3: Vocabulary Worksheet (PDF) (MSWord)
    • Rhymes Used in Health Campaigns (PDF) (MSWord)
    • For Extension Activity: Poster Project Instruction and Grading Rubric (PDF)

    Other materials and set-ups:

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  • Class 1 Procedures

    Class 1 Procedures:

    1. Distribute copies of China: Prior Knowledge and have students work in groups of three or four to discuss and answer the questions on the worksheet.
    2. Review students’ answers on the worksheet in order to assess their knowledge about the recent history of China as well as to introduce events and people to be discussed in this lesson plan. See discussion guides on Teacher’s China: Prior Knowledge.
    3. Display Key Events in China: 1949–1970s for the class to read aloud the listed key events and people in China during 1949–1970.
    4. Use the “Serving the Community” webpage and take a look at the public health posters on the page. Let students know that they will use primary sources such as these—i.e., Chinese public health posters—to expand their knowledge of both Chinese language and historical context.
    5. Select and display one or more Chinese public health posters to introduce several words included in the Class 1: Vocabulary List. Read aloud a couple of sentences and call out their corresponding illustrations on each poster.

      For example, display the four posters below one by one, and read aloud the sentences—such as zhè shì zhōng guó chéng shì de gōng gòng wèi shēng on the “Environmental sanitation of city residents” poster, and zhè shì zhōng guó de xiāng cūn gōng gòng wèi shēng on the “Community sanitation in the countryside” poster. Then ask students to guess the meaning of the vocabulary—e.g., what does gōng gòng wèi shēng mean?

      The following four posters include the words and phrases listed on Class 1: Vocabulary List.
      1. Environmental sanitation of city residents
      2. Community sanitation in the countryside
      3. To prevent black fever
      4. Health poster and pharmaceutical advertisement: to get rid of the four pests
    6. Hand out the Class 1: Vocabulary List and, as a class, read and review the meaning of each word on the list. Have students work in pairs and assign different group of words to pairs to create visual (with marker and paper) or physical representations of their words.
    7. Read aloud each word for the class to repeat, after which the assigned student pair present their visual or physical movement representation of the word. Go through the whole list and provide multiple opportunities for students to read and say each word on the Class 1: Vocabulary List.
    8. Distribute copies of Class 1: Homework Assignment for students to work as pairs for the remainder of the class then complete it for Class 2.
    9. Class 1 Evaluation: The class discussions and completed worksheets provide assessment of the progress students are making in their language acquisition.
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  • Class 2 Procedures:

    [Preparation: Write the questions on Class 1: Homework Assignment on whiteboards or flipcharts, and place them in front of the class. And set up the class display options whether it be computers, projectors, or printouts of the posters being used in this class.]

    1. Have students work in pairs to discuss briefly their completed homework, Class 1: Homework Assignment.
    2. Read aloud each question and call on a volunteer to write her or his answer to the question on the whiteboards/flipcharts in front of the class.
    3. Go over each question and answer as a class. After reading each answer, ask students if they have a different answer or differently written one. See Teacher’s Class 1: Homework Assignment for possible answers. Collect the completed worksheets for evaluation.
    4. Distribute copies of Class 2: Vocabulary List and, as a class, read and review the meaning of each word on the list.
    5. Hand out copies of Command Sentence Structures and display the following posters for each of the three command sentence structures presented on the handout:
      1. Barefoot doctor poster (structure 1)
      2. War Against SARS poster (structure 2)
      3. Come and have BCG vaccine & Go to have smallpox vaccination posters (structure 3)
    6. Use the posters and Sentence Structures-Command together to illustrate three command sentence structures in Chinese. Work as a class reading and reviewing the words and sentences.
    7. Give students copies of Pair Worksheet: Command Sentence Structures and group them into pairs. Have each pair determine who is A or B, and follow the pair activity on the handout to practice reading, listening, and writing on the worksheet.
    8. Have student pairs volunteer to read and answer the questions on Pair Worksheet: Command Sentence Structures. See answers to the worksheet on Teacher’s Pair Worksheet: Command Sentence Structures. Collect completed worksheets for evaluation.
    9. Write the following English command sentences on the board/chart, and have students translate them into Chinese on their own boards/papers:
      1. Declare the War against Obesity (answer: 向肥胖宣戰 )
      2. In order to avoid flu, quickly go and get a shot (answer: 要防感冒,快去打預防針)
    10. Have students raise their boards and compare their answers with those of the other students, as well as have students read aloud their answers to practice speaking.
    11. Class 2 Evaluation: Use class participation and completed worksheets to assess student progress on expanding vocabulary and using correct sentence structures.
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  • Class 3 Procedures:
    1. Hand out copies of Anticipation/Reaction to students and review as a class the two-part instruction, the statements, and “Before” and “After” reading response columns on the left and right, respectively. Tell student that they can apply their previous knowledge, including the vocabulary and structure learned in previous classes, visual information, common sense, and logical thinking to figure out the general message of the poster and the Chinese text.
    2. Conduct part 1 of the instruction by displaying the War Against SARS poster from Class 2, Step 5 for one minute for students to view, then to put their true-or-false responses to the five question on the left column under the heading, “Before Reading.”
    3. Distribute printouts of the poster for students to examine closely then to record their answers under the “After Reading” columns on the right.
    4. Review the “Before” and “After” reading answers as a class by having several students volunteer their before and after reading responses to the statements. Have students explain their strategies for answering the questions, and if or why they revised their answers after close examination of the poster. See Teacher's Anticipation/Reaction Worksheet.
    5. Read aloud the poster text and have them circle the vocabulary they do not know. Read it aloud the second time and have students write down the pinyin for the words they cannot read.
    6. Divide students into smaller groups of two to four students per group, and pass the Class 3: Vocabulary Worksheet. Have students read the poster with their partner(s), select two new vocabulary words, and complete the Class3: Vocabulary Worksheet. Collect the completed worksheets.
    7. Have the class choral read the poster text once, then, randomly call students to read a line or two to finish reading the poster. Ask students if they notice the rhyme of the writing and have them point out the rhymes.
    8. Display Rhymes in Chinese Public Health Posters and read aloud to students so that they hear the rhyme. Have students choral read using the pinyin on the display. Discuss with the class the effectiveness of communication using rhyme.
    9. Ask students to consider, in addition to rhyme, what other communication techniques were used in the several Chinese health campaign posters that they have studied in last three classes. Display and guide class discussion addressing the following points:
      1. use of accessible language, such as rhyme, which resembles poems, many traditional style folk songs, and nursery rhymes to reach people of different educational levels and ages;
      2. use of command language structure (Class 2,) and pictures to mobilize people;
      3. use of pictures with how-to written words to communicate step-by-step instructions for solving each problem—i.e., “Environmental sanitation of city residents” poster, “Community sanitation in the countryside” poster and “To prevent black fever” poster, and
      4. use of the traditional Chinese characters to communicate with the literate people in 1950s, then the simplified Chinese characters after 1960s to reach people with diverse educational backgrounds—e.g., any of the above posters and Barefoot doctor poster and Go to have smallpox vaccination poster.
    10. Class 3 Evaluation: The discussion participation and completed worksheets help assess the progress students are making. The poster project will also provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge of Chinese vocabulary and sentence structures.
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  • Evaluations and extension activities

    In addition to observing and assessing students during class discussions, teachers can evaluate student progress by reviewing completed worksheets collected during all three classes.

    Extension Activities:
    1. Hand out the Poster Project Instruction and Grading Rubric, and review the project scope and how students’ posters will be graded. Assign students individually or in groups to design and bring their completed posters to the class by a certain date. Display students posters by hosting a poster session in the class where students display their posters and talk with other students about their posters in Chinese. Students may be given three criteria to rate other students posters.
    2. Build on the poster project by having students work in groups to produce three public health posters targeting Chinese Americans living in the United States. Student groups research and select one major health issue among Chinese Americans; gather information or identify the preventions and treatments related to each health topic; then produce a poster as well as public service announcement.
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  • National Education Standards

    National Education Standards

    World Language:

    • Standard 1.2: Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics
    • Standard 3.1: Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language
    • Standard 3.2: Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures
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