Grades 7-8: Can Dogs Smell Cancer?


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Reading for Information

Grade 7:

RI.7.3 Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).

Grade 8:

RI.8.3 Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).


This Grade 7-8 mini-lesson titled “Can Dogs Smell Cancer?” from has an estimated instructional time of one session of ELA/Literacy instruction. It links to a timely high interest topic recently aired on the PBS NewsHour. Materials include a short video, a related informational text, as well as a student handout with a focused introduction, key vocabulary, warm-up questions, and critical thinking questions.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that PBS materials included with the mini-lesson video are limited in scope.  In order to elicit direct, observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the targeted standard, supplementary learning activities with an assessment and a CCSS-aligned rubric will be necessary.  Prior to using this mini-lesson in a science course, the English/Language Arts Standards in Science&Technology that are targeted should also be added.


The mini-lesson is a useful example of how to cultivate student interest and engagement in reading and speaking through the use of media to deepen learning and draw attention to evidence. In addition to being used as a stand-alone mini-lesson, materials could be used to supplement an already existing lesson.