"Can We Talk?"

A Look at the Changes in Communication - By Frankie

Three - four 40 minute periods


The teacher begins the lesson by showing students the Gliffy of pictures around a rectangle in the middle, and reads the question (“What do they have in common?”). Students should be able to see that they are all ways we can communicate with each other. The teacher explains that we have the ability to communicate with friends and family in a variety of fun ways, but it wasn’t always the case. The teacher asks students to select the way people communicated with each other in NY around the time the Erie Canal was built. They should select the pictures that involve letter writing and talking to each other. The teacher explains that they will be looking at how communication has changed over the years, and the part New York played in that change.


The teacher shows students a picture of the telegraph, and tells students what it is. The teacher explains what the telegraph is and then shows the first 3 minutes of a video that gives a brief history of the telegraph. Students and teacher discuss the key points of the video, focusing on questions like "What were the advantages to having the telegraph?" and "Was it available to everyone?" The teacher shares the Morse code chart, and invites students to try to write a word, or their name, in Morse Code. Students share their codes with the class.

Activity 2: The teacher asks, “What was a problem with using Morse code”. Students should be able to state that voice couldn’t travel across the wires; people had to translate; and that takes time. The teacher states that there needed to be some improvements made. As people began to make improvements, new ways of communicating started too. The teacher explains that students will work in groups of 4 to gather information on the way communication has changed since the 1800s, and how it has affected the lives of people. Student will use Canva to create a 2 page digital poster to show the changes in communication (see instruction sheet).

The History of Morse Code


The lesson can be differentiated by assigning students with roles that allow them to utilize the skills they are strong at while getting help from their peers for the other parts of the task. The roles can be the photographer (responsible for getting the pictures); the scribe (responsible for the typing); the graphic designer (responsible for layout); and the editor (responsible for checking everything before submission). All students will take part in gathering information.

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