How in the world did individuals of the past communicate before the inventions of cell phones, E-mail and the Internet?
This unit was created as a 15 day inquiry based learning experience to help introduce students to the ever changing means by which we communicate. The students, throughout this unit, will take part in many interactive activities that will allow them to explore important communication inventors and inventions of the past and present. The children will learn how these important historical individuals and inventions have paved the way for the evolution of communication and the means by which we communicate today. By participating in the activities in this unit, students will be able to compare communications devices we use today with those of the past, and discuss how they have evolved through time. My hope is that through this unit children will grow a deeper appreciation for the technologies they have that allow them to communicate today. The importance of this unit from a child's perspective lies in the fact that the children are the future of our world. In knowing this, it is important for our children of today see that the choices and decisions they make in their lifetime potentially could directly impact their future - and the future of communication. The ways in which we communicate will always be changing, and children need to learn different ways to effectively communicate their ideas and information to be productive citizens of this ever-changing world in which they live.
This unit focuses specifically on the National Council for the Social Studies strands of Time, Continuity, and Change in addition to Science, Technology, and Society. It also incorporates the Minnesota Social Studies Strands of Historical Skills, U.S. History, as well as Government & Citizenship. Lessons included in this unit also contain the incorporation of technology, children's literature, primary sources, cooperative learning, civic practices, and local connections. No subject, such as social studies, can be taught in total isolation from any other subject. It is important to include activities that allow for cross-curricular learning, which this unit also provides my students. Multiple learning styles will be addressed through strategically planned activities during the 15 day communication unit to benefit and reach each one of my students. The incorporation of children's literature is weaved in multiple times throughout my 15 day unit. I have planned to read the children books about important inventors such as Johann Gutenberg, and Samuel Morse and how they shaped the future of communication. The children will also be reading an article from 'Time for Kids' about Alexander Graham Bell and participating in a cooperative learning jigsaw activity.
Primary sources such as old typewriters, phones and newspapers will be brought into the classroom to allow children to analyze and compare the differences between the communication devices we have today with those of the past. Allowing children the opportunity to physically touch and interact with an invention of the past, I believe allows them to create a more concrete understanding and appreciation of the information they are learning about at the time. Technology will be integrated in my unit in a few different ways. During the 15 days, the students in my class will be pairing up with another 'sister' classroom that will serve as our pen-pals for this unit. The children will be sending letters back and forth to one another, using different means of communication each time. By the end of the unit, the children will participate in a 'web-chat' with our participating classroom. The children will be creating a classroom blog that will be able to be accessed by our participating classroom to communicate with one another Civic practices are incorporated into my unit by allowing the children to discuss what "effective" communication is. The children will be creating a booklet of ways in which they plan to communicate effectively in the future to share their ideas and information with one another. The children will be taking field trips to the local newspaper and radio station to see other ways in which information is communicated, and how radios and newspapers have evolved over time.
This entire unit is cross-curricular in the sense that it incorporates content areas of math, science, language arts, music and art. To incorporate math, the children will be comparing and graphing the different prices of phones over the years and comparing them to the price of phones today. Science will be included through the discussion of how past inventions worked, such as the telegraph, and the messages is transmitted through electrical pulses. Language Arts will be addressed in many of the lessons in this unit. The children will be writing their letters back and forth to their pen-pals as well as journaling about the experiences they have on our field trips. Children will be using music to look at the history of Morse code and how it was used. The children will be able to access a website that allows them to create their own Morse code messages into music. The children will be able to analyze the different sounds that different words they make, and try to uncover hidden messages of their own. Many art projects will take place during the 15 days. The students will be participating in their very own 'printing press' simulation, but looking at how Johann made his first prints in the past and creating their own replications.
I am really excited to someday teach this unit, as it has much beneficial information to provide for my students. Our world is ever-changing, and will continually be evolving with each passing day - especially in which the ways we communicate. Before the invention of the printing press, the typewriter, or computer, this overview I am writing for you would not have been able to be created. It is through the evolution of communication, and the communication inventions of the past, that I can bring you this message. The future of communication is unclear, and students need to realize that the ways in which we communicate will continue to change. It is important for students, no matter what technologies we have to communicate with, that they learn to be effective communicators in the world in which they live.