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Adventure of the American Mind  
Lesson 1

Students will:

  • Read about the invention of the telegraph and Samuel Morse.
  • Learn about Morse Code.
  • Decode a message written in Morse Code.
  • Use morse code to write words.
  • You may wish to break this up into a few days and lessons.
  • Brainstorm ways people communicate today using a graphic organizer such as a web on chart paper. (Possible answers: talk, write a letter, email, telephone, etc...) Click here for a word web that you could print out and make into an overhead transparency.
  • Ask students which of these would not have been possible 100 years ago.
  • Explain that before the invention of the telephone, there was the telegraph. Click here for student-made website explaining the telegraph.
  • Discuss Samuel Morse and Morse Code.
  • Print out and have students complete Samuel Morse biography worksheet.
  • Print out and have students complete Morse Code activity.
  • Click here for additional ideas for Morse Code activities in the classroom.
  • Opportunity for Extra Credit: Students can make their own telegraph machine at home by following the directions found on this site: Telegraph Science Fair Project
  • Students can also visit this site for fun. Whatever they type in can be translated into Morse Code or visa versa (they could check their work from the Morse Code Activity here). Morse Code Translator


Students will add Samuel Morse biography worksheet and Morse Code activity to their Blast From the Past folders.
Lesson 2

Students will:

  • View a photograph of the model of the first telephone - however they will not know what the photograph is of.
  • Imagine that they are an inventor and write about what their invention does and how it works.
  • View a Powerpoint presentation to reveal the true identity of the invention.
  1. Discuss and define the terms "inventor" and "invention".
  2. Tell students that today they are going to be inventors.
  3. Distribute copies of "Name that Invention" sheet or print one out and make it into an overhead transparency.
  4. Have students brainstorm what invention the picture might represent.
  5. Explain to students that they will be writing a paragraph imagining that they are the inventor and they are explaining their new invention to the world. Go over the grading rubric and have students use pre-writing strategies to organize their thoughts before writing.
  6. On a subsequent day, have students conference with peers to proofread their writing.
  7. Students can then publish their writing; using either paper and pencil or a word processing program.
  8. When all writing has been published and shared, view Powerpoint presentation to reveal the true identity of the invention. On Slide 2 it looks like it's a blank black screen. Slowly pieces of the puzzle will be revealed showing the telephone.
Use this rubric for assessment of writing. Students will add their writing to the project folders.
Lesson 3

Students will:

  • Research the history of the telephone.
  • Complete a brief report in the form of a booklet detailing the invention of the telephone.
  • Read about and answer questions about the life of Alexander Graham Bell.
  1. Have students go to the Alexander Graham Bell website and read a biography of his life.
  2. Print out and copy Alexander Graham Bell worksheet. Have students complete this using the website. You may wish to have them work with a partner.
  3. On the following day, discuss what students learned about Alexander Graham Bell. Students should discuss that he invented the telephone. Explain that today they will be learning more about the history of this amazing invention.
  4. Have students go to the History of the Telephone website.
  5. They will then use what they learned from this website to complete a brief History of the Telephone booklet.
Students will add Alexander Graham Bell biography worksheet and History of the Telephone booklets to their Blast from the Past folders. These can then be assessed for understanding.
Lesson 4

Students will:

  • Discuss reasons why communication is made more difficult for those with sensory disabilities.
  • Brainstorm ways to overcome the communication barriers for those who are blind or deaf.
  • Learn about the use of sign language and braille.
  • Make a sign language booklet.

The following activities may take 2-3 separate lessons to complete.

  1. Brainstorm different ways of communicating, both past and present.
  2. Explain that many of these methods of communicating depend on certain senses such as sight and/or hearing.
  3. Have students look at list and highlight methods of communicating that would be impossible without sight.
  4. Again, go through list and circle methods of communicating that would be impossible without hearing.
  5. Explain that there are many people living with the loss of eyesight or hearing and they use special methods of communicating. In the following lessons, students will be learning about American Sign Language and Braille.
  6. Read history of sign language. Demonstrate and have students practice the sign language alphabet letters.
  7. Finger spell spelling words, names, etc.
  8. Print out and have students complete Fingerspelling Fun worksheet.
  9. Students will visit this website to learn about signs for words or phrases. They will then complete a booklet illustrating and describing the signs for words or phrases of their choice. They will describe and illustrate a sign for each of the following: a noun for a person, place, and thing, and a verb. Click here to print out the booklet template.
  10. Click on the following link to introduce Braille. By following this lesson plan, students will get a hands-on understanding of the frustrations of not being able to see. They will realize the importance of the Braille system. Click here to download and print lesson plan.
  11. Have students learn more about Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille system by going to the Louis Braille website. Check for comprehension by having students complete Louis Braille worksheet.
  12. Students can learn more about the Braille system by going to this website. After learning about how the system works, students will decipher their own Braille by completing the following worksheet.
Students completed work will be added to their Blast From the Past folders.

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