Education:The Evolution of Communications

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Grades 9-12/Social Studies; World History; US History

Time Required for Completed Lesson

Ninety to 120 minutes dependent upon reading lexile, detail and number of readings used.










Common Core State Standards

Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects - Key Ideas and Details Grades 9-10 - Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text. Grades 11-12 - Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text, summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

Reading Standards for Informational Text - Key Ideas and Details Grades 9-10 - Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account. Grades 11-12 - Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies -- Integration of Knowledge and Ideas Grades 9-10 - Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims. Grades 11-12 - Evaluate an author’s premises, claims and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.


1) access and projection technology.

2) Post board and colored pencils (or computers with Internet access and/or drawing software).

3) Copies of readings

Anticipatory Set

When’s the last time you went for more than an hour without using some form of communications technology? (For most students this only occurs when they’re sleeping or exercising. It may not occur to them that books and paper are forms of communications technology.)

Show clip of Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone from “Get Smart” and/or use a Dick Tracy cartoon (or movie clip) showing the watch phone. How would television viewers in the 1960s or comic book readers of the 1930s and 1940s have viewed this technology at the time?


Have students brainstorm a list of communications technology innovations. Ask them to estimate the date of invention and create a rough draft of a time line.

Review the Interactive Timeline, noting key innovations that they didn’t think of. Each student should individually identify the five most important innovations included in the timeline. In small groups, the students should discuss which ones they picked and why. The group will cooperatively rank the top ten innovations. In a full class debriefing, the teacher will see how much commonality the groups have and have a short debate about which items should be included and where they should rank.

In their small groups, students will bring the Interactive Timeline up to date, picking the five most important communications technology advancements of the past 15 years. Then they will predict five more innovations for the future, complete with a prediction of when they will come to fruition. Advancements should be depicted visually with a brief amount of text to describe them.

Read Mobile World and David Goldman articles. Have students compare and contrast their analyses of the not-too-distant future of communications technology.


Cooperative learning groups should be designed to include students of varying abilities. Teachers may choose to use short excerpts from the readings, assign vocabulary exercises or practice summarizing skills in the course of reading.


1)Student timelines

2)Students could be assigned to research the feasibility and obstacles of one of the innovations predicted by the class.

3) Students could be assigned the task of creating a business proposal for an innovation, looking for funding from business investors.


Students will use literacy skills throughout the lesson. Science skills will be employed to analyze problems as well as offer and critique possible solutions.


Watch “A Day of Glass” and have students compare their own predictions to Corning’s promotional advertisement. Ask students, “What technological hurdles would have to be overcome for this vision to become a reality?”


David Goldman, CNN, “Start thinking about 5G wireless”,

Maxwell Smart Shoe Phone (1:33)

LG-GD910 3G Watch Phone (4:19)

A Day Made Of Glass... Made Possible By Corning (5:33)

The History of Communication

Some Dates in the History of Cultural Technologies

History of Communication Interactive Timeline (goes up to 1998)

Hans Vestberg, “Ericcson: Preparing for the Future of Communication”

Submitted by: Bob Fenster