A good way to get the kids ready for the lesson is a good old fashioned game of "Telephone/Whisper Down the Lane" which is something they probably haven't played for a number of years. Making a few small groups is preferable. Waiting for the whole class to send the message around never seems to be a smooth process. (If there's time....) Most importantly, I suggest writing a few messages beforehand for them to use so nothing horrible gets sent through the line.
After the activity, bring the lesson into focus with some leading questions. In parentheses are answers you'll probably hear.
"What was taking place as you played the telephone game just now?" (Some form of communication.)
"What challenges did you face as the message went through the line?" (Changed because it was hard to hear.)
"What are some other methods that could have been more effective to get that message across?" (Numerous forms of communications methods mentioned.)
"Raise your hand if this would be your preferred method of receiving messages." (Obviously not, although someone will probably raise their hand.)
Tell them that today they'll be exploring some of those other methods.
The purpose of this part of the lesson is to remind them about communication in it's basic form. This relates to RI.5.7 in that they are drawing on information from each student who sends them the message, and moving that information through quickly.
A brainstorming session in groups about all the ways in which people communicate. This is as broad a topic as it sounds. Let them know that any form of communication is relevant. In order to best facilitate their discussion, one or two kids should be notetakers while the others keep the ideas coming. This will be fast and furious as they connect with the enormous amount of possibilities associated with communication. Five is the largest a group should be, four is probably best. As the groups get larger, the tendency for a less motivated child to "hit the water fountain/the bathroom/sharpen pencil for ten minutes, etc." is greater.
Once lists have been established, they create categories in which to place the types of communication. They will ask questions about how to break all of these into categories because some topics will seem to overlap. My suggestion is tell them to figure it out in a way that's comfortable for the group. As the teacher, it's very interesting to observe just how they go about this, and is another reason why a smaller group is advantageous. Here are some examples of categories -take note that these below will not necessarily be within the same group. Some could branch off of others if the kids write it that way.
Categories: written, spoken, non-verbal, media (tv, radio), social media, drama, pictures, photos, etc.
They will now create a Communication Museum. Within their groups they'll each take one or two categories and either produce or create the artifact that demonstrates what each type of communication looks like. For instance, due to the fact that we've been in this Communication Nation unit, a child may have a copy of a letter they wrote for an assignment. That letter can be used as an artifact. If not, one of the students can write a letter to another and that would be used as an artifact. For social media examples, they could draw an illustration of a facebook page or recreate the logo of sites if they don't know what the actual one looks like. Abstract examples, such as talking, whispering or acting, lend themselves to a picture in a magazine or an illustration drawn by the student. After we've exhausted our class time with this, I decide whether or not it's a good idea to extend to the next day. Many kids love the opportunity to bring in artifacts from home (such as a postcard from the grandparents or a picture they've taken of a text.)
This lesson connects to the CCSS through the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. The kids are locating the answers to the question about different types of communication to classify which type goes under which heading.
Now that a museum has been supplied with communication artifacts, it's fun for the class to take a tour of the other examples. It's not a bother for the kids to arrange their artifacts onto a group of desks with each identified by its type, but if there's an empty classroom or the cafeteria after lunch, it would be fun to set up in these places, just to give it a different feel. If I'd have done this a bit earlier in the week, I'd have each of the groups make a poster depicting what they think the theme of their museum collection is. Split the kids up so they're not with other students from their original group with representatives within each, so that when they rotate to each museum collection the "owners" of that museum can step forward and introduce their pieces. Then, as they walk around they have a Communication Museum "Interactive Program" which simply means they fill out a paper as they examine the different collections. This not only gives them an overview of their experience, but holds them accountable to the activity as they walk around and observe. Unfortunately, we were backing up to our Fall Break, and I just ran out of time to do these extras. They thoroughly enjoyed the process, however, and I can't wait to do it right next year!
I was able to support the students in understanding the integration of ideas in this lesson by circulating through the groups and asking leading questions when they seemed hung up on any area. There were many ways to go with this activity, and I enjoyed watching the groups approach their tasks differently. Their learning was supplemented with the action of using ipods and smart phones to locate information and copy icons as they completed the museum. However....
*The next time around, I'll be sure to tell them they need to represent more than social media and photos. Not surprisingly, as I think back on it, giving them total choice resulted in not a lot of difference. Most kids flocked to social media and loved the chance to get their phones out to copy the icons.