I don’t know about you, but these days I would feel a bit lost without my cellphone. I use it for everything from checking the weather and keeping track of my day to posting on social media and communicating with family and friends. For a lot of people, texting has become more common than talking on the phone and our students are no exception to this. They’ve grown up in an era of quick responses, abbreviations, and communicating via emojis. In this activity, students are asked to think about how people in history would communicate with one another if they had the same access to smartphones that we do today. What would they talk about? What kind of language would they use? Would they have a civil discourse or something else?
Students will create a text exchange between two people demonstrating their viewpoints on a topic.
For this activity, you will be tasking your students with examining two different people from Newsela’s library. It is easiest when you pick two people who were alive during the same time period. Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, are two people who are an easy pair for this activity. However, students could choose people from different points in history like a modern scientist and one from history. Once you decide who your students will analyze, they’ll read about each person, and create a cell phone poster. In the cell phone poster, students will create an imaginary cell phone conversation between the two people they’ve chosen. Dr. King and Malcolm X could discuss their viewpoints on the Civil Rights Movement or Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei could be discussing their viewpoints on astronomy. A suggested minimum requirement is 3 texts from each person. This activity could also be a partner activity where one student reads about one person, the other student reads about the second person, and together they create a poster from the viewpoint of who they read about.
Tips and Suggestions:
- Pick people with shared commonalities such as Civil Rights, Democracy, Science, or revolutions.
- Students will want to spend most of their time creating their poster phone and less time on the actual text. Be sure to keep them moving as they create the finished product.
- Allow students to use modern language, emojis, and text talk to give the project a more modern feel.
- Before you begin this project, you may want to have students examine articles from this Text Set about how people communicate and how communication has changed over time.
- As an alternative to drawing the conversation, students can use the iFake Text Message website to create their conversation.