U.S. History: Civil War- The Role of the Telegraph on the Battlefield

In this lesson students will research and discuss this form of technology, its origin, and its advantages and disadvantages. They will investigate the innovation of telegraph communication and how it was used during the Civil War to report the progress of the war from the battlefield to the president. Students will understand how a telegraph works and will translate a message using Morse code. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.1
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7
Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.1
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.7
Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium's portrayal of the subject (e.g., how...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.1
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.7
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.1
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.2
Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g.,...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.9
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.9
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
GLE 0601.5.2
Analyze text for fact-opinion, cause-effect, inferences, evidence, and conclusions.
GLE 0601.7.1
Analyze media for their ability to inform, persuade, and entertain.
GLE 0601.7.2
Examine the relationship between the visual (e.g., media images, painting, film, graphic arts) and the verbal in media.
GLE 0601.8.3
Recognize the conventions of various literary genres.
GLE 0701.3.4
Refine strategies for editing and revising written work.
SPI 0601.5.7
Make inferences and draw conclusions based on evidence in text.
SPI 0701.3.1
Identify the purpose for writing (i.e., to inform, to describe, to explain, to persuade, to entertain).
SPI 0701.3.2
Identify the audience for which a text is written.
SPI 0701.5.8
Make inferences and draw conclusions based on evidence in text.
SPI 0701.7.5
Choose the statement that best summarizes/communicates the message presented by a medium.
SPI 0801.5.9
Make inferences and draw conclusions based on evidence in text.
SPI 0801.7.3
Identify the purpose of a medium (i.e., to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to describe).
SPI 0801.7.5
Choose the statement that best summarizes/communicates the message presented by a medium.
TSS.ELA.6.RI.IKI.7
Integrate information presented in different media or formats, such as in tables, images, diagrams, and words to develop a coherent understanding of a...
TSS.ELA.6.RI.KID.1
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw logical inferences; cite textual evidence to support conclusions.
TSS.ELA.6.RL.IKI.7
Compare and contrast the written version of a story, drama, or poem to the experience of listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live production of a text.
TSS.ELA.6.RL.KID.1
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw logical inferences; cite textual evidence to support conclusions.
TSS.ELA.6.W.RBPK.9
Support interpretations, analyses, reflections, or research with evidence found in literature or informational texts, applying grade 6 standards for reading.
TSS.ELA.7.RI.IKI.7
Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of a text, analyzing each medium's portrayal of the subject.
TSS.ELA.7.RI.KID.1
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw logical inferences; cite several pieces of textual evidence to support conclusions.
TSS.ELA.7.RL.IKI.7
Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multi-media version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to...
TSS.ELA.7.RL.KID.1
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw logical inferences; cite several pieces of textual evidence to support conclusions.
TSS.ELA.7.W.PDW.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new...
TSS.ELA.8.RI.IKI.7
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums to present a particular topic or idea.
TSS.ELA.8.RI.KID.1
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw logical inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing relevant textual evidence.
TSS.ELA.8.RL.IKI.7
Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from a text or script, evaluating the choices made...
TSS.ELA.8.RL.KID.1
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw logical inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing relevant textual evidence.
TSS.ELA.8.SL.CC.2
Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media formats; evaluate the motives, such as social, commercial, and political, behind its presentation.
TSS.ELA.8.W.RBPK.9
Support interpretations, analyses, reflections, or research with evidence found in literature or informational texts, applying grade 8 standards for...
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

After completion of this lesson, the student will know the origins and uses of the telegraph during the Civil War, be able to analyze primary source images of the telegraph, be able to translate and produce a message using Morse code, and understand how this innovation relates to future innovations in communications.

Essential and guiding questions: 

How did telegraph communications impact the Civil War, both on the battlefield and in the White House?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Applying
Extension suggestions: 

Students can build a telegraph system and send messages regarding the outcome of Civil War battles from different commanders to President Lincoln. Use the following video as reference: Instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-A-Homemade-ElectricTelegraph!/

Helpful Hints

Materials:

  • Computers with access to the internet
  • Optional hard copies of LOC images and Morse code
  • Handouts (included with lesson plan)
  • Picture Analysis Worksheet
  • Telegraph Research Worksheet
  • Telegram Message Worksheet