woman on old fashioned telephone

Lesson 4
Communication Today

  • Time Required: 90 minutes
  • Curriculum Fits: History, English/Language Arts, Technology

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students will explore methods of communication between soldiers in Iraq and their friends and loved ones at home. After reading some examples online, students will analyze the language style of modern letters.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will analyze the language style of a modern day personal letter.
  • Students will identify and analyze how an author’s words appeal to the senses, create imagery, suggest mood and set tone.
  • Students will evaluate modern methods of communication.
  • Students will evaluate the authenticity , accuracy, appropriateness and bias of electronic resources



  1. Explain to the students that they will be jumping to the present day in their thinking about communication. Have them brainstorm all the ways they currently communicate with friends and family.
  2. Hand out copies of the Concept Check Form. Ask students read the article, "Communicating in 2010". Have them fill in the checklist as they read. When they have finished, go over the checklist as a group to address confusions and provide explanations of any terms students were unsure of. Discuss which of these methods of communication might lend themselves well to communicating with a soldier overseas.
  3. (Optional) Invite the family member of a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan to class to talk about how he/she communicates with that soldier. Allow students an opportunity to ask questions. Why are certain methods of communication better than others?
  4. Have students get into their research groups and ask them to log on to the Boots on the Ground website, (http://www.bootsonground.com/iraq-communications.htm.) Give them time to explore that website, listing ways in which they might communicate with a soldier overseas.
  5. Next, have students search for websites that present letters to and from soldiers at war. Ask each group to browse through an archive of letters from soldiers and their friends and families during different wars, choosing one to analyze using the Language Style Analysis Form.
  6. Bring the groups together, asking each one to share their analysis of their letter. What might this tell us about modern day communication? About the relationship between the soldiers and their family members or friends? About life for families of soldiers overseas? Discuss the role of language style in written communication. How might analyzing language style help them in their research?


Assign each student the location of a fictitious family member (Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf). As them to think about at least three different ways to communicate with that person, choosing the best option to defend in one sentence before leaving class.

Homework Assignment

Using the information on the language analysis form completed in class, write a one-page response to the question: What does the style of one of the letters tell us about letter writing in in the time in which is was written. Be sure to mention specific examples from the letter to support your ideas.