Inventors of the Industrial Revolution - Lesson Ideas

The Essential Question for these lessons:

Why would this group of inventions – or the time period in which they occurred –
be considered a “revolution”?

Lesson Tips

  • Start this lesson with the students coming up with their own inventions. Have them draw it and explain what problem it solves or how it makes life easier. As they put this on paper, have some of the interesting ones draw their invention on the white board. This provides an anticipatory set or activator for the Industrial Revolution lessons. Everyone can relate to the struggles of an inventor.

  • Use this chart as a graphic organizer for students to take notes.

  • As you cover movements have the student share with a partner which invention was the most important and explain why.

  • Find the movies on the linked sites and excerpt short clips of the parts you think students need to see. The Tesla site has a great movie on the struggle for current between Edison and Tesla.

  • If you have access to it, check United Streaming for more clips to add to the presentation.

Possible lesson formats

No matter how you teach this material, be sure to offer the link to the Flash file on your techer web page so students can use it as part of review for tests or other assessments.

Whole class, on an interactive whiteboard:

  • Have students operate the board, choosing a different “Vanna White” for each page. For middle schoolers, open the Inventors Chart on the whiteboard, as well, and have students model the correct note-taking.
  • Since the activities will take more than one class day- possibly as many as 3 or 4- have students recall something about each invention group from the day before to “earn” the right to be Vanna… or let the class play “stump Vanna” with invention questions from the previous days to remove the board operator and replace him/her. It is sometimes very helpful to have your most active and disruptive student operate the board because it keeps him/her on task and focused.
  • When you reach the quiz, allow students to use laptops or take the quiz as review for homework. If you want the grades, use laptops or a lab. Or have the entire class debate each question to earn an identical grade for the whole group, but allow each student to only speak ONCE so the class does ot ride the coattails of the smartest students.

Independent work on laptops with partners:

  • Have students complete the Inventor Chart and also require that they write questions they would like to know more about---one for each invention category. Do NOT have them take the quiz right away. Reconvene the class to share these questions for discussion and clarification purposes. Then have students return to the laptops for the quiz.

  • Assign one or two of the invention categories as homework (if your students have Internet access) and discuss the rest in class as above. This would save you some class time, though you will need to be available for follow-up questions.

Some student assignment/project ideas:

  • Have students create an advertisement for one of the inventions as it might have appeared in a print publication, web page, or television ad of the day. (Talk about what an anachronism is and make sure they realize that there WAS no TV or Internet at the time of the Industrial Revolution!).

  • Stage a whole class Invention Hall of Fame Induction meeting and have pairs of students present their assigned inventions for possible inclusion into the Hall of Fame. They have to make compelling arguments why their invention deserves extra recognition. Have creative or gifted students design an actual invention trophy or award object  that signifies the important aspects of the Industrial Revolution and that can be awarded at the induction ceremony.

  • As a class discussion and lesson, have each student hypothesize what would have happened without a certain inventor by “subtracting” from the classroom, describing of things we use today traced back to the Industrial Revolution. For example, Betty says, “I subtract everything woven. We would all be wearing handwoven or hand-knit clothing if it weren’t for the Power Loom. If the class is split into two teams, they can earn points and compete by coming up with valid ideas.

  • Try this site as a way to look at how inventions are connected. Have students write a short paragraph or blog entry about the connections between a modern day invention and one from the Industrial Revolution. (They may have to hit the change button a few times to come up with the appropriate pair).

More ideas and places to go for Inventions:

See these other TeachersFirst listings for great information, ideas, and activities involving inventions.


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