Using Old Stuff (2): Searching for information


This old phone (found in Nelson Ghost Town, Nevada) provides an opportunity for teachers and students to experience how examining old things (with some guiding questions) provides an opportunity to experience how thinking, analyzing, synthesizing, and sharing information leads to learning.

Enlarge this photo and project it for all to see. Allow time for a silent, uninterrupted viewing by everyone. After a few minutes of viewing,

  • Ask, “Using only the information in this picture, do you think this is a real phone?”. Allow time for participants to share all evidence from the picture that proves whether or not this is is a real phone.
  • Ask participants if anyone has additional background knowledge to add to these observations.
  • Examine the decorative images surrounding the phone to determine an approximate date of this phone’s manufacture.
  • Ask, “What information about that time in history do these pictures suggest?”
  • Ask, “What different purposes do the words above the phone and the words on the phone have?”
  • Look at each component of the phone and decide the suggested and actual purpose of each component.
  • Provide time for participants to develop additional questions about this phone.
  • Provide time to search for more information about “fun phones” and to share the information with the class.

As you share this experience with students, make note of the learning that conversations about “old stuff” provide. Listen for and record evidence of:

  • oral language development
  • research skills
  • topic or genre specific vocabulary development
  • focused, critical reading and viewing
  • genre specific writing
  • developing research questions
  • connecting background knowledge to new knowledge
  • linking research information to other areas of study

For more on instilling a sense of wonder and curiosity, check out our post Wondering Leads to Learning and What is This? Experiencing Curiosity, Questioning, and Searching for Information.

For more conversations about education, please visit:Beyond the Apple . . . Reframing Conversations in Education or contact us at



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