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Home Classroom Resources Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Teaching Language Skills Using the Phone Book

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Teaching Language Skills Using the Phone Book

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Thirteen 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Activity One: Exploration of Phone Books

Activity Two: Print versus Electronic Phone Books

Activity Three: What Does Your Phone Book Include?

Activity Four: The Information Pages

Activity Five: Alphabetical Order

Activity Six: Spelling Variations

Activity Seven: Exploring the White Pages

Activity Eight: Understanding an Entry in the Yellow Pages

Activity Nine: Exploring the Yellow Pages

Activity Ten: Emergency Resources

Activity Eleven: Time Zones and Area Codes

Activity Twelve: 1-800 ABCs

Activity Thirteen: Creating a Class Phone Book

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • access print information.

  • use text aids to locate information.

  • use available technology to locate information.

  • use key words to identify relevant information.

  • collect information relevant to a topic.

  • use organizational features of text and available technology to analyze and evaluate information.

  • organize and synthesize information.

  • present information in appropriate written format.

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Activity One: Exploration of Phone Books

  1. Demonstrate how to find a person's name.

    1. Find the page. See key names at top corner. (Key names are the first and last names on each page.)

    2. Find the column. Scan columns across top of page. Select the column where the name would most likely appear.

  2. Find the name. Check down the column to the name you want.

  3. Demonstrate what to do when letters are used as names.

    1. Find the beginning of the listings of that letter.

    2. Example: B K Institute-see beginning of the B's. It will be listed alphabetically.

  4. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: Introduction.

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Activity Two: Print versus Electronic Phone Books

  1. Have students view examples of electronic phone books.

    Yellow Pages People Search

    Yellow Pages Directory

  2. Using what they know about print phone books, have students complete the Interactive Venn Diagram.

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Activity Three: What Does Your Phone Book Include?

  1. Background information on activity:

    • The covers of all phone books provide the same basic information.

    • The front cover tells the communities served by the book, the area code(s), the name of the phone company, and the date the book was published.

    • If the Yellow Pages are included in the book, it will be noted on the cover by word and symbol. There is usually a picture of a local building scene or point of interest on the cover.

    • The inside front cover lists area emergency numbers and has space for important phone numbers. The back cover might show a map of the areas included, different models of telephones, or an extension of the front picture. The inside back cover could also be a place to write down phone numbers or a place for the phone company to advertise products or services.
  2. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: What Does Your Phone Book Include?

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Activity Four: The Information Pages

  1. If your the phone book has a table of contents, you will need to make those available to the students; otherwise, students will need phone books to refer to the information pages.

  2. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: The Information Pages.

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Activity Five: Alphabetical Order

  1. Introduce lesson by demonstrating how people's names appear in the phone book white pages.

    Example:

    • Names in the White Pages in the phone book are arranged in alphabetical order.

    • Entries are listed with last name first, followed by first name or initial.

    • When names begin with the same letter, they are alphabetically arranged by following letters. For example, the "F" section of your phone book might list Fink, Linda, followed by Fink, Lisa.

    • The phone book lists people alphabetically by first names when the last name is the same. For example, Becky McCabe will come before Bridget McCabe and Cathy Simon will come before Christy Simon.
  2. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: Alphabetical Order.

  3. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: Alphabetical Order II.

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Activity Six: Spelling Variations

  1. Introduce spelling variations activity. Spelling variations are cross-referenced because some last names can be spelled several different ways.

    Example: PETERSON-SEE ALSO PEDERSON-PERDERSEN-PETERSEN

  2. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: "What's in a Name? Spelling Variations."

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Activity Seven: Exploring the White Pages

  1. Choose a page in the phone book and have a copy available for the students. Create questions based upon that page.
    Examples:

    • What are the key names on the page?

    • If you want to find Stephen Goode's telephone number, which name would you look up first, Stephen or Goode?

    • What is Louis Grant's phone number?

    • When the last name is the same, you alphabetize by the first name. There are two William Girst's listed. Why is William Girst, Jr. listed before William Girst?

    • In the phone book, you might find Bill listed as William, Wm., or W. Find the telephone number for Bill Girst on Harrison Street.

    • Suppose you are looking up Bob Goen on Adams Avenue, and find a Robert Goen, Robt. Goen, an RJ Goen, and a Bob Goen. How would you know which one to call?

    • Tim Gertz just got a new phone number. In this directory, whose name would Tim be listed after?

    • In this directory, on what page would you probably find Peter Gros listed?

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Activity Eight: Understanding an Entry in the Yellow Pages

  1. Introduce the Yellow Pages activity.

  2. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: Using the Yellow Pages.

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Activity Nine: Exploring the Yellow Pages

  1. Introduce the Yellow Pages activity.

  2. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: Exploring the Yellow Pages.

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Activity Ten: Emergency Resources

  1. Introduce Emergency Resources section of the phone book.

  2. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: Emergency Resources.

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Activity Eleven: Time Zones and Area Codes

  1. Introduce the concept of time zones.

  2. Have students locate the time zone map in the phone books.

  3. Have students complete Phone Book Activity: Time Zones and Area Codes.

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Activity Twelve: 1-800 ABCs

  1. Ask students whether they have ever noticed how some businesses have phone numbers that spell out a word or phrase related to their business.
    For example:

    • The toll-free phone number for Alamo Car Rental is 1-800-GO-ALAMO (800-462-5266)

    • The toll-free number for the Red Roof Inns hotel chain is 1-800-THE-ROOF (800-843-7663)

    • The toll-free number for flowers.com is 1-800-FLOWERS (800-356-9377)

    • The toll-free number for AT&T's calling card division is 1-800-CALL-ATT (800-225-5288)

    • The Cancer Information Service uses the number 4 in its number to stand for the word "for." Their toll-free phone number is 1-800-4-CANCER.
  2. Write the sample 800-numbers above on a class chart.

  3. Ask students whether they know of any other toll-free numbers that include key words related to a business.

  4. Invite students to add to the list by searching through the local phone directory, magazines, and other sources. The students might do this in small groups. Which group came up with the longest list of 800-numbers that include words? (This assignment might be a good one for homework; students and families could work on it together.)

  5. Point out to the class that the supply of available 1-800 numbers has dwindled, so the phone companies are now designating numbers with prefixes of 888, 877, and 866 as toll-free numbers.

  6. You might notice that a toll-free phone number consists of 800 (or 866, 877, or 888) plus seven numbers. That's because no phone number can be longer than ten characters (or 11 characters, if you dial a 1 before the number). But some companies publish toll-free numbers that are longer than ten characters in length. For example, the educational publisher Scholastic uses a 13-character toll-free number, 800-SCHOLASTIC. Another company uses the phone number 800-FURNITURE, which is 12 characters long. The fact is, the number could be 20 characters long. The phone system will accept only the first ten characters. The dial-through will start after those characters are punched or dialed.

  7. You might not share this fact with students before the lesson because limiting the number of characters (numbers and letters) to seven will force students to be more creative. Next, ask students to translate some of the phone numbers they found with words to their numeric equivalents. (For example, 800-CALL-ATT is 800-225-5288.)

  8. Next, provide a little 800-MATH-FUN by challenging students to look through the Yellow Pages of the local phone directory. Challenge them to create appropriate phone numbers with letters (these could be toll-free or local numbers) for businesses in your area. Of course, older students will exercise a little more creativity in this exercise than young students. You might narrow the efforts of students in grades 5 and above to local exchanges.
    For example:

    • If the business is a Mexican restaurant and your local dial prefix is 392, students might assign a local number of 392-4639, or 392-4MEX.

    • If the business is a car dealership and your local dial prefix is 689, students might assign a local number of 689-2277, or 689-CARS.

    • If the business is a delicatessen and your local prefix is 546, students might assign a local number of 546-8364, or 5HOT-DOG.
  9. Write the sample 800-numbers above on a class chart.

  10. Ask students whether they know of any other toll-free numbers that include key words related to a business.

  11. Invite students to add to the list by searching through the local phone directory, magazines, and other sources. The students might do this in small groups. Which group came up with the longest list of 800-numbers that include words? (This assignment might be a good one for homework; students and families could work on it together.)

  12. Point out to the class that the supply of available 1-800 numbers has dwindled, so the phone companies are now designating numbers with prefixes of 888, 877, and 866 as toll-free numbers.

  13. You might notice that a toll-free phone number consists of 800 (or 866, 877, or 888) plus seven numbers. That's because no phone number can be longer than ten characters (or 11 characters, if you dial a 1 before the number). But some companies publish toll-free numbers that are longer than ten characters in length. For example, the educational publisher Scholastic uses a 13-character toll-free number, 800-SCHOLASTIC. Another company uses the phone number 800-FURNITURE, which is 12 characters long. The fact is, the number could be 20 characters long. The phone system will accept only the first ten characters. The dial-through will start after those characters are punched or dialed.

  14. You might not share this fact with students before the lesson because limiting the number of characters (numbers and letters) to seven will force students to be more creative. Next, ask students to translate some of the phone numbers they found with words to their numeric equivalents. (For example, 800-CALL-ATT is 800-225-5288.)

  15. Next, provide a little 800-MATH-FUN by challenging students to look through the Yellow Pages of the local phone directory. Challenge them to create appropriate phone numbers with letters (these could be toll-free or local numbers) for businesses in your area. Of course, older students will exercise a little more creativity in this exercise than young students. You might narrow the efforts of students in grades 5 and above to local exchanges.
    For example:

    • If the business is a Mexican restaurant and your local dial prefix is 392, students might assign a local number of 392-4639, or 392-4MEX.

    • If the business is a car dealership and your local dial prefix is 689, students might assign a local number of 689-2277, or 689-CARS.

    • If the business is a delicatessen and your local prefix is 546, students might assign a local number of 546-8364, or 5HOT-DOG.

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Activity Thirteen: Creating a Class Phone Book

  1. Have the students interview each other to create a personal phone book. The students should include first and last names, addresses, and phone numbers for the white pages.

  2. Have the students choose or make-up five things they would find in the Yellow Pages. The students should create their own Yellow Page entries, including advertisements. You could include local businesses that students could visit and interview or places where students' famiies work.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Teacher observation based upon class work, particularly if these activities are conducted as learning centers

  • Interviews

  • Sample of each student's work in class phone book

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