Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Dot and Dashy Language

Raymond O'Neil


This is a ROTC/Life Management Skills activity that acquaints students with an international form of communication. The students' will develop a message using Morse code and then be able to communicate the message to other classmates using alternate methods.


The student locates, gathers, analyzes, and evaluates written information for a variety of purposes, including research projects, real-world tasks, and self-improvement.

The student analyzes the validity and reliability of primary source information and uses the information appropriately.

The student organizes information using appropriate systems.

The student uses effective strategies for informal and formal discussions, including listening actively and reflectively, connecting to and building on the ideas of a previous speaker, and respecting the viewpoints of others.


-Chart of Morse code
-Overhead Projector or Computer with Power Point software and Projector
-Two-way radio
-Dot Dash Rubric


1. Prepare enough pages for one chart per student
2. Prepare projector with web site
3. Teacher should make enough copies of the attached rubric for each student


1. Start the lesson by asking the students if they know what form of communication was used before the development of the telephone.

2. Pass out charts containing the Morse code and explain what the Morse code is and how it can still be useful today. Explain how a simple SOS (…---…) (dot,dot,dot,dash,dash,dash,dot,dot,dot) repeated over and over again with Morse code could possible save someone’s life.
Give examples: Trapped in a confined space unable to speak.
Lost in the mountains, woods or even ocean.

3. Explain some alternative methods of transmitting the code.
Give examples: Tapping or banging an object to make sounds
Using a flashlight to send light signals

4. Hand-out and explain how to assess this activity using the attached Dot Dash Rubric.

5. Teachers will assess the activity using the attached rubric.

6. To start the activity each student must create a message using Morse code, with the answer written on the opposite side of a sheet of paper.

7. Break students up into groups of three.

8. The first two students will be separated by a barrier. The first student will communicate his/her message using sounds (either a tapping or banging noise).

9. The second and third persons will be separated by distance (stand on the opposite sides of the classroom). Turn out the classroom lights and with a flashlight the second student will communicate the original message to the third student.

10. The third student will now tell the class the message he/she received.

11. The purpose of this activity is to acquaint student with the international distress system and to show how communication can easily be misunderstand if not properly organized and presented.


Use the attached Dot Dash Rubric (see Associated File) to formatively assess the student’s ability to successfully organize and communicate information.
Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly.


Emergency signaling
1.Start the extension exercise by having each student bring in an old CD (i.g. copy of AOL 9.0). This is perfect for emergency signaling because it is shiny and has a hole in the middle. The hole in the middle will be used for sighting and the shiny surface for reflecting light.
2.Relocate class to an area with bright sunlight. While holding CD in one hand and looking through hole, fully extend your other arm with hand closed and thumb pointed up. The thumb will be used as a sighting device as to focus on an aircraft passing by if we were stranded.
3.Pair students and have them communicate small messages back and forth using the CD to reflect the light... Small reflection = Dot, Long refection = Dash.

Attached Files

Dot and Dashy Rubric     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.