Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Inventing a New Life

Richard Johnson
Bay District Schools


Students research information on selected inventions of the latter part of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. They then write persuasive essays on which invention they consider to be the most important. Using their essays as reference, students attempt to sway a talk-show audience toward their choices for the most important invention.


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 writes fluently for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes, making appropriate choices regarding style, tone, level of detail, and organization.

The student knows the causes of the Industrial Revolution and its economic, political, and cultural effects on American society.


-Computer with TV or projection device
-Overhead Transparency film
-8.5 x 11 paper for handouts
-Inventing a New Life Research Activity, a copy for each student
-Finding Information, one transparency
-Invention Information Source Guide, teacher copy
-Inventions That Led to a New Life Resource Guide, a teacher copy
-Essay Assignment, a copy for each student
-List of Inventions transparency, one transparency
-Simple Directions for Students Submitting Reports to SiteMaker, one for each student that is submitting their essay to Beacon Learning Center’s SiteMaker.


1. Gather the source materials for research on the inventions. Refer to the Invention Information Source Guide (see Associated Files) for suggestions for these sources.
2. Review all materials associated with this lesson.
3. Duplicate all transparencies and student handouts and assessments.
4. Make props (banner, signs, invention pictures, etc.) for talk show.
5. Make Jeopardy category and answer cards using the Summative II Review: Sample Jeopardy Answers for the Jeopardy summative review.
6. Optional: Obtain a SiteMaker account by logging on to the Beacon Learning Center site and choosing “Apply for or Activate a New Beacon Learning Center Tool” from the “MyBeacon” page. Once the application is complete, the link, “Manage Your SiteMaker Student Accounts and Reports” appears under the “Beacon Special Tools Management” section of the MyBeacon Web page.


This lesson is lesson four of four lessons for the America Gears up unit.

1. Prior to the beginning of class, run the scrolling PowerPoint presentation, Inventing a New Life (see Associated Files), to generate interest in this lesson.

2. Introduce the lesson by asking students to identify an invention within their lifetime that they think has significantly altered society. Write the inventions that they identify on the board and discuss why they considered these particular inventions important.

3. Return to the scrolling PowerPoint presentation, Inventing a New Life. Briefly discuss the examples of inventions shown on the PowerPoint presentation that altered society in the 19th century.

4. Introduce the materials available to complete research on inventions that altered life during the latter part of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

5. Discuss the Finding Information transparency.

6. Give each student a copy of the Inventing a New Life Research Activity (see Associated Files) handout. Discuss the directions and rubric for the research activity.

7. Give the students time in class to begin their research. The Invention Information Source Guide (see Associated Files) provides a sample list of possible sources of information on inventions from this period. Provide help as they complete this activity. For the teacher’s convenience, the basic information on the inventions that are included in this assignment is found in the Inventions That Led to a New Life Resource Guide (see Associated Files). Students can finish this assignment as homework.

8. Discuss the different inventions in the Inventing a New Life Research Activity using student responses to supply information on the different inventions. Use the PowerPoint presentation, Invention Image Gallery (see Associated Files), to illustrate the different inventions as students provide information on the inventions. At the end of the discussion of the different inventions, have students identify any inventions that they came across that were important, but not listed in the assignment. Take up the completed Inventing a New Life Research Activity and assess for accuracy and completeness.

9. Once the invention discussion is completed, give each student a copy of the Essay Assignment (see Associated Files). Go over the writing assignment, which includes a review of the elements of persuasive writing, the directions for completing the assignment, and the rubric for assessing the assignment. Have students start the assignment in class and finish as homework.

10. Set up the classroom for an Oprah/Donahue-like panel discussion.

11. Show the List of Inventions transparency (see Associated Files) or write the inventions on the board. Canvas the students as to which inventions that they thought to be the most important. Mark their choices next to the invention. Group the students as to their choices of the most important invention.

12. Act as Oprah or Donahue and moderate the discussion. Have opposing invention groups argue for their choices of the most important invention. Hold these mock shows until every invention group has had a chance to argue for their invention. The student audience should be given the opportunity to show their pleasure and displeasure with the opinions being expressed and ask questions of the different groups, which should make the role-play more interesting. Make sure this part of the role-play does not get out of hand by setting rules for audience participation prior to beginning the activity.

13. Take up the completed Essay Assignment. Assess the essays based upon the provided rubric and return with feedback. Students that reach an adequate level of achievement can publish their work to SiteMaker under the main inventor of the invention in the theme of Biography. Give each student a copy of Simple Directions for Students Submitting Reports to SiteMaker (see Associated Files). They can do this at anytime from any computer on the Internet.

14. Have all students complete the last entry in the America Gears Up Journal.
If using this lesson as part of the America Gears Up Unit, then continue with the following steps.

15. Conduct a Jeopardy-type game show to review the content for the Summative II multiple-choice test for this unit. Use the Jeopardy Summative 2 Review (see Extensions) as a guide for creating the answers and questions for the Jeopardy game.

16. Have all students take the Summative 2 multiple-choice test, grade, and return. Look for students that do poorly. This might indicate the students that may need help on the culminating Summative 3 project.

17. See the Assessment Instructions section of the Summative 3 document (see Extensions) for the instructions concerning this project.


Assessments for this lesson are formative. If using this lesson with the America Gears Up unit, then the second summative assessment for the unit is given at the end of this lesson.

1. This formative assessment takes the form of a completed Inventing a New Life Research Activity that should be assessed based on the accompanying rubric.

2. The second formative assessment is the completed What is the Most Important Invention? Essay Assignment that is assessed based on the writing rubric included with the assignment.

Once the lesson is finished, the second summative assessment, Summative II, is given. This summative assessment is an objective test consisting of multiple-choice questions. Grade this summative exam using the answer key included in the test document. This assessment should show how well the students remembered the basic content of lessons two, three, and four in the America Gears Up unit.


The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files, (if any

Web Links

This site is a good source for information on inventions.
What You Need to Know About: Inventions

This site is a good source for information on inventions and inventors.
Enchanted Learning: Inventors and Inventions

Attached Files

Inventing a New Life PowerPoint     File Extension: ppt

Finding Information Transparency Template     File Extension: pdf

Invention Information Source Guide      File Extension: pdf

Invention Image Gallery      File Extension: ppt

Inventions That Led to a New Life Resource Guide      File Extension: pdf

Inventing a New Life Research Activity      File Extension: pdf

What is the Most Important Invention? Essay Assignment      File Extension: pdf

List of Inventions Transparency Template     File Extension: pdf

SiteMaker Guide for Students      File Extension: pdf

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