Communication Applications

Communication Applications Teacher's Guide

Chapter Activity Lesson Plans

Chapter 1 Putting Communication to Work for You
"Communicating With the Right Stuff"

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     Students have read about how competent communicators make appropriate communication choices based on their understanding of context, roles, norms, and standards. In this Chapter Activity, students will explore how the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission used their communication skills competently in a variety of contexts.

Lesson Description
     Students will use information from the Kennedy Space Center Web site to learn how the Apollo 11 astronauts used their communication skills to interact with each other, mission control, and even the president of the United States. Students will use information taken from the crew members' own words, from books by two of the astronauts, and space-to-ground and press-conference transcripts to consider the communication skills the astronauts used. Students will read about the mission's communications, from the time of liftoff until the night before they splashed down in the Pacific. Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by writing a paragraph explaining why Neil Armstrong's first words from the Moon could be labeled competent communication.

Instructional Objectives

  1. Students will identify how competent communicators use context to determine roles and norms and to set standards for communication choices.
  2. Students will use this knowledge to write a paragraph explaining why Armstrong's first words on the Moon can be characterized as competent communication.
Chapter Activity Answers
  1. One context of the Apollo 11 mission was that of the astronauts within the space capsule as commander and pilots. A more informal context of the friendships among the astronauts was reflected in their conversations. Another context was that of the astronauts' working with Mission Control, the controller of the mission from the ground. The crew of Apollo 11 relied on the efforts of Mission Control to track and identify any potential problems. The mission's context had historic significance. The astronauts knew that theirs was a mission that would be remembered forever, and their conversations with the president of the United States and their broadcasts to the world underscored that context.
  2. The roles played by the astronauts included the following: leaders, followers, American citizens, friends, professional associates, historical figures, and public relations people. The communication between the astronauts during tasks was primarily professional. When a caution light indicated a potential disaster for the mission, the astronauts remained in control and demonstrated knowledge of their roles by following the directions of Mission Control. Armstrong understood his role when talking with the president and used formality and humility to communicate appropriately. While in the roles of astronauts, Collins and Aldrin were also ambassadors for NASA, demonstrating the understanding of their roles by addressing the American public with thankfulness and respect.
  3. The attitudes of the astronauts were enthusiastic and positive and were instrumental in their ability to communicate successfully. Since such a mission had never been attempted before, a negative attitude among any of them would have seriously affected the mission. When the caution signal warned of a problem just before the lunar module landed on the surface of the Moon, a pessimistic attitude could have challenged the landing. The astronauts' positive, energetic attitudes were no doubt a key factor in their being chosen for the job.
  4. They used their knowledge to communicate with each other and Mission Control the information needed to accomplish their tasks. From liftoff until their splashdown, they used their training to perform operations to successfully navigate the capsule to the Moon. The lunar module landed on the Moon by Aldrin, Armstrong, and Mission Control using their task skills. The entire mission depended on the ability of the astronauts to communicate their knowledge and skills effectively to each other and to Mission Control.
  5. Students' paragraphs will vary.