"Wow!" "Cool!" "Did you see that?!" Are you looking for a middle school course that really "hooks" students into learning about invention and innovation? If you are, these could be the three most commonly heard phrases in your middle school classroom!
A school or district's technology education program consists of a series of courses that address standards. Recent trends (e.g., No Child Left Behind), administrative pressures to increase student achievement, or the school's desire to align with standards, challenge the technology education teacher to implement new courses into the technology education program. This task may seem daunting at first, but with proper planning and a little "know-how," this task can be an enjoyable experience that renews a teacher's energy and enthusiasm.
How can teachers successfully implement a new course into the technology education program? The purpose of this article is to provide teachers with practical suggestions and helpful information; specifically, how to implement a new middle school course entitled Invention and Innovation.
In 2005 the International Technology Education Association (ITEA-CATTS) released the publication Invention and Innovation, A Standards-Based Middle School Model Course Guide. The major purpose of this course is to provide middle school students with opportunities to apply the design process in the invention or innovation of a new product, process, or system.
This course is based on the standards and benchmarks presented in Standards for Technological Literacy. Content for the Study of Technology (ITEA, 2000, 2002), and follows Program Standards P-1 through P-5 that are presented in Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards (ITEA, 2003). The course Invention and Innovation reflects current educational practices and research-based design. It was developed as a "model" technology education program based on contemporary criteria as advocated in A Guide to Develop Standards-Based Curriculum for K-12 Technology Education (ITEA, 1999, pp. 8-9). This guide identified important criteria that should be exhibited in a model technology education curriculum, including:
* Focus on students and their learning.
* Reflects exemplary practices for teaching and learning.
* Emphasizes design and problem-solving activities.
* Contributes to standards attainment.
* Develops technological literacy.
* Integrates math, science, and other subjects.
* Promotes career development in profession and technical fields.
In addition, the guide was developed using the "Backward Design" instructional design model that is advocated by Wiggins and McTighe (1998) and built using "constructivist theories" that view learning as an active process where learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current or past knowledge.
Using the course Invention and Innovation as a model course guide, the following provides technology teachers with practical suggestions and information on how to successfully implement a new course into their technology education program.
Suggestion #1: Review Teacher Resources and Materials
One of the most important steps for successful implementation of a new course is to review resources and materials prepared for the teacher. Almost all textbook publishers provide helpful information for the teacher that varies in scope from limited to extensive. For example, some textbook publishers develop a separate "instructor's textbook" with detailed information on how to implement the information presented in the text into a course. Other publishers develop an "instructor's guide" for use with the textbook. In addition, many publishers today develop and provide free to teachers an "electronic instructor's guide" (e.g., on a CD or DVD) that includes the instructor's guide, as well as a wealth of other resources (e. …