History of Technology/Invention Unit


Lanier Middle School
Grade Level: 7/8
Discipline: Technology
Author: Michael Sirois

Grade Level Team Learning Experience:

       Students will learn, through an examination of technological examples, that each innovation stems from a previous invention, and relate the significance of previous knowledge to the advancement of society. Using multiple resources, students will examine and understand the history of technology to show that each layer in a system builds on the item which preceded it. They will come to an understanding of technological systems by viewing the evolution of simple tools, progressing toward more advanced technology.

Objectives: Students will

TEKS for Technology Applications: 1E, 1G, 3D, 4A, 4B, 8B, 8D, 10A, 10D, 11A, 11B, 11C.

Length of Lesson: four class periods, unit to be extended with further lessons.


       Bear in mind that each of the following activities are just guidelines.  This is just one possible scenario for the way the lesson might progress.  Please feel free to adapt these in any way that better suits your students and your teaching style.  The words the teacher might say are in purple and in bolded type.

       The teacher could begin with a statement like,   In this unit, we will learn about the history of computers and other types of technology; and—by comparing the steps involved in creating a simple technology—be able to see how more complex systems can function and coexist in our society’s current technological framework.

Lesson Strategy: [Basic Deductive Model]  T = teacher S = student

       T 1. Present/Review the generalization/abstraction ["Systems Can be Simple or Complex"] and link to previous content, clarifying understanding of the concept that all the technology we have today exists because of some other technology which preceded it.

       T & S 2.  Illustrate with examples (and non-examples).  For example: The printing press—using moveable type--invented by 1452 by Johannes Gutenberg, was able to exist because the wine press already existed and block printing already existed.  [Show overhead projector examples of a wine press and some block plates—perhaps woodcuts—for printing].   Gutenberg adapted the wine press by attaching a frame to the top face of the press and changing the single block plate to individual letters grouped together to form words.

       Possible Line of Questioning and Reasoning:  How was it possible for block printing to exist?  Because "hand-written books were already in use.  What tools were needed for hand-written books to exist?   How was it possible for books to exist?  Because written language existed [carved on stone with sharp metal tools or scratched onto clay tablets with sharpened wood tools or on papyrus with sharpened tools made from feathers].  How was it possible for written language to exist?  Because spoken language had been in existence for some time. How was it possible for spoken language to exist?  Because humans were capable of complex thought.    Have students give examples.

       T & S 3.  Establish a personal need to pursue the meaning of the concept.

       Possible Line of Questioning and Reasoning: Why do we need to understand that every innovation which humankind has adopted can be traced back to a prior invention, mechanism, or concept?  Record student responses.

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