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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Introduction APPENDIX E Larry Leifer received the document electronically, so he embedded his comments in the original text. References to his comments appear as “[LL#]” and are highlighted in gray in the text of the respective chapters. Chapter 1 Preparing Students for a Technological world The Need for Technology Education Humans have been called the animals who make things, and at no time in history has that been so evident as the present. Today, every human activity, from the growing of food and the provision of shelter to communication, healthcare, and entertainment, is dependent upon tools, machines, and systems of various sorts. Some of them, like the tractor, speed up and make more efficient activities that humans have done for hundreds or thousands of years. Others, such as the X-ray or the Internet, make possible things that humans have never been able to do before. This broad collection of devices, capabilities, and the knowledge that accompanies them is called technology. From the Greek work techne, meaning art or artifice or craft, technology literally means the science of making or crafting, but more generally it refers to the diverse collection of skills, processes, and knowledge that people use to extend human abilities and to satisfy human needs and wants. In short, technology is how people modify nature to suit their own purposes. That modification has been going on since humans first harnessed fire, formed a blade from a piece of flint, and dragged a sharp stick across the ground to create a furrow for planting seeds, but today it exists to a degree unprecedented in history. Planes, trains, and automobiles carry people and cargo from place to place at high speeds. Telephones, television, and computer networks help people communicate with others across the street or around the world. Medical technologies, from vaccines to magnetic resonance imaging, allow people to live longer, healthier lives. Furthermore, technology is evolving at an extraordinary rate, with new technologies being created and existing technologies being improved and extended. All this makes it particularly important that people understand and be comfortable with the concepts and workings of modern technology. From a personal standpoint, people benefit both at work and at home by being able to choose the best products for their purposes, to operate the products properly, and to troubleshoot them when something goes wrong. And from a societal standpoint, an informed citizenry is the best guarantee that decisions about the use of technology will be made rationally and responsibly.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 For these reasons and others, the past several years have seen a growing number of voices calling for technology education to be included as a core field of study in primary and secondary schools. The chorus includes professional and government organizations—the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Foundation, and others—as well as individuals who write and speak about education, such as Neil Postman in his influential 1995 book, The End of Education. Among the experts who have addressed the issue, the value and importance of teaching about technology is unquestioned. Despite this consensus, however, technology classes are available in only a haphazard collection of primary and secondary schools around the country. A few school districts have put comprehensive technology education programs in place, and a handful of states have set forth technology education standards, but nationwide most students receive little or no formal exposure to technological studies. They are graduating with only a minimal understanding of one of the most powerful forces shaping society today. The reasons for this situation are not hard to find. One is simple inertia. To keep doing what one is doing is always easier than to learn to do something new. A bigger reason, though, lies with the pressures on the educational system today. The back-to-basics push has emphasized competency in such traditional courses as English, mathematics, science, and history, but technology has never been a basic part of education for most students. Furthermore, the growing emphasis on standardized competency tests has encouraged schools to teach to those tests, which generally contain few questions gauging technological literacy. So, squeezed for time and resources, relatively few schools have opted for what they see as the luxury of technology education. Compounding all this is the fact that technology education is a mystery to many teachers and administrators. It is a new field of study, having evolved over the past fifteen to twenty years from industrial arts programs, and it has yet to establish a new identity for itself that people outside the field recognize and understand. Also, there is widespread confusion about the differences between technology education and education technology, which uses technology as a tool to enhance the teaching and learning process. The set of standards and enabling benchmarks in this book have been developed to clear up this confusion and to build the case for technology education by setting forth precisely what the outcomes of technology education should be. Technology teachers and education specialists from around the country collaborated to spell out, idea by idea and capability by capability, what students in kindergarten through twelfth grade should be learning about technology. Other experts, including engineers, curriculum specialists, and staff members from the National Science Foundation, reviewed Technology Content Standards and suggested changes and additions. The result is a document that both defines technology education as a discipline and provides an explicit road map for individual teachers, schools, school districts, and states that want to teach about technology but do not know the best way to go about it. The standards presented here do far more than provide a checklist for the facts, concepts, and capabilities that students in technology classes should master at each level. Along the way they explain how and why technology education fits in naturally with the broad mission of schools, and they demonstrate what the benefits of technology education are for students. In short, they make the case for why—despite inertia, despite the back-to-basics movement, despite the growing emphasis on standardized competency exams, and despite the various other pressures on educators—technology education should be an integral part of the curriculum of our schools.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Learning About Technology Students in technology education classes learn about the technological world that inventors, engineers, and other innovators have created. They study how energy is generated from coal, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, and wind, and how it is transmitted and distributed. They examine communications systems: telephone, radio and television, satellite communications, fiber optics, the Internet. They delve into the various manufacturing and materials-processing industries, from steel and petrochemicals to computer chips and household appliances. They investigate transportation, information processing, and medical technology. They even look into emerging technologies, such as genetic engineering, fusion power, or cloning, that are still years or decades away. But the study of these various technologies, as important as they are, is not as large a part of the technology education curriculum as one might expect. The reason is simple: technology is constantly changing. Although certain products may change little over the years—the pencils that students use in class, for instance, are made in much the same way now that they were a hundred years ago—most technological fields evolve rapidly, with large segments becoming obsolete every few decades or even every few years. Magnetic-storage tapes, for instance, were once ubiquitous in computers but are now found only on a few old dinosaurs. Because technology is so fluid, technology classes tend to spend less time on specific details and more on principles and practices. The goal is to produce students with a more conceptual understanding of technology and its place in society, who can thus grasp and evaluate new bits of technology that they might never have seen before. To this end, Technology Content Standards emphasizes comprehension of the basic elements that go into any technology. One of these elements, for example, is the design process, the main approach that engineers and others in technology use to create solutions to problems. Another is development and production, whereby the design is transformed into a finished product and a system is created to produce it. A third element is the use and maintenance of the product, which can determine the product’s success or failure. Each of these steps in the technological process demands its own set of skills and mental tools. Besides understanding how particular technologies are developed and used, students should be able to evaluate their effects on other technologies, on the environment, and on society itself. The benefits of a technology are usually obvious—if they were not, it would likely never be developed—but the disadvantages and dangers are often hidden. When DDT was introduced, for example, it took years to understand that the pesticide was making its way up the food chain to weaken the eggshells of birds, threatening to wipe out many species. Today, the Internet is having profound effects on society—on how people interact and communicate with each other, on how they do business, on how they get their entertainment and recreation—but no one knows exactly what to expect in the long run, and no one is so optimistic as to believe the Internet will have no drawbacks. One of the basic lessons of technology education classes is that technologies not only solve problems, but they may also create new ones. Many of these new problems can be solved
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 or ameliorated by yet more technology, but this may in turn beget other problems, and so on. Technologies inevitably involve trade-offs between benefits and costs, and intelligent decisions about a technology need to take both into account. Technology education students should come to see each technology as a tool—neither good nor bad in itself, but one whose costs and benefits should be weighed to decide if it is worth developing. Learning to Do Technology One of the great strengths of technology education classes is that students not only learn about technology, but they also learn to do technology, that is, they carry out in the classroom or laboratory many of the processes that underlie technology in the real world. Recent research on learning finds that many students learn best in experiential ways—by doing, as well as seeing and hearing— technology education classes emphasize hands-on learning and active questioning. For instance, students in technology education classes are taught practical problem-solving skills and are asked to put them to work on a variety of types of real-world problems. Engineers and others involved in technology use a number of different approaches to problem solving, including troubleshooting, invention and innovation, and research and development, and students will become familiar with these and learn which situations they are appropriate for. However, the main problem-solving approach in technology is design or, as it is sometimes called, technological design. In learning about design-thinking, , students master a set of cognitive skills that will serve them well in many parts of their lives. The design process generally begins with identifying and defining a problem: there is some need to be met or some want to be fulfilled, and the designer must understand exactly what it is. After investigating and researching the problem, the designer generates a number of ideas for a solution. At this stage it’s particularly helpful for several people to brainstorm ideas, and technology education students will generally work in groups here. Then, by taking the original design criteria into account, along with various constraints, one design—or, in some cases, more than one—is chosen as the most promising. This design is modeled and tested, and then is reevaluated. If necessary, the original design is dropped and another is tried. Eventually, through a series of iterations, repeating the various steps of the process as necessary, the inventors select a workable design given time and resource constraints. The real designer in us will continue to explore the alternatives, hoping for a chance to improve on what had to be done at the moment. This pattern is the reality for most commercially available products. Technology education must help students understand the concept of trade-off-analysis (things that are neither right or wrong, just what we’ll do until something better comes along, OR, the next product cycle (next year’s model). This design process can be applied to almost any sort of creation. In one elementary school classroom, for instance, the students were asked to create a poster illustrating the various regions of the United States. In high school technology classes, one assignment might be to design a water-purification system for a catfish farm. One of the first lessons that students learn from exercises like these is that there are many possible solutions, and that while some answers are clearly wrong—they don’t work, or they work poorly—there is no such thing as “the” correct answer. Such design projects are inevitably more than just mental exercises. The students generally build models of their design proposals, and, depending on the device, may build working prototypes as well. This hands-on learning engages the students in a way that lectures,
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 problem-solving on paper, or lab exercises that follow a preset series of steps cannot. In other words, design exercises encourage active learning. Unlike many classes, where the answers are known ahead of time—to the teacher, if not to the students—and rote learning is often enough to get by, technology education methodology rewards students who come up with innovative solutions. In addition to problem-solving skills, students in technology education classes are taught to use and maintain technological products correctly, again with an emphasis on learning how to learn. It would be impossible to instruct students on every product they might come in contact with, so students are given experience with some common tools and systems to gain familiarity with the basic principles of using and maintaining technological products. They are also taught how to learn about products on their own—by reading instructions, for instance, or searching for information on the Internet. This, along with the confidence and familiarity with technology that they acquire, prepares them to deal comfortably with almost any technological product, even those invented after they have left school. The Great Integrator Perhaps the most surprising message to emerge from Technology Content Standards— surprising, at least, to those who have not themselves taught technology education classes —is the role technology education can play in students’ learning of other subjects. When taught effectively, technology education is not simply one more field of study seeking admission to an already crowded curriculum, pushing others out of the way. Instead, it reinforces and applies the material that students learn in other classes. As envisioned by the standards in the following chapters, technology education should be a way to apply and integrate knowledge from many other subjects—not just mathematics, science, and computer classes, but also social studies, English and other languages, even music and art. Consider, for instance, a field trip taken by a class of fourth-graders in Michigan to Greenfield Village, a historical site with restored houses and shops. The class had just finished a history unit on America at the turn of the century, which prepared them for what they would find. While there, each class member chose an artifact of a particular technology used at the time —a hay thresher, for instance, or a light bulb, or a car—and acted as a reporter, quizzing the docents for details about that device. Later, each student prepared a report on the device, including such information as its purpose, how it was made, how it was used, its role in the economic and social life of the village, and a description of how it worked. Afterward, the class worked together to create a video that would describe the technology of Greenfield Village to the next year’s fourth-grade classes. The assignment taught the students a good deal about the technology of the era, but it also reinforced lessons from other parts of the curriculum. It brought turn-of-the-century America to life, it exercised composition skills from English class, and it allowed the students to apply what they had learned in a simple-machines unit in science class. As teachers all know, having students apply material in a way that captures their interest and imagination is the best way to make sure they retain it. And when students can bring together lessons from several classes or content areas, they truly make the material their own. Such integration among subjects is easiest in elementary schools where the same teacher handles most or all of a student’s classes during the school day and does not have to work with
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 several other teachers to coordinate lesson plans. At the elementary level, the standards are designed to be implemented in the regular classroom by teachers with appropriate inservice training. In middle and high schools, by contrast, licensed technology education teachers should be entirely responsible for technology education; in the middle grades, much of the teaching about technology can be done in units taught by interdisciplinary teams, while in high school technology will most often be taught in stand-alone courses. Because of this increasing specialization, the practical difficulties to integrating technology education with other subjects become greater, but the payoffs are proportionately higher. As subjects become more compartmentalized, students find it more difficult to see how they intersect with each other or to understand the place of each in the world outside. Technology classes provide a neutral ground for the different subjects to come together, often in the guise of devising a solution to some practical problem. A typical assignment might be to design a car with certain characteristics— crashworthiness, high levels of energy efficiency, or using fuels other than gasoline. In developing their design, students would have to be able to operate various computer programs and perhaps retrieve information from the Internet, would need to apply lessons from physics or chemistry class, and would probably use skills from their mathematics classes as well. In researching the background to their problem they might delve into the history of the car and how it has shaped American society in the twentieth century. They might use statistics to analyze automobile fatality rates at different speeds and in cars of various sizes. They could study the chemistry or the health effects of the ozone smog afflicting cities like Los Angeles, or they could analyze the economics of gasoline prices. In an attempt to understand the world’s petroleum reserves, they might study geology and explore how petroleum is formed. When it was time to report on their final product, they would need to do so in clear prose, probably with a bibliography. They might even be asked to translate it into a second language or put it in ‘HTML’ format for access on the Internet. Many technology teachers have found that this sort of real-world problem-solving helps students with their other courses by making the subject matter meaningful to them. The best way to learn something—to truly master and retain it, not just to learn it well enough to pass a test— is to apply it. This, of course, is the rationale for lab sessions in chemistry class, word problems in math, and conversational periods in French, but technology education takes this logic one step further. Technology students are expected to synthesize and apply information from other subjects as well as from the technology laboratory. In this way they learn to make connections between different fields of knowledge and begin to understand how all knowledge is interconnected. People who are unfamiliar with technology tend to think of it purely in terms of its artifacts: computers and cars, televisions and toasters, pesticides, flu shots, solar cells, genetically engineered tomatoes, and all the rest. But to its practitioners and to the people who study it, technology is more accurately thought of in terms of the knowledge and the processes that create these artifacts, and these processes are intimately dependent upon many factors in the outside world. Technology is the modification of the natural environment in order to satisfy perceived human needs and wants. To determine what those needs and wants are and to figure out how to satisfy them, one must consider a wide range of factors simultaneously. For this reason, technology has been called “the great integrator.” And for this reason, although technology
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 education may sometimes be a separate subject, it can never be an isolated subject, cut off from the rest of the curriculum. Technological Literacy Technology Content Standards is designed to serve as a guide for educating students to become “technologically literate” citizens. A technologically literate person understands what technology is, how it is created, and how it shapes society and in turn is shaped by society. He or she will be able to hear a story about technology on television or read it in the newspaper and evaluate the information in the story intelligently, put that information in context, and form an opinion based on that information. A technologically literate person will be comfortable with and objective about technology, neither scared of it nor too infatuated with it. The technology literate citizen will hold realistic expectations. Such technological literacy benefits students in a number of ways. For the future engineers, the aspiring architects, the students who will have jobs in one area of technology or another, it means they will leave high school with a head start on their careers. They will already understand the basics of such things as the design process, and they will have a big picture of the field they are entering, allowing them to put the specialized knowledge they learn later into a broader context. But technological literacy is important for all students, even those who will not go into technological careers. Because technology is such an important force in our economy, almost anyone can benefit by being familiar with it. Corporate executives and others in the business world, brokers and investment analysts, journalists, teachers, doctors and others health professionals, farmers and ranchers, soldiers, sailors, and airmen all will be able to perform their jobs better if they are comfortable with and knowledgeable about technology. In the long run, the entire country’s economic well-being may well be affected by how technologically literate its citizens are. Because the world economy is increasingly competitive and because technology is responsible for almost all the economy’s new products and goods, those countries whose citizens are best-versed in technology should have a competitive advantage. On the individual level, technological literacy helps consumers better assess products and make more intelligent buying decisions: How do I weigh all the factors in evaluating the latest computer or electronic device? Should I avoid genetically engineered food? Should I put my children in cloth or disposable diapers? Or—a few years from now—do I buy a solar-powered car or one that runs on hydrogen? Among people who have no familiarity with or basis for evaluating technological products, such decisions tend to be based on guesswork, gut feelings, or emotional responses. On the societal level, technological literacy should also help citizens make better decisions. As the twenty-first century dawns, new technologies will open up possibilities for humankind that have never existed before. This power will bring with it hard choices. Do we place limits on the flow of information? How much heed do we pay to the worries that genetic engineering could lead to the inadvertent creation of unwelcome new species? Where do we draw the line on cloning? At the same time, older, established technologies will also demand that choices be made: Should we, for instance, cut back sharply on carbon dioxide emissions in an attempt to slow down global warming?
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 In the United States, such decisions will be greatly influenced by individual citizens. In some countries, average citizens have little input into technological decision making, which is left up to a technological elite or the country’s rulers. But the political structure of the United States is very open, and regular citizens can—and generally do—shape technological issues through their legislators, through public hearings, and through court cases. Having a technologically literate citizenry may not guarantee that the best decisions are made on these knotty, contentious issues, but it certainly improves the odds. Our world will be very different ten or twenty years from now. We have no choice about that. We do, however, have a choice whether we march into that world with our eyes open, deciding for ourselves how we want it to be, or whether we let it push us along, ignorant and helpless to understand where we’re going or why. Technology education will make a difference.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Chapter 3 Comments on the Standards for Technology Education, Chapter 3 Marie Hoepfl August 20, 1999 Some brief comments on Chapters 1 and 2: Chapter 1 provides a good introduction, with some minor exceptions (I don’t like the phrase “to do technology,” and would rather not see economic competitiveness used as a rationale for the study of technology). I have many suggestions for improving Chapter 2, including shortening it considerably and making it more user-friendly in general; removing the negative tone of the “what technology content standards is not” section; and deleting some of the taller claims (“designed to offer complete coverage”-p. 10; “all standards must be met in order for a student to develop technological literacy”-p. 16). Comments on Chapter 3: The standards and benchmarks would be easier to review, and probably easier to use, if they were numbered. I think they are fairly well articulated across the different grade levels, with some exceptions that will be noted below. p. 23: Building shelters and assuring food supplies are not necessarily simple tasks! Conversely, constructing web sites is not necessarily complex. The paragraph beginning with “Technology” neither defines nor distinguishes the term. I would prefer an introduction that simply lists what will be described or addressed in this chapter. p. 24: Many non-engineers are involved with the design of technologies. p. 27: I questions whether 6–8 graders will have the long view needed to understand “the specific ways in which technology is dynamic.” The last three benchmarks are wordy and difficult to follow. And where did the last benchmark spring from?? p. 28: This is a nice story, but I’m not sure it supports the benchmarks in standard 1. p. 29: Some questionable claims made in the narrative at top. Benchmark 2 should be reworded and a different example used. And where did benchmark 3 spring from?? p. 30: I would delete this benchmark. Also, without looking at it carefully, I wonder how much overlap there is between the benchmarks for standard 1 and those found in chapter 4? p. 31: The selection of “themes” is very curious. Some of them begin to make sense as choices only after reading the benchmarks and examples that follow. If what you are attempting is to provide a foundation upon which the study of any technology can be based, then some should be
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 deleted. My suggestion: get rid of health and safety, transportation, and management, and change the name of the communications theme to “standards” or “conventions” or a similar term. pp. 32–33: Here, as in some other sections, I perceive a disconnect between what is stated in the narrative at top and the benchmarks listed below. I question the age-appropriateness of the claims made in the narrative, and wonder how they would be translated into practice? pp. 34–36: With further examples, the themes take shape and become more understandable (with the exception of the three mentioned earlier). I like the vignette. p. 38: Under “Processes,” benchmarks 2 and 3 don’t seem to fit in the broad sense—they are too specific. p. 41: Some good examples at the top. Again under processes, the last two benchmarks are too specific and seem out of place. Under “Structures,” clarify benchmark 1. Also, don’t developed countries rely on infrastructures as well? pp. 42–43: Suggest deleting last benchmark in communications section. To reiterate, I suggest deleting all reference to the themes health and safety, transportation, and management. p. 44: Delete the last part of standard 3 “in order to recognize…act synergistically.” This complicates the concept being addressed, and is not discussed in the benchmarks. p. 45: I would use a different example than the Charlotte’s Web one provided. You talk about the concepts of properties of materials, construction techniques, etc. Unless these are part of the K–2 curriculum, this example may have little meaning for teachers. I do not like the wording of benchmark one at the bottom. p. 47: The whole idea of the relationships “among” technologies in this standard is a little hard to follow at times. The example in benchmark 1 here does not help to clarify. Here as in level 6–8 and 9–12 there is redundancy in pulling science and math out separate (benchmark 3) from the “other fields of study” referred to in benchmark 2. I suggest deleting #3. p. 48: Here and on page 51, I challenge the statement about sharing of processes and techniques. The patent process very specifically requires disclosure of such information. p. 49: The last two benchmarks in this section are redundant—they are covered in the previous benchmark. Why not simply provide expanded examples, to address science and math, in that benchmark, and delete the last two? p. 50: Here, more so than in the other narratives, the “within, among and between” business gets tedious. Can the concept of interrelated knowledge bases be communicated in a simpler way? Also, the bias toward the economic benefits of technological development is once again evident here. Why not emphasize the social or environmental outcomes, or none at all? Finally, the benchmark at the bottom of this page is difficult to follow—perhaps a different example would help?
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 p. 51: Benchmark 2 on this page suffers from the “within, between” wording problem. How about: “Technological innovation results when ideas, knowledge and skills are shared” and leave it at that (with an appropriate example, of course)? Benchmark 3 should either be deleted, or revised to note that patents involve the deliberate sharing of information, and for a very specific reason (i.e., benchmark 2 on this page!). Finally, the last two benchmarks are redundant. Limit to one benchmark that looks at the connections with other fields, and highlight science and math if that is desirable.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 “design a solution” to “make a design”). Should the 6th benchmark really be “Test the design” (and if so, how should students go about doing that)? Or rather, should it be “Test the solution” (and if so, what tools, processes, procedures should students use at this level to do so)? I couldn’t be sure which you intended. I suggest a careful editing of all standards and benchmark statements throughout for absolute clarity. Almost all references to tools and the design process (and most of the vignettes) throughout presume the design of “hardware” products. Technologists design products that are not always “nuts and bolts” in nature (e.g. communication technologists design and “build” animations, video productions, logos, etc.). Thus the tools used are different than those most often implied in the standards/benchmarks. Even CAD may be slighted in this regard. Chapter 6, Standard 12: “Use and Maintain Products and Systems.” Neither the standard nor the introduction mention “tools,” but “tools” appear in the benchmarks…which leads me to think the standard should read “Use and maintain tools, products, and systems? Isn’t there overlap here with Chapter 7 standards, which read “select, use, and understand” technologies? Or, is it really the intent of Standard 12 to ignore tools entirely and focus only on the products and systems created? Either way, I think the standard or the benchmarks need to be edited to clarify this. The forth benchmark on page 123 reads “Select and safely use tools, products, and systems for specific tasks.” As noted earlier, I’d prefer more detail here and wherever necessary throughout all benchmarks to clarify which tools, etc. are appropriate for the various levels indicated. Chapter 6, Standard 13: “Assess the Impacts of Products and Systems.” The key assessment processes identified in the initial explanation of this standard are “gather, analyze, synthesize, and conclude.” The benchmarks in this section seem to be action oriented (unlike those in Chapter 7, they begin with verbs) and seem to follow pretty well the key processes of assessment introduced in the initial narrative. The benchmarks for the 6–8 and 9–12 levels seem to provide more/sufficient detail than many elsewhere. Chapter 7: “The Designed World”: I would like to see the introduction include an explanation of why this “taxonomy” was selected for TCS (home, medical, agriculture, energy/power, information/communication, transportation, manufacturing, and construction). For example, why not biotechnology instead of agriculture? Why not military technology? And so forth. That said, I think the “clustering” of “technology” under the eight different “organizers” is a practical way of addressing the problem of the vastness of “technology.” The implication of this chapter is that students would study three more content clusters than has conventionally been the case in Technology Education (agriculture, medical, and the home technologies are new to the mix). Dennis Cheek counted 294 benchmarks in this chapter…about 74/year. That does seem ambitious. But of even greater concern to me is that almost all of the Chapter 7 benchmarks across all 8 “clusters” seemed to encourage a lecture/discussion approach to instruction. This seems particularly inappropriate for these eight standards (294 benchmarks), and it worries me greatly. While many of the benchmarks elsewhere in the TCS begin with action verbs, these do not. I think Chapter 7 standards/enchmarks should be written so as to encourage students to be engaged in the processes (both manipulative and cognitive) of technology. Any study of “the designed world” that focuses primarily on lecture/discussion methodology is off the mark.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Reviewer Comments Standards for Technology Education D.Bruce Montgomery August 20, 1999 [Reviewer disclaimer: My background is as a technologist with an interest, but no expertise, in K-12 education. I am a founder and board member of a for-profit company that sells hands-on equipment for teaching science at middle and high school level. My comments are based on a reading of the narrative for the standards in each chapter, all the vignettes, and the text of chapters 1, 2 and 7.] General Comments It is difficult and probably not very useful to offer top-level advice on a document already read by 4000 people. By the very nature of the wide circulation, however, I will assume that it represents a consensus view of age-appropriate technology standards. My main critical comment would be that the standards as written, will not be as useful as they could be in promoting the next steps in the process—the development of curricula and its introduction into the school systems. While there is apparently wide support of the desirability of including technology content in schools, there are many impediments to its introduction. I believe that these impediments will be all the more difficult if “Technology Education” is treated as a discipline, and furthermore, somewhat arrogantly proclaimed as the great integrator. I believe that the long term interests of technology education would be best served if it was introduced as sub-units within existing traditional subjects. I would therefore tailor fit the technology standards to match the standards already developed in those subject. Quite literally, by quoting an appropriate existing math or science standard, and adding, technology narrative to show how it could be met. In my experience, to get something new introduced into the schools you need to first attract and cultivate an activist set of teachers and team leaders, and given their limited time, make their life as easy as possible. These vanguard teachers are likely to be currently teaching the traditional disciplines (math, science, biology, physics, chemistry, etc.) If the technology standards document could show how technology can meet their existing standards (and if curriculum sub-units were available) these teachers would adopt them. The process would then spread from the inside, growing toward an appropriate future time to introduce technology education as a stand alone discipline. One technique which might be helpful to carrying out this standards integration process would be to wear the other shoe and ask, if I were teaching biology, or physics what material from the technology education portfolio would I find particularly useful. The matching of technology standards with other subject standards could be done in an appendix to the current document. I believe, however, that Chapter 7 itself could provide such an opportunity.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Chapter 7 Comments I would re-format chapter 7 to reflect the concept of sub-units for introduction into traditional subjects. I would increase the number of vignettes, which I found to be a useful and thought provoking technique and I would bring forward into the chapter additional examples of the articulated curriculum vignette in the appendix. I would put a major effort into developing specific ties to existing standards in the traditional disciplines for which the sub-units are being proposed.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 For my review, I did read and critique the entire Standards Document but limited most of my comments to Chapter 7, The Designed World. John Ritz Chapter 7, The Designed World Thank you for providing me the opportunity to review and comment on the Fourth Draft of Standards for Technology Education: Content for the Study of Technology. I had the opportunity to read and comment on the previous three editions. In the Fourth Edition, I particularly liked the improved layout and presentation of the 21 Standards. This edition allows for a “quick read” and ease of assessing and comprehending the material. The 21 Standards, with their accompanying Benchmarks, provide an excellent scope and sequence of what our nation’s children and adolescents should know and be able to do related to the discipline of technology. Although I have made comments throughout the document for the writing team to consider, I will respond to your request regarding the Standards for the chapter on The Designed World. In my opinion Standards 14–21 provide an acceptable structure for studying the major systems of technology. However, within these standards are found the common phrase of “select, use, and understand”. Since many educators have been schooled in behavioral psychology, I would suggest replacing the verb “understand” with another term. “Understand” is an illusive term to evaluate or assess. Since education is currently in an assessment driven mode, I would suggest that a more measurable term, from a higher domain of learning, be used such as “evaluate, comprehend, or assess”. This then would be more acceptable by the educational community. Also within The Designed World standards, I would question using the standard focusing on the home. Although acceptable from a social studies, early childhood perspective, the present description of the narrative supporting this standard is not convincing. The supporting narrative describes the technological system of construction. The writing team bases their support of this standard with examples which almost totally fall within the context of construction technology. Other examples fall within the confines of manufacturing technology. Therefore, I would support eliminating the home technologies standard and move its content to the standards focusing on construction and manufacturing technologies. Two significant areas of technology that receive little attention throughout Standards 14–21 were recreational technologies and military technologies. After reading the document and current literature, I feel that a standard on recreational technologies could be developed. Also, I feel that military technologies need to be brought into the document in standards focusing on transportation, energy and power, health, medical, and safety, and informational and communication technologies. In Standard 15, health, medical, and safety technologies, much writing is focused on health and safety, and little is conveyed on medical technologies. Also there is scant information on genetic engineering. This could be added under this standard and again with the standard on agricultural technologies. In addition, emergency medical technologies are very important to today’s society.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Many were developed as a result of war, and these technologies are saving many lives whether they are found in ambulances, helicopters, or airplanes. In the standard on agricultural technologies, little reference is made of forestry and fisheries. The oceans are our new gardens. Not much information is conveyed on fish, shell fish, or timber. Also, agricultural engineering has led to hybrids. Should Benchmarks be written on these knowledge and processes? Also needed is a discussion of the “processes used to transform fiber and food into consumer products”. Under Standard 17, energy and power technologies, there is a need to present the various processes used to transform energy resources into usable states, i.e., gas/coal/nuclear to steam and hydro- and solar to electricity. Within Standard 18, information and communication technologies, a need exists to bring out the importance of the senses in communicating for the elementary level. This is how we communicate. At the high school level, students need to know that through communication technologies, distances between people and societies are reduced. Under Standard 19, transportation technologies, there is a need to bring to light that transportation is essential in moving products from producers to consumers, grades 3–5. In manufacturing technologies, Standard 20, some clarification needs to be made about producing standard stocks. They are not manufactured, which involves assembling, but processed, i.e., fiber, food, chemicals, lumber, etc. In Standard 21, construction technologies, the K–2 child should know that the environments created by buildings are controlled by technologies for our well-being, i.e., heating and cooling. Also 6–8 graders should understand the importance of a building’s foundation. High school learners should also learn about design and architectural styles. Other content that I feel needs to be integrated into Standards 14–21 includes information on career interests or potentials. I only found information on this topic under construction technologies. Other areas that need some emphasis include technology assessment, futures projecting, and the development of a technological literate citizenry, i.e., quality attitudes, quality products or technologies, and effective citizenry. Overall, I approve of the document including its Standards and Benchmarks. I suggest that the review committee endorse it with editorial changes such as the ones cited above. John M.Ritz Professor and Chair, Old Dominion University and President, Council on Technology Teacher Education
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Chapter 7: The Designed World Scott Warner, Lawrenceburg High School August 23, 1999 Standard 14 and standard 21 should not be separated out from each other. Any possible differences, and I would frankly be hard pressed to identify any, are so subtle that dividing these two standards from each other is bound to cause confusion. The standard statements for #15, #16, and #14/#21 combined are, for the most part, well written and convey the overall concepts for those standards. The standard statements for the others, #’s 17, 18, 19, and 20 are very shallow in depth and almost painful to read. The standards on Manufacturing and Communication really need to be developed further. These two areas are very important in the historical links of technology education to industrial arts. If they are not properly developed it may become even more difficult for this document to “lead the way” for many technology education teachers. Overall, I think the organization of the chapter is much better with this draft. There should be some mention of bio-related technologies in standard 15 as well as in standard 16.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Jane Wheeler Principal Monte Vista Elementary School Here are my comments on Chapter 7, The Designed World: Chapter 7 was added after the discussion at the May NRC meeting. I reviewed this chapter primarily looking at K–2 and 3–5 since that is the age groups I work with and curricular areas I know best. I also shared parts of the document with the 30 teachers I worked with this past week. They were developing thematic/interdisciplinary units for their various grade levels. These units are developed around themes that have over arching concepts such as systems, cycles, change, interdependence. We looked quickly at Standard 1, Scope, Standard 2, Themes, and Standard 11 .Apply the Design Process. So these comments have input from some teachers who have used the design process for several years as an instructional strategy. Standard 1 &2 The teachers felt these definitions were helpful in providing rationale and explanation for concepts students could be learning in science and social studies (where most technology education is incorporated. The themes standard cited areas/issues they felt should be included in their instruction. Standard 11 We have been using the design process as part of all projects we do in all grades. In K–2 the benchmarks for the design process should also include a benchmark on the evaluation of the constructed design. 3–5 teachers felt the benchmarks identified all the steps they regularly use. Chapter 7: The question I tried to answer as I reviewed these sections is what is most essential and helpful in including technology education in the curriculum. Technologies in the Home—In both levels K–2 and 3–5 there are benchmarks that do not appear to be technology related as much as social studies. Some are written with assumptions that I don’t think we should make as each community has such unique attributes. I have sent my suggestions for changing the benchmarks to the writing team. But on further reflection, I think maybe the key technology ideas related to a home could be placed in other areas such as communication, energy, and construction. Health, medical and safety—some of the benchmarks are too specific and could be rewritten to be more general resulting less benchmarks. Agriculture—Concepts in the benchmarks are fine but some could be broadened to be more inclusive without losing the key concepts in grades K–2. Grades 3–5 is fine as is. Energy and Power—Most of elementary study about power and energy in CA is in science and natural energy. These benchmarks help transfer what is learned to daily life. A couple of suggested changes in words.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Information—only suggest minor edits in K–2 and 3–5 Transportation—suggest something be added in grades 3–5 about the relationship between transportation technologies and the environment Manufacturing—ok Construction—add something about the relationship between construction and the environment; there are issues in many communities about size, location, design, materials, etc. (grades 3–5) Some of the ideas from Home themes could be covered here including the comparison of structures size, shape, etc. In elementary school I don’t believe most schools/districts will be adding a new curriculum area but rather would incorporate the knowledge and processes with existing curricular areas. The document includes a great deal of information and having used it a little with teachers this week I think it would be used as a resource for planning. I’m sorry I am not able to attend the meeting as it is our staff development days with teachers. I look forward to the results from this meeting and next steps.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 Comments from Peggy Lemone University Corporation for Atmospheric Research August 23, 1999 So that this review can be interpreted in context, I will describe my background. I am an atmospheric scientist. While primarily a researcher, I have also been actively involved in educational outreach, working of teachers of 4th through 8th graders for the last several years (and sometimes the students themselves). I found the Standards document 4th draft to be a great improvement over the third draft—It was well-structured, so that information on standards and benchmarks could be looked up easily. I liked the vignettes, which for the most part seemed to make the main text more real. The teachers I work with say that it is important to reach students with different learning styles; I feel the vignettes fill that role for their older audience by presenting a different slant. The description of the design process, with its emphasis on nonlinearity rather than detailed description of the figure (as in the last version) was much improved. Like some other reviewers, I worry about implementation of the standards, particularly at the secondary school level. The teachers I work with are already overwhelmed with standards coming from many directions. So implementation will require some thought—I could see integration of some of the standards into high-school science classes and (as one reviewer pointed out) art classes as well. A second thing that the teachers I have worked with worry about is how to test to make sure the standards are being met. It would seem to me that a large part of the emphasis of technology education would be hands-on activities—not amenable to the usual standardized test. Indeed, some students might find it fun and satisfying to apply their skills to problems related to science, while others may develop techniques for sculpture. I note on p. 12 that assessment is not the goal of this document, but it will be an important milestone in implementation. I have been impressed with types of people outside of the engineering profession who are involved in invention and innovation. For example, working in a fossil preparation laboratory, I have seen paleontologists adapt techniques developed in other fields to removing matrix from fossils so that they can be used for research. Thanks to innovations and inventions by mountaineering enthusiasts, equipment has evolved enormously over the last several decades—among the many innovations and inventions are fabrics that wick sweat away from the body, better boots, and Gamow bags (for effectively bringing sufferers of altitude sickness down to sea level). Some of course, involved engineers; most involved interested mountaineers. Further, again drawing from experience with teachers, activities and examples seem to be most meaningful when tuned to the local area. Finally, I am happy to see that impacts of technology remains a part of the standards. Below are comments related to specific parts of the document. There are some comments written on the manuscript as well.
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 p. 38, top. Of course there are examples of feedback loops in nature as well (in climate change— cooling leads to more ice which raises albedo which leads to more cooling, etc.). p. 86, brainstorming discussion. Allowing kids to let their minds run free but directed at a problem is wonderful. p. 104. Two errors here. Sailors determine their LATITUDE by looking at the elevation of the north star; and the instruments are ‘astrolabes’ rather than ‘astrolabs’. p. 106, top…to modify the human-made world? p. 110. Right on. Kids need to ‘fiddle with’ and improve on what they deal with—good practice for dealing with more complex systems later on. At some point, people start hesitating to do this— possibly a challenge in secondary-school implementation. p. 132. This vignette could also be a teaching opportunity to explain the reasons that oil tankers are used. p. 135, second paragraph, should read ‘different models of climate change’ or better yet, ‘different climate models’—global warming is a RESULT of the models; they are not designed to give that result! p. 146, second to last paragraph…seems a bit euphemistic to describe weapons as designed to ensure human safety…. p. 149…Along with vaccinations, medicines are also used to prevent illness Grades 3–5 is a good time to bring this point across, since drug awareness talks in school start around 4th grade. Juxtaposing this point with drug awareness programs would be helpful to avoid confusion of the ‘bad’ drugs discussed with the ‘good’ drugs their parents (or they) might be taking. Introducing this point in 6–8th grade (p. 152) is too late. p. 149, bottom: for lower grades—many schools have (or could set up) weather stations. p. 171, benchmark regarding sources of energy—does hydro power fall under ‘mechanical’? Shouldn’t it be mentioned explicitly? p. 172. Regarding use of communications technologies. I am very surprised at the lack of emphasis on caution, particularly in use of the Web. First, safety issues—predators on the Internet have received lots of publicity; our school district actually denies kids computer privileges if they are caught using chat rooms. Second, it is hard to judge what Web sites are trustworthy and which are not. It’s much easier for a crackpot to design an attractive Web site than publish a slick book. Thus, some encyclopedias now provide references to Web sites to help students find good ones. Third, pornography. The Web today seems like a Reader’s Digest with random pornographic
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Report on Draft 4 of the Standards: October 28, 1999 material thrown in. I have heard several reports that colleagues or students have accidentally ended up at pornographic Web sites just accessing sites identified in word searches. It would also be interesting to research a topic using the Web and using print materials and comparing the type of information obtained. p. 186. The benchmark at the bottom of the page seems to slightly miss the point. The benefits of transportation systems are that they get us or goods from one place to another safely an efficiently. All modes of transport impact the environment; some modes more than others. E.g., cars pollute the air and require an enormous system of roads; bicycles do not pollute, but they often use bikepaths (which impact the environment) or they damage trails. Also, the manufacturing process in making bicycles will pollute the environment. The ‘benefit’ is that the negative impacts of bicycles impact the environment less than cars. Call to action. In the state of Colorado (and perhaps other states) there are ‘practical’ course required for graduation. A technology education course would be an excellent candidate, and allow students to take something of substance instead of what is currently offered.
Representative terms from entire chapter: