Living and Working with Technology
The goal of Living and Working with Technology is to help students to develop positive attitudes toward technology through an understanding of how technology can be a part of lifelong learning, collaboration, exploration of personal interests, and increasing productivity.
Practice in Action
What Is It?
Living and Working with Technology refers to activities that expose students to the use of technology outside the classroom, in the world of work and in everyday life. This practice can be expressed in many different kinds of activities: independent or collaborative projects, mentoring, internships, information gathering, and communication with experts. All of these examples are ways of introducing students to career opportunities involving technology that they might otherwise overlook.
What Do I Do?
This practice lends itself to many different kinds of activities, including problem solving and project work. Here are some suggestions to help generate ideas for your afterschool program:
In most cases, technology plays a major role in the operations of the professions listed below:
Remember that assessing student skills, completing the activity, and determining computer needs are all part of the planning process. Getting Started: Considerations for Activity Planning (PDF)will help you get underway.
Why Does It Work?
Activities that support Living and Working with Technology expose students to authentic uses of technology and make connections to students' education and future aspirations. Students develop positive attitudes toward technology, and use it to support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.
Planning Your Lesson
Great afterschool lessons start with having a clear intention about who your students are, what they are learning or need to work on, and crafting activities that engage students while supporting their academic growth. Great afterschool lessons also require planning and preparation, as there is a lot of work involved in successfully managing kids, materials, and time.
Below are suggested questions to consider while preparing your afterschool lessons. The questions are grouped into topics that correspond to the Lesson Planning Template. You can print out the template and use it as a worksheet to plan and refine your afterschool lessons, to share lesson ideas with colleagues, or to help in professional development sessions with staff.
Lesson Planning Template Questions
What grade level(s) is this lesson geared to?
How long will it take to complete the lesson? One hour? One and a half hours? Will it be divided into two or more parts, over a week, or over several weeks?
What do you want students to learn or be able to do after completing this activity? What skills do you want students to develop or hone? What tasks do they need to accomplish?
List all of the materials needed that will be needed to complete the activity. Include materials that each student will need, as well as materials that students may need to share (such as books or a computer). Also include any materials that students or instructors will need for record keeping or evaluation. Will you need to store materials for future sessions? If so, how will you do this?
What do you need to do to prepare for this activity? Will you need to gather materials? Will the materials need to be sorted for students or will you assign students to be "materials managers"? Are there any books or instructions that you need to read in order to prepare? Do you need a refresher in a content area? Are there questions you need to develop to help students explore or discuss the activity? Are there props that you need to have assembled in advance of the activity? Do you need to enlist another adult to help run the activity?
Think about how you might divide up groups―who works well together? Which students could assist other peers? What roles will you assign to different members of the group so that each student participates?
Now, think about the Practice that you are basing your lesson on. Reread the Practice. Are there ways in which you need to amend your lesson plan to better address the key goal(s) of the Practice? If this is your first time doing the activity, consider doing a "run through" with friends or colleagues to see what works and what you may need to change. Alternatively, you could ask a colleague to read over your lesson plan and give you feedback and suggestions for revisions.
What to Do
Think about the progression of the activity from start to finish. One model that might be useful—and which was originally developed for science education—is the 5E's instructional model. Each phrase of the learning sequence can be described using five words that begin with "E": engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate. For more information, see the 5E's Instructional Model.
Outcomes to Look For
How will you know that students learned what you intended them to learn through this activity? What will be your signs or benchmarks of learning? What questions might you ask to assess their understanding? What, if any, product will they produce?
After you conduct the activity, take a few minutes to reflect on what took place. How do you think the lesson went? Are there things that you wish you had done differently? What will you change next time? Would you do this activity again?
Computer Repair and Recycle (6-12)
Students learn how computers are put together and operate by repairing and refurbishing computers donated by the community.
Duration: 6 to 8 sessions (to begin)
- Learn basic computer hardware and software components
- Learn about the operation of computer technology systems
- Learn to disassemble and rebuild computers, setup and run a printer, upgrade hardware, identify and correct basic hardware problems, and load and run software programs
- Used computer hardware components and peripherals that need to be refurbished (these can be donated by the community)
- Curriculum that takes students through all disassembly and reassembly steps and learning of software applications.
- Storage facility and work center or dedicated classroom
Instructors should determine students' reading, writing, and computer skills and gauge their commitment to completing a lengthy program in advance. Instructors should also have knowledge about computers and software and enjoy working with youth who are interested in computers. If the instructor is not skilled and experienced in computer recycling, he or she may enlist a staff member or volunteer who is to help with the lesson.
- Find a source of donated computers in the community or from the local school district.
- Find a storage facility and a work center.
- Design your program. (Start small!) For examples, see the Resources page.
- Recruit volunteer helpers and other interested parties.
- Gain commitment on the design and structure of the program.
- Design curriculum and instructional materials.
What to Do
- Recruit students.
- Carry out the program.
- Reflect and assess outcomes.
Outcomes to Look For
- Student understanding of how to evaluate, repair, and refurbish donated computers
- Student understanding of the benefits of recycling old computers
- Authentic learning, problem solving, and real-life experiences
- Practical applications of reading and writing, math calculations, technology, engineering, and science skills
Exploring Technology in Careers (6-12)
Through a series of group and individual activities, students assess their skills and interests, identify their "perfect" job or career, and research the role technology plays in that job or career.
Duration: 2 to 3 sessions to preview career opportunities and resources
- Introduce students to career opportunities in technology they otherwise might overlook
- Help students research, compare, and contrast possible career choices and educational requirements
- Encourage students to remain in school and continue their education to help them meet their job or career goals
- Computers with Internet access
- Word-processing software for creating a personal career options journal
- Electronic spreadsheet software to list and compare career choice options (optional)
- Access to e-mail to contact schools and companies regarding careers and educational requirements (optional)
- Instructor computer attached to digital projector (optional)
Instructor and students need to know how to conduct searches, find Web addresses (URLs), and navigate links and Web pages on the Internet.
- Make an informal preliminary assessment of students' needs and interests by listening to their conversations. Students' age, gender, family background, and educational level will be primary influences.
- Prepare a preliminary list of "about me" topics that will be used for group discussion and student journals.
- Review some of the Web sites included in the Resources tab for this lesson and determine which are best for students. Bookmark sites that may help them create student journals.
What to Do
Engage students in a group discussion pertaining to their interests and skills.
First, ask them to think about all the things they're good at. Follow up with these or similar questions: What do you think you really do best? Are you good at a particular subject like math or English? Do you work best with people your own age, younger children, or adults? Do you have a musical or artistic talent? Do you like to build or fix things? Do you have athletic abilities? Do you enjoy being inside or outdoors? Do you like to work alone or with a lot of people? Do you spend a great deal of time on the computer? Are you fascinated by nature and science? Do you often find yourself reading books to learn more about at certain topic?
Ask students to begin a written journal using their computers.
Have them focus on the following topics:
- Their strongest abilities
- Their interests
- A description of a "perfect" job or career
- A description of the kind of lifestyle they want
- The name(s) of someone who does what they would like to do
- Ways to learn more about their "perfect" job
Discuss as a group what they have written.
Have each student share with the group. Find out if there are several students with the same interest. Discuss pros and cons of the various choices.
Move the discussion along and ask students to consider the role that technology plays in their job or career choices. Do they know that technology skills and knowledge are found in art and music, building and repairing automobiles and motorbikes, as well as in the fields of engineering and science? What other everyday places have they seen technology being used?
Ask students what types of technology skills they have now. What technology do they like best and why? What technology do they like least and why? How could technology help them achieve their goals?
After the discussions, ask students to return to their journal and make an additional entry about technology
Explore jobs and careers online.
Students will now spend time with a computer connected to the Internet to find out more about their career interest and educational and skill requirements. Their research should consider the required technology skills, potential earnings, colleges or universities with appropriate programs, scholarship opportunities, and financial aid information.
A list of helpful Web sites can be found on the Resources tab.
Have students make entries into their journals, including Web site addresses they would like to review again or additional information about a career, job, or school.
Plan an activity in which students will interact with a professional in a specific field of interest or a project through which students can link up with an organization or company in your community. You might also have students practice writing their rèsumè or rehearse an interview. Engage students in a discussion to determine their interests. Remember to keep the focus on the way technology is used.
View the Resources tab for additional ideas.
Outcomes to Look For
- An understanding of how technology is used in the workplace
- Proficiency with technology or interest in learning to use technology
- Positive attitudes toward technology uses to support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity
Creating Podcasts (8-12)
Creating podcasts allows students to experience the pleasure of sharing their work with an audience as they learn about communicating through electronic media.
Duration: 5 to 6 sessions, 45 to 60 minutes each
- Research and write about current events
- Develop real-life, job-related skills
- Improving literacy skills
- Learn to work collaboratively in small groups
- Use current technology software to create a podcast
- Computer with Internet connection, projector, audio player, speakers, and large-screen display or interactive whiteboard to display digital pictures (for the instructor)
- Software for recording podcasts on at least one computer (downloaded free from audacity.sourceforge.net/)
- Microphone for audio recording
- Podcast network such as Education Podcast Network, which is devoted to podcasting in education
- Computer with Internet access and word-processing software (at least 1 per team of students)
- Sample podcasts to show students
- Parent permission slips if podcasts will be published
- Adult or older student volunteers to help
Even if you've never tried podcasting before, don't be afraid. This project will excite and motivate your students, and they'll love you for it! You can ask an older student to help you, or begin with the audio portion first.
- Take the techtorial, "What’s a Podcast," on Education World or http://www.how-to-podcast-tutorial.com/13-basic-podcasting-software.htm.
- Find some podcasts to show to students as examples.
- Spend time practicing with computer audio player software, podcast recording software with a microphone, and podcast hosting.
As podcasting grows in popularity, more user-friendly software is becoming available on a daily basis (literally). At this time, two of the most popular audio podcasting software include Audacity (mentioned in the lesson) and Apple's Garage Band, for Mac computers. Many other types of software, such as presentation software like PowerPoint or Keynote, allow users to save work as a movie or an Internet broadcast. Because the technology is always changing, spend some time exploring and asking colleagues (and students) what they use. You will be surprised what software is available for podcasting!
What to Do
Talk about podcasts.
- Find out how familiar students are with podcasts by first asking students what they like to listen to on the radio. Point out that several radio stations make their programs available for computer download by posting them on the Internet. As the discussion moves to podcasts, provide examples of programs that are shows shared only through podcasts and not the radio.
- Once students have had time to discuss podcasts, tell them they will be creating a news podcast for their afterschool program.
- Divide the class into small groups so that students can brainstorm ideas for their part of the podcast.
- To get story ideas, ask students to think of the news that's covered on the radio and television and in newspapers. Topics can include news about their afterschool program or school; political news; sports events; interviews with students, afterschool staff, or community members; and opinion pieces.
- Ask students to write notes of their ideas to use when they write their scripts. They can also record their ideas in concept maps (diagrams that they can use to organize their thoughts).
Write scripts for the podcast.
- Students will meet in their same groups to write a script for their podcast.
- Encourage students to think beyond the literal, such as:
- how long each segment of the podcast should last;
- the order of presentation; and
- the music excerpts to include between segments.
- Have students e-mail you their script so that you can review them before taping the audio.
- The length of the script should be limited by the amount of time students have for this part of the activity. Monitor student writing to ensure that what they have written by the end of the session will provide appropriate material for their podcast.
Record the podcast.
- Students meet with their teams to practice reading the scripts out loud.
- Each team designates a reader for its section of the podcast.
- With the help of volunteers, students record their scripts.
Remembering the Copyright Law
Music can make a podcast more interesting as background music or an excerpt between news segments. However, if your students plan on using music or reading materials by other authors, be sure to review copyright laws with them.
Publish the podcast.
- Upload podcasts to selected site.
- Invite students, parents, and community members to listen to the podcast.
- Use a podcast as an option for a final presentation following a science, music, history, or language arts unit. For example, a podcast could be used to share an original play based on a historical event, much like the old radio plays with sound effects, etc.
Outcomes to Look For
- Students learn how podcasts are used in job-related work
- Students learn how to use a podcast to communicate in different ways
- Improved literacy and presentation skills
For more information and ideas to support this lesson, see the Resources page.
Ringstaff, C., & Kelley, L. (2003). The learning return on our educational technology investment: A review of findings from research.San Francisco, CA: WestEd Regional Technology in Education Consortium in the Southwest.
George Lucas Educational Foundation. (2001). Project-based learning research.Retrieved June 22, 2007, from Project Based Learning Research
The following resources are related to the "Exploring Technology in Careers" sample lesson.
National Service Learning Clearinghouse
Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Here are some websites to help you find appropriate projects.
Junior Achievement uses hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with business and educators, Junior Achievement brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential.
Technology career and job research Web sites
Pathways to Technology
An online resource sponsored by the National Science Foundation and American Association of Community Colleges. Includes success stories of people working in various technology fields.
GetTech helps students, teachers and parents plan for exciting careers in technology, engineering, manufacturing and science.
Youth Programs With a Technology Career Focus
Hopeworks: Expanding the Future of Youth. Camden, New Jersey
The focus of this program is to help Camden's young people prepare for the future, for good-paying jobs, business development and educational opportunities through technology related projects for local community organizations.
ITEST is a program established by the National Science Foundation to connect school-age children and teachers to career related experiences to build their technology skills and knowledge.
The following resources are related to the "Computer Repair and Recycle" sample lesson. Student computer recycling programs:
Computers 4 Kids (Youthentity)
This nonprofit educational initiative supplies computers to schools and organizations.
The following resources are related to the "Creating Podcasts" sample lesson.
Evaluate the podcast with the students using the following from Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators: What makes a good podcast?