To Kevin's English Lesson Page

Back to Index      Back to Lesson Page      Back to Home

TITLE:   INVENTIONS

AUTHOR:  MARY PENDELTON

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:  7-12, Language Arts,
                      Human Relations, Humanities

OVERVIEW:  This activity allows the student to exercise his
creative faculities while grounding it both concretely and
abstractly through creation of an artifact as well as
conceiving of its design, uses, application and feasibility.
If done in dyads, it may also be used instrumentally for
collaborative learning.

PURPOSE:  This activity is primarily designed to help
students understand the relationship between things and
words.  Students create their own inventions and learn to
describe them as well as to create a history for them
utilizing standard research format; ie, proposal,
hypothesis, plan, outlining, etc.  The further purpose is to
demonstrate interdisciplinary links between Language Arts
and other academic disciplines.

OBJECTIVES:  Participants will strive to:
1.  develop an invention after collaborating in dyads.
2.  describe the invention
3.  develop a short paper on its uses and applications
    after developing outline, frames of reference etc.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS:
Straws (20 per dyad to begin), yarn, tape, rubber bands (in
teacher's pocket!), scissors

NOTE:  This activity usually takes anywhere from two to five
days depending on overall class experience with thinking
skills as well as the writing process, editing, etc.
Activities and Procedures described below can be adjusted or
modified in any number of ways according to the maturity
levels of participants and other situations alluded to in
opening sentence.

ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:

DAY ONE:

1.   Brainstorm a class for the concept invention,
     hypothesis, application...It's helpful to have one of
     the students do the notation at the board, allowing the
     teacher to move around the room.
2.   Silly pictures of possible inventions--Move into dyads,
     have each dyad brainstorm a list of possible uses for
     whatever it is as well as name it.  These instructions
     should be included on the silly pictures. If
     collaborative learning is being used, a good skill to
     emphasize might be communication and active talking
     with one designated notetaker and the other the picture
     holder.  It should be emphasized this is sink or swim
     for both members of the dyad.  From this point on, both
     will receive the same grade for both academic and
     social skills.  Monitoring is done by the teacher using
     either a predetermined point system or written form.  I
     use a time limit to teach deadlines.
3.   Processing:
     a)  As a group we compare notes,names, etc.
     b)  Feedback forms are provided and note exchanged
         with another group...the critiques are filled
         out, then both groups get together to discuss
         the feedback forms
4.   Return to original dyads - introduce the concepts of
     intuitive and deductive reasoning
5.   Sum up class session by asking each student to
     contribute one thing they have learned from the days
     experiences.

DAY TWO:

1.   Review orally concepts of previous day
2.   Pass out both straws and paper..graph paper is really
     preferable
3.   Explain the dyads may approach the task as they wish
     either designing an inventions on paper first or going
     to it with the straws and then graphically displaying
     it...Graphs include name, general description.
4.   Two class period may be used for the above.  A part of
     this exercise is simply to have fun, laughter is
     allowed.  For the teacher who prefers the competitive
     model, a time factor might be introduced with suitable
     rewards.  As my student population is exclusively male,
     I find they enjoy the exercise and stay on task
     readily.

DAY THREE:
INTRODUCTION OF THE WRITING PROCESS

1.   Students are free to pick any sort of paper they wish
     to develop, ie, persuasive (selling a new product),
     expository, etc.  At this point, I introduce an alien
     element, the composition text and briefly scan types
     with them.  Then we move onto the section entitled
     writing the research paper and proceed.  At this point
     they are given a three day time limit to develop a
     rough draft after developing one bibliography card
     listing themselves as the experts, notecards, informal
     outlines, general research questions dealing with who,
     what, when, where, how and why, formal outline, rough
     draft, etc.
2.   After all of the above, we begin editing groups,
     passing around the rough drafts as well the invention.
     Feedback forms are provided.
3.   Assemble final papers, which will include a title page,
     a table of contents, paper and bibliography page.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:
1.   Each group presents its invention and paper.  Feedback
     forms are used to assess effectiveness.
2.   We usually ask someone to judge the inventions and pick
     the most effective application.  I usually try to
     develop several categories as I find the judges really
     take their jobs quite seriously and generally ask each
     group a number of questions.
3.   After we are finished with the judging and awards, we
     usually have cake and ice cream, asking the judges to
     join us to celebrate success and to provide closure.

GENERAL NOTE:
I use collaborative strategies throughout the year and this
exercise is generally scheduled well after the ground rules
and grading procedures have been established.  The pairings
are teacher determined and may not be changed.  The rewards
are often worked out with the facility as part of their pass
program.  If the participant has met all other criteria for
the facility, he may receive two hours pass extension, for
example.  The confined youngster may be released from
kitchen duty or some other chore.  This requires staffing
and adult teaming.  The more substantive the rewards, the
better!