Friday, March 11, 2011

Unit Plan: Grade 2: Technology

Disclaimer: One lesson from this unit plan has been omitted from public presentation for privacy reasons. The original lesson was a special guest and contained information about their work and how it pertained to technology. A teacher could re-create the lesson by having a special guest visit their classroom during the unit to discuss a real world technology and demonstrate it's use.

Social Studies Unit Plan: Grade 2 Technology

By Stephanie Brown

Specific Unit Outcomes: Social Studies 2.2.1- "Describe and evaluate the role of technology in their lives"
Social Studies 2.2.2- "Demonstrate an understanding that people have changed technology over time to meet their needs, wants, and interests."

Introduction: The lessons in this unit plan are intended to be taught individually and would exceed the minimum time requirement for social studies allotted by the N.S. curriculum. Therefore the first 3 lessons are intended to be taught in roughly 30-45 minute sessions in one week with the final lesson either lasting for the next week or being used as an at home school project activity. The class for which this was intended needs only minor adaptations however the individual lessons have other adaptation suggestions throughout.

Overall Teaching Style: The overall planned teaching style of this unit is constructivism. This is easily identified by building from the students previous knowledge and understandings and expanding upon a lesson. However when dealing with the topic of technology it's impossible to avoid the global teaching approach so there are also many global themes and should a teacher want to use that approach the lessons would easily be adapted. Because there is some overlap some of the individual points of constructivism have been brought together under one header such as expansion, follow up, and complimentary activities, while in other cases the usual approach of constructivism involving the exploratory stage has been broken up into smaller sections such as environment, introduction, brainstorm, and prior knowledge. All points of constructivism are touched upon it is just necessary in some areas of the lesson plans to provide extra information. In some cases the order in which constructivism takes place has been changed for flow purposes, mainly reflection on the lesson has been placed at the end after evaluation. Expansion and further expansion have been combined to one header in order to keep all suggestions together. Typically a teacher would choose one as the formal expansion of their lesson but have the suggestions for others in addition. Analysis has taken place throughout the lesson and is also included within the parameters of the individual reflections.

Lesson 1: Introduction to the term Technology and brain storming

This lesson plan was inspired by several resources considered from the cooperating teacher

Goal for this lesson: Children will identify the technology in their lives and come to understand what the word means. They will start to understand how technology has changed and the teacher will gain information on their existing knowledge. This entire lesson will serve as an introduction to the unit.

Teaching Style: Constructivist with moments of Global

Cross Curricular Specific Outcome possibilities:
Language arts:
1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 8.1

Environment: When starting this new lesson it may be appropriate to have books available about technology for silent reading. Some teachers may like to post vocabulary related to technology so students can reference these words in their writing and reflecting. After this initial lesson the teacher can also make references during other subjects to the technology in the classroom.

Supplies: Any outdated technology the teacher is able to get from home or second hand store and/or images of outdated technology such as: older hair dryers, older kitchen tools/utensils, older phones/cell phones, VHS, Records etc. Post-it-notes. (enough for each child to have a few) Follow up activity sheet (detailed below)

Setup: It would be ideal to have this lesson take place just after recess or lunch so the teacher can have these items set up while the children are not in the room. When the children do come in the room and notice a table at the front with these items (or images posted to the front of the class) the teacher can observe their reactions and comments. This will also help the teacher understand what the children's prior knowledge is. Setup should take no more than 5 minutes.

Introduction (Exploratory):

Allow the students a few moments to look at the items that are displayed. Then, ask them if they have any ideas what the items are or what they do. Some items children may know instantly while others they will make up. Invite any willing children to come to the front of the room to demonstrate how their object might be used. 5 minutes.

Brainstorm and Prior knowledge (Exploratory):

After the children have had their guesses the teacher can explain what each object is and does. The teacher can now introduce the word technology. The teacher explains that this is old technology that still works but that we now use technology that works better or looks different. The teacher explains that the class is now going to brainstorm what items belong to technology. (Optional, this can be done on the board, the children can write it on their own sheet, or both.) Allow children the opportunity to raise their hands and suggest their technology item. They may need some prompting at first but once a few students come up with ideas they will hopefully start to make connections. The length of this part of the activity depends on how confident the teacher feels about the children's prior understanding of technology. If it does not yet seem enough to continue the lesson the teacher may need to re-visit the introduction and help students create a working definition of technology. Approx. 10-15 minutes.

Lesson (Application):

Review what the students have brain stormed and hand out post-it notes. Have children write their names on the post it note. Depending on the size of the class students may do this individually, in pairs, or in groups. Explain that they will now have 7 minutes to find anything they think is technology in the classroom and stick their post it note to it. It's likely all students will stick their post it note to something obvious like the computer so let them know they have to try and stick their post it note to an item that doesn't have many others but obviously more than one post it may end up on an item. Encourage this to be a fast activity. Students enjoy getting up and moving in the class and the bit of excitement that comes with making it quick. 7 minutes.

Once the 7 minutes are up children may either sit back at their desks or in a common area like the reading area. The teacher now goes around to each object to point out how many post its are on it and perhaps ask questions of the children who posted it like "what does this do?" etc. This has the potential to be very funny but also is a good gauge of what the children are understanding. Some children may pick something very obscure but give very good reasoning as to why it's a piece of technology. Approx. 5-7 minutes.

Expansion and Follow Up and Complimentary Activities

Have a work sheet available that children can take home to work on. The work sheet should draw on their understanding of technology and what it could be used for. For example, the worksheet could say "What technology do we use, when?" and have 3 blocks: morning, afternoon, and night. Children can then take the worksheet home to discuss with parents what technology they use in the morning etc. (Optional: Children could be given the choice of drawing the technology in their block instead of writing, or doing both). Demonstrate the activity in class to ensure students understand what's expected of them. Students can discuss 1 piece of technology for each area before taking the sheet home. 5 minutes.
Be sure to discuss the results of the worksheet either during the next lesson or for a few moments during morning routine.

In addition to this activity depending on how receptive students and parents are students can be encourage to go home and identify any "old" technology they see in their homes or in old family photo albums. This can be a good bridge activity for the next lesson plan that touches more on technology changing.

Also, if students go through this lesson very quickly or if someone is exceptionally bright an additional brainstorm can be done either with the whole group or on an individual bases (in which case a sheet would be provided) to identify what we use technology for.

Another fun unit long activity that students could do is pick a piece of technology in their home to go without i.e. TV, Computer, Video game etc and during independent journal time can be encouraged to write and reflect on life without that piece of technology.

The teacher can also read "Too Much TV" with the Barienstein Bears.

A complimentary activity that will also help strengthen their skills in identifying technology would be to play a game. Having the students stick an image of technology to their back and have their friends look at it and give them clues as to what it is until they guess it will not only be a fun way for students to get up and move around the classroom but will continue helping them learn to identify technology.


The teacher will know the students have met the goals and are ready for the next lesson primarily based on how they participate in the post-it note activity. Obviously, some students will have more prior knowledge than others and may demonstrate an understanding from the start and express this during the introductory and brainstorming parts of the lesson. If some children have confusing rational for their technology suggestions this may be a sign that follow up activities are warranted. This is mainly an informal evaluation but the actual act of placing the post-it should elude to their understanding.


It's important for the teacher to be aware of the flow with her students. After this first lesson there will be many opportunities in other learning areas for the teacher to draw parallels with technology. An initiative to identify technology through-out each day, make it available to the students, and having the resources like books and vocabulary words will help the children keep thinking and individually expanding on the ideas of technology. This will help them to continue to be receptive to the next lessons.

Lesson 2: Google Earth and Bar Graph

This lesson was inspired by Keisha's use of Google Earth for a Social Studies Game

Teaching Style: Constructivist with moments of Global

Cross Curricular Specific Outcome possibilities:
Language Arts:
1.2, 2.1, 2.3, 3.1, 4.3, 8.2, 10.4
Health: B3.1, C3.1, C5.1
Math: A1, A5, D10, E2, F1, F2, G1, G2

Environment: teacher will have to decide if they want to do this activity individually in a computer lab where available, as a group using a laptop and projector in the classroom, or a combination of both.

Supplies: Download a copy of google earth. You may need to put in on a DVD and run it from that to be able to use it on the school computers. Depending on your choice of doing this in a group setting or individual setting you will need computers and possibly a LCD projector. Follow up activity may require a worksheet.

Setup: Install Google Earth on either 1 computer or all the computers you are using. Consult the I.T. rep for your school as they may be able to do this for you and keep you from having problems with it. Setup an LCD if you need it. Have the computer windows all ready open to Google Earth. You may want to use pre-determined locations that you can have marked for each child or let them explore instead. This can take an afternoon to set up if you're not aware of how to do it so consider setting it up first thing in the morning before class or at the end of the day so the day can start with this activity. You will need to book a computer lab if you're having children do this individually.

Introduction/Brainstorm/Prior knowledge (Exploratory):
Explain to the students that today you're going to use a piece of technology to explore the whole world. Thanks to technology they can see anywhere from their computer screen. Ask them how many people use a computer at home and invite them to view the open window of Google Earth. If you're doing this with each child on a computer invite them to explore the program. Walk around the lab and observe. This will give you a quick idea of the children's computer skills and how detailed you need to make your instructions and how many. If doing a demonstration at the front with children viewing ask them to raise their hand with observations they make about what you're doing on the computer and what they are seeing. 10 minutes.

Lesson (Procedure, application):

Hand out either a piece of white paper or a paper with a list or pictures of technology items. Explain to students that they are going to explore using Google Earth and record the types of technology they see all over the world. Children can either write down or draw what they see with a tally of each time they see it, or keep a tally alongside the list you've provided.

Variations: You may wish to have pre-bookmarked spots on Google Earth for students to visit to allow for more continuity, or you may wish to allow them to explore on their own. If you're doing this with the whole group at the front of the class wait for a few moments on each image for students to keep track of what they see or invite a student to take a turn controlling the mouse. If doing individually you may also want to put students in groups or partners. You may also want to set this up like a scavenger hunt and have specific pieces of technology you want them to find or specific places of the world you want them to explore.

Be sure to walk around the classroom and keep students on task. Some students may require support using the computer and could be partnered with someone who's using it productively/easily. Allow for some conversation and question asking.

15-30 minutes depending on the ability of the students and how long it takes them to write things down.

Take a moment to check in with the students and see how they are enjoying the activity.

At the front of the room ask students to raise their hands and talk about some of the items they've seen and write them on the board. Then ask how many people saw that specific item. I.e. if one student says they saw a traffic light and they recognized that as technology and how many others did in the class and record that number.

While students are raising their hand be sure to take moments to talk about the piece of technology they are suggesting and ask them questions about it. This will help determine if they understand what technology is and its role as opposed to picking random items from the images they see.

When there are about 5 or 6 different objects on the board with their numbers create a SIMPLE bar graph like they are expected to do in math. Be sure to explain your steps as you go and create it big. Ask them questions about the bar graph to check their understanding. 15-20 Minutes

Follow up and Expansion and Complimentary Activities

Hand out a sheet of paper that is either blank if your students have the skill to create their own bar graph, or has the general setup of a bar graph. Explain that they will now be creating their own bar graph of 4 objects they saw and how many times they saw it. Give them the rest of the period to do this and walk around to check their understanding and provide support. Students can take the sheet home to finish over night as homework. If students are doing really well with bar graphs in math the teacher need only explain the sheet and ask them to take it home.

Another follow up activity would be to have students survey their home for technology and the amount i.e. 3 TV's etc. and bring that information in to class and create another bar graph during math class or elaborate on other math functions.


There are two aspects that need to be evaluated here: math skills and understanding of technology. The ability to use the computers can also be evaluated as students are expected to become familiar with this form of technology during the school year. The amount of time the entire lesson takes is a good marker for all 3 of these areas. If it is taking the students a very long time to navigate google earth, make their bar graphs, or express their understandings of technology based on the lesson this is a sure sign that follow up activities and perhaps more focus specifically on bar graphs or computers needs to happen. Because the students are receiving support from the teacher and their peers they should be able to complete the lesson. Special focus may need to be placed on providing the students with a related vocabulary to express their ideas.


While this can be a really fun activity to have children use the virtual reality of Google Earth on the computers it's important to be aware of your students online and computer capabilities. Taking a moment to talk about computer safety would be helpful and using the moment to teach about proper posture when using the computer will also provide them with valuable information they may not be receptive to in other settings.

Lesson 4: Invention project

Now that the students have had an opportunity to better understand technology we're putting 2.2.2 into practice. This lesson plan was inspired by several found online and through the cooperating teacher as well as through official social studies documents given out through the HRSB specifically for grade 2. This can be done as a long lesson or several mini lessons as well as a take home project.

Goal for this lesson

Students will draft and create their own invention to satisfy a need a person might have. The invention can be 100% original or can build off an existing piece of technology. This will combine their understanding of technology with their understanding that it changes to meet needs.

Teaching Style: Constructivist with moments of Global

Language Arts: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 4.3, 5.1,8.1, 8.3, 9.1, 9.2, 9.3,
Health: D2.2, D4.2
Social Studies (Additional): 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, 2.1.4,
Art: 1.1.1, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 2.1.1, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1, 5.2.1,


Recycled materials that have been gathered through the school year, i.e. juice boxes, milk cartons etc all cleaned. An assortment of craft materials and office supplies i.e. paperclips, pipe cleaners, buttons, etc as well as a variety of tape, glue, scissors, papers, box board etc.

Setup: Materials can be spread out on a table or on the floor at the back of the room. 5 minutes while students are not present

Introduction (Exploratory):

At the front of the class the teacher will ask students to raise their hands and suggest different things that people need. Help them remember that people need food, shelter, medicine, clothing etc. Document these on the board through writing and pictures. Students can also document on their own paper for brainstorming purposes. If you did the follow up activity on brainstorming what items can be improved now would be the time bring it out. If you didn't do this now would be the time to do it. 10-15 minutes

Lesson (Application and Procedure):

Explain to the students that they are now going to make their own piece of technology- an invention! Using their two brain storms of what people need and technology they think can be improved they're going to use the materials provided to make their own invention. The invention does NOT have to work but they need to explain what it does and explain what the individual parts they attach do. (i.e. if they stick paperclips or buttons on what do they do? Are the just for show?) It's helpful to have a handout with these rules or be sure they are clearly on the board in a format everyone understands. Allow time for students to ask questions. 5-7 Minutes Optional: Teacher may decide to make this a group or partner project depending on the receptiveness and abilities of the students

At this point depending on the students they may either get started by going to the materials or be asked to draft out a few drawings of their ideas after looking at the materials. If they are drawing give them 5-10 minutes and be sure to check in with every child.

Give children as much time as possible to work on their inventions. This may be one period, or several periods, and even include time at home. Stress the importance of craftsmanship and allow them time to talk to each other. It would be best to allow them to spread around the room to work. Be sure to make observations about their progress and draw parallels between all topics previously discussed. If children are taking inventions home to work on set a reasonable due date, provides the parents with a letter of explanation, and allow them to use materials from home.

Follow up and Expansion

When students are finished their inventions allow them the opportunity to present their inventions to the class and take questions. For children who may be too nervous to get in front of everyone provide them with an opportunity to do written or drawn reflections. Take photo documentation of their creations and put them on display.

Another follow up activity that can be done is to have the students write a short story about their invention or create a short skit where they use their invention. Students can also be encouraged to write and draw a comic about their invention if they benefit from that.

Students can also be encouraged to interview a grandparent or senior in their family about how technology has changed since they were a child. This could be an interesting homework activity and provide students with an opportunity to see the seniors in their life as valuable resources of information.


The big marker of understanding for the students at this point will be their ability to reflect on their inventions both orally and in their written work. If they demonstrate clear reasoning for why they changed their piece of technology and what it does in these areas then the outcome will be achieved. If they show their invention and can't articulate either orally or in written reflections clearly with their connections this is a sign that continued follow up needs to take place. If this is a class wide deficit then the teacher may consider planning another full lesson combining both outcomes.


Students enjoy being creative and working with hands on. Though this may not instantly be thought of as an art activity it certainly will meet the outcomes. Creating an invention can also bridge to other topics in math and science. Students will be proud of their work and hopefully want to present it. It can be helpful to work in pairs or groups if certain children struggle with their fine motor capabilities or get frustrated easily .

Unit Reflection

Technology is such a vast and information filled unit that it can be crossed with nearly all subjects. It's a perfect unit to open children's minds to other areas of the curriculum and is flexible enough for interesting special guests and field trips. So long as lessons are kept open and flexible all students needs should be met as well as the outcomes. This unit can certainly expand beyond 4 lessons and the follow up activities are flexible enough that they too can be expanded upon in order to create more lessons. The unit of technology is flexible for both constructivist and global styles of teaching.