Designing the Future of Technology

By Beatriz Alvarez, December 9, 2009

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • City of Neighborhoods

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

2 Block periods (105 minutes each) for classroom activities, plus homework time as needed between first and second block for completion of activities.


This is a follow up lesson to a group research project where students were asked to choose a form of technology (i.e. cell phone, camera, video game console, TV, computer, etc.) and research how this technology has evolved over time.  As part of the actual design lesson, students will be asked to consider past forms of this technology and consider how it could still be improved upon.< span>  In groups/teams they will then be asked to design the future form of this technology.

This lesson will require students to conduct and analyze research, write for a specific purpose, use critical thinking skills, and use viewing, listening, and speaking skills for their final presentation.  All of which are part of a Language Arts curriculum.

It will engage students in the design process by having them look at a previous piece of technology and design a ‘new and improved’ version of it, based on what they consider to be flaws and/or areas that could be improved upon.



National Standards


Standard 1. Level III. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

1. Prewriting: Uses a variety of prewriting strategies (e.g., makes outlines, uses published pieces as writing models, constructs critical standards, brainstorms, builds ba ckground knowledge)

2. Drafting and Revising: Uses a variety of strategies to draft and revise written work (e.g., analyzes and clarifies meaning, makes structural and syntactical changes, uses an organizational scheme, uses sensory words and figurative language, rethinks and rewrites for different audiences and purposes, checks for a consistent point of view and for transitions between paragraphs, uses direct feedback to revise compositions)

3. Editing and Publishing: Uses a variety of strategies to edit and publish written work (e.g., eliminates slang; edits for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling at a developmentally appropriate level; proofreads using reference materials, word processor, and other resources; edits for clarity, word choice, and language usage; uses a word processor or other technology to publish written work)

4. Writes technical text, such as bylaws for an organization (e.g., identifies essential steps in a logical sequence; lists materials or equipment needed; describes all factors and variables that need to be considered; uses appropriate formatting)

Standard 4. Level III. Gathers and uses information for research purposes

3. Uses a variety of resource materials to gather information for research topics

5. Organizes information and ideas from multiple sources in systematic ways (e.g., timelines, outlines, notes, graphic representations)


Standard 7. Level III. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

3. Summarizes and paraphrases information in texts (e.g., arranges information in chronological, logical, or sequential order; conveys main ideas, critical details, and underlying meaning; uses own words or quoted materials; preserves author’s perspective and voice)

4. Uses new information to adjust and extend personal knowledge base

Listening and Speaking

Standard 8. Level III. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

6. Makes oral presentations to the class (e.g., uses notes and outlines; uses organizational pattern that includes preview, introduction, body, transitions, conclusion; uses a clear point of view; uses evidence and arguments to support opinions; uses visual media)


Standard 9. Level III. Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

8. Knows that people with special interests and expectations are the target audience for particular messages or products in visual media; and knows that design, language, and content reflect this (e.g., in advertising and sales techniques aimed specifically towards teenagers; in products aimed towards different classes, races, ages, genders; in the appeal of popular television shows and films for particular audiences)

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts Standards Writing 

Grade 6-8

Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audienc

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening

Grade 6-8

Comprehension and Collaboration:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

English Language Arts Standards: Reading Informational Text

Grade 6-8    

Key Ideas and Details:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.2 Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.3 Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.7 Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium's portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.


Students will be able to:

  • use critical thinking skills
  • compare and contrast two or more items
  • see that there are multiple solutions to given conflicts/problems
  • write a comparison/contrast paragraph or create a comparison/contrast chart<o :p>
  • conduct online research
  • deliver a presentation using technology


computers and/or laptops with internet access

actual models of older and newer versions of selected technology (i.e. cameras, cell phones, portable music players, etc)


  • computer/laptops
  • Microsoft Office
  • projector
  • sketch paper
  • pencils
  • colored pencils
  • markers
  • rulers




1. Students will be put into groups of three or four to  investigate how to improve upon the newest design of their particular technology.  (This could be teacher assigned or student selected depending on the teacher’s specific needs.)

2. Students will then generate a list of possible problems or concerns with the current technology that could be addressed by creating a newer version.

3. Next, students will generate possible ways to solve or improve on these issues or concerns. (Brainstorm)

4. With their groups students should discuss which options would work best and if/how they could implement them in a real environment.

5. Students will then work with their groups to finalize ideas for their new product.

6. Students will create a sketch or other artistic representation of their new product such as a model (if materials are readily available).

7. Students will create an item specifications sheet that includes all the new features of the product compared to at least two other versions from the past.

8. Students will put together their presentation through a student- or teacher-chosen technology based medium. (i.e. PowerPoint presentation, iMovie, filmed TV commercial, Podcast, etc.)

9. Finally, students will present their “Technology of the Future” to the rest of the class through the use of technology and visual aids.

(Note: My class period are in 105 minute blocks.  I used the first block for the design of the new technology. This includes discussion time, time for research, rough draft of sketches/ models/charts and ideas for presentations.

I used the second block for final drafts of sketches/models/charts and the creation of presentation.  The last 30 minutes of the block was used for student presentations.)



Students’ presentations will be assessed based on their identification of a problem and implementation of a solution as well as their proper use of technology and presentation technique. Their specification sheets and comparison charts can be assessed separately for writing skills and accuracy of information.

Instruction is first differentiated thro ugh grouping students together based on their strengths and weaknesses. The variety of activities that must be completed also include multiple modalities of learning: research for the technologically savvy, drawing for the artists, creating models for kinesthetic learners, and presenting for interpersonal learners.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students could create an advertising campaign for their new technological advancement. (Language Arts)

Students could write a persuasive essay convincing others that this form of technology is better that those that came before it. (Language Arts)

Students could breakdown the cost for creating this new kind of technology. (Math)

Students could consider how to create these new forms of technology so they are more environmentally friendly. (Science)


Teacher Reflection

Students were successful in creating their technology. Students demonstrated they were capable of looking for a variety of flaws although some had a tough time narrowing it down to one or two features they could improve on.  They wanted to revamp too much making their jobs a lot more complex. Next year I might consider giving all students the same form of technology to see what other varieties on the product they come up with and the class could even compare/contrast and rate their new products on a level playing field. I would also make sure students are familiar and comfortable with the use of technology before hand or provide students with a review of basic software.
  1. I like the fact that students are researching the history and function of the technology that they know and use. Since things have changed so much and they don’t know life without these items, its beneficial for them to realize just how far we’ve come. It also allows them to think about how technology has replaced people and jobs and to consider jobs of the future.

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