Projects

City Technology Curriculum Guidelines
1997 - 2002

City Technology Curriculum Guides (CTCG) was a collaborative effort to create field-tested, integrated design and technology curricular materials for elementary-level teachers. The partners, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, were the City College of New York's Schools of Engineering and Education; CCT; and elementary and middle school teachers recruited from urban school systems. Intended for grades 4 through 6, with extensions to grades 1 through 8, this unique national effort attempted to help teachers use children's immediate urban environments, including everyday technology, as sources for inquiry-based science in the classroom. The project developed eight Curriculum Guides as well as a Professional Development Guide to provide counsel for teacher educators, staff developers, and curriculum specialists in using the curricular materials.

City Technology Curriculum Guides provides ideas for helping children to analyze existing technologies and to develop, build, and test their own designs. The Guides define design as the effort to impose order on things, create new technologies, or modify existing ones. They further define technology as the entire array of artifacts, systems, and environments that constitute the designed world. Examples of artifacts, or things, are the toys, appliances, furniture, packages, and fasteners of everyday life. Systems and environments include the arrangements of furniture in the classroom; the organization of the school day; the handling of information about books, mail, consumer products, and school procedures; systems for storing and keeping track of classroom supplies and personal articles; and methods of facilitating smooth flow of traffic within the school. The Guides also discuss the skills required for and developed by analysis and design of technologies, including science inquiry skills as well as those more specific to the design process, such as planning, modeling, evaluating, and testing.

In Years 1 and 2, we evaluated and collected curricular ideas and pedagogical approaches generated by teachers and project staff during two summer institutes as well as document teachers' activities pilot-tested in their own classrooms. In addition, we documented teacher workshop sessions, held throughout the year, to inform the creation of the Professional Development Guide. Data was collected through observation of selected classrooms; documentation of meetings with project staff; analysis of teachers' written curriculum plans, portfolios, and journals; as well as interviews with selected teachers.

In Year 3, we field-tested the eight Curriculum Guides and the Professional Development Guide at six selected professional development sites and their respective schools. Workshop leaders from local, regional, and national professional development organizations participated in a summer workshop to familiarize themselves with draft versions of the Guides. During the subsequent academic year, staff developers at each site engaged teachers in activities from the Guides, using the summer staff development workshop as a model and the Professional Development Guide as counsel. Through focus groups and interviews with staff developers, we investigated their experiences with these materials, their effect on the staff developers' thinking and practices, and their perceived usefulness in providing teachers with access to the field of technology and design.

Prior to the summer sessions, we also collected baseline information from attending teachers via written surveys and focus groups. Near the end of the school year, we also held follow-up surveys and focus groups with the same teachers. This information was used to assess the impact of the staff development sessions and the Curriculum Guides on the teachers' classroom practices. Our evaluation included the following key questions:

  • Which topics and activities made the most sense to you and your children?
  • How did your students' cultural backgrounds inform your use of the materials?
  • How did you and your students adapt the curricular ideas to meet the interests and experiences of your students?
  • Where in your general curriculum did you fit this material in? Did you relate it to other subjects?
  • How well was it accepted by parents, administrators, and children?

Based on the outcomes of the field tests, the Guides were revised to suggest how regional, local, and cultural differences might affect the use of the materials in diverse settings. Examples show how particular topics and activities were most effective under specific circumstances. The revised Guides also suggest strategies -- from a variety of school systems -- for including the new material in a curriculum that does not include technology as a separate subject, and for connecting it with other subject areas.

The eight Curriculum Guides cover the following key topics: Structures; Mapping; Mechanisms; Environmental Analysis and Design -- Places; Packaging; Environmental Analysis and Design -- Regulating Behavior; Controls; and Signs, Symbols & Codes.

STAFF

Terri Meade (PI)
Dorothy Bennett (PI)
Nyema Branch
Kallen Tsikalas