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Native Pathways to Education
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Lessons Taught, Lessons Learned Vol. II

Technically Speaking


by Wayne Day

Anchorage School District


Our world has become incredibly complex. Each day more and more is added to our technological information bank. New innovations on old ideas along with new and ingenious inventions combine to generate an exceptionally large capacity for growth and expansion.

"Principles of Technology" (hereafter referred to as POT) provides a thorough and comprehensive breakdown of even the most complex technologies. It can be compared to a Kindergartner learning the alphabet, knowing that eventually s/he will use this knowledge in complex combinations to communicate with others more effectively.

With a solid background in electronics and mechanics, I came to sincerely appreciate the information and methods of instruction used in the POT course. I currently hold a secondary teaching certificate in in mathematics, but I delve into science to explain many mathematical concepts. POT applications have helped to expand my current idea of how I will teach in the future. Even though POT is not currently available in the Anchorage school system, the information I have acquired will provide quality examples and ideas for my teaching methods in the coming years.

The staff development course offered in the Rural Academy - a full year of POT condensed to four days - allowed those of us not familiar with some of the ideas to have questions answered and confusions cleared up. We experienced the lab exercises (8 labs per unit, 14 units total) and were able to discover the benefits and work through some of the shortcomings. I found the course to be exceptional in that Paul and Jerry, the instructors from North Pole High, conveyed their experiences, good and bad, throughout the course, preparing us for possible problems we might experience when we eventually teach the course ourselves. Since I am not certificated in vocational education, I'm not sure I will be teaching POT immediately, but I will utilize the information in my current teaching whenever I possibly can.

I can see how this course can become the basis of many courses taught today, like physics, algebra, trigonometry, and electronic theory, just to name a few. POT is an excellent "how and why/hands-on" experience. The hands-on concept will be a valuable experience for those kinesthetic learners who are having problems learning in the classroom today.


Resistance - A Sample POT Unit

POT is made up of 14 units (7 per year) and within each unit are four systems. Each system is explained with two labs and several math skills practice sheets. The systems incorporated in each unit include mechanical, fluid, electrical and thermal. I will use the Resistance Unit to illustrate how the systems are incorporated. Two labs from each system are used:

  1. Mechanical Systems are explained by force resisting motion, like brakes on an automobile. Pulleys, strings and weights are used in these experiments.
  2. Fluid Systems are explained by resistance of water and air through valves and different size hoses.
  3. Electrical Systems using carbon resistors are placed in parallel and series and compared. Color codes on resistors are discussed here as well as how to calculate and measure resistance.
  4. Thermal Systems uses different types of insulation to interpret thermal resistance. Different types of insulators are discussed and experimented with. 

Each lab comes with a video preparing the student and setting the stage for learning. The videos are well documented and entertaining. They last from 8-15 minutes, and after each unit a comprehensive post-unit video is shown, kind of summarizing up the unit quite effectively.

The organization of the lessons and material is in such a logical, easy to follow format that POT can be excellent back-up material for any math and science courses taught in the secondary and post-secondary levels. Each lesson (unit) is so self-contained that any well motivated student can learn from the materials, texts and videos with almost no teacher involvement.

Rural Advantage

Reading through Lessons Taught. Lessons Learned I was touched by the diversity of the authors and their teaching situations. POT lends itself to all kinds of environments. However, it is extremely important to have such a course be well received by both student and community, so as to achieve a closer alignment between what is learned in and out of school. Using the community as a classroom and applying POT ideas to everyday operations can contribute to an educational experience that bonds the school with the community. This can be especially important in rural Alaska. 


Walking into the Principles of Technology class, I had no idea what to expect. My preconception of the course was based on my own limited experience and knowledge from prior education on mechanical and electrical systems. Once Jerry and Paul began explaining their triumphs and tribulations in the course and how successful the graduates were, I felt a sense of pride. Our education system had begun to recognize the importance of technical knowledge, understanding it, and realizing its potential for growth. The information I learned and experienced will benefit me and the students I touch. The future is before us, as we mold it into what our current conceptions dictate. POT can help us make more informed decisions and allow us to prepare future generations for the highly complex technological society ahead. I see much in the way of potential for growth and development. It excites me to think that such a quality course has finally been devised. I feel this course will provide our society with a more technologically literate population.


With the completion of just one year of POT, a student's CQ (curiosity quotient) should be extremely high. Perhaps some extracurricular activities could be provided to stimulate further growth and development of technological ideas. Such activities might include a math club, space club, young astronauts, auto club, electronics or Morse code clubs, and other such innovative student organizations. A newsletter (monthly or quarterly) with problems, advice, and new ideas would be an excellent resource for teachers. Another idea might be to invite back former students and have them relate how the experience from the class has benefited their current job and way of life. The possibilities are endless!



Ray Barnhardt

Part I * Rural School Ideals

"My Goodness, People Come and Go So Quickly Around Here"
Lance C. Blackwood

Parental Involvement in a Cross-Cultural Environment
Monte Boston

Teachers and Administrators for Rural Alaska
Claudia Caffee

The Mentor Teacher Program
Judy Charles

Building Networks
Helen Eckelman

Ideal Curriculum and Teaching Approaches for a School in Rural Alaska
Teresa McConnell

Some Observations Concerning Excellent Rural Alaskan Schools
Bob Moore

The Ideal Rural Alaska Village School
Samuel Moses

From Then To Now: The Value of Experiential Learning
Clara Carol Potterville

The Ideal School
Jane Seaton

Toward an Integrated, Nonlinear, Community-Oriented Curriculum Unit
Mary Short

A Letter from Idealogak, Alaska
Timothy Stathis

Preparing Rural Students for the Future
Michael Stockburger

The Ideal Rural School
Dawn Weyiouanna

Alternative Approaches to the High School Curriculum
Mark J. Zintek

Part II * Rural Curriculum Ideas

"Masking" the Curriculum
Irene Bowie

On Punks and Culture
Louise J. Britton

Literature to Meet the Needs of Rural Students
Debra Buchanan

Reaching the Gifted Student Via the Regular Classroom
Patricia S. Caldwell

Early Childhood Special Education in Rural Alaska
Colleen Chinn

Technically Speaking
Wayne Day

Process Learning Through the School Newspaper 
Marilyn Harmon

Glacier Bay History: A Unit in Cultural Education
David Jaynes

Principals of Technology
Brian Marsh

Here's Looking at You and Whole Language
Susan Nugent

Inside, Outside and all-Around: Learning to Read and Write
Mary L. Olsen

Science Across the Curriculum
Alice Porter

Here's Looking at You 2000 Workshop
Cheryl Severns

School-Based Enterprises
Gerald Sheehan

King Island Christmas: A Language Arts Unit
Christine Pearsall Villano

Using Student-Produced Dialogues
Michael A. Wilson

We-Search and Curriculum Integration in the Community
Sally Young

Artist's Credits



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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified August 18, 2006