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November 2007 - Vol 67, No.3 - International Technology and ...

November 2007 - Vol 67, No.3 - International Technology and ...

Model Program: Conestoga

Model Program: Conestoga Valley School District, PA Submitted by Len S. Litowitz Gary Landis is in his 36 th and final year as a teacher and program supervisor for technology education in the Conestoga Valley School District. The district earned a High School Program Excellence Award from ITEA in 2003 and a Middle School Program Excellence Award in 2007. During that time Mr. Landis and his colleagues have expanded curriculum, staff, and facilities at a time when many other programs have leveled off or contracted. With that in mind, Mr. Landis reflected on all that has gone right at CV over the course of his career during this interview. About the District The Conestoga Valley School District is located in historic Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The district covers 56 square miles comprising a population of approximately 29,000 people in an area that is best described as agricultural and rural-residential. Situated near the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, the district included the only publicly funded Amish school in the country for many years. Conestoga Valley High School graduates between 250 and 300 students yearly. The district employs two full-time technology teachers at its middle school and seven full-time technology teachers at its high school including Mr. Landis, who has release time for program supervision. The “Big Picture” Look at Technology Education The goals of the Conestoga Valley Technology Education Department are to provide all students with: 1. The technology skills they need to be technologically literate. A CV technology classroom. 2. The ability to make smart career choices. 3. A solid preparation for post-secondary schooling or for the world of work. 4. The knowledge and skill to perform well on standardized assessments. One element that has helped to improve the growth and image of the program at CV is a five-year curriculum review cycle to determine if state standards are being met. This review is conducted by a joint committee made up of technology education faculty, district students, local industry representatives, and members of the community. A full report is provided by the committee to the school board. Using the findings of the curriculum review, recommendations for changes to the curriculum and course offerings are made in the third year of each five-year cycle. Another unique 34 • The Technology Teacher • November 2007

the program can offer so many courses is that each course is only nine weeks long. This allows for a greater variety of technology education offerings than traditional half-year courses. Course subjects range from those traditionally associated with the field of technology education to many contemporary offerings such as Engineering, Aviation, Control & Power Technology, and three levels of videography. Even those courses with traditional titles have moved toward contemporary content. For instance, traditional materials courses include CNC experiences, tours of local industry, and estimating skills. Teachers also include related reading and math content in an effort to help students’ performance on state-mandated tests. CV offers three levels of videography. element of the Conestoga Valley curriculum is that it has shifted from a teacher-centered methodology to a studentcentered methodology over time. This change is in keeping with current literature about preparing students for future employment. An example of this change would be dividing topics in the electronics curriculum into three different units and then preparing instructional materials, supplies, website resources, videos, etc. for inclusion into various instruction manuals that clearly direct the students’ research, reading, and activities. Students in groups of two are assigned to one of the three units. At the end of the “module” students may be asked to make a class presentation or write a summary of their experiences. Students then rotate to a new unit and repeat the technology learning activities. This approach is a slight modification to the “turn key” modular approach used by many vendors. In this lab the instructor facilitates learning in three different units with perhaps three or four groups in each unit at the same time. Course Offerings The technology education program offerings within the Conestoga Valley School District are varied and extensive. Descriptions are provided for a few of the courses that are more unique to the district. Technology education at CV begins with required coursework for all students at the middle school level, a state requirement in Pennsylvania, and continues throughout the high school years. In ninth grade a General Technology Education course is taken by all students within the district. A description of this course follows. Note within the description that this course can be taken for honors credit as well. Beyond the ninth grade required course, approximately 30 additional courses are offered by the department at the high school level. One reason Conestoga Valley Middle School Grade 7: Technology Education Technology education is required of all students. Basic skills instruction in materials production, engineering, drafting/ CADD, and technology education (including 12 different technologies in a module lab such as—Lasers, Construction, Digital Video, Control Tech, Robotics, Aviation, Biotechnology) are presented. Technology education is taught every other day for one semester (three 40-minute periods per cycle for one half-year semester). Grade 8: Technology Education (elective) Technology education is available to all students on an elective basis. Additional study in areas of interest in the module lab, CAD, and materials lab is available. All students participate in a Technology/Math/Science integrated boat-building A student learns about digital photography. 35 • The Technology Teacher • November 2007

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