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Inventions, Inventions!

Introduction

History is one damned thing after another or so somebody said. The Industrial Revolution therefore must be one damned invention after another and why should we remember those inventions – and especially whether the Spinning Jenny came before the Water Frame – or was it vice-versa? The point of this activity is not learning the sequence of textile inventions but to understand the relationship between those inventions – how one invention solved a problem but then created another, which then led to a new invention which solved the old problem but … and so on. It’s about the momentum of the Industrial Revolution gathering pace and how inventors (real people, not just famous names) were faced with problems and used their ingenuity to solve them. It’s therefore also about consequences and how we can’t know how a technological improvement will affect what happens in future years – a theme that could be begun with printing in Year 7 and carried on through inventions like the Spinning Jenny and so on into the twentieth century.

I’d been thinking of trying to trying to create an activity along these lines for a while and then, this activity arrived from Anna Jordan who is currently teaching in Doha (not Oldham as you might have anticipated).

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Support

A formatted version of this activity should print from your browser (omitting this support section).

Or, a WORD version of this activity and accompanying sources can be downloaded:

This activity is based on the ’Timeline’ style of model; for more examples of this model, click here.

Objectives

Here is Anna’s description of the activity which she used with her Year 9s.

After these lessons pupils will have

  • an understanding of the broad links between inventions i.e. how an invention creates a need that in turn leads to another invention and so on.
  • experience in explaining the connections between a sequence of events and will have developed the vocabulary to do so successfully
  • developed skills in teamwork and oral explanation and diagrammatic presentation

Setting Up

Prior Knowledge: This lesson came after a SWOT analysis of England in 1750 which introduced students to, for example, the domestic system, merchant banking, empire, geography of England, transportation issues etc. This was followed by lessons on the agricultural revolution so students knew that there was a growing population, that agriculture had changed to feed this population and that, as a result of changes in agriculture, there was an available workforce for industry.

The specific introduction to this activity was to explain that the textile industry was the first to develop, and it developed in the north of England (the reasons for this can be discussed at the end of the unit as students will then be in a position to offer suggestions). This was done using Sources A and B on the resource sheets [ Click here for the source file ]

The Activity

Lesson 1

The students complete the ordering exercise [see worksheets below for students’ copy and teachers’ copy]. This requires them to think about the processes involved – what improvements have been made, what would you want next etc. Having done this lesson several times it seems that girls look for the linguistic connections whereas boys look for the conceptual connections. This is born out by the plenary activity in Lesson 2, and I would be interested in anyone’s thoughts on this!

Once they have completed the exercise, there can be a whole class/group discussion/peer tutoring session on the reasons why this is the correct sequence.

Further thinking tasks [see sheet below] can be conducted as discussion, written tasks or homework as appropriate.

Lesson 2

Lesson 2 was done without books. The class was divided into girls and boys. Each team was given A4 sheets with pictures of inventions, and given separate date cards and labels

Flying Shuttle

1733

Spinning Jenny

1767

Spinning Frame

1769

Water Frame

1769

Spinning Mule

1779

Steam Engine

1782

Power Loom

1785

 

From memory, students had to work out the date order, match the pictures and create a display board. Students were also given blank A4 and A3 paper. From this they had to cut out wide arrows to show the progression of inventions, and write on the arrow what that progression was.

Possible scaffolding for Lesson 2

Some data could be put on the display in advance, as a partial structure.

Students could be allowed time to study notes first.

Students could complete a quick starter table on strengths and weaknesses of each invention.

Students were allowed 5 minutes at the end to check their notes to clarify any misunderstandings. Volunteers from each group then explained the progression to the rest of the class

Notes & Variations

Alternative approaches to Lesson 2:

A. Create teams of 7 with each member of the team being one of the inventions. Each invention/person has to explain orally what they were and their links a bit like this:

I invented and it did this - but ..

I solved that problem by ... but ...

B. Alternatively have 7 groups within the class with 1 invention per group - work together recapping the invention, its strengths and what would be wanted - then sequence groups and each group explains their key points. Use of video or camera might be good for recording and annotating the groups in role as machinery!

Update from Anna

Extract from email correspondence between myself and Anna:

I asked her:

What do they come up with for question 5 of the Thinking Tasks - do they say 'Inventors', having focussed on them a bit more than some of the other factors?

Her answer was:

Actually a wide variety of responses, because this develops a very early activity we did on the factors necessary for an Industrial Revolution. The question is really designed to provoke debate and discussion and to try and engender clarity of prioritisation. I also used this as a way of helping students to develop clear conclusions without writing a whole essay: 'although x was important because, it was not as important as y because...'. this element of contrast and comparison i find students need to develop through repetition of the thought process.

Reflections

Some points to think about if you try this activity

  1. How much do you and your students enjoy the Industrial Revolution? What are its strengths and weaknesses as a topic?
  2. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on e.g. living conditions during the Industrial Revolution because students enjoy the squalor and horror of much of this. What are the most important reasons for covering the Industrial Revolution and which aspects of it should be covered?
  3. Is the theme of inventions and unintended consequences of technology one that’s worth building across KS3? If so, where else would you cover it? Printing press? IT revolution?
  4. Do you compare the Industrial Revolution with other major events to enable students to develop a sense of the relative significance of such events? Is this an important outcome by the end of KS3?

Resources

Don't forget to download the source file:

Click here for the source file

Feedback

Constructive feedback is always welcome, particularly anything that will help other teachers.

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This Page

Introduction

Support

Objectives

Setting Up

The Activity

Notes & Variations

Update from Anna

Reflections

Resources

Feedback

 

Resources

Download the source file