Lesson Plan

Technology and Culture Over Time

Manos and Matates

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Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
9-10.RH.7, 11-12.W.2, 11-12.W.4, 9-10.WHST.4
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.


How have advances in technology affected society and culture over time? Students will study prehistoric and modern inventions and their impact on culture to complete four short writing assignments.


Important inventions have been made and continue to be made that greatly impact human cultural development. Students will discuss why these new innovations were important to past cultures and compare their inventions with modern ones. This lesson also addresses issues concerning the impact of science and technology on society.

There are four short writing activities in this lesson which can be done in one 90 minute class session or broken up over four days.  

Students will consider and discuss questions relevant to the lesson theme and objectives. When working on the writing activities, they will have opportunity to practice and apply these themes, and to reflect on how they might impact their own lives.


  • Students will read short background texts and complete four small writing assignments based on the content and prompts provided.
  • Students will be able to compare prehistoric inventions with modern inventions and describe their impacts on the people who used/use them.
  • Students will be able to gather information from texts either read or read to them for discussions and writing assignments. 


Materials Needed: copies of lesson handouts,  post-it-notes, photo of an antique telephone, piece of Velcro, pencil, writing paper, bags of odds & ends (miscellaneous items from the closet such as paper clips, erasers, nuts and bolts, crayons, tape, etc.) for student groups.


Handout with background reading and student activity instructions.

Download Technology and Culture over Time; Writing #1

Handout with cause and effect chart and writing prompts.

Download Technology and Culture over Time; Writing #2

Text of "Histories of Three Inventions" for teacher.

Download Technology and Culture over Time; Writing #3

Lesson Hook/Preview

The students break into small groups and and are given one of the bags containing miscellaneous items. Students are asked to invent and ‘build’ something from the items. The teacher guides and asks questions, such as, “What benefit to society will your invention have? How easy or difficult would it be to mass produce your invention? Is your invention a necessity or luxury?”


Break up students into pairs or small groups.

Writing Activity #1: 25 Minutes

  • Pass out copies of the background text on the bow and arrow and atlatl. 
  • Give students 10 minutes to read the background text and 15 minutes for discussion and completion of the writing assignment.

Writing Activity #2: 15 Minutes

  • Students work individually or in pairs.
  • Pass out the cause and effect houndouts.
  • Students are given 15 minutes to complete their writing. 

Writing Activity #3: 20 minutes

  • Teacher reads the three histories of inventions outloud to the class. 
  • Students are encouraged to listen carefully and take notes.
  • Students attempt to guess what invention each history is referring to.
  • Teacher shows examples of each invention after guesses have been made.
  • Students are given 5 minutes to write a summary paragraph about the inventions with a topic sentence, at least three supporting sentences, and one clincher sentence.

Writing Activity #4: 30 Minutes

  • There are no handouts for this assignment. Students are given 30 minutes to complete their writing. 
  • Students work as individuals or small groups and select an item many people use today such as an automobile, microwave, computer, or a cell phone. Students could also take an object out of their backpack or desk.  
  • Students discuss what archeologists of the future will know about them/us by finding this item.
  • Students individually write a minimum 125 word essay on what they discussed about their object.   


Atlatl - a device for throwing a spear or dart that consists of a rod or board with a projection (as a hook) at the rear end to hold the weapon in place until released.

Technology - the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes

Invention - a device or process created out of study and experiment.

Mass production – the production of large amounts of standardized (identical) products; often using an assembly line

Necessity – something that is needed for survival

Luxury - a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort

Ingenuity - the quality of being clever, original, and inventive.

Lever - a rigid bar resting on a pivot, used to help move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when pressure is applied to the other

Supports for Struggling Learners

Writing #3 -

  • Students who struggle with remembering information that is read aloud can be given a copy of the Three Histories of Inventions text to read along with the teacher.
  • Examples of topic sentences, supporting sentences, and clincher sentences can be provided.

Writing #4 - Encourage students to create an outline of their essay with topic sentences and themes. 


Enrichment Activities

1. Have students brainstorm an invention that can be made today and discuss what materials or technology would be necessary to create their invention.


  • Does this invention solve a problem or is it just for fun?
  • Is the tehcnology available to create it? If not what advances in science would need to be made?
  • what meterials do you need to make it?
  • How would this invention affect the lives of people who use it?

2. Students can draw a design for their invention with the parts labeled and described. 

3. Students can research past inventions that are no longer used or did not work. Students can use their research for dicsussion.


  • Are failed inventions always bad?
  • Should history reflect the technology that didn't help societies as well as those that did?
  • What does progress mean to you?


Additional Resources

Background on archeology in Petrified Forest.


  • "Stalking the Past: Prehistory at Petrified Forest" by Anne Trinkle Jones
  • "Life in the Pueblo: Understanding the Past Through Archaeology" by Kathryn A. Kamp, & Amy Henderson


Contact Information

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Last updated: February 16, 2016