Unit Overview

A summary of what your unit will be about


The unit will focus on the six classical

simple machines:


  • Lever
  • Wheel and Axle
  • Pulley
  • Inclined Plane
  • Wedge
  • Screw


Students will focus on acquiring content area vocabulary pertaining to 'Simple Machines': lever, wheel, axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, screw, mechanical advantage, fulcrum, resistance, load, work, friction, classes of levers, input force, output force, and leverage. Students will gain fluency in writing, speaking, listening and reading of the content area language of I.P.C. and 'Simple Machines' through personal research and exposure to peer research. 


The Unit will be interdisciplinary in scope becuase students will evaluate the simple machines in terms of historical monuments.  Through researching antiquity students will better understand both history and the importance of the mechanical advantage that 'simple machines' offer.  Students will evaluate the simple machines by discussing how they were used to create ancient monuments and by mathematically calculating the mechanicl advanatage they might have provided.  Students will plan and explain the use of simple machines in a 'rebuilding' or 'restoration'  of their chosen historical monument.  



Main topic or subject of your unit: 


Essential Question:

How was x historical monument (Pyramids: Aztec, Mayan, Egyptian,etcetera ) most likely built?



Grade level: 9





TEKS Addressed
List state TEKS used for your projects

 112.42.c.4.D will be the primary focus.

Most of 112.42.c will be addressed.



Science concepts. The student knows concepts of force and motion evident in everyday life. The student is expected to:

(D)  investigate and demonstrate mechanical advantage and efficiency of various machines such as levers, motors, wheels and axles, pulleys, and ramps.



(2)  Scientific processes. The student uses scientific methods during field and laboratory investigations. The student is expected to:

(A)  plan and implement investigative procedures including asking questions, formulating testable hypotheses, and selecting equipment and technology;

(B)  collect data and make measurements with precision;

(C)  organize, analyze, evaluate, make inferences, and predict trends from data; and

(D)  communicate valid conclusions.

(3)  Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking and scientific problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to:

(A)  analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information;

(B)  draw inferences based on data related to promotional materials for products and services;

(C)  evaluate the impact of research on scientific thought, society, and the environment;

(D)  describe connections between physics and chemistry, and future careers; and

(E)  research and describe the history of physics, chemistry, and contributions of scientists.



Several ELPS will also be focused on as well. 


ยง74.4. English Language Proficiency Standards.

(4)  Cross-curricular second language acquisition/reading. The ELL reads a variety of texts for a variety of purposes with an increasing level of comprehension in all content areas. ELLs may be at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, or advanced high stage of English language acquisition in reading. In order for the ELL to meet grade-level learning expectations across the foundation and enrichment curriculum, all instruction delivered in English must be linguistically accommodated (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with the student's level of English language proficiency.

The student is expected to:

(G)  demonstrate comprehension of increasingly complex English by participating in shared reading, retelling or summarizing material, responding to questions, and taking notes commensurate with content area and grade level needs;

(H)  read silently with increasing ease and comprehension for longer periods;

(I)  demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing basic reading skills such as demonstrating understanding of supporting ideas and details in text and graphic sources, summarizing text, and distinguishing main ideas from details commensurate with content area needs;

(J)  demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing inferential skills such as predicting, making connections between ideas, drawing inferences and conclusions from text and graphic sources, and finding supporting text evidence commensurate with content area needs; and

(K)  demonstrate English comprehension and expand reading skills by employing analytical skills such as evaluating written information and performing critical analyses commensurate with content area and grade-level needs.


Web 2.0 in Education

Three Web 2.0 sites and brief descriptions of their possible use in the classroom


Web 2.0 site 1:  The students will create a wiki to define various simple machines and give examples of them.  (They will also provide analysis of 'work'

in terms of 'energy, 'force', 'displacement', and 'joules.'

Students will use pbwiki  for their wiki.


Web 2.0 site 2:

Students will also create presentations to share their findings with the class.  They will begin with a Power Point type schemae in mind but will go beyond and create narrated movies showing their findings with Zoho, Slide Share,or Slide Story.


--Side note:  I discovered today that Slide Share is blocked by my school.  I don't think I'll ask to have it unblocked, because I believe the tech department is already perturbed with me.  Slide Story requires the user to install a client for use -- 1. I believe this is an unwanted violation of the security of my system and superfluous at best.   2. I believe the school would feel the same way and it is highly unlikely that it would ever be installed. 



Web 2.0 site 3:  Students will also conduct experiements using simple machines in order to explain 'mechanical advantage' and how it helped in the creation of their selected historical monument. In order to do this they will use an online Create a Graph program.



Social Bookmarking

 Bookmarks url:




Objective of lesson:  Students will collaborate on researching simple machines.


Procedures (how would you organize this activity):


Initially, each student will be responsible for documenting a specific aspect of a simple machine, for example student A may research the practical applications of 'the wedge' whereas student B will be responsible for researching the methods for calculating the mechanical advantage of a 'pulley'.  As students begin to collaborate of the Wiki they will share resources via 'Del.icio.us.'



How you will use this project in the classroom:

Students will be introduced to 'Del.icio.us' in class and will practice bookmarking sites.  Once students have acquired a basic familiarity with

'Del.icio.us'  they will be responsible for 'tagging' ten bookmarks as homework.  They will tag five sites specific to their assignment and fives sites pertinent to 'simple machines' in general.



---Side note about real world experience in the classroom with Del.icio.us

I had a Del.icio.us activity planned planned today. However, I hadn't checked to see if it was 'banned.' The site was banned; Always have a backup plan!  The notice said 'This website has already been internally reviewed and forbidden.'  I sent a note to the email address listed (the person responsible) and our tech person (not the person responsible).  I got a note back from her (the tech person not responsible) saying that she would request to have the block removed.  10/01/08


10/03/08 I've had no further response about my request to have Del.icio.us unblocked.  I did learn from another teacher today that Del.icio.us was accessible on the schools computers a few weeks ago. 


10/09/08  I've received no response about my request for del.icio.us.  This morning I emailed the tech person directly who oversees blocked/unblocked websites.  I bcc'd my A.P.  (She is very supportive.)

10/09/08 That didn't take long at all.  I sent another email this morning and the response was 'I thought I had unblocked that.'  It was subsequently unblocked.






Copyright and Creative Commons

Bookmarks url (your social bookmarks with the new sites added):





How you will use these bookmarks for classroom projects:

Students will access these bookmarks through Del.icio.us in order that they can be used as starting points for web based research.  They will be able to use the graphics for a plethora of projects: Power Points, Posters, Note Card Power Points converted to movies for the iPod, wiki work, webpages and more.  (I especially like the 'Bluemountains'  page that shows attribution for Flickr pictures.) 


--Note "flickr" is blocked at my school.


Blogs in Education

URL of blog(s):



I also added a blog here :  misterdavis.edublogs.org


Objective of lesson: 

Content Objective:  Students will become more familiar with simple machines and learn to differentiate between the different simple machines.

Language Objective:   Students will write 'blog responses'  to questions discussing 'simple machines.'  Students will write using the vocabulary of 'simple machines.'


Procedures (how would you organize this activity):

As a warm up activity students will respond to a higher level question asking them to evaluate a 'simple machine's' suitability for a given task.



How you will use this project in the classroom:

This project will be repeated and will be part of the ongoing collaborative effort to understand 'simple machines' and master the academic vocabulary of 'simple machines'-- effort, force work, mechanical advantage, etc.   




Wikis in Education

 URL of wiki:

The English with Mr. Davis Wiki


Objective of lesson:

Students will define important content area vocabulary pertaining to: work, force, mechanical advantage, and simple machines.


Procedures (how would you organize this activity):

Students will each be assigned an aspect of a vocabulary word that needs to be defined. For example students might be expected to: define the term in their own words, explain the equations relating to the term, illustrate the term, or find the opposite of the term.


How you will use this project in the classroom:

This project will be a critical focus the project. The production of the Wiki will be ongoing. Individual terms will be covered and the students' research question will be presented with an answer on the Wiki. Students will save notes and share research using the wiki.



 URL of podcast (link to blog with podcast):

I blogged a little a bit about the 'podcast' experience at:




Stonehenge and Simple Machines Mp3


I also included the Ogg format (a better format):


Simple Machines and Stonehenge Ogg



Objective of lesson:

The content objective of this lesson:

Student will read a variety of materials for information and understanding.

Further, students will analyze ancient monuments and sources to understand how 'simple machines' were used in their creation.


The language objective of the lesson:

Students will edit spoken academic English to create an error free 5-6 minute podcast using the language of simple machines, force, and mechanical advantage. 



Procedures (how would you organize this activity):

 Before students present their  "Simple Machines used to build Amazing Artifacts of Antiquity" project they will be asked to provide a synapsis of the information gathered in a "podcast."  The students will be required to download the podcasts as homework.

Day 1: Students will write a summary of their research and its implications (synthesis) which will be the basis for the script of the "podcast."

Day 2: Students will revise and edit the script for the podcast and begin rehearsing for recording.

Day 3: Students will record and edit "podcasts."




How you will use this project in the classroom:

This will be used as an additional assessment of the students' understanding of simple machines and how they were used to build 'amazing artifacts.'

The podcasts will also provide scaffolding for the other students to understand the full presentations. The podcasts time limit of 5-6 minutes also gives the students a chance to practice succinctness and focusing on the main idea.


--- Side note:

Why Mp3 is in quotes:



'Podcast' refers to iPods -- a proprietary format I do not support.  Many people, including CBS, use the term 'Netcast.'  I understand that I would just get stares if I said "netcast" so I'll use "podcast" but I won't like it.



---Another Side Note:

Monday October 27, 2008:      I requested that Audacity be installed on my labs computers.  The request has to be sent up the tech hierarchy.

Saturday November 8, 2008:  No word on 'Audacity.'

Monday November 11, 2008:  I received word that Audacity had been denied.







URL of rss reader:



The URLs to my publicly available RSS feeds:

My Current Feed


'Free and Open Source Software' and Education

Free and Open Source Software








Online Video

Links to the online videos you have selected (at least 3)

Video 1:


This is "Un-Video 1"

I had originally thought about linking to some Bill Nye videos on YouTube. They would have been perfect for introducing 'Simple Machines.' However, in regards to issues of 'Copy Right' and 'Fair Use' touching anything that is or resembles a Disney product is about as safe as playing with a rattlesnake.

My 'not-a'-Blog Page for Simple Machines



Video 1:

This is the 'simple machines' song played over a collage of Anime.  It's funny.  It will be an interesting way to introduce simple machines (especially the inclined plane).

Simple Machines Song



Video 2: 

Here is a more thorough video that we can use to review 'simple machines' and 'mechanical advantage.'

Simple Machines and Mechanical Advantage





Video 3:

A somewhat humorous look at (deadly) 'simple machines' using action figures:

'Simple (deadly) Machines'



Video 4:

This video will be used for modeling of a project that can be done for the synthesis part of the research project:

Building Stonehenge (Students' Approach)




Location where you embedded two of the online videos:




Objective of lesson:

The lesson will be designed to expose students to the idea of simple machines.


Procedures (how would you organize this activity):

First students will have a writing activity to brainstorm what they think might be a simple machine.

Then students watch the 'simple machines' song.

Students then complete a think-pair-share and come up with a list of 3 possible simple machines.

As students presenters list the 'simple machines' they thought of any of the simple machines listed will be written to the board.

There will then be a short direct teach.

Following the direct teach the students will be asked to complete an online 'Frayer Model' of each of the six simple machines in the class wiki.

Class will end with a reflection on the advantages of the 'simple machines.'  Mechanical Advantage will be the topic for the next class.




How you will use this project in the classroom:

This project is used to provide schema to help students understand 'simple machines' and their names.   It also serves as modeling to provide students with ideas for material that should be included in their research 'wikis.'  Students will be responsible for embedding at least one 'copy-right' safe video that presents their historical monument.







URL of PhotoSharing site:

Mister Davis' Photostream

Simple Machines


This is a Flickr badge showing items in a set called Simple Machines .


Mister Davis' Simple Machines  photoset Mister Davis' Simple Machines photoset



How would you use this project in the classroom:


Each student would be responsible for taking a picture of each type of simple machine and one device that contains at least two or more simple machines..   Each photograph must be labelled with the name of the device, the type(s) of simple machine, and an explanation of how the simple machine provides a mechanical advantage. 


--Side Note:   Flickr access is denied on our school network.




Digital Storytelling

Name of Digital Story:  "Why I Love Free and Open Source Software"


Link to the Digital Story Showcase blog site:


Why I Love Free and Open Source Software.mov

Why I Love Free and Open Source Software.mp4

Why I Love Free and Open Source Software.ogg

Why I Love Free and Open Source Software.avi




Content Objective: 

Students will draw connections to the IPC concepts and vocabulary in their own lives.  


Language Objective:

Students will first  write and then speak using the IPC vocabulary of 'simple machines.' 


Procedures (how would you organize this activity):

Students will each choose one of the simple machines. 


Each student will take pictures of at least 10 different examples of that simple machine in their life.

The students will then write an essay describing what they discovered.  In that description they must use each of the following terms at least once:

mechanical advantage, work, input force, output force, and (leverage/ torque  or incline/angle). 



How you will use this project in the classroom:

This project would be useful as a debriefing assessment tool to follow the work done in the 'Simple Machines' unit.





Moodle (extra)


Summary of my Moodle experience:


I tried to use Moodle two years ago but there were severe bandwidth issues (I imagine because of the school and not the Webhost).  I haven't had much time to try it out recently but the SOSSIG (Strategic Open Source Special Interest Group from the TCEA) members are very interested in it and constantly talk about its implementation.


Moodle is very easy to setup.  You will probably want to find your own webhost if you want to run it.  (Unless your ISD is especially tech enlightened/friendly.) 


I would be very interested to hear from people currently using it.



Explain how you could use Moodle with your classes for instruction:



IPv6: The future of the internet

IPv4 spaces are disappearing. There isn't much time left. It might be worth familiarizing ourselves before the switch.

IPv6 Certification Badge for donnied




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  • Recent comments:
    arthur schoenig:Dang Don! That is one good looking site you have built.
    Don D:I think I can only remember to use one blog. I'll just use the one that I developed more. Thank you for your feedback.
    Liz Stephens:Both blogs are nicely done. And, your plan for use of a blog in a unit on simple machines is thoughtful. I particularly like your emphasis on vocab development and writing. How will you judge which of the two blogs is the better one? Dr. S.
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