As a fellow teacher and as a non-fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching writing when I wasn’t writing myself. I love writing non-fiction. And most of the assignments students will work on are non-fiction—reports, letters, essays. Lots of them call for research and a bibliography. Those assignments don’t seem as fun to many kids as do ones in which they write about gremlins or ghosts. Yet, writing about the real people and events is fascinating. It opens up the world. Students can interview people, use lively dialogue, use tricks to get from one paragraph to another, and explain things in ways so that others can understand. Since both my books are about invention, I drew up a series of activity sheets, ready for classroom use, on aspects of invention. If you’re not doing an invention unit, you might want to use some of them as the basis for a research activity—ones about patents or trademarks or ones about creating an ad campaign or doing a commercial for a language arts activity. Download some and see what you think. If you use them, let me know what you think. I’ll soon have a new set of activity sheets soon about researching and writing non-fiction. Stay tuned
My goal in doing workshops for teachers is to share with other teachers what I’ve learned both about women inventors about and about the inventing process as it applies to students. Inventing calls for creative thinking and problem solving skills and other disciplines that span the curriculum which makes it an exciting classroom activity. While researching Kids Inventing! I talked to many teachers who teach invention units. In the lower grades, most teachers do it as a unit. In the upper grades, some teachers share the task with their colleagues—in one class students would brainstorm ideas, in another they’d describe their idea, in another they’d build their model. On the basis of my research and what I’ve learned from other teachers I have designed two workshops. I’ve also prepared student worksheets that accompany Women Invent! and Kids Inventing! which you can download.
Invention as an Interdisciplinary Activity
In this interactive workshop, we go over ideas and ways of prompting students to come up with ideas for inventions, and review ready-to-use handouts that students can use to come up with ideas for inventions, name them, keep an inventor’s log, sketch and build a model of their idea, create an ad campaign and find out about manufacturing and selling an invention. We’ll learn how to read a patent, do a patent search, name a few inventions and plan an ad campaign for others. We’ll review a list of national invention programs and competitions that students can enter then watch a film of kids at an inventors fair and evaluate the presented inventions as if we were judges of an invention fair.
America’s Women Inventors
In this workshop, we’ll compare the lives of five women inventors: Martha Coston, inventor of signal flares used during the Civil War; Madam Walker, the first African American female millionaire; Patsy Sherman, co-inventor of Scotchgard; Bette Graham, creator of Liquid Paper; and, Sally Fox, developer of naturally colored cotton. I’ll present a slide show and tell stories of dozens of America’s women inventors and present ways to incorporate their stories into the curriculum.
California Teachers of English Annual Conference, 2005
California Reading Association Annual Conference, 2002, 2003, 2005
Montana Educators Conference, 2001
"Susan offered a workshop for teachers that created excitement in having students participate in Invention Conventions and similar problem solving activities. I would encourage educators to consider Susan Casey as a presenter or keynote speaker at their next meeting or conference." - Richard M. Jones, Past President, Montana Science Teachers Association.
"Susan Casey's presentations were provocative, interesting, and very creative. She helped us to consider how we might promote inventive thinking in our students. Without her guidance and support materials, I would continue to believe that kids can't be inventors! She proved me wrong!"
- Edufest Participant, 2006