Archdiocese of Milwaukee - Office for Schools

Evaluating Innovation

Course Overview

We live in an ever changing world, but we don’t often stop to consider both the positive and negative effects of those changes.  We can use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to connect with hundreds or thousands of ‘friends’ each day, but who else can see our pictures?  What are they learning about us, and how can they use that information?  We can access a world of information and entertainment within our homes, but obesity is hitting epidemic levels.  We now have to run commercials to encourage kids to go out and play.  Science and medicine are allowing us to cure and create in ways never possible before, but who decides how far to go and how to regulate these advancements?

This course will be a literature based looked at both the positive and negative aspects of technological advances.  Students will read short stories and novels from a range of time periods that have questioned whether the cost of innovation outweighed the gains and warned of possible problems to come.  The class will engage in online discussion, research, group presentations, both formal and creative writing, and other assessments.     


Course Texts:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (purchase required)

excerpts from 1984 by George Orwell

excerpts from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

A Feeling of Power and other short stories by Isaac Asimov

The Veldt and other short stories by Ray Bradbury

The Birthmark and other short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut


Course Website

Students will create their own account on the course website.  Through this website students will be able to communicate with the instructor and fellow classmates.  Reading assignments and discussion questions will be posted daily.  Students will be expected to log in and participate in the class discussion each day.


Major Writings

Students will write analytical essays as well as one short story that incorporates the positive and negative impacts of an upcoming technological innovation that they have researched with their group.


Major Collaborative Project

Students will work together to present both the positive and negative aspects of an upcoming technological innovation.  Each aspect will be presented in a 3-5 minute power point presentation.  The group will also write a 3-5 page short story that embodies their view of the technology.


Course Objectives

This course will provide high ability learners with opportunities to develop advanced critical thinking and 21st century skills by:

  • using interactive, web-based technology to seek, exchange, and respond to ideas
  • collaborating with other high ability learners from throughout the Archdiocese
  • questioning, researching, and forming well-supported opinions on technological advances
  • listening to, evaluating, and discussing the ideas of other students and the instructor
  • connecting their readings and research to their community, the global community and their Catholic beliefs
  • using writing and speaking skills to effectively communicate their opinions and their supports
  • creating stories that both entertain and educate their readers on contemporary issues
  • using technology to organize and display knowledge in ways that others can view, use, and critique


Instructional Hours

The course will run for nine weeks and is designed to replace one class period of each school day. Students may be excused from their language arts/reading class to work independently in a library or resource room setting with Internet access to complete weekly tasks, such as responding to classmates comments or assignments online, completing research, writing, and reading.

Students will meet face-to-face with each other and the teacher for three half-day workshops. During the workshops, students will engage in some of the following:

  • unite with other high ability students
  • unite with the high school instructor facilitating the class
  • become familiar with the online classroom
  • collaborate with group members on shared projects and ideas
  • present final projects in a presentation format

Expected Course Calendar

Week One:  Information and Independence

            “Harrison Bergeron” and Vonnegut’s view of equality

            Excerpts from 1984

“Watching You:  How much government surveillance should Americans accept to keep the nation safe from more terrorist attacks?”


Week Two:  Self-Reliance

            “The Veldt”

            “The Feeling of Power”

            Begin Fahrenheit 451


Week Three:  Warnings and Prophecies

            Continue Fahrenheit 451

            Interview with Ray Bradbury


Week Four:  Impact of Bradbury

            Finish Fahrenheit 451

            Bradbury analysis assigned

            Rough draft of analysis due


Week Five:  Movies vs. Text

            Final draft of Bradbury analysis due

             View Fahrenheit 451

            Movies reshaping history and literature


Week Six:  Science, Nature, and God

            “Rappaccini’s Daughter”

            “The Birthmark”

            Scientific breakthroughs of the past five years


Week Seven:  Creation, Power, and Responsibility

            Begin Frankenstein excerpts

            Assign group project

            Coming innovations


Week Eight:  Defining Monsters

            Continue Frankenstein excerpts

            How far is too far?

            Continue research and writing for final presentations

            How to write dialogue


Week Nine:  Present Final Projects

            Power point presentations and short stories due


Student Identification

Students will be identified by participating schools and enrolled based on ability, space, and discretion.  The teacher is not directly responsible for participant identification.

Building Address (use for deliveries)
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
3501 South Lake Drive
St. Francis, WI  53235 (map)

Mailing Address
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI  53207

Phone Numbers
OPEN: (414) 758-2256
Laura Kacala: (414) 758-2254

(414) 769-3408

General email

© 2022 - Archdiocese of Milwaukee - Office for Schools
This site is powered by the Northwoods Titan Content Management System