Yes, that is the way they are implemented. You can use them as an attribute to a tag.
I just took the logical div and span tags that already existed in the template and added the needed attributes. Something along the line of:
<div class="product-block" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product">
<img src="http://media.example.com/image/PartImg.jpg" alt="*" title="*" itemprop="image" />
<h2 class="product-name" itemprop="name">Part Name Here</h2>
<p itemprop="manufacturer">Part Mfg.</p>
<meta itemprop="productID" content="sku:PartNo" />
<meta itemprop="url" content="http://www.example.com/part-page.html" />
<div class="product-specs" itemprop="description">
<p>Paragraph of description here</p>
The only additions were the meta tags. Where the SKU displays is outside of this block and adding a self referential canonical link would only confuse the customer.
When I run them through Google's rich snippet/microformat/microdata check, it pulls up all the relevent items properly identified. http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets