The objective of every lesson is How students can best learn our specific course material?
According to Mishra and Koehler “TPACK represents a class of knowledge that is central to teachers’ work with technology. This knowledge would not typically be held by technologically proficient subject matter experts, or by technologists who know little of the subject or of pedagogy, or by teachers who know little of that subject or about technology.”
The environment, teacher and students are also components of this model as they contribute to the context of the learning environment.
For 10 years, I was part of the national experiment called No Child Left Behind where I was told “You are on a ship with a destination and you have NO autonomy.” With fidelity I would breathe when told and recite the dialogue in the text. The pedagogy was Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI). My students were expected to learn Reading Language Arts and Mathematics through staff created, or purchased, PowerPoint presentations. The presentations were standards based, the objectives clearly stated, connected to prior learning, they contained definitions and skill steps. There were many standards so everything was fast paced, but we were given a locked step pacing guide to keep us moving. Comprehensible input was not the task of the teacher; for which the PowerPoint was responsible. The students were led to understanding though greatly scaffolded questions and examples. Teaching was like being a high school band teacher. We all practiced in unity, and learned the skills, no one composes, no one plays to their own drum. There was little creativity, maybe no creativity on the part of the students. (Music, art, science, and social studies were not part of the pacing guide.) But as with many bands, there were some awesome performances. This was a path that many other teachers, and I, had difficulty. These 10 years taught me that it was hard for one fish to swim upstream.
Fortunately, Common Core came along. All of sudden the ship was gone; our administrators told us we were college educated. “You know what to do, DO IT!!” Wow, ok, we then spent time trying to fit the square peg into a round hole. How does Explicit Direct Instruction promote Common Core standards that demand real world applications? The truth is, creative thinking is not cultivated through a follow the leader model like EDI. The promotion of critical thought, on the part of my students, required radical change in the way the material was being presented. This change began when my school acquired Chromebooks for every child and a new administrator was appointed, who supported collaboration between teachers and administration to find a common vision. The first order of business was to train the entire staff in a methodology called, BE GLAD.
In the midst of so much positive change, my partner teacher walked into my classroom and said, “Let’s get our masters through Touro’s Innovative Learning program.”
Reading Falk’s The Flat World and Education, I discovered I was not the only one who suffered through the years of darkness; however, others in the world had continued to grow and learn in the world of education. One area of growth was through TPACK.
TPACK, Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge in Context
TPACK has added a new engaging dimension to creating lessons. In reflecting on integrating TPACK into my lessons which would be based on Common Core Standards. It makes sense to observe/interview my students to find the keys to increase their motivation to learn and to persevere in their critical thinking and explanations of math word problems. To do this I ask myself, “How can I join my students on their path?” I know my students enjoy role playing and are involved with their families. I ask them about times their families needed to solve a problem. “How did they go about solving the problem?” This information guided my creation of decentralized groups and taking steps in the structure of the lessons to ensure that all my students have procedures for solving math word problems. But I did not stop there, it was important to include interactive electronic materials to engage students and provide appropriate practice to support background knowledge. This enabled the students to use their skills and critically, creatively communicate on a technological platform transporting their small group discussions to new levels.