TPACK is an educational theory that suggests students’ needs are met most when their teachers combine their knowledge of technology, pedagogy, and the content they teach. This year, with the help of the Innovative Learning program at Touro University, I have gained a lot of technological knowledge and have progressed in combining the three knowledge areas in order to present content to my students effectively.
At the beginning of the year I thought I was a pretty tech savvy teacher because my students played Prodigy when they were done with their assignments. So, not as tech savvy as I thought. I was using technology as a filler activity, not as a means to further my students' educational experience and quality. I did not want technology to replace me, I am the teacher so I deliver the information, or so I thought.
My first TPACK experience this year was when I used Storybird.com to help engage my students with narrative writing. Writing is always a tough sell in 4th grade but my students were begging me for more time to work on their stories. They loved finding pictures to fit with their stories and were much more creative and willing to take risks than they had ever been before.
From there we moved on to Google Slides, Powtoon presentations, Adobe Spark presentations, and even a little screencasting at the end of the year. What I found is that using technology purposefully combined with pedagogy and content understanding helped to create a more meaningful learning experience for my students.
They could now express themselves through their work in ways that was never possible before. They could choose how they wanted to show their learning because they had all of these different tools at their disposal. This ability to make choices allowed them to express their individuality to myself and their classmates. I suddenly found myself with engaged students who were excited to work, the dream of every teacher. I had students asking to make tutorial screencasts for other students in the class. I had students begging to stay in at lunch to work on their research presentations, and students tutoring each other in Math so they could level up on Prodigy. I think the power of TPACK is best shown in what one of my ELL students wrote me in a note towards the end of the year. “Thank you Ms. O for showing me how to make Powtoons. Because now I like writing and people know that I have something to say.”
Students working on Storybird to create illustrated narratives.