Thursday, September 24, 2009

Teaching Content through Technology

I have been struggling to consistently integrate ICT into my daily classroom program for the last 3 years.

Now I know what is missing in my classroom practice! According to Mishra & Koehler, 2006 I need a new special kind of expertise: TPACK! (Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge.)

"True technology integration is understanding and negotiating the relationships between these three components of knowledge. A teacher capable of negotiating these relationships represents a form of expertise different from, and greater than, the knowledge of a disciplinary expert (say a mathematician or a historian), a technology expert (a computer scientist) and a pedagogical expert (an experienced educator)."
When I first started reading this article, my first thought was: 'Yeah, right. I've got to figure out the new curriculum, get my head around National Standards, meet assessment deadlines, and then still have expert content, pedagogical and technological knowledge.'

So how does this relate to the reality of teaching in my classroom?

Let's take Writing. I may need to teach the text type Recount Writing. First step would be to find out about the text form. I will need to look up resources such as exemplars, matrices and language features for a Recount. (Content). After that I need to decide how I'm going to teach the framework in such a way that my Year 5's will get it, and be able to apply the knowledge. I may use different strategies, like modelling, scaffolding, writing frames, peer-writing or collaborative writing. (Pedagogy). Now I can decide which ICT tool is best suited to meeting my needs. I may decide to let them blog about an event, create a ComicLife recount, or have different options for different ability or interest levels within my class. (Technology)

The paradigm shift has to take place in my head first. I need to get away from the idea there is only one tried and trusted way to teach specific content. And after 22 years of teaching, that is a real challenge. Fortunately the Digital Natives that I teach have no boundaries or pre-determined expectation of how their learning should be presented. To illustrate this point, I will share what happened in my class this week: I needed to have my students give evidence in their ePortfolios of how well they had reached the goal of 'being able to apply a range of word-identification strategies'. We talked about it for a while, and I had them make individual lists of the strategies they were using. They then explained the strategies to each other. The kids got the idea of putting their ideas on a poster. "Fine", said I, "get out the sheets of coloured paper". The horror on their faces! "Why?" they asked. "Why can't we just do it in Glogster?" Why indeed? They could. And they did - every single on of them managed just fine, without any support from me. What's more, they could continue work on their glogs at home, and are commenting on each other's work in a positive way.

This is a prime example of TPACK. I have managed to transfer my knowledge of Word Identification Strategies to my pupils, I have used effective pedagogy to have them self-assess their knowledge, and I have taught them a techology tool which they could effectively use to illustrate their skills.


Reference: Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing Technological Pedagogical Knowledge. In AACTE (Eds.). The Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Educators.Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ten Tops Tips for Teaching with NET

"Innovation is the process of altering existing practice in order to achieve more effectively certain desired learning outcomes" (Fullan, 1985). You can read a summary of his book here. Without these three dimensions of change in ICT, these desired outcomes are not likely:
  • Teaching materials
  • Teaching strategies
  • Teaching beliefs

These days we are extremely fortunate in that materials for teaching are readily available online. Our biggest challenge in the classroom is implementing our known strategies in new ways, and adjusting our beliefs to accommodate the new set of skills our 21st Century Learners need.

To help you in your quest to be a 'change agent' the George Lucas Foundation has posted a handy booklet, Ten Top Tips for Teaching with New Media, on it's website. You can download it for free, and it's choc-a-block full of tips for integrating ICT in the classroom:

What's Inside:

  • Break the Digital Ice
  • Find Your Classroom Experts
  • Get Off to a Good Start
  • Think Globally
  • Find What You Need
  • Make Meaning from Word Clouds
  • Work Better, Together
  • Open a Back Channel
  • Make It Visual
  • Use the Buddy System
I've been using some of these strategies and tools in my classroom, and they certainly do make integrating ICT into the daily program much easier. There are also heaps of ideas and websites, that I'm looking forward to trying out!

The next challenge of course, is getting the school to let me try out all these new and exciting disruptive innovations (Clayton, 1995)....!