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.


  1. I agree this was a very AHAAA moment reading for me too. I love the glogster :)

  2. Thanks, it looks really cool and I like photofunia. Yesterday I found one more site where we can edit our pictures: it has more than 100 funny photo templates. Some of them are just gorgeous. It is free and very easy to use...