TPACK Evolutions

Before the first day of class, I was under the impression that we would be learning about “technology” that correlates with the classroom. Meaning things like: YouTube, email, what websites were most useful for our content area, how to use the projector, how to use a SMARTboard, ways to have students use Word and PowerPoint effectively, etc. (So naïve of me). Now, at the end of the semester, I am very happy to say that I was mistaken. What I gained from this class far surpassed any expectation I ever had. I now understand what integrating technology to one’s pedagogy and content knowledge really is: an effective, creative, diverse, and essential means to successfully teach.

The connections to Bloom’s Taxonomy really made a strong impact on the way I now understand technological integration for the classroom. By scaffolding this entire experience through the use of the Practical Technology Integration Framework, connecting the dots from those specific tools to those specific levels of lower and higher order thinking completely revolutionizes the way anyone in the classroom may think about technology and education, as a whole. By referring back to the Practical Technological Integration Framework through out the course of the class, one is given the opportunity to really apply the theories that were discussed in class to tangible tools that are available to teachers for classroom use.

The PBL also was very effective in putting the lessons for TPACK throughout the semester into context. In other words, I felt it really grounded the whole thing into something tangible and realistic so that pre-service teachers, such as myself, can really get a deeper understanding of what it means to effectively integrate technology into one’s content and pedagogy. The best way I can describe my understanding of the class at this point in the semester is that: TPACK is really about utilizing the best technological tool in a way that best promotes your content (and standards) that also best compliments your pedagogy, all working in a tri-harmonious unit.

As a pre-service teacher, I feel that I am at a great advantage because I can set foot into my first classroom with the tools and the know-how on ways to effectively integrate technology in what I teach and the way I teach. The way my understanding of TPACK has evolved is that I now realize that the content and pedagogy need to be seen as one, as they intersect with technology, to provide the most meaningful lessons that provide a deeper and more profound understanding of the material for the students. This new perspective will give me the confidence to not just use technology, but to intellectually grow because of it; which holds true for me and for my future students.

Creating & Editing Tools II

Engaging in a digital storytelling process using any of the tools from the Creation and Editing category (iMovie in this example) has the potential for a very impactful assignment. The creativity that is involved in storyboarding, scriptwriting, recording one’s own voice, and the video editing process allows students to produce an artifact that exemplifies their understanding and knowledge of the material that they have learned. By constructing something into existence, the students are given not only the opportunity to engage in an inquiry-based learning activity, but they also are given the opportunity for differentiation, which is always key to any teacher’s repertoire.

I believe it to be vital that any teacher not to ask of their students what they themselves are not willing, or are not able to do themselves. As such, this assignment lent itself nicely to such a philosophy. I would not categorize myself as technologically savvy. I can argue that I am familiar with a good majority of technological tools that we have discussed over the course of the semester, but as with most things in life I guess, there is always room for improvement and continued learning. This project allowed me to tap into my knowledge of technological manipulation while also probing me to further inquire about certain aspects of the digital storytelling process that were unbeknownst to me. For me, the creation portion of the project had a bit of a rocky start. It was very much trial-and-error. However, once I gained the knowhow, it became rather empowering to be able to create something from my own knowledge base. In other words, the very “thing” which I created was a direct reflection of my mind’s eye, and to able to not only experience such a process and then look upon what I created was very empowering. The editing process was a bit tedious, especially for a self-proclaimed perfectionist; however, it allowed me to implement the finishing touches on my artifact so that it would become even more than I had envisioned it to be.

The hard work, acquired knowledge, and the feeling of self-pride and satisfaction in their finished product are what I would wish upon all my students. These are the fundamental attributes that (in my opinion) provide students with a learning experience that caters to creativity, hands-on experience, and self-fulfillment that should exists as the cornerstone to all meaningful learning. Even though taking on such a project such as this can be exciting and fun, it can also be quite the challenge for some, but I believe that these obstacles are what make the process meaningful. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and that should be true even for a classroom of students who are attempting a project such as digital storytelling.

In conclusion this final assignment taught me a lot, not only about digital storytelling, but about my own capabilities as well. The implications for students to engage in such a process would seem to be positive and reassuring that the outcome, as well as the process itself, would lend itself to an impactful learning experience. Using tools from the final category of the Practical Technologies: Creating and Editing, any teacher would be successful in providing students with a inquiry-based project that leaves room for differentiation and the construction of an artifact that reflects one’s understanding of the material in a fun and engaging manner.

Word Clouds v. Mind Maps

Comparison: Word Clouds and Mind Maps are wonderful visual tools that allow students to visually attain information, both lending to differentiation in that capacity. They both are student-centered by the way they are created BY the student, FOR the student. They require prior knowledge from the creator (student) in order to be formulated.

Contrast: Word Clouds and Mind Maps differ in that Clouds take information already formulated by someone else (speeches, essays, newspapers, etc.) Maps are created on the thoughts/knowledge of the actual student. Clouds don’t really have much room to go as far as it regurgitates the most common word used in the implemented information. Maps have the flexibility to go wherever the student wants.

Student-Centered Instructional Strategies: Word Cloud: The student will be responsible for researching the needed document that will be used in their Cloud. They will need to show knowledge of their analytic skills as they determine if that document will be a reliable source to use for their Cloud, and their PBL. Mind Map: The student will be responsible for researching the material necessary to obtain a knowledgeable background in order to Map the gathered information. With the information at hand, the student will be able to Map their findings in an effort to organize and visualize their work.