TPACK Got Your Back!

How many times have you rushed to the store to buy a hacksaw (that you did not need) and then returned home to stand around and think “what can I cut up with this hacksaw now that I have it?” Do you then start cutting up your kitchen table, couch, door, and any other object you can find just to make use of the hacksaw that you did not need? This erroneous line of thinking is what happens when educators choose a technology tool just for the sake of using one and then try to find the activities, standards, and lessons that fit the technology.

When I think about using technology in my STEM classes, it is usually an afterthought. I plan my objectives, activities, and pedagogy first, then sit back and think “how can I make these better?” That’s where I dive deep into the resources of the internet, colleagues, research, and social media to find technology that meets the needs of my students and objectives. I know that if the technology is the spotlight of the lesson, which if I am using technology to try to force tech integration, then I am not meeting the needs of my students. This where the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework is a helpful guide as it addresses the deep knowledge and understanding required by teachers to determine what is good for learning.

ISTE Learning & Leading with Technology (May 2009)

With the Internet being a vast wealth of information, it can become quickly overwhelming for educators to navigate and find the resources they need. There are different One of my favorite websites for finding resources that utilize technology is PBS Learning Media. Although this is a great web page for lessons, PBS also provides individual resources such as video, audio, interactives, and self-paced lessons that I can use to supplement and enhance lessons I have already created.  I love the ability to search by content, grade level, and type!

But wait, it may be easy to pull a digital resource from the web and use it in your classroom, but how do you know that you are providing engaging and educational learning experiences (activity types that involve TPACK) for your students? Let me share with you one of my favorite YouTube channels, Common Sense Education.  This channel provides videos on digital learning tools and helpful tips, tricks, and links that I wish I would have known my first few years of teaching.

Lastly, I would like to share with you my most used technology tool.  The high school I teach at is 1-1 devices (currently a mixture of iPad and Chromebook) and we rely on and use Google apps.  My favorites are Google Classroom (for assignments, sharing, and collaborating), Keep (organizing to do lists and sharing), Cast (sharing my screen and students screen on the interactive whiteboard),  and Docs/Drawing/Sheets (with add ons such as Goobric or Doctopus).  Yet, my list of favorites changes from class to class and year to year with the changes in technology, the needs of my students, and the standards of the courses I teach.

My First Blog (I’m officially a blogger now!) – Leadership and Reflection

For my first blog entry let me start off by saying that I HATE writing.  Yes it needs to be that strong of word.  I would much rather do math problems, coding, or building robots all day and all night then write a three paragraph essay.  I am hoping that through this blog I will come to minimize the intensity of my dislike for writing and possibly even enjoy it.  I know that reflection brings insight, meta-cognition, and growth and hope that this blog will provide these benefits.  My friend April had the best advice as I was “not” complaining to her about so much writing for my graduate courses.  She said to stop over analyzing my writing as I am completing it and just write like I am having a conversation with another person.  Leave the proof reading and corrections to the end.  I think I’ll take her up on this advice, so I apologize in advance if my blog is too informal.

Last night I participated in the #iaedchat with the topic being “Why Leadership Matters.”  I have participated in quite a few #iaedchat’s in the last few years, but have never truly reflected on what they mean to me for professional development.  The biggest asset they are to me is that they force me to take time and be reflective.  It is through being a reflective teacher that I can determine what my strengths and weaknesses are, setting a road map for my future.  This, in turn, will help me to become a better teacher for my students.  It also allows me to connect with teachers and administrators from other schools across the state (sometimes from other states and countries!) that I would not normally get the chance to network and communicate with.  I find that the most beneficial professional development for me is to be able to collaborate and converse with other teachers and administrators.  I am able to experience both fellow teachers’ viewpoints and administrators’.  Additionally, it is also nice to connect, relate to other teachers, and take time to stop and participate in professional dialog.

Dancing Guy

Whenever I think leadership, I think about the dancing guy.  This is a video that was shown to my school’s staff during a professional development day.  When in doubt about whether I should sit back and be a follower, or stand up and be a leader, I think of the dancing guy.  In addition, I am reminded how it is important to make the best of any situation and to have fun.  If am enthused and having fun, so will my students.  I also think about all the leaders that have supported and pushed me through my life.  Without that influence, I would not have pushed myself as far as I have nor set such high goals for myself.  Reflecting on this fact reminds me that I need to be a leader for my students, to give them both encouragement, support, and a push along the way.