TPACK in my classroom

I was pleasantly surprised to listen to a discussion in a recent PLP webinar about a learning framework that I had not encountered before, but one which I have immediately adopted and will continue to use in my classroom. The framework uses the acronym TPACK, and it is a progressive system of learning…but one that utilizes traditional components so as not to “reinvent the wheel.” The structure describes a way to develop individual lessons and overall scope of a course with regard to the pedagogy, content, and technology. These three foci are woven together to form the Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge Framework (TPACK).

Ok, I confess that I have fallen in love with this model. It is exactly the structure I strive to follow in my classroom. I see a wonderful, creative opportunity for any educator to improve his or her classroom with the adoption of TPACK. In many cases, I would think that the dynamic teacher already uses the model in his or her curriculum prior to learning about the structure of TPACK. With this model as a guide, I can remain more accountable to the proper development of my classroom lessons based on the goals explained by the TPACK program. I believe in this framework and will work to support it’s dissemination and usage in schools.

The concepts driven home by the TPACK framework have educators finding ways to recognize how they teach the material utilizing new technologies and connectivity tools (tpack.org). With hints of the Grant Wiggins Backwards Design approach to curriculum development, TPACK has teachers thinking about the “walk away concepts” a student should gain upon leaving the classroom for the day, for the grading period, or even the school year. However, the focus of learning remains in the exploration of the material, not just what to teach or with what sort of tool. So teachers may have great technology and may have a wonderfully rich curriculum full of great concepts; but the fancy gizmos and cool concepts would simply wash away without a method ofconnecting these “tech tools” with the content that is presented during a class period and beyond. The connection between technology and content holds together via the pedagogical approach implemented by the teacher. The proper fusing of these three components facilitates a special kind of teaching that allows students to follow a unique, inquiry ­based path that may lead them in various directions only to arrive at the overarching goal set by the instructor.

As said earlier, the activities I bring into my classroom often fall into the TPACK model. My classroom has developed very well as a 1:1 environment, with every child having an iPad on his or her desk each day. I remember this past summer having a conversation with Will Richardson and his warning about the use of technology: “Never use technology for technology’s sake; technology is a support or enhancement too FIRST, and a novelty or toy long after.” I cannot agree more, and to this day I have tried to find ways to present material that can be enhanced by the technology available in the classroom. The good news is that I have come a long way developing a curriculum that supports this big idea and maximizes the learning potential. The “not as good news” is that I have a long way to go before I feel like I have build a classroom full of “connected learners.”

In my next post, I will explore some of my lessons that I feel have demonstrated the TPACK model. I would love to share ideas regarding the construction of TPACK curricula, and I look forward to the dialogue.

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