PCK and TPACK in Module B

Dear class,

It was great to read how you are thinking about TPCK  in terms of your own practice. PCK and TPCK or TPACK will help to frame our discussions throughout Module B. A few “snapshots “of ideas and questions are collated  below. (You can search using the text to locate and read more about the teaching strategies used by our class members). As you are reading them, it will be useful to think about which strategies you would like to try? How would you modify them to support TPCK in your teaching context?


  • Jigsaw Research. Individually, students are each responsible for one part of the content knowledge.
  • Scientific Inquiry. Write out the steps to make an ice cream sunday.
  • Solar system. Students created models of our solar system not in the usual sense but rather to scale (obviously with in reason but they had to understand that and explain it). This activity required students to use math skills in measuring and finding replicas of the size of each planet in relation to each other. It involved problem-solving and collaboration ( I can’t tell you how many groups ended up frustrated when they chose thin thread to represent the distance- thin thread tangles easily and when it is metres long it is even harder to control). Students had to figure out how to store their projects so they didn’t return each day to a jumble of threads. In addition to their own amazement at the distance of the planets from each other and their size they also had to find a way to demonstrate this to students in grade one and two.
  • Digestive system. For example, for a science unit on the human body, my students and I explored, together as a class, the digestive system, which included some textbook reading (read and discussed together as a class, not individually), a look at x-rays of human intestines (belonging to a colleague of mine who recently retired and passed on a set of old x-rays to me – the kids love them!), student diagrams/models, and so on. Once we have done one body system together, students are sent out to research and become “experts” on one other body system that they will be able to share with their peers.
  • Sig. figs. significant figures to real world data. Following discussion of these topics, students then complete a mini lab where they use lab equipment (such as meter sticks, rulers, calipers, tape measures and various graduated cylinders) and apply those concepts to practical measurements. They are faced with four problems that involve measurement and calculations that will assist them later in the course.
  • Structures. One of my favorite science units to teach is Structures, Mechanisms, and Forces. During this unit the students build a variety of structures out of different materials, for different purposes, and make observations about the process. As a way to bring the unit together at the end we do a study of Rube Goldberg and his fantastic machines.
  • Fractions When I teach students about fractions, I spend time developing understandings with physical manipulatives (e.g. coloured cubes, fraction magnets, egg cartons and marbles, fraction pizzas) and digital simulations in Smart Notebook or on the iPad, and then move into the more abstract concepts of the written algebra.  This comes to mind as an example of PCK (or TPACK
  • Bridge building. My own personal experience with TPACK (although I did not think about it in such terms) came in a Science & Technology 11 course in which I did a unit on bridge building.  Throughout the design of the unit I went through the various stages that Shulman discussed, from comprehension (understanding trusses and force distribution), to transformation (planning lessons and designing activities), to instruction (lessons), and evaluation (assessing their final bridge projects).
  • Algebra. One strategy that I have only recently used, is to teach/review algebra with my FPC Math 10 (academic math) class, having the students sit in pairs of their choosing. Each pair has a table top whiteboard (London Drugs sometimes clears them out…), marker and eraser.  I review the basic “moves” and reinforce opposite operations and remind them that the order of the “moves” is important (“Reverse BEDMAS”, usually helps them remember).  Then, we do a series of increasingly difficult algebraic problems, WITHOUT variables. For example, rearrange “2 + 3= 5” for 3
  • Lunar phases and tides. I sent the students an excel file with data on the times when the ocean was at high tide and low tide. We had spent some times prior discussing the phases of the moon and the gravitational influence on the ocean water.  Then they investigated how the times changed different times of the year in different regions of the world. They choose a country and researched how the changing phases of the moon, seasons and orbit impacted that particular country certain times of the year.
  • Telling time. Digitally I use an interactive clock on the smart board to practice telling time, and I also have children engaged in time games which helps solidify understandings in a fun way.
  • Biology. Blood types and transfusions shows up in the biology 30s Manitoba curriculum under the circulatory system. The presence of antibodies is explained and the Blood Typing Came from Nobleprize.org (https://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/bloodtypinggame/) is used to help gamify transfusions and help the development of the concept in an engaging way.  I suppose this is where I use technology and essentially  I am using TPACK at this point in the lesson.
  • Learning plans. One example of incorporating PCK in my own teaching is in constructing individualized student learning plans for each of my students. As a distance learning teacher, I work with each student individually rather than offering a standard course or program.  Throughout the year, the student learning plan evolves as necessary,

For several you, (re)reading Shulman helped to clarify ideas and raised new questions, such as: What sort of balance needs to exist between content and pedagogical knowledge? I was struck by quotes I hadn’t really even noticed before. For example, Shulman (1986) states: Teachers must not only be capable of defining for students the accepted truths in a domain. They must also be able to explain why a particular proposition is deemed warranted, why it is worth knowing, and how it relates to other propositions, both within the discipline and without, both in theory and in practice. TPCK is useful to think about as we engage with examples of TPCK in this module.

Thank you for your contributions towards this organizing framework,


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