The Evolution of PCK in the Classroom

As the integration of technology has emerged, I have found a distinct change in my pedagogical approach with students. One such change has occurred when teaching the concepts of Optics in the grade 8 Science curriculum. The lesson content is to get students to inquire about the question “Why is the sky blue?” and as a basis for our study of optics, to be able to work out over days the concepts of the spectrum, translucency, and refraction. Through developing this lesson at a time when technology was less pervasive in our environment, I experienced great success in this PCK approach.


In recent years, this same approach has been problematic in that students with technology merely search the question and immediately reveal the answer, “Rayleigh Scattering”, with little understanding of the concept they have found. With technology, my approach required a shift to TPCK ideals laid out by Mishra and Koehler (2006). The adjustments to my teaching have had to include “computer technology in a broader social, cultural, or educational context” (Mishra & Koehler 2006). That is, my instruction of this topic requires the class to address why the search engine answer of “Rayleigh Scattering” lends us little meaning until we can find a way to interpret this information in a meaningful and informative way.


With changing times comes the need for educators to adapt and include Technological Pedagogical Knowledge in their instruction. It is important that Mishra and Koehler’s “TPCK framework can be used to design pedagogical strategies” to better adapt to the changing needs of students in the classroom.




Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.


  1. I’ve found that the ability of my students (Grade 5/6) to persevere and “dig deeper” into their research findings becomes limiting in that they sometimes lacks the desire or motivation to pursue an answer beyond what their initial search has uncovered. From your post, I’m guessing that you work with older students on similar approaches to technology, and I’m wondering if you experience similar challenges with your students as well. If so, I’m curious to know, in what ways do you approach these challenges?

    Thanks for your post,

    – Allen.

    1. Hello Allen,

      I do work with older students. This situation is grade 8. I also find that their desire to dig deeper to fully understand a concept is not seen as an important objective. As I build the class dynamic at the start of the semester, I try to instill a sense of curiosity for the world around them and have them hyper-analyse trivial (to them) occurrences. I find with the right students you can have amazing discourses on where the water in the faucet comes from, how do we know that germs exist, how their cell phones can give and get invisible information etc. There will always be a natural cutoff (we tend not to discuss wave/particle duality when talking about light as this can be difficult for 13 year olds to understand properly).

  2. Optics is one of my favourite units to teach in Grade 8 Science! Have you integrated technology in addition to the PCK that you mention with respect to your optics unit?

    1. I have integrated some phet simulations on colour and waves in my optics unit. Getting technology to use in my district can be a difficult thing so I am prepared for either situation when teaching this unit. It is one of my favourites as well! (Although KMT tends to take the cake in my book)

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