Author Archives: jwlewis

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.

TELEs Design

As technology is used to improve, empower, and advance human knowledge, Technology Enhanced Learning Environments (TELEs) should be focused on providing a more effective and efficient method for students to learn key skills useful in their future lives. From a design perspective, TELEs need to focus on explicitly addressing learning competencies in a well-organized and easy to follow format. Learners must be able to understand the reasons for completing each activity, and be able to understand how to adequately achieve the desired objectives.

I believe that designers of learning experiences should craft a course which has a well-structured layout for students to be able to understand and thrive in an online environment. Beyond this, learners should be able to include their interests and past experiences to better integrate new knowledge into their long term memories. An effective TELE will strive to include many of the personal aspects of conventional classrooms while using technology to enhance the learning process.

New, and Travelling Teachers and Technology

Ms. A is in her second year of teaching high school Math. She is very dedicated teacher who works long hours to provide her students with thorough lessons and plenty of formative assessments. She is tasked with teaching in 7 different classrooms which keeps her on the move and without a home base.


Ms A. engages her students through the use of technology when she is certain that it will have a positive impact on student learning. Her students use “programs or apps on phones that students can use and will have access to.” These apps and programs include Kahoot, Desmos, and the Schoology learning management system. Ms. A “use[s] desmos mostly to help with Pre-Calculus 12 to help with graphing” and as an alternative to students having to purchase graphing calculators. “In the junior grades [she] does not like to use phones that often because they turn out to be more of a distraction than a help.”

“I have looked into other [applications]… but haven’t been able to apply it yet because I am still a new teacher and am still wrapping my head around everything.” She feels that her use of technology would increase if given the opportunity to focus on new educational applications during professional development days. Ms A. finds that her limited use of applications is due to “time but also sometimes apps aren’t the most clear as to how to run them and connect them so students have access them; that would take time and direction.”


As a teacher candidate, Ms. A used technology in her instruction more as she was “working out of a single classroom and could use ipad carts more easily.” Ms. A finds it difficult to use technology in her current teaching position as the use of ipads requires her “to sign them out and know quite far in advance when you will be using them” and “having to run across the school from [her] various classrooms to grab them while students are left unattended.” She also feels that the amount of technology present in her school is not adequate to support multiple teachers regularly using them for instruction.

To learn content or learn how to learn

The cases from this week peaked my interest to the point where I ended up watching four and with this, I began to notice similar themes to the successful integration of technology in the Science and Mathematics classrooms. All of the classrooms I observed had teachers who were willing to commit a large amount of time, effort, and troubleshooting to allow their students to learn in a very different way than a classical lecture-style classroom.

As BC renovates its K-12 curriculum, the main complaint I hear from other teachers is the lack of staple skills and information being taught. Comparisons are continually being made about how Chinese schools teach core skills in Math and Science with less focus on problem solving, communication, critical thinking, and personal and social skills. In BC, the Core Competencies have become a main focus for educator professional development training while the curricular competencies receive little attention. I feel that these two schools of thought continue to be a battle ground as how to best prepare our students for their future lives, careers, and unforeseen challenges.

It is apparent in these case videos that these teachers who rely on technology are not, and for that matter do not pretend to be, the omnipotent knowledge-keepers ready to fill kids heads with new information. In the new information age that we are living in, knowledge has become easily accessible and therefore less valuable for students in their mindset. The teachers in the videos have begun to stop teaching content but rather to teach students how to learn, grow, adapt, and prosper in such a rapidly changing world. With this, comes the humility of these teachers to admit that they do not know how to solve every problem they encounter but instead can demonstrate how students can seek their own solutions.

I understand that these case videos taken out of the context of the entire course may not show some traditional skills which have been taught to these students. That is, before a student can use an Arduino to carefully control the temperature of growing crystals, they must have some basic skills. It is after these basic skills are gained that students can explore and develop the skills present in these core competencies using technology. I would be interested to see how these teachers progress through the semester with their students who may be used to traditional instructional techniques.

Technology is not just a digital textbook

In order to have effective digital technology in a Math and Science classroom, we must make sure that the technology is transformative. I have seen many technologies brought into classrooms which are a digitized version of textbooks and workbooks; these do not play to the strengths of technology nor are they transformative. When implementing technology, the question should always be asked: “Is this an improvement in learning from the status quo”. By asking this question, we should be making sure that we are not merely adopting technology for the sake of technology but rather adopting technology because it is improving learning.

Digital Technology in Math and Science classrooms need to have meaningful interaction with students. Meaningful interaction is the ability of the technology to adapt and change to the specific student. An example of this is Khan Academy practices which will increase or decrease in difficulty depending on student achievement, even going as far as recommending next steps or helpful tutorials.

Further, technology should allow students who are at a higher level, be able to play on their curiosity and advance at their own pace. Self-driven assignments tend to allow themselves to expand to meet student capabilities and so help advance students enrich their learning.

Evolving Paradigm Shifts

While watching Heather in “A Private Universe,” I began thinking about how scientific knowledge develops and its parallels to learning.

In science, when studies disagree with our current knowledge base, there is a portion of time where scientists attempt to tweak their understanding or error analysis to help this new observation fit into the current theory. After many studies disagree with the current knowledge base there occurs a Paradigm Shift where scientists must abandon large portions of their preconceptions in favour of this new, more accurate idea. In much the same way, our learning follows a similar path where we are drawn to rationalize new information to fit our existing model. Fostnot (1994) recognizes this process “as the organization of experience with one’s own logical structures or understandings.”

It is apparent that by the end of the lesson that Heather had adjusted her paradigm to fit the new information that she gained during the lesson but remained unclear about some concepts around light coming from the sun. To make this shift complete, more instruction or investigation would be required to address such areas.

In my own experience in teaching biology, it is apparent that students have varied conceptualizations of Evolution and how it occurs. Frequently, as a result of the use of “evolution” as an idiom, students will believe that they acquire new skills and evolve to become a better person. As a result, it is a very important practice to directly address the misuse of the word. Some of the activities which I have found successful in breaking this preconception is to look at historical science around the topic. To start with the absurd ideas such as Lamarck who believed that traits you gain during your life can be passed on to offspring. I will ask the students what their parents are good at, and if they have the same skill. Lamarck would posit that if your mother and father were good at Math, then you must have acquired that skill as a result. I usually take this to absurd levels in order to break this misconception and begin the talk about what evolution and the passing of genes really means. Such as in the case of Heather, some students will still cling to the cognitive paradigm which they had before the lesson, and continue to believe that evolution is individual, short term, and a choice. As a result, each time I teach the course I try to evolve my teaching tactics to better encourage these paradigm shifts.

(Pun in last line intended)



Driver, R., Guesne, E., & Tiberghien, A. (1985). Children’s ideas and the learning of science. Children’s ideas in science, 1-9.

Fosnot, Catherine. Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. Teachers College Press, 2013 or 2005 version. Chapter 1: Introduction: Aspects of constructivism by Ernst von Glasersfeld or Chapter 2: Constructivism: A Psychological theory of learning or Cobb, Paul. “Where is the mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematical development.” Educational researcher 23, no. 7 (1994): 13-20.

Thompson, F., Logue, S. (2006). An Exploration of Common Student Misconceptions in Science. International Education Journal. 7(4), 553-559.


My first strong memory of working with the internet was the ICQ messenger I used as a teen. Previously, I had been on various message boards which explored my interests, but it was ICQ which I have the most fond memories of.

ICQ was a personal messenger where you could add friends to personally chat with. The old days of dial-up internet meant that chatting with someone may require some scheduling. The reason why the memory of ICQ is so vivid for me was the breadth of who you could connect with. I would make friends from Russia, Georgia, Australia to name a few. To talk to and learn about the lives of other teenagers living across the world really interested me. My family did not have money to travel overseas so this experience really enlightened me to how people in the rest of the world operated.

Today it seems silly that such a rudimentary connection to other people in this world was so awe-inspiring but at the time it was such an amazing experience.



Hello From Surrey, BC

Hello Everyone,

After some technical difficulties I can now log in!

My name is James Lewis, I am a Science, Math, and Robotics Teacher in the Surrey School District. I have worked as a teacher for 6 years and am happy to be getting into the stride of things.

I am in my 4th and 5th MET classes and have really enjoyed them so far. It is still taking a little time to get used to the online work. I am very personable and hands on so the move to a digital classroom has been a challenge for me.

I hope this course will help me use technology more effectively in my instruction. I look forwards to all the skills we will develop and the projects which come out of it.

Thank you,