Author Archives: Sarah Winkler

Coding and TPCK

Shulman talks about PCK or Pedagogical Content Knowledge and the intersection of these areas and the how it is a “special amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers, their own special form of professional understanding.” (Shulman, 1987) PCK represents the “blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction.” (Shulman, 1987). In his paper he provides a framework to observe teacher instruction and what is needed to create a knowledge base for teachers. He identifies that it is much more than knowing the content or knowing how but the connection of the two that creates superior lessons.

Mishra and Koehler (2006) extend Shulman’s work with the addition of T to PCK which incorporates technology into the framework. “TPCK is the basis of good teaching with technology and requires an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones.” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, Pg. 1029) They aim to extend Shulman’s work with a framework that supports effective integration of technology into today’s classrooms as well as an idea of how to support teachers learning around developing lessons that maximize the interaction of these TPCK elements.

An example for me around TPCK would be the work that I have done this year with coding. We have been started with hour of code, which is a sequenced program that teaches the basics of coding. From there we moved into Scratch and went through a list of tasks designed to build awareness of the different aspects of coding. Finally students created a story or an inquiry question, generally related to a topic of study this year, and created a game to either tell the story or support a student learning the knowledge from the inquiry question. The result was better than I could have imagined and feels like I discovered the spot in the middle that Mishra and Koehler describe where pedagogy, technology and content mix perfectly. Students have truly had a multidisciplinary approach as they used math to solve movement issues, design skills as they tried, failed, and tried again to make their games work, and much more. Pedagogically as each student worked through the process with their own design using an inquiry lens they were definitely captivated and motivated to preserve through the tough time. As we get ready to take our games to student arcade I am excited for them to be able to show off their learning.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.
Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23.

SAMR Model

I think my definition of technology would connect most closely to Muffoletto (1994) and the idea that technologies are a way of acting. Connecting to the definition of technology that started for me in ETEC 540 and that at a certain point in time a pencil was the current form of technology. The pencil allowed stories and ideas to be recorded. So what is an educational technology tool today may not be the most influential tomorrow but, just at the printing press allowed the spread of information through print, today’s technology is the act of creating and disseminating information and ideas in a faster way.

Keeping that definition in mind, I find myself returning to the visual below when I think of a TELE in my classroom. I think this graphic shows how as our understanding grows we get ready to take the next step and create more authentic use of educational technology in the classroom. Any time I prepare to bring in a technology I ask myself “can I do this with a pencil and paper?” if my answer is yes then I know I am at substitution. While there is a time and place for enhancing learning through technology I think the real value of technology appears when our lessons get into the transformation phase of SAMR.

All Things SAMR Model by Blanca Lemus. (2016). Retrieved 29 May 2016, from

Muffoletto, R. (1994). Technology and restructuring education: Constructing a context. Educational Technology, 34(2), 24-28.

Mentorship, Involved, and Collaboration

I interviewed a colleague who is currently teaching Grade 4 and is in her fifth year of teaching, with two years in contract and three years as a Teacher on Call. The colleague is female and the interview took place after school in her classroom. She describes herself as “not a techy person.”
Teacher’s goal is to become a learning support teacher and approached our current learning support teachers with the observation about her class “I really think that half of it because I want to be a learning support teacher and so being in this classroom and seeing kids struggle.” It was the conversations with these colleagues that “It was conversations with our learning support teachers here at school to say how can I have these students who have really showed me nothing, and have no motivation, how can I have them show me that they understand fractions, or that they understand addition, or they understand multiplication, and having those conversations was really kind of pivotal, I think, okay I am going to do this.” She shows how having people to collaborate with gave her the confidence to try and implement technology to support her vulnerable learners. The second piece was that “they gave me easy ways to put it into practice, …, at first I was a little overwhelmed with including technology but they kind of broke it down and says this is how you could show their learning in this Math unit.” Having that peer face to face time the teacher identified as pivotal in her desire to try implementing technology into her classroom.

Teacher was able to access in school co-teaching this year to support integration of technology in her classroom. She comments that “I think that really helped, because I was even watching her to figure out what to do and how to make it work” and shows the value of allowing a safe place for teacher to be learner as well.

Teacher introduced two projects this term using iPad’s. The first one was to demonstrate their understanding of a math concept and the second was to complete a project in Science. She comments that “the kids just soared once they figured out how to use it, and then how to go further and above and beyond with it.” This idea of keeping students involved in the process was further enhanced when she shared the success of a student that was shy to present or talk in class. The student was able to share by “all they did was touch the button and I think that takes away a lot of their fear when they share with their class.” Finally, she talked about the varied levels of each students projects but “for other kids to see that’s where you can go, it was kind of neat.”

Supporting Teams are essential

What are the underlying issues and why are they issues?
– I watched a number of the videos but my discussion is primarily based on Case 5 and Case 1. To me the underlying issue was highlighted in listening to the teachers discuss their programs and the success or challenges that they were having. I noticed that in the discussion by the teachers in Case 1 that they were interviewed all together, they talked about what they all bring to the team and their different strengths and it was obvious that if they were struggling with one aspect that they could see and access another team member to help them. Comparing that to the teachers debrief from Case 5 where they all felt very individual and that support of a team was absent. As the teachers in Case 1 acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges is that technology doesn’t always work like you think it will and having to problem solve on the go. If you are in a team that fear of technology failing is much less intimidating and the staff from Case 1 seemed much more relaxed about it. I believe that the absence of support is often a limiting factor to exploring technology in a classroom.

What further questions does the video raise for you?
– I think I have two major questions from this. The first, is how do we support those teachers that are waiting on the sidelines that with the right encouragement would take the risk and bring technology into the classroom? The second, is how do we build teams, especially at the elementary level to support novice technology teachers?

How would you explore a response to this issue?
– This is something I have been working on all year and the comment that resonated with me the most was when I asked our teaching staff what they needed to support them with technology use in their classroom and one teacher said “I don’t know what there is to know what I need!” It was here that I realized I needed a much smaller step to support the staff.
– I believe asking those that have had success and how they got started gives lots of insight, allowing for many access points for staff to explore and try technology to boost their success and comfort is essential. Then seeking and exploring other districts and seeing what models they have set up and the success they are having are key to building a supporting model in my district.

How might the issue that is raised exacerbate or ameliorate a conceptual challenge held by students?
– If a teacher uses technology like it isn’t technology, what I mean is, reading an article online is the same as reading a textbook, then no additional growth in a student’s conceptual understanding is likely. Heather is a perfect example, she has an interpretation of what direct and indirect light were and looking at images online or in a book are unlikely to expand her understanding. However, if you look at the students who were producing the soundscapes in Case 5 they showed great understanding of the concept, in this case tornados. They had taken the time to research and the use of technology was allowing them a unique way to display their learning. The student talked about finding other information, with help from the teacher, to expand their understanding to enable them to have the knowledge to build their assignment. This shows how technology clearly improved a project that could have been a one dimensional poster board on the topic.

Technology Intergration

I believe that good use of digital technology in math and science is the same as in any subject. Activities must be authentic, develop new learning, and not be a replica of a task that could be done in the classroom without it. When I think of positive and rich technology learning tasks I think of virtual fieldtrips, or using virtual reality to see inside a cell and explore it. To me successfully integration is not reading an article online and answering questions, or watching a video about resources when you could be outside exploring your own community. If an iPad becomes a device to just read information then it becomes a very expensive textbook and does not support an inquiry or constructivist based approach to learning.
For students to build their conceptual understanding Schneps (1989) in his video talks about the need for students to touch and manipulate it. Heather was struggling with understanding direct and indirect light. As this is a more abstract concept that is difficult to show her misconception continued. I believe here is an area when bringing technology into your classroom is an excellent example of how create an hands on lesson to learn about seasons and indirect light – . From here student could capture their learning and create a digital story and then share it. I don’t believe this is a vision, while ensuring that you have access to iPad’s and some thermometers are needed in this lesson, many schools are becoming much more integrated. As with any change in our classrooms, a desire must be had and then a passionate few have the ability to influence the greater cohort and bring about the change.

Schneps, Matthew. A Private Universe: Misconceptions That Block Learning. Massachusetts, USA: Annenberg Media, 1989. video.

Accommodations and Misconceptions

In the Video with Heather we saw that there are misconceptions that block learning. As teachers we often assume that students have the basic ideas or are a blank vessel waiting to be filled. In Heather’s case, even after direct instruction to correct her misunderstanding of direct and indirect light paths she still holds on to her previous understanding. Posner et al. (1982) identify these misunderstandings as conceptual ecology. As we challenge students’ beliefs, like Heather was by her teacher, we are trying to create the conditions to allow for an accommodation. In the case of Heather, direct instruction allowed for her to create an accommodation and better explain the causes of the seasons and moon phases but she was not able to grow her understanding of light paths. Gomez-Zwiep (2008) further our understanding of how Heather could hold onto her beliefs as students may hold onto their misconceptions if they are “extensions of effective knowledge that function productively within a specific context.”

All three articles start with the need for the teacher to first acknowledge that students come with their own preconceived knowledge structures and are not empty vessels waiting to be filled. Posner et al. (1982) identify these teaching strategies to deal with misconceptions or use to create an environment that supports the developments of accommodations.
1) Provide lessons that create cognitive conflict in the students.
2) Create lessons that allow for significant amounts of time to assess students and observe for areas where they are resisting accommodations.
3) Develop strategies with teachers that allow them to identify errors that affect accommodations.
4) Present content in multiple modes.
5) Develop many evaluation techniques to track errors in learning.
These points tie into the research by Gomez-Zwiep (2008) and raises the question on what supports are needed allow the elementary generalist to have a strong understanding of all topics that they are able to create the above listed ideals. Confey (1990) also identifies the need for sufficient time to allow for exploration and development of ideas. The integration of technology into today’s classroom has the ability to help support different modalities of learning, and allow for time for the teacher to work with students who require the supports. However technology is only one aspect, addressing effective Pro. D and teacher training as “[t]he results of the study and of previous research (Halim and Meerah 2002; Meyer 2004) suggest that teachers are not prepared to confront science misconceptions when they arise in their classrooms, even if the teachers recognize that such misconceptions exist.” (Gomez-Zweip, 2008, P. 452).

Confrey, J. (1990). A review of the research on student conceptions in mathematics, science, and programming. Review of research in education, 16, 3-56.
Gomez-Zwiep, S. (2008). Elementary teachers’ understanding of students’ science misconceptions: Implications for practice and teacher education. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 19(5), 437-454. doi:10.1007/s10972-008-9102-y
Posner, G. J., Strike, K. A., Hewson, P. W. and Gertzog, W. A. (1982). Accommodation of a scientific conception: Toward a theory of conceptual change. Sci. Ed., 66: 211–227. doi: 10.1002/sce.373066020
Schneps, Matthew. A Private Universe: Misconceptions That Block Learning. Massachusetts, USA: Annenberg Media, 1989. video.

When technologies don’t go according to plan

My first vivid encounter, well the one that first came to mind, with technology around education would be attempting to register into my first year of courses in my Bachelors. Young and excited to register, I had my list and my time and I started dialing at just the right moment. It wouldn’t work. I tried again, still no success. In panic that I wouldn’t get the classes I needed I remember driving to the swimming pool I worked at as a lifeguard and stood in the middle of the pool deck office and successfully registered for my classes. The problem, we didn’t have a touch tone phone. That sense of despair and panic in those moments are something I keep close as I navigate introducing new technologies in my classroom and school. Maintaining a focus on using a supportive and varied entry-leveled approach to ensure greater success for all.

Hello from Victoria, BC

Hello Everyone,
My name is Sarah and I live in Victoria, BC. I am currently in course 7 and 8 of my MET journey and this is my last required course. I have enjoyed taking 530, 540, 565A and I am currently also in 533. It has been busy but I am constantly amazed at this adventure I am on.

This is the course that drew me to met. The idea of being able to bring technology into my Math classroom is intriguing and while I have done a little with tech in my classroom I look forward to gaining more ideas and frameworks to bring into my classroom.

In my life outside MET, I am a vice principal at an elementary school and also currently teaching Grade 4. In rare, quiet moments, I enjoy hanging out with my husband and two boys. Caleb is in Grade 4 and Zachary is in Grade 2.

Here’s to a great semester. Sarah