Category Archives: B. PCK


My overall understanding about TPACK and PCK is about finding the balance.

Whether it’s finding the balance point between Content Knowledge and Pedagogical Knowledge, or PCK with Technological Knowledge. PCK refers to the finding the best method to teach the content in a way that enhances students’ learning and integrating technology into this creates TPACK.  Like many others also pointed out when using TPACK, innovative teaching methods, keeping current is very important. Using technology effectively in the classroom by knowing which technologies to use for what content can support learning.

I came across this video that explains these models very well.

Technology Shifts

Mishra and Koehler (2006) argue that since technology is continually changing, the nature of TK needs to shift with time as well. Accordingly, technological hardware and applications will undoubtedly change, and perhaps even disappear entirely, within a relatively short span of time. For educators, the ability to learn and adapt to new technologies, in a variety of different teaching and learning contexts, be of paramount importance (Mishra & Koehler, 2006)

One of the ways that online learning frameworks might actually limit the ways that people understand online learning could result from the fact that the framework, or the perspectives and approaches described within, are outdated and reflect technological hardware and practices that have been upgraded or replaced by something new. According to the TPACK framework, teachers require a forward looking, creative, and open minded seeking of technology use, not for its own sake, but for the sake of advancing student learning and understanding. If teachers are going to be successful with integrating technology, they must continue to remain current and willing to alter or reestablish their approaches to teaching and learning with technology.

Technology can be leveraged differently according to changes in context and purpose, and appropriate technology tools must be understood, developed and utilized for educational purposes. Technology and content directly impact each other, and the technological choices made by educators will either enhance or limit the types of content ideas that can be taught, as well as the ways in which students engage with the chosen content. Avoiding the use of technology, simply for the purpose of using technology, becomes a key component here. According to Mishra and Koehler, the TPCK framework provides us with an opportunity to identify and understand what is important and what is not in any discussions of teacher knowledge surrounding using technology for teaching subject matter (2006). Further to this, Shulman (1986) presents the notion of strategic knowledge and the importance of extending understanding beyond principle to the wisdom of practice. By developing strategic understanding, we can extend teacher capacity toward professional judgment and decision making, and this leads to deeper reflective and metacognitive awareness (Shulman 1986).



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. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.



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.

TPACK: Putting it all together

Over the course of the MET classes I have taken so far, discussion regarding the TPACK model has been emphasized. At first, I had never really considered how vital this framework is to the design of lessons that aim to integrate technology effectively. Understanding the way each domain intersects is critical; teachers need to be able to blend technology knowledge, pedagogy and content knowledge together. Mishra, and Koehler extend the research of Schulman, to include Technological knowledge, which seeks to understand how technology is used, selected and integrated into curriculum. Going beyond devices, but diving into the quality of content made available through the use of these devices, do both students and teachers achieve results geared towards mastery of 21st century skill development. Technological tools now allow students to explore concepts through hands-on activities that go beyond the printed page, and enhance understanding. As Mishra and Koehler (2006) state, “At the heart of PCK is the manner in which subject matter is transformed for teaching. This occurs when the teacher interprets the subject matter and finds different ways to represent it and make it accessible to learners.” (1021) For me, this is the most exciting part of the framework because it is evidence that best practice, or differentiation is not only possible, but effective for student understanding. Context, as Mishra and Koehler explain, takes into account these differences whether it be student, classroom, or geographic location, must also be taken into consideration. The symbiotic relationship that TPACK provides, is where learning becomes exciting and transformative. Now as I revisit the framework of TPACK in this course, I appreciate the comments of the authors that no one framework fits all, but that it is better than nothing at all, but for me, this framework is one step forward towards best practice in educational technology design.


One example where I see TPACK come to light is through the careful design of the Grade 5 Exhibition, culminating the years students are enrolled in the IB curriculum. This 8 week inquiry-based project asks that students choose an issue of their choice, and spend the next 7 weeks investigating the idea through 8 key concepts. These concepts include form, function, causation, change, perspective, connection, reflection and responsibility. Here, students need scaffolded teacher-directed lessons to introduce effective researching skills, before they embark on individualize, self-guided inquiry. I must have wide content knowledge to help guide the students but also know how each individual student in my class learns best. Having a solid pedagogical foundation is necessary to both motivate and encourage my students to keep going even when things get tough. This is where technology as a tool is implemented because teaching with technology motivates students to show what they know in unique, personalized ways. Some of my students have created stop-motion animation videos which take their guiding questions (framed around the key concepts) and showcase their answers through short, descriptive videos. Exhibition allows for students, alongside teachers to choose the best sources (apps, etc.) to access knowledge, and then transform their knowing and understanding to do great things! This fits nicely with the new BC curriculum model as well. This year, my students collaborated in small groups to research, organize and communicate their learning and shared their inquiry projects through TEDExhibition presentations (similar to a TED talk format). This is definitely one of my favourite units of the year.


Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.

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


PCK/TPACK were definitely new terms for me. Though my idea of a “good” teacher was one who had both content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge specific to that content, I had never heard of it being described in such a concise manner. Looking at the many physicians that teach, particularly at the clinical level, they are definitely content experts with little or no pedagogical knowledge. Somehow it is presumed that having the content knowledge gives you the ability to teach medicine, which is far from the truth, and I have personally been on the receiving end of this. For example, experienced physicians are able to accomplish tasks in an “unconscious competent” manner. Looking at the diagram below, novice students and residents start at the “unconscious incompetent” stage of this cycle.

Adult learning cycle

They observe an expert accomplish something (such as suturing) and because the expert made it look so easy, presume that it can easily be accomplished. When they are given the opportunity to do the task themselves, they move into the “conscious incompetent” stage, where they begin to understand that it isn’t as easy as it looks and there are a lot of steps that they had not considered upon observation. With repeat practice, reflection, and learning with guidance, they enter the “conscious competent” stage, where they still have to think about each step but can complete the task competently. Clinical teachers facilitate their learners through this cycle, but because many of them are doing tasks in the “unconscious competent” state, sometimes they are unable to identify some of the steps that are automatic for them, and thus are missing the pedagogical knowledge component.

A common procedure that I perform that is difficult to learn is insertion of a device called a TVT. This device is used for the treatment of stress incontinence. It is difficult to learn because it is a relatively blind procedure, with a high bladder injury rate (which increases learner anxiety!) When teaching this procedure, I often break it down into several steps for my residents:
1) Observation – I will have them observe the procedure as I perform it. I will deliberately take my time performing each step, and explain each step as well as the rationale behind my movements.
2) Then I take them over to a pelvic model for simulation (after the observation). Again, I repeat the procedure, performing each step slowly and with explanation. I will also have them slide their hands over mine to feel where I am in relation to the anatomy (because most of it is done blindly).
3) Next, I have the learner verbally repeat the steps while visualizing
4) Then I have them perform the steps, verbalizing each step as perform it (on the model simulator).
5) I will have them repeat this on the model a few times until they are comfortable
6) At the next OR, if this procedure comes up, I will have them verbalized the steps with visualization prior to the case.
7) Finally, I will have them perform the case, while verbalizing each step, and provide guidance as needed. At this point, I gauge their level of comfort and competence and adjust my guidance as needed.

Over the last couple of years that I have been teaching this, I have modified the steps based on the areas that my learners seem to struggle the most. These areas are broken down into smaller steps, with simple instructions so the procedure is easier to understand and perform.


How important is it for teachers to know subject matter content? Pedagogical content? Curriculum content? According to Shulman (1986) and Mishra and Koehler (2006), all three questions raised (known as PCK) play an integral part in teacher education programs. Is one more important than the other? Should teachers focus on pedagogy more as opposed to subject knowledge?  This is where there is a divide between scholars, school districts, teachers and students alike. They should not be separated from one another, but interwoven.

For example, in January of this year, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) had introduced an aptitude test for potential teachers. On Make a future website, it states:

           The multiple choice, timed assessment is called EPI:  Educators Professional Inventory and it covers three domains: teaching skills, attitudinal factors and cognitive ability.  You have 90 minutes to complete the test but on average, it takes about 45 minutes to complete.  The assessment is from the U.S. and occasionally will use educational terms that are not used in Canada.  For example, several questions refer to the Standards which means the key concepts and skills in the curriculum. You may want to have a pen and paper ready before you begin the test.

Apparently, these types of test were conducted for incoming teachers as far back as 1875. Is this how we still measure teacher’s abilities when it comes to subject knowledge, pedagogy and curriculum content? More recently in the United States of America, such tests don’t mention subject content, but more about cultural awareness, management, assessment, educational policies and procedures (Shulman, 1986). At the heart of PCK is the way in which subject matter is transformed for teaching.  This happens when teachers interpret the subject matter and finds alternative ways to showcase it and make it accessible for students (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). With this, comes technology.

Added to the mix is technology, or TCPK. Educators must know how technology relates to content and pedagogy. Working in the 21st century, technology is always one step ahead of the game, with students knowing more about technology than teachers do half the time.  I think it’s extremely important for educators to take it upon themselves. They need to be informed about the importance of not just the subject matter they teach, but the manner in which the subject matter can be changed with technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

An example I will share of teaching a particular concept, is the scientific method. Today was the day where the 2 science classes I teach showcased their science fair projects to other classes. This was the first time I took on 55+ kids in one setting and I couldn’t be happier with their results. What I think worked well, was scaffolding the project of breaking down the steps that are involved in the scientific method week by week. One week, we would just focus on coming up with a testable question, then the next week focus on their hypothesis etc. The students were able to manage their time better this way and I believe this produced better results in their overall project display.


Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers college record, 108(6), 1017.

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

Make A Future. Retrieved from:


Shulman (1986) defined pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) as blended pedagogy and subject matter knowledge for effective teaching. PCK requires educators who are knowledgeable about their subjects and who can teach those subjects in a clear and effective manner utilizing their previously accumulated instructional experience. Mishra and Koehler (2007) extended Shulman’s concept of PCK by introducing technology, an aspect that has become a crucial part of modern education. Educators practice teaching in highly complex, dynamic classroom settings (Leinhardt & Greeno, 1986) that require them to shift and evolve their understanding regularly. Thus, effective teaching depends on integrated knowledge from different areas: knowledge of student understanding and learning, knowledge of subject matter, and further, knowledge of technology. TPCK incorporates all the teaching elements educators need to understand to create an effective technology-enhanced learning environment for different types of learners.

One example of TPCK in a beginner programming class can be the use of Scratch. Scratch is a graphically oriented programming tool that can alleviate the steep learning curve or fear of programming as a beginner. Also, it helps learners understand difficult programming concepts easily.


Leinhardt, G., & Greeno, J.G. (1986). The cognitive skill of teaching. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(2), 75-95.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2007). Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK): Confronting the wicked problems of teaching with technology. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2007 (pp. 2214-2226). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.

Minecraft TPCK

Shulman (1986) highlights why teacher assessments should move beyond evaluations of content knowledge related to subject areas. He argues for the importance of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) which “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). PCK refers to practices and decision-making regarding how to teach particular content. He argues that our understanding of teaching knowledge should include the capacity ‘to transform the content knowledge he or she possesses into forms that are pedagogically powerful and yet adaptive to the variations in ability and background presented by the students” (Shulman, 1987). Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006) introduce the concept of TPCK, in which knowledge of the how technology connects to PCK. I think the conception of teachers as deliverers of content is still somewhat prevalent. The TPCK concepts provide a valuable framework to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the knowledge required to design optimal learning environments.

One example I have done recently was using Minecraft to design and build a research-based HBC fur trading fort that we went on a field trip to. They designed the landscape to resemble land around the Hudson Bay and studied the habitats of beavers. We then designed a game to play inside the Minecraft world that was representative of how the Canadian fur trade functioned.  Math was integrated throughout due to the fort construction and trading. We used the actual ratios for trade that the HBC used. Throughout the game-play kids had to convert different types and amounts of pelts into various quantities of trade goods represented in the game.

Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23.

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

PCK and TPCK as a math teacher

I first came across the concept of PCK and TPCK in ETEC 511 last summer and the concept has stuck with me since then because I think it perfectly captures what I wish to learn from my experiences in the MET program. Before I was a Math teacher, I worked several co-op jobs in the IT industry, where I worked with many people that had strong technical backgrounds. They had experience not only in using technology, but also in building software and the likes. Upon reflection, if those people were put in a classroom, would it make them effective teachers? Not necessarily, because teaching with technology versus utilizing technology are very different things. On the flip side, being a seasoned veteran teacher doesn’t mean that they would be able to pick up any piece of educational software, and be effective at using it to teacher. Between knowing how to use technology, and teaching, there must be a bridge between these two very different knowledge domains, and I think Mishra and Koehler (2006)’s TPCK presents the idea quite well.

One of the most classic example what I consider to be TPCK in the realm of Mathematical teaching comes with the use of graphing technology. As a high school math teacher, one of the most important tools at the senior levels is graphing technology because it allows learners to visualize many of the concepts taught in class. The graphing calculator is a tool that can be used to simplify calculations, to assess learning, and for users to potentially explore creating mathematical tools through programming. In order to effectively teach with a graphing calculator, a teacher must first have the requisite mathematical knowledge and also the pedagogical skills to deliver the content, or otherwise, they must have the PCK needed to teach the course. TPCK takes this knowledge to another level, as teachers must learn ways to teach students how to use the calculator effectively, or in different situations, use graphing software to demonstrate concepts to students.

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

PCK & TPCK- There Is Theory Behind It!

Shulman’s (1986) PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge) theory and Mishra & Koehler’s (2006) more developed TPACK/TPCK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) framework are two acronyms that I had never heard prior to these articles. Mishra & Koehler (2006) delve into both of these terms and explored, during a five-year period, ways in which technology can be added into a teacher’s educational pedagogy. They suggest, as has been mentioned in previous articles throughout this course, the implementation of technology into a classroom is not sufficient enough to make an educational impact.

Shulman (1987) began his research by comparing the teaching practices of new and experienced educators and recorded the ways in which their pedagogy dictated what was (or was not) taught in their classes

Mishra & Koehler (2006) discuss that in order to obtain a proper understanding of “thoughtful pedagogical use of technology” (p.1017), one must develop Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). They realized that technology was being added into lessons but not pedagogically thought out as to its usefulness for the students. In a quote from the Mishra & Koehler (2006) article, they state, “In other words, merely knowing how to use technology is not the same as knowing how to teach with it” (p. 1033). Educators have to have a purpose for adding/using technology in their class. As the diagram I added in the previous post demonstrated, technology has to be added for a number of reasons.

One example of PCK in my classroom is by using the Jigsaw Method. The Jigsaw Method is a cooperative learning strategy that allows students to become well versed in one topic and then break off into mini groups to teach the concepts to their peers. This concept allows students to understand a larger concept but taught by their peers. I find that when my students are engaged in the content with their peers, as opposed to me ‘being the sage on the stage’, the learning curve that occurs is significant. I act as a facilitator and can then roam around to the different groups checking for understanding. While I have not yet added technology to the Jigsaw Method, I could get students to prepare mini summaries of their topic on a Google Doc where they could then share with their peers. The students could add their own thoughts to the shared document and it would expand on this collaborative learning method.


Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14. Text available on Connect.

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23. Text accessible from Google Scholar.

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