Today we did a quickfire that involved “Cooking with TPACK”. I have to admit that I had a lot of fun while learning at the same time! The purpose of the activity was to get us thinking about what TPACK is and how we can implement this lens of thinking into our classroom lessons. You’ve seen this word “TPACK” three times now in my blog post so far and you might be asking what exactly it is. TPACK stands for technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge framework. Now you might be asking, what does this mean? “The skills, competencies, and knowledge specified by the TPACK framework require teachers to go beyond their knowledge of particular disciplines, technologies, and pedagogical techniques in isolation. This is a contingent, flexible kind of knowledge that lies at the intersection of all three of these knowledge bases, allowing the creative repurposing of the traditional approaches“ (Mishra & Koehler, 2009, p. 16). the TPACK framework helps teachers to understand that it is at the crossroads of these three ideas where learning becomes purposeful. Many technologies were not created specifically for classroom use. As teachers, we need to take technology tools and find creative ways to repurpose them to create meaningful lessons (Mishra & Koehler, 2009, p. 16).
Through the quickfire lesson today, we got a chance to repurpose tools ourselves. The activity began with us getting into groups of two or three. I was lucky to work with Donna and Rosie. We were told that one person from our group (we chose Donna) needed to select from a set of given supplies, two items. She was to choose one cooking tool and one vessel, yet we still had no idea what exactly our task was going to be after that. Then we were given a sticky note which told us what we were to create using these tools. We were to create, drum roll please….a yogurt parfait! YUM! You can see the only supplies we had to work with in the picture. As a group, we brainstormed the best way to create our breakfast dish. We decided to crush the granola bars using our fists and tongs. Once these were crumbled, we mixed the yogurt with the tongs and started layering the yogurt and granola. We added two strawberries to the top for a beautiful presentation (shout out to Alan, David, and Erin for sharing the strawberries with us)! Our group was pretty proud of the way that our dish turned out, and it was quite delicious as well! Each group’s dish was impressive!
This was a very neat activity, but what did it have to do with teaching, learning, and technology? This quickfire was an effective way to emphasize the fact that content, pedagogy, and technology need to fit seamlessly together. Just as we would normally not choose our tools before we knew what we were to cook (our content), we shouldn’t chose a method of technology before we know our subject. Had we known that we were going to be creating a yogurt parfait, we probably would not have chosen tongs as our one and only tool. We learned first hand that by choosing our tool first, it made it more difficult to implement the content. In my opinion, some of the groups got really lucky in choosing their tools (who would have guessed that when one group grabbed a pitcher and a whisk that they would end up drawing a sticky note that told them to create whip cream). That just goes to show what might happen in the classroom. I may choose a tool to start with and I might be able to create an effective lesson around it. However, that does not mean that was the best way to go about it because often times I may not get so lucky!
“Teachers need to develop a willingness to play with technologies and an openness to building new experiences for students so that fun, cool tools can be educational” (Mishra & Koehler, 2009, p.18). This is the direction that all teachers need to be moving in. However, we cannot get caught up with just the technology tools. The technology is not the sole focus of the lesson, the content is key. We need to understand that content, pedagogy, and technology should not exist in isolation. When we are confident with our content, we can choose from a variety of technology tools in our toolbox to use in order to create the most effective lesson we can.
Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too.
Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18.