Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TPACK in the Classroom             

            In order to be a well informed citizen of society, it is vital that one remains up to date on the events that are occurring around them.  To instill this practice in younger generations, many teachers have students’ research current events using newspapers, magazines, or the internet beginning at an early age.  While it is highly beneficial for students to learn about the world around them by discovering major government decisions, investigating crimes, or staying informed about natural disasters, educators need to be mindful of the way they are having students research and learn.  Many students, especially those in high school, are turned loose at a computer, told to research a current event, and given no further instruction.  As one may think, this method of teaching is often unsuccessful and a teacher will quickly lose control of their classroom. 

            Imagine sitting in a Civics and Economics classroom full of high school seniors eager to graduate in only a few short months.  It is fourth period and the last thing that students want to do is be attentive for another hour and forty-five minute class.  The high school that the students attend is a one-to-one school, meaning that each student has their own personal laptop pulled up on their desk.  As soon as the bell rings, the teacher instructs the students to use their laptops to research their current event for the day.  As soon as they find one, he wants them to summarize the event in their notebooks and then turn it in; this is the same set of instructions that the students hear daily…this was my class.

            The teacher that I had was fresh out of college.  This was his first semester being in complete control over a classroom and he was eager to make use of the laptops that each of us had.  While his intentions were great, he was missing something exceedingly important; he didn’t realize that turning students loose on computers wasn’t really going to teach us anything about current events.  Other than giving us a few websites such as cnn.com, he didn’t provide any instruction.  Therefore each student would often pick the first event they came to on that website, quickly write about it, and then spend the remainder of the time allotted surfing the web looking at things that interested them.  No follow up would ever come from the assignment causing the class to become disinterested and unmotivated quickly. 

            While he was striving to incorporate technology into his lessons, our teacher never took the time to explain why exploring current events was beneficial to us.  He knew the content well; however, he was not able to relay his information to his students.  When relating his content to the TPACK framework, it is easily identified that his lessons fell solely in the technology bubble.  If he would have been using the information that we found to stimulate class discussion, it would have been much more balanced.  Although he did use technology, he could have improved his lessons by using a variety of websites to keep the class stimulated.  For example, we could have created word clouds using wordle.com or tagxedo.com and then presented them to the class.  In addition, we could have used goanimate.com or other movie creation websites to make our current event into a movie.  After doing this, he could have explained how those events related to us as a way to make it personal.  If he would have done this, the learning experience would have been much more positive!