The initial goals of my ImagineIT were to help teachers create learning experiences that promoted conceptual understanding and to help them integrate tech into their teaching practice. Initially, I approached this goal by aligning the objectives of many of our school’s professional development (PD) meetings to this work. Some teachers made shifts or followed up for further support, but there was not as much movement as I had hoped and many teachers perceived these PDs as another set of top down initiatives. As a result, I considered that building closer relationships with teachers through small group and individual planning sessions might better help me reach my goal. This approach seemed to have a greater impact on teacher receptiveness to making shifts in their instruction. Even still, these meetings did not reach everyone. To try to broaden my reach, I began performing informal instructional rounds. I observed a handful of classes each week and provided them feedback that both praised the many amazing things already occurring in their lessons, provided some “wonderings” that might push them to think about their practice, and also provided a tech tip that built on or complemented the lesson I had observed.
An issue that continued to surface was that many teachers felt that integrating new technology seemed like and arduous and time consuming task. Even those teachers who wanted to integrate tech felt like it is challenging and too time consuming during the school year to sift through the seemingly infinite set of ed tech resources to find a quality, product they could easily learn, had minimal cost, and would actually add value to their instruction. This barrier reminded me of times in my own teaching where I needed a fresh idea and was able to use a tool a math coach in my previous school gifted to us. The tool was simple, a set of pedagogical strategies on notecards held together by a ring. I knew that having an easily accessible list of vetted tech and pedagogical ideas at the ready would certainly help my practice in supporting teachers and could help remove the hurdle so many teachers feel when trying to find new practices. From this, the idea of the TPACK App was born.
The app gives some background and further resources about TPACK** and then provides the following options:
- A resource bank of instructional ideas, which includes explanation and links to further resources.
- A resource bank of vetted, free tech that can be utilized on any device (computers, tablets, apple, android, etc). There are a small handful of resources that have a marginal cost or can only be used on one type of product (Apple only), but these resources were exceptional.
- The TPACK Inspiration Station, where a piece of tech (or idea that needs tech) and a pedagogical strategy are offered up in (semi-) random pairs. The idea with this option is that it will help support teachers in considering technology and pedagogy with their content (TPACK) and hopefully give them a prompt that will help them create new and innovative learning experiences.
- A social feed where teachers can collaborate and share their ideas, questions, successes and failures.
While I have named the component that offers technology and pedagogical tools the Inspiration Station, I am hopeful the real inspiration with result from collaboration in the social feed. The conversations I had with current teachers, former colleagues, and other MSU fellows reminded me that the most powerful tool educators have for supporting our growth is each other.
The app is not perfect and I am already working on improvements (any feedback is welcome here), but the willingness to try, reflect, revise, and try again is at the heart of the shifts that need to occur in our classrooms and in our teachers. This process has allowed me to think deeply about what matters and how best to support learning, whether with students or teachers. Going forward, I will continue to collaborate with teachers about TPACK based instruction, but I will be more intentional and transparent in my justification of why we need to consider altering our instruction, just as I will ask my teachers to help students see the relevance of the tasks they put before them.
Some Artifacts from my Imagine IT:
- Padlet from collaborative work where teachers identified what skills students needed to be successful on a mock summative assessment and posted learning experiences aligned to these skills (note all the entries with my name are not from me, we actually have multiple Annmaries at my school, which is crazy!):
2. Template for instructional round feedback:
|Written Plan Feedback:|
|Global Context:||Key Concepts:|
|Written Curriculum Feedback:|
|Instructional Round Feedback:|
3. Some examples of tech tips include:
- I observed two vocabulary lessons in different ELA classes.
- One teacher provided students with picture and then prompted them to write the verbiage for a meme that incorporated vocabulary words. My suggestion was to have students select the pictures and use technology to actually create memes completely of their own design. I provided a list of easy photo editors that could be used. I also suggested the memes could be tweeted out using a class hashtag or posted to the class website.
- Another teacher had his students create skits to act out the meaning of the words without saying the vocabulary word outright. My suggestion was that the students might just create a video, which again could be posted to their class website and used for future reference by the students.
- I observed a chemistry class where students were working in stations to review concepts prior to an assessment.
- I suggested that each station could have its own shared Google form where students could submit their answers. The results from the various groups could then be collated and shared with the class so that they could access everyone’s results in the hope of gaining more insight into the concept. Additionally, these submissions could also be evaluated as an entire class on a second day of review. The class could work together to evaluate the submissions and craft a class answer that combined the individual group submissions into one complete and accurate response.
4. A video I created when teaching a model lesson in a 9th grade math class. The lesson had students explore how real life relationships can be modeled with graphs. This lesson was collaboratively planned and all the collaborating teachers agreed that the students were going to struggle connecting the real life scenarios to their graphs. I made a video to model three of what we considered to be the toughest scenarios so that students would have a visual to assist them in understanding.
The three scenarios were
a) The speed of a golf ball during its trajectory.
b) The circumference of a balloon as it is blown up.
c) The area of the light generated by a projector as the projector is moved away from the screen.