TPACK Tech Integration

The TPACK instructional design framework is one of the most important topics that I have used and learned about during the MAET program.  After being introduced to it last year with our lenses lesson, I was excited to continue working with it this summer.  tpack.pngAs technology continues to change the field of education and before teachers start hopping on the bandwagon of the next best thing, TPACK needs to be considered.  It is a framework to consider the pedagogy, technology, and content knowledge of what student learning you are trying to accomplish.  Besides these three ideas, your context must also be considered in what will be best for your students with the resources you have.

For the TPACK assignment on instructional design, I was partnered with my colleague, Rick Forrest.  The first step was to describe a problem of practice that we each face within our classrooms.  We described our context and details of our problem and then shared the documents with one another.  Looking through the lens of a technology integrationist we were to find a potential solution to their problem.  We worked through the design thinking model to help us along the way.

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Rick is a middle school PE teacher and his problem was the forearm volleyball pass.  In talking with him, it seems that there were some misconceptions on the important parts of the skill.  I contacted members of my professional learning network for help, researched and began to ideate some possible prototypes.

Throughout my process of solving this problem I kept TPACK in mind.  The content knowledge was unclear to students and needed to be refined to be more effective for student learning.  In my prototype, I offer multiple tools, high and low tech to help increase student learning of the proper form for passing the volleyball.  The rubric identifies important parts and gives students something tangible to have with them to help them remember what they need to do. By critiquing their peers, students are challenged to put the new knowledge to the test.  They have to be able to identify the right and wrong form.  Students are also usually more accepting of feedback when it comes from their peers.

After presenting my prototype to Rick, I was happy with the work I had done.  He said that he could definitely use parts of the lessons and tweak them to work with his students.  He was a little overwhelmed with everything I had to offer, but was interested in the ideas and resources.  He said he never would have thought of some of the things before.

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology. Link to article: “Too Cool for School” EJ839143


Research 101

Research.  Just hearing this one word often brings fear to many and groans to others. Many people view research as a very dry, boring, complicated topic with long articles full of technical jargon.  After reading the book, When Can You Trust The Experts, and going through the process of conducting a research study, I have some new ideas about the implications of research in education.

To begin our research journey my colleagues and I explored the different types of research studies.  As we discussed different types we thought about topics in education that interested us.  Our cohort broke up into research groups based on our interests.  My group spent days reflecting and redefining our research question.  We were all interested in school calendar schedules and the implications that year round school systems have on student learning.  The research articles we found were a mix of supporting year round schooling in a positive light, negative, and some said that school schedule did not make a difference in student learning.


Image Credit: Rachel Larner

Based on our limitations we chose to form our study around the question of, “Do teachers view year round schooling in a more positive light compared to a traditional school schedule?”  We developed a plan on how to gather data and came up with a Google Forms survey.  This made the most sense as we were in a foreign country with limited connection to educators.  We needed to hear back from participants very quickly as we had limited time to conduct the study.  The survey was quick and convenient for our participants to complete.  We sent this out to our professional learning networks via social media, emails, and text messages.  Through our analysis of the 54 responses, we had many takeaways on the perceptions of teachers on this topic.

Our participants provided us with a variety of feedback, some were contradictory, and some depicted a few overall themes.  70% of our participants reported that year round schooling is best for student learning.  As we reflected more on the results, we discovered some issues within our survey that may have affected our data.  The biggest issue was that our participants did not have an understanding of the definition of year round schooling.  Many thought that year round schooling meant no breaks.  If we were to conduct another research study surrounding this topic a definition of year round schooling we would include a definition of year round schooling at the beginning of our survey.


Photo Credit: Megan Dreffs

We reflected on more changes for the future as well as the pros and cons of our research method.  We then put everything together into a presentation that we shared with our colleagues.

I feel that I gained a lot from this research experience.  It was trying at times through the planning and development stages, but this project pushed me to be even more conscious of how assumption can cause problems in research.  It also opened my eyes to the complexity of research in education.  There is great diversity in where teachers work, what subjects they teach, what type of schools they teach in, and just their ideas and perceptions.  Humans are fascinating to study because each person is different, however that is what makes researching them so difficult.  There is no 100% answer to how everyone feels, thinks, or perceives.  Research is a beautiful, stressful, confusing, interesting part of our world.

GREAT17: Leading the Way

As part of the Michigan State MAET program in Galway, Ireland, second year students are in charge of planning and presenting at an international conference.  Going into this summer and finishing my third year of teaching, my experiences with educational conferences was limited.  I could count the number of conferences I have been to on one hand and none were related to technology.  With that said, after 13 crazy work days of planning, I have a new appreciation for all of the work that goes into organizing a conference.  The GREAT17 (Global Resources in Education and Technology) was one of the most memorable and significant components of my Masters education.


Image Credit: GREAT17 Marketing Team

My MAET year two cohort of 23 educators researched various topics of interest in educational technology, designed learning experiences, practiced presentations, created a website, divided into teams, and promoted the international GREAT17 conference on social media platforms. Our cohort communicated well and worked together with no detail left unnoticed.

I was responsible for being a contributing member of the logistics team.  I assisted in coordinating and communicating decisions that our team made to other planning teams.  I designed the feedback form for the conference specifically as well as the name tags that the participants wore at the conference.  On each name-tag were the numbers of the three rooms that participants were to visit during the three sessions.  I double checked the work of my team member to be sure participants were not only getting to see a topic of their interest based on our survey, but that each session had fairly even numbers.  On the day of the conference I was the “key master” in charge of unlocking all of the doors in the morning and locking them afterwards.

I stayed informed with overall progress of our conference planning and spoke up when I felt things needed to be tweaked or changed.  In one of our whole group planning discussions I suggested the change of an activity planned for the afternoon of the conference.  I thought of having everyone in the conference choose an educational app or technology that they are passionate about and participate in a Speed Dating App activity.  After taking a vote, my colleagues agreed and it was very successful at GREAT17.  Sometimes I get nervous to speak up in a large group of peers, however I am proud of myself for stepping up and voicing my opinion. lead

As I look back on the planning of this experience, I have a greater appreciation for event planners.  With 23 people weighing in on conversations, sometimes it felt as if there were “too many cooks in the kitchen”.  With that said, we respected each other’s ideas and our team made sure that every detail was taken care of before the big day.  I had specific responsibilities within my logistics team, but it took all of my colleague’s contributions for a successful conference.

Adaptive and Assistive Technology

As a special education teacher, I am very intrigued by assistive technologies that are out there for students with disabilities to utilize in their education.  My presentation partner, Kristen, and I struggled to find common ground of a topic as we both had different ideas that related to adaptive technology.  She was thinking more along the lines of adaptive programs and how to implement them into your classroom seamlessly.  After researching and having many conversations of going back and forth with different ideas, we chose to move forward with adaptive and assistive technology.

File_001My partner and I designed our presentation into more that just a lecture of research and information related to our topic. We wanted to clear up confusions about adaptive and assistive and ultimately foster an experience where participants could walk away with a deeper understanding of adaptive technology and the implications for their classroom. We set up an experience where our participants explored an assistive technology tool, Google Read and Write, applied their own thinking to analyze the tool, and shared out their information to the group in a one minute challenge.  We wanted to break the stigma of a formal conference presentation.

Finalizing this design did not come easy to us.  Planning a conference session for teacher may seem the same as planning a lesson for students, but it was much more stressful. We revised our ideas numerous times, met with colleagues, professors, and ran through practice sessions to ensure that this was the best design.  We were even making some tweaks the day before the conference after receiving more feedback from our instructors.  Our final presentation was developed in Google Slides and contains all parts of our learning experience.


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I was very excited to present and share our information with the participants at the GREAT 17 conference.  Overall, I am very proud of how our presentation turned out.  We only had a few technological difficulties that my partner and I solved on the spot.  I spoke with enthusiasm, energy, and felt comfortable with the information that I presented.  Looking back on the video of our presentation, I found a few ares that I need to improve on before presenting professionally again.

Our conference theme, Lead the Way, will continue to impact the way I think about technology in education.  I have gained new ideas for my classroom, learned from my participants and colleagues, and plan to utilize this experience to help me lead the way back at my school.  I feel confident and inspired to return with amazing resources for assistive technologies for my students, teachers, and parents, as well as a multitude of different professional development ideas.

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Photo Credit: Chris Sloan

This conference experience has taught me that leadership comes from within your team.  It comes from collaboration, communication, and teamwork.  It comes from flexibility and making the best out of what you have.  It comes from sharing a common goal and organization.  Most importantly, it comes from each team member contributing and utilizing their talents to be creative and revolutionary.

When I return back to Michigan, I will leave Galway with a new understanding of leadership.  Next year I plan to make small changes within my school to help Lead the Way.  Through teaching and coaching I can create an environment where others can join me in Leading the Way.  I am grateful for this experience and will never forget the lessons that I have learned.