Thursday, January 29, 2009


The chapter addresses the digital divide and proposes three levels of division. The first level is access to hardware, software, and the Internet. The second level is access to achievement-enhancing technology mediated instruction. The third level of the divide is access to culture-sensitive technological pedagogy.

This chapter did not grab me as much as the introductory chapter. In spite of coming from an economically deprived area (Washington County) my parents always found the money for computers. We had an Apple when I was 3 but no TV until I was 12. Also, since starting my career as a teacher, I have worked in either a privately-funded school with lots of technology, or Maine public schools with the MLTI program in place. Whenever I have started a new position, my first question is about access to tools, and I have never been disappointed. I am very lucky.

The second divide is about limited access to achievement enhancing technology mediated instruction, and this does strike a chord with me. I believe many teachers today have no real idea of how to use the tools effectively. Often I find myself silently re-writing a lesson to use tech effectively. Anytime I see a paper survey I want to shout SURVEY MONKEY! I keep quiet, however, because I know that my own fluency comes from early engagement and interaction with effective technology. When I was 12 nd homeschooled my brother and I produced a newspaper using a desktop pubishing program. Oh, that little paper was cherished in our small town! And it was an effective teaching project for us.

The third divide pertains to culture sensitive technological pedagogy. This is a new concept for me to grasp. When I think of different cultures using technology my mind jumps to myriad Spanish-speaking friends from various countries who can text and make power points with facility. However, I do wonder about some programs like Glogster which uses words such as “emo” to describe a style. My kids in school could not believe this! “Emo” was seen as very negative to them.

So using technology is not as simple as, “Here is this tool, use it.” A hammer naturally lends itself to swinging and hammering but when a student is asked to created a database of known plants on a nature trail and MAP them, where to start? What if the student does not come from a family of naturalists? What if they have never heard of GPS? The divides make for “wicked problems” again which deserve customized solutions. I try. I try.


Knowledge is an implement (tool) one constructs and wields. This is different than the connectivist approach--it is constructivist. It suggests knowledge is dynamic however and not “acquired” but “created”. I like that. This creation allows for a “kinesthetic imagery”--I like that too! Reminds me of Martha Graham and her theory that the body never lies.

This TPCK idea came into my brain last summer for Sue’s course. When I found it online my brain exploded. “This is IT, something to explain ME.” It was like when I discovered Loris Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia practices. “I am not alone!” The breakdown of what each letter stands for helped me to understand why I do what I do, why I am good at what I do, and essentially, how to name what I do. The naming of things gives me power.

For me, content knowledge is (broadly) the humanities and more specifically modern languages (French, English, Spanish). I am not a master of the content (there is so much to learn) but I do have a very good grasp of the concepts, theories, ideas, organizational framework, knowledge of evidence and proof, and established practices and approaches. Content knowledge is an ill-structured domain which means it is dynamic, infinite. I love that!!

The pedagogical knowledge part is something I think I was born with. I’ve never not known how to relate to learners. Even as a chld I was picked to teach lessons to younger kids in Sunday School and I remember my first lesson, planning it meticulously, arranging the elements over and over in my mind, wondering how to engage and keep motivated my unruly group of seven year olds. I occasionally have dreams of an unruly class (doesn’t everyone?) but in general, I am able to manage my classes effectively. It’s just the way I am. I have a plan, I am flexible, I relate to the kids, and I take no crap.

So a highly effective teacher has both C and P....I think I have both C and P....I also think I am effective.
There should be no divide between instructor and technologist. AMEN TO THAT. Technology tools are TOOLS and as a teacher I use a variety of TOOLS. I fear no technology because I have been exposed since the age of 3 (more on that when I discuss the digital divides.)

Teaching is a WICKED PROBLEM. I love this!!! No stopping rule, no right or wrong, only degrees of usefulness, good, bad. The solution must always be custom-designed. (Oh, I wish that kids were seen as wicked problems instead of grouped into lumps to process). Solutions often lead to new wicked problems, and have social and psychological complexity but rarely technological complexity. True that!

Ask essential questions!

Teach problem solving! Teach with inquiry! This is so like my restaurant unit that went over in December. The problem: you are opening a Spanish restaurant. It was a wicked problem indeed and they kids solved it in amazing ways. I tood back, guided...but they had to do so much work.

Teachers need more PRE-SERVICE and IN-SERVICE training. It is a tragedy that UMF does not require pre-teachers to get Macs like the ones the students have in MLTI.

A wee bit more and I am done. Technology knowledge is always in a state of flux. What really matters is the fluency of information technology. Teachers need to evolve over a lifetime with generative, open-ended technology. I feel this all the time, I am hungry for new tools and rush to learn them.

Technology content knowledge is an understanding of the manner in which technology and content influence and constrain one another. I love that it is understood that technology constrains the types of representations that be made, but also affords the construction of newer and more varied representations. THINK BIG I say and BE CREATIVE with the use of tech. I use Wordles all the time now to help measure words. I use Webspiration even though it is for business. This leads to TPK--creative flexibility with available tools in order to repurpose them for specific pedagogical purposes.

Technological content knowledge is understaning how teaching and learning change when tech is used to teach. I have a second nature of this already; I know to look, listen, observe my students on computers and check constantly. Not big brother but “I am here, and where are you?” It helps to have projects the kids are interested in.

The whole mash-up of TPCK is understanding through interaction of the domains represented. When wicked problems arise (as they should!) the effective, expert teacher can tap into these domains to help students understand.

I do think I have a handle on TPCK but I am sure there is a lot to learn and reflect on. It is nice to know there is a name for what I do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EDU 569 reflections

EDU 569 was a very enjoyable class. Technically it was over before Christmas but my professor graciously allowed me extra time to review the textbook. I am going to put multiple chapters in one entry for ease of posting. Click here for the first entry (which I actually completed on time.) This has not been the best showing of my ability to make deadline. However I am thankful for professors who are flexible and who are encouraging as I juggle working and grad school.

So here goes the rest of the reflections for EDU569, my Mind Tools course.

Chapter 3

A database is an electronic filing cabinet that can be highly specialized. It's compact and allows for quick entry. It uses a content domain, event, or set of records. It is organized by fields. Database manipulation tools can be used to answer queries. It is an organization tool. I think instantly of Flickr! After reading this I also am curious as to search language that some of my students use, with quotes and things....usually my tack is word combinations (semantic network anyone?)

Databases integrate and interrelate ideas, making them more meaningful and memorable.

In order to build a database, the builder must identify underlying dimensions. A teacher should guide, not direct, the creation of a database by a learner. Constructing a database involves analytical, creative, critical and complex skills.

It is a data model with content relationships.

Copying a database is not effective for a learner, only constructing/creating one is.

Just like in a network, the more data available, the more understanding in available. Databases are like semantic networks. (WORDS ARE POWER). Databases support other Mindtools.

Make a plan and review it often.

Assessing a database...p. 54 can be used for Ruris Scientia.

A database can contain stories, or related events. This inspires me to assign database creation for SAM (the video series I have been using in Spanish 1) next year.

Constructing a database is much more powerful than memorizing a database. It is a medium of social negotiation. (p. 55). It is collaborative as opposed to individual.

Chapter 4

Semantic networks are spatial representations of concepts. They are graphs consisting of nodes representing concepts.

They identify relationships between concepts. IDEAS are known as SCHEMAS (reminds my of my lit class at Orono, and all that talk of activating schema!). It organizes underlying ideas.

Knowledge is organized semantically in memory. Dynamic modeling involves declarative knowledge as well as procedural knowledge (the two are interrelated). Declarative knowledge is knowing what, procedural knowledge is knowing how.

Focus the process of studying in a constructive way. Can be used as self-assessments or a planning tool. P. 66 quote for Lit Review:

"A growing body of evidence is linking semantic networking to other learning outcomes, so educators are becoming more secure in their assessments of student nets as a learning outcome method."

p. 69 How to use in classroom.

Evaluating students' semantic nets: look for embeddedness, centrality, direct and indirect links. I would LOVE to evaluate a wiki using Statcounter and this model on p. 76.

Limitations: limited ability to present causal relationships.

Chapter 5

Spreadsheets were designed to replace ledger systems. This reminds me of collecting taxes in Talmadge and our ancient books! They are about formulas, and storing, calculating and presenting data. Spreadsheets amplify and reorganize mental functioning.

Spreadsheets use existing rules, generate new rules and organize information, allowing learners to offload data. p. 88 "Spreadsheets are calculators that offload cognitive effort associated with with computations."

Spreadsheets are a powerful manipulation tool! The user must identify all steps of numerical solutions.

I want my 4's to use spreadsheets to help them design the unit they are working on.

Spreadsheets can be used as a simulation model, how cool!!

Students can produce their own simulations, a simplified model of the world they want to create (how useful for a budget!!)

p. 99 "working in small, collaborative groups"....the more nodes the more knowledge.

This is a critical, creative, complex and logical way of thinking. Easy to adapt and modify.

Limitations: most effective solving quantitative problems.

Advantages: Spreadsheets demonstrate value and relationships. They support speculation, decision-making, and problem-solving. They integrate graphics with computation. They reorganize mental functioning.

Chapter 6


Chapter 7

Systems modeling

Evidently a very powerful way to simulate phenomena. I found this chapter hard to digest, I need to see it "in real life".

Chapter 8


Chapter 11

Hypermedia--see above


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