Thursday, January 29, 2009


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.

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