The excitement my students feel when they walk into my classroom and something out of the ordinary is going on, is something you can feel in the air. There is always chatter, although not the same type of catch up chatter that follows a weekend. It’s a hushed chatter that has a sense of secrecy to it. As an educator, you know what is about to happen; yet you feel like the secret keeper. By the time everyone is seated, you sense some of the students are processing, others have their hands high in the air, while a few are biting their tongue as to not let you in on their anticipation. Today, much like my students, I had the joy of entering such a classroom. Mine luckily also involved food, double whammy! Our Master’s classroom consists of 11 students in a classroom setting. On four of the five tables was a beautiful array of food items. Each had a central theme, i.e. sandwiches on one table and fruit on another. With simple directions like “Make a Fruit Salad”. Upon entering the classroom we were each asked to pick form a box of kitchen tools ranging from a potato masher to a pizza cutter. Than we selected a piece of paper that stated exactly what table we would take our chosen tool to. Only one rule, we could not trade or borrow another’s tool. So began the slicing and dicing of a cantaloupe for me, only I couldn’t quite get the cutting done with just my pizza slicer. As a matter of fact my colleague who had tongs with serrated edges had to assist me in puncturing the cantaloupe in order for me to cut all the way through the skin. Noticing that we were not the only ones presented with such obstacles, the table next to us was making whip cream with just a spatula and a bowl far to small for the task, I was relieved. Relieved because I suspected this was an absolute set up, our instructor held not only a secret but also a camera!
To make the connection the context of our reading assignment over the weekend consisted of an article To Cool for School? No Way! Using the TPACK Framework: You Can Have Your Hot Tools and Teach with Them, Too. The article put into perspective the role technology has in teaching. How? By explaining what is needed when thinking about how teachers in particular, should think about using technology when teaching content. As Mishra and Koehler explain, many of today’s technologies are not created specifically for teaching or even in the school setting. So this wonderful secret our instructor kept wasn’t exactly a secret at all, only an illustration of the concepts that Mishra and Koehler were trying to present in this assigned article. Primarily a teacher must not only have a deep understanding of content, referred to as Content Knowledge (what is a fruit salad). There also has to be an understanding of the process, Pedgogy (how can I effectively put a fruit salad together). The teacher must also have in place the right tool(s) to assist in accomplishing the task. Or else just like my partner table, whipped cream mess, just using any tool for the sake of using the tool will not produce the desired results.
Resource: Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18.