Throughout the first two weeks of my Masters classes in Education Technology, I gained insight into topics such as TPACK, UDL and Networked Learning. Through my studies, and through my lesson plan revision process, I developed a deeper understanding for creating lessons that utilize technology tools, but keep content and pedagogy at the center. In this lesson, I will challenge students to learn about variables, like terms and simplifying through inquiry. I plan to utilize the lesson next year, in the pre-algebra classroom with middle schoolers.
Initially, I created this lesson plan because this topic is one students struggle with throughout their math careers. After seeing high school and college level students struggle to understand solving equations, I went back to the basics to form a lesson that allowed students to inquire about variables and collaborate on successful methods to simplify expressions.
Through the process of integrating TPACK, UDL and Networked Learning frameworks, I was able to enhance this lesson.
TPACK, meaning technological pedagogical and content knowledge, is a framework that encourages educators to consider how these three areas interact. Through my learning of TPACK and my own revisions with TPACK, I learned to keep content at the center, and utilize technology as a tool for learning, rather than simply throw technology into a lesson because I can. In this lesson, the tools necessary for success were low tech, but still incredibly important. Rather than think of ways to incorporate high tech tools, I saw the value in markers and highlighters, remembering that content and pedagogy are key.
When I completed my Universal Design for Learning revisions, I researched Dyscalculia, and the struggling math student. I learned that one of the best ways to assist these students, was to allow for repetition in explanation. I revisited the TPACK framework, and decided that a screencast was the best tool for the job. Since my lesson centers around inquiry, I proposed that my students would explain their methods for identifying like terms on an iPad, using Educreations. Students would then have access to these mini-explanations at home, using our online platform. I found that this was a significant step forward in my plan, because it can have an impact at home.
After creating my own Professional Learning Network, I was encouraged to consider how networked learning fit into my lesson. In this final revision for networked learning, I utilized my UDL revision to prompt students to think about their own networks within the classroom, and outside of it. I hoped this addition to the lesson would allow for meaningful discussion about the transfer of ideas, and the power of collaboration. This revision also asked me to consider my own networks that were utilized in the creation of my lesson.
This project as a whole has forced me to consider the circular nature of learning. I began with a lesson plan that was solid. Then after learning about TPACK, made revisions that integrated technology as a tool, not the main attraction. I followed that by making additional revisions when considering the struggling student and UDL framework. Finally, I added in a crucial piece with networked learning, where I considered my own networks, then challenged students to do the same. In this final lesson 5.0, I have been asked to synthesize all of my revisions, to create a lesson plan that incorporates all thinking.
The reason this project had such an impact on me, is that the final piece of this puzzle asked me to go back to the beginning. Instead of me simply taking one draft and revising for a final draft, I have slowly integrated each learning objective into this plan, and at the very end returned to where I started. I believe this circular way of looking at my learning and my revision process has helped me see the value in teaching in chunks.
In many ways, this is how math teachers will teach a chapter. I might start with a simple concept, then add onto it throughout each day of the unit. Finally, I will ask my students to synthesize everything and take a test. The piece that I believe is missing from that process, is where students go back to the beginning, and reflect on what they have learned. In my English classroom, I asked students to reflect on their learning and thinking throughout a unit, yet in math, this idea is rarely considered. This project has forced me to consider the power in student reflection on their growth, and it will impact my classroom moving forward.
In my final lesson plan, attached HERE, the first section is my original plan. The second section is my lesson plan 5.0, which includes revisions from TPACK, UDL and Networked Learning. In lesson 5.0, you will notice that extensions options are color coded in orange, to make it clear that these are optional, if the technology, ability and time allows.