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My Journey Into TPACK for Personalized Professional Development

By Charline Barnes Rowland
 | Aug 07, 2019

Several years ago, I transitioned from being a teacher educator who prepares literacy professionals to a professional developer who designs, facilitates, and coordinates training for college faculty. While I worked with instructors from all disciplines in higher education, I am constantly being reminded that I myself need to continuously participate in ongoing professional learning. However, with an extremely busy work schedule, this year I decided to forgo conferences and instead embrace Standard 6 of ILA’s

Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017—Professional Learning and Leadership—via a 14-week online graduate course.

In a 2017 Literacy Daily post, education writer, editor, and literary host Willona Sloan writes about personalizing one’s professional development. She specifically mentions using digital tools and platforms that help literacy educators acquire skills and knowledge to tailor to their own and their school’s needs.

Not only did this course fulfill my state teaching certification requirement, but also it exposed me to more online tools and strategies for preparing learners for present and future. The online graduate course used the D2L learning management system. The instructor hosted and recorded weekly, synchronous videoconference meetings with Zoom.

The course was centered on the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework, which focuses on effective teaching with technology. This may involve application of specific technologies for subject matter learning. The use of digital tools and resources to support student learning was constantly highlighted throughout the course following International Society for Technology in Education standards. Throughout this course, the instructor, Professor Whitman, allowed us to provide kindergarten through adult technology tools through her SLAM (Sharing, Learning and Mentoring) table as noted below.


However, rubrics were the main form of assessment for the assignments in this course.

The instructor also required demonstration of content knowledge. As a specialized literacy professional, I used both ILA and the National Council of Teachers of English to showcase my literacy and language knowledge. For example, the Group Change Story assignment, “Suzy Sloth Makes a Breakthrough,” allowed me to collaborate with an elementary teacher to write a seven-slide story about a person’s change process while trying to integrate innovation. We selected Edpuzzle, an interactive video lesson site, as the innovation. The instructor provided the story template via Google Docs. As a result, I reconnected with digital storytelling tools such as LittleBirdTales for creating original art and voice recordings, Pixton for Schools for creating digital comics, and VoiceThread, an interactive audio narration that can be embedded in a site or blog.

I experienced pedagogical knowledge trends by reviewing 16 Habits of Mind and nine elements of digital citizenship. With a growth mind-set, I created two projects that incorporated these two trends. My learning management system project, a self-paced module entitled “Diversity Practices in Online Courses,” is an example where college instructors identify and discuss issues related to inclusive teaching in higher education. The module consisted of creating a word cloud around the term diversity, completing a 3-2-1 self-reflection and an online quiz. I also created and facilitated an iMovie professional development session for K–12 teachers. Participants learn to incorporate the iMovie tool into lessons to plan, create, and assess short student videos. These pedagogical knowledge trends helped me to be a more reflective practitioner–scholar as I aligned learning objectives with educational outcomes to enhance critical and responsible ways in which instructors can work with learners in traditional and digital learning environments.

My personalized TPACK journey concluded with relinking to innovation in education technology, to exploring digital tools and to strengthening my ability to coordinate digital professional learning experiences. Going on this path enabled me to contribute and advocate for interrelationship to content knowledge, teaching and learning practices, and professional learning communities. Through this journey, I enhanced my ability to create opportunities for teachers to collaborate, discuss, and apply what they learn in a variety of learning spaces. Why not try your own personalized professional development and see where it leads you in addressing the needs of your learners and colleagues?           
I am grateful to Professor Melissa Whitman, Technology Integration Specialist, in the Nazareth Area (Pennsylvania) School District, for expanding my online teaching tool kit through her course.

Charline Barnes Rowland is a teaching and learning consultant for the University Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a former university faculty member, public school classroom teacher, and reading specialist, and member of the Board of Directors of ILA (formerly International Reading Association). She received her EdD in curriculum and instruction from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), a master’s degree in reading education from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in English education and psychology from Syracuse University.

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