Teaching Understanding with Technology


My first class for my Masters of Arts in Educational Technology is coming to a close. Over the past six weeks I have been learning about how technology can change the game for learning with understanding. As a teacher it is my goal to teach students to be successful learners and thinkers. I want to empower my students to take control of their learning and discover what skills they already have and skills needed to become expert learners. I learned from Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) that students can be taught certain strategies that will enable them to progress from novice learners to expert learners. Expert learners are able to “recognize the limits of one’s current knowledge, then take steps to remedy that situation” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 42)

In my CEP810 class I was able to put this expert learner strategy to the test. I decided to learn the new skill of cooking mushroom risotto. I have a basic level of knowledge when it comes to cooking. Before I was able to cook risotto I needed to assess my abilities and decide what skills I needed to gain in order to make a delicious risotto. I was able to use technology to learn new skills, such as cutting vegetables, sautéing, and setting up my mise en place. By only using the internet I was able to find sources that were “technology-rich, language-rich, literacy-rich, and socially-rich”(Gee 2013, p. 15). The question that I have after going through this exercise is how to incorporate this kind of learning for my kindergarten students or any grade level I may teach in the future. I want my students to have the opportunity to explore and expand their level of understanding using the “affinity school system” just as I did.

One of the last things that I learned from the course was the theory of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK), which was developed by Dr. Matthew Koehler and Dr. Punya Mishra. TPACK is the idea that technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge are not things that can be thought of separately when planning a learning experience, but need to be interwoven and can be enhanced by one another. Pedagogy is the deep understanding of the practices that need to be taught in order for students to gain understanding of the content in any subject. Technology can be used to support the learners’ understanding of the content and the teachers’ instruction of the content. After learning about TPACK and how I can use it to redesign my lesson planning, I want to teach my students how to use these skills as well. I believe that teaching students how to reflect, redesign, and repurpose is vital to enabling them to problem solve more effectively.

In my classroom we do a lot of Project Based Learning units. I present the class with a driving question, and all the lessons we do are geared towards answering that driving question. I love teaching this way because I get to learn about my students and the background knowledge they have about different topics. I learned from Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) that in order for learning with understanding to occur a student must combine their preconceived notions of the world with the new concepts they are learning. These are the kinds of connections I am trying to make in my own classroom when we are doing PBL projects. Students must reflect on their schema to determine what they already know about answering the driving question. Once we have determined what we already know about the question, we have to find out what we need to know. This is when the exploration and play can come in.


Where do I go now? How do I utilize all I have learned from CEP810 and put it into my teaching? How can I continue to use the “affinity school system” to explore new skills? These are questions that I am left with after completing CEP810. I know I want to explore using different technologies as I did to support my own teaching and student learning. I also want to explore repurposing apps for my students. Can I have my students use apps or other technologies we use regularly in different ways?  One of the things I am most excited about is continuing my own understanding of technologies and how I can support my students in using them to explore and play. When I had the chance to explore different internet resources to learn how to cook risotto I was a driven learner. I want my students to become driven learners, and I believe letting them explore and play with technology can help them do that. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts. I welcome and encourage comments or reflections.


Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 3-27). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368

Gee, J. P. (2013). Digital Media and LearningA Prospective Retrospective Retrieved from http://jamespaulgee.com/pdfs/Digital%20Media%20and%20Learning.pdf

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf download .pdf

*Pictures provided by Pexels

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