Ekaterina Rybakova and Shelbie Witte
As much as we want to teach a majority of young adult literature in the 6-12th English/Language arts classroom, the reality of teaching a canonical text, whether by choice, by district or school requirement, or by curriculum, isa challenge for many of us who strive to engage our students in text as mirrors experiences. We make this clear as we challenged our pre-service teachers taking a class on adolescent young adult literature to create reading ladders culminating in a complex, canonical text. Ideally, a teacher wouldn’t jump directly into Romeo and Juliet in the 9th grade without scaffold. The idea of reading ladders, stemming from Lesesne’s (2010) research on the concept, allows gradual development of reading strategies and motivation that closes a theme with a complex text.
Lesesne’s (2010) book Reading Ladders highlights issues with incorporating young adult literature in the English classroom, and focuses on how to do so in a way that doesn’t overwhelm students. There is a misconception, she says, that YAL is less literary than canonical texts taught in the classroom (Lesesne, 2010). We need to incorporate books that are not written by “dead white guys” (Wolk, 2010) and instead that speak to today’s students, to real life (Lesesne, 2010).
We challenge our pre-service teachers, then, to create a ladder, or a series of books or materials that relate to a specific theme, time period, or even author, with the end text being a different canonical text for every student. The caveat is to utilize such text that both prepares students for the complex canonical text while still engaging students and motivating them to engage in the text they provide. As Lattimer (2010) suggests, texts that motivate students are first and foremost an authentic experience, an experience that connects the text to the real lives of students. Authentic texts, Lattimer (2010) suggests, include everything from scientific research articles to ads to websites to poems to media to song lyrics.
After suggesting ways of tying in texts from different avenues into their reading ladders, the pre-service teachers in our class embarked on the journey to make sometimes dry texts more engaging, and the experience with them both useful and informational. We are pleased to share our students work, of course with their permission, with you, and hope that these can be useful tools for all teachers trying to break the mold, scaffold and motivate, and continue to find ways to engage their students to become lifelong readers.
To see the Reading Ladders, look under the Theory to Practice Connections section of this site.
Lattimer, H. (2010). Reading for learning: Using discipline-based texts to build content knowledge. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE.
Lesesne, T. (2010). Reading ladders: Leading students from where they are to where we’d like them to be. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Wolk, S. (2010). What should students read? Phi Delta Kappan, 91(7), 8-16.
Enhancing literacy and 21st Century Skills: Attending to 'practices' and 'events' in English teacher education
Barbara G. Pace
English Education & Media Literacy Education
University of Florida
As a scholar and teacher at the University of Florida, I have developed face-to-face and online courses that are designed to increase educators’ awareness of how technology and literacy might intersect. These courses promote a sociocultural view of learning and focus on expanding teachers’ perspectives of literacy. Content is based on teaching media literacy and on using popular culture to anchor literacy events.
One of the courses, Technology and Media Literacy, is the capstone course in the graduate English Education program at UF. Because it was designed for future English teachers who will work specifically in the area of literacy, the focus on understanding the nature of literacy is robust. Future English teachers are challenged to re-vision literacy and to think of the various ways it might be practiced or displayed. We talk specifically about the teacher’s role as a “designer” of literacy events, and we identify the kinds of literacy practices that make up the English language arts.
The most recent offerings of Technology and Media Literacy have included the use of Web 2.0 applications and of iPads. During each assignment, students analyzed how literacy events and practices were embedded in the use of technology. For example, when they used Xtranormal to render their favorite literary passage as an animated short, they deconstructed the process to identify literacy practices and to relate those practices to standards. Similarly, when they used iPads to create a “Media and Me” comic book, they evaluated 21st Century literacy practices (Leu et al, 2004) that had been part of the project, such as locating and collecting information, evaluating and filtering information, redesigning content/information, and composing/communicating information.
Prospective teachers enjoy these classes and engage enthusiastically in these classroom literacy events. Furthermore, two empirical studies have provided evidence that many of these teaching candidates do develop a more nuanced understanding of literacy. In an initial study, (Pace, Rodesiler, & Tripp, 2010), we found that most students had developed a view of literacy as more than reading and writing. They also demonstrated a beginning awareness of the usefulness of Web 2.0 and included web-based applications in lesson plans for the final project though they were not required to do so. All of the students were energized by the ideas for using popular culture in their classrooms.
Despite the general success of these classes, the above study and a second study (Pace, Krell, Rodesiler, 2012) sounded a cautionary note by exposing the challenges of pressing prospective teachers to think more fully about “literacy” and its realization in practice. In each study, a small group of students identified a troubling gap between the understandings of literacy that we proposed and the forms of literacy that dominated field placements. Many students also claimed that technology was not a viable option in most classrooms.
Given the climate of schools and the pressure on teachers, we were not surprised by the distress these students voiced. We are still working to respond, to consider how we might make a more hybrid space for talking about the constraints that shape and redefine teacher work, the English language arts, and literacy.
Leu, D. J., Kinzer, C. K., Coiro, J. L., & Cammack, D. W. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the internet and other information and communication technologies. Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading, 5, 1570-1613. Retrieved from Google Scholar.
Pace, B.G., Rodesiler, L.B., & Tripp, L. (2010). Pre-service English teachers and Web 2.0: Teaching and learning with digital applications. In C. D. Maddux, D. Gibson, & B. Dodge (Eds.), Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education (pp. 177-187). Chesapeake, VA: Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education.
Pace, B.G., Krell, D., Rodesiler, L.B. (2012). Negotiating troubled fields: Hybridity and opportunity in English teacher education practicums and internships. Presentation at the National Council of Teachers of English Research Assembly Conference, February 25, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Research, 15(2), 4-14.
by Amy Piotrowski
Marc Prensky (2001) refers to students who have grown up in the early 21st Century as “digital natives,” claiming that, “students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet” (1). Digital natives are now in teacher education programs, seeking to become the next generation of classroom teachers. Do digital native preservice teachers come to teacher education programs fluent in technology? Do digital natives already know how to use technology tools and know how to integrate technology tools into their teaching practices? Have digital natives made educational technology coursework obsolete?
No, a review of the research literature suggests.
I conducted a review of 12 empirical studies examining the perceptions and beliefs of preservice teachers regarding technology integration. I was interested in how preservice teachers learn about technology tools and how to use these tools in the classroom with students. Since several studies use the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework as a theoretical basis (Jordan, 2011; Koehler, Mishra, & Yahya, 2007; Koh & Divaharan, 2011; Schmidt, et al., 2009), I included in the review Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) and Koehler and Mishra’s (2009) explanations of the TPACK framework.
The research shows that preservice teachers benefit from instruction in technology tools and technology integration. Jing (2009) as well as Kumar and Vigil (2011) found that preservice teachers spend lots of time using social networking tools, but that preservice teachers have little experience with other Web 2.0 tools. In other words, many preservice teachers report using Facebook, but few preservice teachers have used potentially useful tools such as Wikispaces, Wordpress, or Diigo. Anderson and Maninger (2007) concluded that teacher education coursework that included instruction in technology tools and technology integration raised preservice teachers’ measures of self-efficacy and confidence in using technology in their future classrooms. Jordan (2011) found that preservice teachers were concerned about solving technical problems in their classrooms, suggesting that education technology courses should prepare students to troubleshoot issues with technology when they arise. Pasternak (2007) reports that her preservice teachers “want to be comfortable with the technology with which they intend to practice” (p. 151). Preservice teachers report a need for experience using technology tools before using these tools in the classroom.
The findings of Mishra and Koehler (2006) and Schmidt, et al. (2009) suggest that technology integration should be taught in content area education courses, not stand alone educational technology courses. Mishra and Koehler (2006) argue, “Quality teaching requires developing a nuanced understanding of the complex relationships between technology, content, and pedagogy, and using this understanding to develop appropriate, context-specific strategies and representations” (p. 1029). In other words, technology integration is “context bound” and depends on the content being taught (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 1032). Young and Bush (2004) argue from the viewpoint of English Education that technology integration should be purposeful, based on the pedagogical goals of English Language Arts courses and that English Language Arts teachers should critically think about which technologies will enable their students to develop needed literacies.
It would certainly be problematic for teacher educators to assume that preservice teachers already know technology tools and how to teach with them. Knowing how to teach effectively with technology is not something preservice teachers are born with or pick up from today’s digital culture – it’s something preservice teachers need to learn in teacher education programs.
Anderson, S. & Maninger, R. (2007). Preservice teachers’ abilities, beliefs, and intentions regarding technology integration. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37(2), 151-172.
Beach, R., & Doering, A. (2002). Preservice English teachers acquiring literacy practices through technology tools. Language, Learning, and Technology, 6(3), 127-146.
Jing, L. (2009). Digital natives as preservice teachers: What technology preparation is needed? Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 25(3), 87-97.
Jordan, K. (2011). Beginning teacher knowledge: Results from a self-assessed TPACK survey. Australian Educational Computing, 26(1), 16-26.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE Journal), 9(1), 60-70.
Koehler, M. J., Mishra, P., & Yahya, K. (2007). Tracing the development of teacher knowledge in a design seminar: Integrating content, pedagogy and technology. Computers & Education, 49(3), 740-762.
Koh, J. H., & Divaharan, S. (2011). Developing pre-service teachers' technology integration expertise through the TPACK-developing instructional model. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 44(1), 35-58.
Kumar, S., & Vigil, K. (2011). The net generation as preservice teachers: Transferring familiarity with new technologies to educational environments. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(4), 144-153.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.
National Council of Teachers of English. (2008). Position statement: The NCTE definition of 21st century literacies. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/21stcentdefinition
Pasternak, D.L. (2007). Is technology used as practice? A survey analysis of preservice English teachers’ perceptions and classroom practices. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 7(3), 140-157.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.
Schmidt, D., Baran, E., Thompson, A., Mishra, P., Koehler, M., & Shin, T. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): The development and validation of an assessment instrument for preservice teachers. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(2), 123-149.
Young, C.A., & Bush, J. (2004). Teaching the English language arts with technology: A critical approach and pedagogical framework. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. 4(1), 1-22.
by Amy Piotrowski
As technology has advanced, new tools for learning have made their way into the classroom, along with strategies for how to teach with these tools. School districts and principals expect new teachers to be prepared to integrate technology in ways that increase student engagement and academic achievement. Two teachers in Colorado decided to use Internet technologies to post lectures online for their students who missed class. The strategy of the flipped classroom took off from there and has gained popularity the past few years. Preservice teachers may find themselves working in a school that wants to flip classroom instruction, and that’s where teacher education courses come in.
The flipped classroom is defined by high school chemistry teachers Bergmann and Sams (2012) as a classroom in which “that which is traditionally done in class is now done at home, and that which is traditionally done as homework is now completed in class” (p. 13). They have their students watch video lectures at home, freeing up class time for practice with the concepts introduced in the lectures. Because the flipped model changes what is done in class, it also changes the teacher’s role. Bermann and Sams (2012) explain that “We are no longer the presenters of information; instead, we take on more of a tutorial role” as they go around the classroom, helping students who have questions or need additional instruction (p. 14). Other benefits of the flipped classroom, according to Bermann and Sams, is that the videos allow students who are absent to avoid falling behind and that the videos allow for mastery learning, in which students move through learning objectives at their own pace.
English teachers have been flipping their classrooms in low-tech ways for years. Many English teachers assign reading to be done at home so that the next day can be spent discussing the novel or play that the class is studying. But how can English teachers take advantage of Internet technologies in their teaching practices? Because there is so little empirical research on the flipped classroom and on preservice teachers learning to flip their classrooms, I conducted a qualitative case study focusing on four preservice secondary English Language Arts teachers. The study was guided by the following research questions: Do preservice teachers who have been introduced to flipped lessons in an education course plan on implementing flipped lessons in their classrooms? If so, how do preservice teachers plan on implementing flipped lessons in their classrooms? What benefits and drawbacks do preservice teachers anticipate when they consider implementing flipped lessons in their future classrooms?
The preservice teachers in this study took an online English Education course called Enhancing Teaching With Technology during the summer of 2013. I collected three sources of data: interviews with participants, the online posts participants wrote for the class, and participants’ Flipped Classroom/Digital Media Projects. For the Flipped Classroom/Digital Media Project, preservice teachers created a series of three flipped lessons on a topic of their choosing and then posted their flipped lessons online.
Participants reported a positive impression of the flipped classroom after learning about it in Enhancing Teaching With Technology. All four participants reported that they plan to teach flipped lessons in the future and that the experience of creating their own flipped lessons was valuable. They saw how students benefit from having the teacher present and available to help as students work with new concepts and information. One participant called the practice of presenting material in class and then sending students home to complete an assignment “useless” because the teacher isn’t there when she’s needed. Another participant said that flipping the classroom “allows students to be more active in the classroom, rather than passively sitting and listening to the lecture during class time.” Participants also reported that the flipped classroom makes learning relevant by affording active learning using technology. For students who may need some information repeated, they can watch the video lessons as many times as they want.
The participants also discussed advantages to flipping the classroom for teachers. Since teachers can film multiple takes, they can edit and perfect their lessons before posting them online. Teachers can also go back and watch their videos as a way to reflect on ways to improve their teaching. One participant pointed out that teachers “can go back and evaluate yourself in a more concrete way than just thinking back, ‘Well, a couple of years ago I did a lecture on this. I don’t know how it went.’ You know, you can actually look at your flipped classroom lessons and get better and better.”
Study participants saw some potential drawbacks to flipping their classrooms. Some students may not have a computer or Internet access at home to watch the videos. Students may not watch the videos at home even if they can watch them, so flipping the classroom may not be a cure-all for unmotivated students. Parents and students may be wary of a new way of teaching and learning. One participant told me that “some people are afraid of change, and parents may become concerned that this style of learning would not be as effective for their children as the original style they may have had when they were students.”
One of the flipped classroom’s most concerning drawbacks is that while the teacher is there when students are working in class, the teacher is not there when the student watches the video lesson. What do students do when they have a question while watching the video at home? Two participants addressed this problem in their Flipped Lessons/Digital Media Projects. At the end of each video lesson, the preservice teachers directed their students to the class blog. On the class blog, students were instructed to post a summary of the lesson, a response to what they learned, and any questions they had after watching the video. Blogging can be a way for a flipped lesson to be more interactive, for students to ask questions while those questions are still fresh on their mind after viewing the lesson, and for teachers to check that students are watching the videos. The participants said that they believed that flipped lessons should be interactive. Blogs provide a way for that to happen.
I found that the participants created lessons about a variety of topics using a variety of tools. Their lessons were about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the novel Mansfield Park, the Hero’s Journey, and grammar. To create their lessons, they used Prezi, Power Point, SooMeta, screencasting tools, and clips from YouTube. By using these various tools to teach lessons on various topics, these preservice teachers built their Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, or TPACK (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). It seems to me from watching the participants’ flipped lesson videos that it is not enough to just make a film or screencast of the same old lecture that teachers have done for years. By using images and video clips from popular culture, the participants used technology to bring in material they otherwise could not have brought into the lesson. How can teacher educators work with preservice teachers to make flipped lessons not just viewable, but relevant and meaningful? How can different technology tools be used to make lessons engaging?
Participants said that they enjoyed creating their own flipped lessons. They reported that they would like to see a flipped classroom in action so that they can better understand how to handle the daily logistics of teaching flipped lessons. One participant said that flipping his classroom is “actually enhancing my teaching because I can focus on what’s really important in the lessons in the classroom.” Flipping the classroom allows teachers to spend class time on what’s best done in the classroom while using Internet and digital technologies to deliver content that students can review outside of class. Teacher education programs have the task of preparing preservice teachers for classrooms where technology will change how teaching is done.
For more on this research, go to http://www.amypiotrowski.com/preservice-teachers-and-flipped-classroom.html
For more on TPACK, go to http://www.tpack.org
Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, Oregon: ISTE.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE Journal), 9(1), 60-70.
by Edgar Corral
My name is Edgar Corral and I am a student intern teacher at Fort Walton Beach High School. I am also a senior at the Florida State University. In my spare time I partake in active activities as well as creative writing.
Google Glass was something that first caught my attention at my previous job. I worked in the College of Education at Florida State University (FSU). My job was located in the new Tech Sandbox, which was a room designed for future educators and mentors to participate in using new upcoming technology. I was initially asked to enter in the drawing to receive a “ticket” to purchase Google Glass but ultimately lost. However, due to a donation from Dr. Shelbie Witte (Assistant Professor, English Education at FSU) and the Technology Fees Fund, we were able to allocate the item.
My initial response with the resource was that it wouldn’t be much use in the classroom. However, as I kept thinking and researching I finally came to terms that this item was something revolutionary within education. I am primarily coming from an English Education background, but the use of the glasses doesn’t stop there.
In the English discipline I can see students using this tool to establish a new means of point of view. In the literal sense you can now take a video of the world around you in first person and then apply a verbal narrative. This changes the ideas of simple narrative essays to something more lively and engaging towards students. While on the topic of essays, students will now have the opportunity to take pictures and produce photo essays. If you’re not familiar with photo essay you should check out “TIME” magazines archive of photo essays (http://content.time.com/time/photoessays).
With the growing involvement of a Flipped Classroom, Google Glass provides a whole new resource. Science teachers could produce experiments and record them to upload later on the class site. This will provide a new means of instruction that could be more effective than the typical recording camera or webcam on the laptop.
With a teacher being in front of the classroom they could use the classes to record a whole lesson for students who are sick or need a refresher at home. For personal teacher use, they can later review the classes and do an informal assessment of the classes. This will provide them with feedback on student understanding of terminology as well as behaviors they might have missed. It allows the teacher to experience what they are doing effectively or determine the areas where their instruction is weak. Using Google Class in this manner could help all interns who are still balancing out their classroom instruction and behavior management.