Wednesday, March 27, 2013


TPaCK Scenarios

TPaCK is still what we use with our nationally recognized
Inspired Writing Project and Inspired Learning Cohorts to talk about the critical connection between Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge.  Teaching and Learning today must include this combination to be relevant.

Original post written by Mike Porter back in January 2010

An exercise was done with Littleton Public School K-12 Leadership team, which consisted of building principals and district administrators. Their task was to revisit the TPaCK model and then evaluate the four following scenarios through that lens. Using sticky dots, they were to place the classroom described in the appropriate domain. This group only had 30 minutes to run the exercise, which unfortunately cut down on opportunities to debrief and subsequent whole group discussion. Still, we were told by many that this was a valuable framework through which to consider technology integration in their buildings. As you may know, LPS has a district-wide initiative, Inspired Writing, at each building that is connecting netbook technology with process writing in Language Arts classrooms. Our results so far have been impressive, and we’re looking to extend that demonstrated effect.

TPaCK Learning Exercise:
TASK: Read the following classroom scenarios through the TPaCK lens. When you have read through all the scenarios, please place the labeled sticky dots on the TPaCK posters (Note that there is an “A” poster, a “B” poster, etc.). We’ll hold discussion on the resulting scatter plots.

  • After reading through the 4 scenarios below, we are interested in knowing how you would place these four classrooms in the TPaCK framework.
  • What other ways have you introduced or revisited the TPaCK model with your teachers and/or administrators?

Scenario A:
A 5th grade physical education teacher begins her lesson by reviewing the objectives and essential learnings found in the LPS Curriculum Guide. Among those essential learnings, students should master movements needed to participate in sports and understand the basics of physical fitness. To meet these standards, the teacher has designed the following activities. Prior to exercising, the students enter their heart rate into an online form, which is accessed on a handful of laptops on the bleachers. The online form quickly totals up and averages the class’s “resting” heart rates.

Also before the day’s activity of playing basketball, the teacher demonstrates techniques. Using a laptop, LCD projector, and Flip Camera, the teacher demonstrates the skill of making a free throw shot using video captures of the students from previous class period. Running the video, narrating the steps, and stopping it at key points, the teacher instructs all the students in the proper technique for shooting free throws.

After this the students break up into random groups and play basketball. At the height of the action, the teacher blows a whistle, inviting the students to take their heart rate. This they do and quickly re-enter the data into the online form anonymously. This teacher totals and averages, and during the cool down stretch, announces the new information comparing the class’s heart rate before and during exercise. Students are prompted to hypothesize why the heart rate went up and how long it took to go up. Students are asked to make predictions about activities and what their heart would do, such as during running, walking, sitting, etc. Class ends with a quick video (captured via the Flip) of students playing basketball from that period and actions are positively noted and highlighted.

Scenario B:

High School Social Studies, American History II, 9th graders.
Using the LPS Curriculum Guide as a starting point, our subject has decided that the learner objectives to:

1) Gather, analyze, and reconcile historical information, including contradictory data,
2) Analyze and categorize the relationship between economic factors and social and political policies as they influence historical events,
3) Use both chronological order and the duration of events to detect and analyze patterns of historical continuity and change which will be the focal points in the World War II unit.

His class begins with students filing past the teacher, who greets them all by name. Students glance to the whiteboard and see that a “netbooks out” note is penned in. They grab their assigned computer and boot up while waiting for the bell. The teacher fires up his projector, and there, on the whiteboard, is a URL pointing to their day’s reading assessment. The teacher uses an Online Form to pose a series of questions from last night’s reading. The questions cover a range of question types, from recall questions to sequencing of events, allowing students to show their comprehension. It takes just a couple of minutes for the kids to respond to the questions, especially the multiple choice ones. Students know that this is a formative assessment, and will be used by the teacher for grouping and re-teaching purposes. The last question in the form is an open-ended response designed to be a quick write/ writing to learn opportunity. This teacher has previously used clickers, and believes that while they are effective, they are too limited in the range of responses available to the students. Besides, he’d prefer to use fewer pieces of hardware, and the netbook computers will be in use the rest of the period.

Next, he breaks the kids into their groups to continue their projects. One group of kids is analyzing the speeches made by world leaders for rhetorical elements. They are doing this by getting .mp3’s from various sites , downloading them into a sound editing program like Audacity, and providing analysis and commentary within the speech itself. The final products, if they are good enough, will be posted to the class wiki. Another group of kids is getting historical newspaper headlines and articles from June 1944 and comparing the coverage in them of D-Day. As needed, kids are translating the articles from French, German and Russian using Google Translate. They quickly note the difference in the amount, accuracy, and tone of the event’s coverage, sparking debate, analysis, and hypothesis. They capture their notes in a word processor, and must come to a consensus on their notes before the end of the period.

Other students are writing first person diary entries of key world leaders, referencing textual support from their class materials, primary resources from academic databases, and their textbook. They use a writer’s workshop model in moving toward publication on the class wiki.

The final group of students has taken over the teacher’s projector and is proposing alternative landing sites for the D-Day invasion. To punctuate their theories, students consult Google Earth, tide charts and moon phases from Wolfram Alpha, and historical maps. They gather the Google Earth image projected on the dry erase board, and like high school football coaches, draw arrows, plot movements, and project victories. These students are making files of their proposed battle plans, and supporting their theories with links, citations, and textual references. Files are posted to the wiki for review and feedback.

The teacher? He’s circling the room, having individual conversations with students on the results of the formative assessment. He banters with kids, asking clarifying questions to groups and providing feedback on their progress to date. With a few minutes to go in the period, he asks the students to consult their project rubric and complete an online exit slip in the form of an email to him, analyzing progress to the learning goal. These, in conjunction with the formative assessment, he’ll use to revise tomorrow’s lesson. With a minute to go, kids logout, power their machines down, and return them to the cart. There is a clear sense to the kids that the period went by too quickly, and students discuss how they’ll get on the wiki tonight to develop their work. One remembers that he has a great grandfather who was in World War Two; maybe he’ll call him tonight about Skyping into the class….

Scenario C:
In an 8th grade Language Arts classroom, the teacher is a huge fan of the Beat Movement in American Poetry. To celebrate the period, the teacher has set up the following assignment: Students are to write a poem, and then use free, online podcasting software to create an audio file. The requirements of the podcast (audio file) are the following:
Must use an intro piece of music to precede the music.
Must include three or four sound effects.
Must include a closing piece of music to follow the narration.

Students will then play their podcasts in the classroom, while bringing in cookies and juice. Lights will be dimmed and students are encouraged to play the part by wearing black turtlenecks and berets. Students will listen to each other’s work and applaud and snap their fingers in appreciation.


Scenario D:

In our 7th grade science class, the teacher is teaching one of the students’ favorite units, the grasshopper dissection. For this lab, the students are to meet the essential learnings specified by the LPS Curriculum Guides:

1.1 Recognize that there are levels of organization within multicellular organisms: (Target)

• cells
• tissues
• organs
• organ systems
Students are really excited to explore the grasshopper, and they love using the scalpels. They huddle around the teacher, watching him model the cuts and procedures, which they then run back to their stations and reproduce. Students move back and forth to get to the same place that the teacher is at. As they proceed in their dissection, students take notes under the two line method (Cornell notes) wherein they jot an observation and then post a reflection /categorization of the notes. All throughout the dissection, students are asked to consider if they are seeing tissues, organs, or organ systems. Student groups must discuss the question, come to a consensus, and share their answer with the class. A lot is going on—physical dissection, note-taking, small group discussion, and whole class instruction. Time is flying, and off task behavior is minimal due to the snappy pace of the lesson and the amount of engagement with the lesson. The exit slip for this lesson is a note card with a picture of an opened up grasshopper, and students need to quickly jot down whether they see a cell, tissue, organ or organ system. The teacher will collect this data to get a sense of where kids are at, and will plan students’ groupings, focused Tier One re-teachings, and intervention as needed.

For homework, students are to really stretch their brains and define the levels of organization within multicellular organisms. Some students are using graphic organizers to answer that prompt, some will use a multi-paragraph essay, and some are drawing annotated pictures. Students must use their own words, and know that this essential learning will be on the unit test.

  • We are interested to see how you would place these four classrooms in the TPaCK framework.
  • What other ways have you introduced or revisited the TPaCK model with your teachers and/or administrators?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Showcase: The Flipped Classroom

One of the goals of the LPS Instructional Technology blog is to continue to showcase the great work being done in Littleton Public School classrooms. So I am thrilled to share with you some great work being done at Franklin Elementary School. A team of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers are Flipping their Math classes.

One post is not enough to really cover this topic, but feel free to contact these teachers or comment on this post to ask questions.

Below is a short post from Sara Tierney a 4th/5th grade teacher at Franklin about what Flipping looks like at Franklin Elementary in addition to resources to continue learning about a Flipped classroom.
By Sara Tierney ( 4th/5th grade teacher at Franklin Elementary in Littleton Public Schools, CO ) (In conjunction with Tracy McCandless, Sheryl Goutell, Neil Heimbigner, Alberta Maybee and Jill Maxey)

A flipped classroom is not when the teachers put the desks on the ceiling! No, instead ‘flipped learning’ is when students get their instruction or traditional lecture (usually through a video but not always) at home and do their ‘homework (independent practice)’ at school. Flipped learning allows for the teacher to have more time working with students in small groups, a large group or one-on-one. By attaining the instruction outside of the classroom first,  more time can be spent in class answering questions, challenging ideas and differentiating among the students.

A Flipped Classroom at Franklin IS:A Flipped Classroom at Franklin IS NOT:
a method to have more time spent conferring side by side with kids and less time lecturing in front of them.all about the videos! It can be done without using videos.
so helpful when students are absent b/c they get the same instruction their peers had!a means to end the use of teachers in school. The most important part of flipping is what happens in the classroom when teachers are having more time to work with kids. Just watching videos is NOT FLIPPING!
a way for students to pause, rewind and rewatch teachers teach so they can learn at their own pace. They can even watch the videos weeks or months later to review. “the end all be all” of instruction. It is one method that I believe has met the needs of my learners and increased achievement.
a powerful instructional practice for teachers that are frustrated with lack of time working with kids.easy. Creating the videos/information prior to each day’s lesson can be time-consuming and uncomfortable. Your teaching will be viewed by students and possibly parents and other teachers.
an amazing tool for teachers working together. Creating and reflecting on videos as well as discussions of best-practice makes for better teachers and teammates.easier for kids. Students at our school have to take notes as they watch the videos, summarizing the focus then do the independent work in class and finish class by doing an exit slip (1 or 2 questions based on the learning goal). They have to be very responsible and organized!
perfect for teachers that talk too much (like me!). Making videos forces me to get to the point and focus my teaching to 10 minutes or less, helping all students identify the learning goal and stay engaged.necessarily cheap. I use Camtasia to create my videos. I love Camtasia but it costs around $150 to purchase.

Use already made videos
Learn Zillion
Khan Academy

Learn About the Flipped Classroom
Flipped Learning Classroom
The Flipped Class Network: Collaborate with other teachers getting started or further along the process


Blogs to follow
Franklin Team that is Flipping
Tracy McCandless - 3rd/4th grade teacher
( - class webpage

Sara Tierney - 4th/5th grade teacher
( - class webpage
Sheryl Goutell - 5th grade teacher
( - class webpage

Neil Heimbigner - 5th grade teacher
( - class webpage

Alberta Maybee - 5th grade teacher
( - class webpage
Jill Maxey - Gifted and Talented Teacher 

( - class webpage

Share your thoughts about Flipping the Classroom

Are you a student in a flipped classroom?  

  • How is it going?  What do you like about it? What are the downsides?

Are you a teacher thinking about flipping?

  • What questions do you have?  
  • What successes/struggles have you faced?  

Feel free to contact Sara Tierney ( or Sheryl Goutell (  if you wish to come observe a Flipped Classroom in action.