Choose Your Own…Framework

Photo by Pixabay on

What is a framework? 

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a framework is a basic conceptual structure (of ideas).  It reminded me of a foundation of a house – it’s the basis of the home.  This week, the reading was about multiple frameworks regarding technology integration.  We looked at a few different frameworks: TPACK, Tech Integration Matrix, and a Model for Technology and Transformation and an updated SAMR Flowchart.  

Contrast and Comparison

Each of these frameworks gave a structure or flow for the continuum of tech integration in the classroom.  The objective is very much the same: what is quality tech integration in the classroom and how to get it. Each framework might have a different name for it but their ultimate goal for each of these frameworks is to have an innovative activity that promotes higher-level thinking that might have been impossible without technology otherwise. For the Tech Integration Matrix, this is the transformation level; for the updated SAMR, this is the redefinition level; and for the TPACK, this is the technological, pedagogical, content knowledge (TPACK).  

Even though those are the similarities, there are still some major differences.  The biggest difference is the way each framework chose to frame this objective. The Tech Integration Matrix addresses multiple learning environments such as active learning, collaborative learning, constructive learning, authentic learning, and goal-oriented learning.  Whereas the other three frameworks have 4 levels each – the Technology Integration Matrix has 5. They range from entry to adoption to adaptation to infusion and finally transformation.

The TPACK framework has the most differences.  Whereas the other frameworks are more of a flowchart where one can see a beginning like with the Matrix’s Entry level, SAMR’s or Model for Transformation’s substitution level; TPACK has three different areas that can be addressed.  Where the Tech Integration Matrix focuses on learning environments, TPACK focuses on knowledge. Specifically, TPACK focuses on these areas of knowledge: technological, pedagogical, and content. Instead of flowing in one direction to the final level, TPACK’s final level is a culmination of all of the different knowledge. 

When I became Tech Coordinator, I didn’t have much experience; I was just more tech-oriented than my peers.  We didn’t have an adopted framework at the school and I hadn’t really thought much about when I started the iPad program.  After attending EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) conference, I was inspired at what children could do on the iPad and I thought digital portfolios were achievable. I asked for a set of iPads and an iPad for every teacher.  I skipped most of the substitution level/phase as my time with the students was limited. I wanted to focus on having them learn how to use a few open apps well and then have them create their own digital pieces and share them on their portfolios. I guess this could be considered the modification phase as we were app smashing, adding recording and sound and sharing student-created images or photos.   

Using the frameworks from this week’s reading, I began evaluating my practice.  I really like the Tech Matrix as a framework because it gave clear ideas and examples for different types of teaching and learning.  I think that’s important because it’s not always going to be the same for each situation. I would say that my own teaching is a mixture of adoption, adaption, and infusion.  I find that teaching, just like these kinds of evaluation should be a spectrum. The reason why I think that I’m a mixture of all of these things depend on where my students are in their learning.  With my Kindergarten students, we do a lot more adoption because we’re still covering the basics. They are still trying to figure out how to turn the iPad on and get to the apps (home button two times kiddo).  For my first graders, we’re doing more adaption and infusion. Looking at where they are in their subject matter or units of study, I create a task that they can work on and complete mostly independently and then share with their learning journal. Once we get through a handful of apps that we will frequently use, students get a choice about what learning they would like to show and through which medium.  On the other end of the spectrum, I do find certain lessons are more on the substitution level; like having students create a number on a digital rekenrek (a dutch counting tool that’s similar to an abacus) that they could manipulate on a real rekenrek in the classroom.

Getting to the next level of redefinition and transformation is proving to be more difficult with the early years (but not impossible).  To be fair though, there are not that many examples of it for the early years. We could invite experts via skype or facetime but early years tend to focus on community members who can easily join the class for a lesson. Global collaborations can be difficult for practical reasons such as different time zones and languages but the key for teachers for the early years has been Seesaw. Seesaw has allowed us opportunities to transform our learning and tech integration by connecting what’s happening at home with school.  For example, when my students did the rekenrek on the iPad, I was able to take it further by allowing students to post them to their student journals with a voice recording explaining their thinking. When I started the iPad program, it was always with the intention of sharing these digital works because having students create something with no place to share it would take the purpose away and cause disengagement with students. Seesaw has really given students in the early years and myself more opportunities for transformation or redefinition because it allows students to receive and give feedback as well as to share their work outside or school or globally if a teacher wishes.  I’m hoping to get some of the classes connected for online collaboration or online feedback via seesaw connected blogs. I think that might be a good next step for our teachers and for our students. 

When I first started teaching technology to students, I was focused on teaching skills and have a specific project completed.  Although steps were clear, there were many steps and students needed reminders and were unable to work as independently. Students were concerned with doing the “wrong” thing.  I changed my practice to incorporate more free exploration time to help students gain more confidence in a pressure-free zone. If we had a short project, I would give students specific apps they could explore so they could get familiar with an app that we’d be using later.  I created more visuals for my students so that they could use the board to help them if they were stuck in a particular step. My students surprised me by rising up to the occasion when I taught them something that I thought would be too difficult. I am more open-minded now and trust my student’s ability and capacity for learning.  Now that I’ve taught them for a few years, I’m more confident of their skill level and I’m able to include other elements into my lessons aside from technical skills. It’s less about skills because I know they already know this app and more focused on showing deeper level learning. I can also focus on digital citizenship, socio-emotional and even design principles!

Our school’s vision is:

“Developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring learners who contribute positively to their communities.”

It is something that really resonates with me. I like to think of the whole child, not just a specific area when thinking about education.  I believe education isn’t just about teaching children the ABC’s and 1,2,3’s but also about creating caring individuals who can contribute to society. Looking at my practice, I think that it fits really well into the school’s vision.  I want my students to be independent and knowledgeable when it comes to technology but I also want students to be kind and collaborative. At the end of lessons, I ask for student volunteers who think they are “experts” at the task for the day to become a point person if other students need help.  This allows students to share their knowledge, to be kind to their peers, to become independent and feel proud of their work. I want to create a community where they can help each other, contribute to the classroom and realize that I’m not the only one that holds information and knowledge; we can always learn from each other. We are a PYP school and learner profiles are something we use a lot.  I always ask my students to be risk-takers if they’re scared to do something “wrong” on the iPad or to be thinkers when they are asking a question that they should know the answer to. I think its good to connect this to everything else they do in school. 

I don’t have my own classroom and instead, I push into  Kinder, Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes and the older grades are on an as-needed basis. I have a set schedule with the younger grades because these students require a bit more support and time to master some basic media literacy skills. However, I also push in with grades 3, 4, and 5 with lessons to help support their digital literacy skills and digital citizenship.  This year, we’re also going to push some design principle lessons to help further their media literacy skills. Having this time set aside makes it feel less like tech integration because it’s not organic with what’s happening in the classroom but the lessons we do always go back to what’s happening in the classroom. I never have a student create something just to use a certain app. We always start with the basics: what are the students currently learning about right now? Using that as my base, I always find a way that I can use technology to enhance their learning. For example, in our grade 1 class, students are learning about relationships.  I wanted to teach students Chatterpix kids and poppet and we’ve used both in a way that supports this unit. Students drew a picture of someone they had a relationship with and using that photo, I had them speak about this relationship in Chatterpix kid. Since they drew a picture of them with someone, I made them draw a mouth on their picture and have them speak about their relationship. In Popplet, we wanted to touch base on the multiple relationships that they had. I had students put themselves in the center and from there, they could take photos of people in the classroom that they had relationships with (friends and teachers) as well as write down names of people who weren’t in the classroom and draw a picture. Some students even drew pictures of their pets that they had relationships with. Even though this might seem like a simple substitution, students were able to include photographs and then they were able to post it on Seesaw and explain the people or animals they choose and what kind of relationship they had with those individuals. 

When I became Tech. Coordinator, I felt that my main responsibility was to get teachers acquainted and comfortable with the technology tools that were available and how to embed them in their classroom environment. I knew kids would pick it up easily and run with it.  However, getting teachers to try out new technology was a struggle and so I started just booking time in the classroom and doing the initial lessons myself with the stipulation that this wasn’t an extra prep and that I was there for the students as much as I was there for the teacher.  When I read Kim Cofino’s “We are all technology teachers,” I was worried that I was doing it all wrong, that I wasn’t allowing technology to be a responsibility that all teachers bear.  But I agreed with her sentiment that technology was moving so rapidly that it still required someone to devote their time to exploring and learning new technology.  I think this is useful and helpful for teachers and instead of 5 teachers spending time looking for something, having one teacher do it so that she/he can share across the campus makes a lot of sense.   I find that I spend a lot of time doing research for teachers and then share ideas on how to integrate technology during grade level unit planning periods. They all use technology with the students and even though they’re at varying degrees with their comfort level, it is much better than a few years ago when all teachers did was keep their iPad in their drawers.  I think teachers are ready for the next steps and I think the next step is introducing these frameworks for teachers. I think the frameworks are a great way to show teachers how they can take their classroom integration to the next level.  

Photo by Pixabay on

4 thoughts on “Choose Your Own…Framework

  1. Thanks, Boramy, I enjoyed reading about your initial journey as a ed-tech coordinator. Such is the life of an international educator where we can quickly be thrown into new positions because of a desire and drive and a bit of know-how. I really like how you compare tech adoption to a spectrum and that as our students are all at different points of their learning, so should the technology that supports and extends it.

    This is great that you are always thinking about how to use technology to help the students share and recognize their audience. Students need to recognize that their work exists in a real-world context and is connected to their life outside their teacher. Seesaw and online learning journals help bridge these conversations between home and the classroom and can also extend learning by bringing classroom learning into the home. Your next step of extending online communication through connected blogs is a fantastic idea and I would love to learn more about this. I think it would be great to try something like this in my classroom. Have you talked to anyone about how this works for them or talked to students who have used it yet? I also wonder how this would help build in the idea of global citizenship.

    I made a lot of connections to your paragraph about how when you first started teaching technology and being focused on the skills. Opening up your schedule to allow students time to play with apps creates a lot of opportunities for valuable learning when their is debriefing time at the end for students to consolidate what they found and allow other students to see those who have become experts. The applications that we use can change quickly from year to year and I wonder if there is value in allocating the learning of applications on a vertical continuum so teachers know what apps students have used yet, and which ones they still need to discover. I hesitate to move in this direction as in a program of inquiry different students have different needs, and so do teachers but as a tech coach, maybe you would have different thoughts on this?

  2. Hi Boramy,
    Thanks for sharing your journey as a technology teacher. When I was going through the readings of this week, I also saw myself finding out where I was in this process. As you mentioned before, sometimes we begin developing skills, not including possibilities to develop confidence as a learner to exceed their expectations. The opportunity that you are giving them to say who is an expert, it’s an amazing initiative that I would like to take away. At the library, we use many online resources, I have students using them efficiently and others ‘in process’. I think this will empower kids and make them collaborate with others to grow together.

  3. Hi Boramy,

    It was really great to read through your journey as a technology integration teacher. When I first moved to my current school four years ago, I was teaching grade 2 and it was the first time I had had access to 1:1 technology. Like you, most of what I did in that first year was substitution or modification. I think part of the problem was that I didn’t have the familiarity with the tech that was available to do much more than that. After that first year I moved to Grade 5 and I do feel I’ve been able to harness the power of technology a lot more! I had never really considered that that might be in part due to the age of the students. I couldn’t help but smile at your “click the home button twice” comment.

    I haven’t spoken much with our Lower elementary teachers to know exactly how technology is being leveraged in the classroom, but I do know that one of our tech integration teachers works closely with these teams to do just that. She posts fairly frequently on Twitter, so she may be worth a follow if you are interested: @MsKash22!

Comments are closed.