Lesson Description:

This lesson will introduce students to the concept of creating a visual representation using a graphic manipulation program for the purpose of extending vocabulary. It encourages students to develop skills working with the tools and layers of a graphic manipulation program. This lesson is being designed for 7th and 8th graders who have a beginner skill level using a graphic manipulation program and will be taught using a hybrid of online instruction. Instructional resources will include the use of a step by step guide utilizing text and screenshots, a video demonstrating the steps, as well as, a discussion board for students to brainstorm additional academic uses of the learned skills.

The main Content (C) of this lesson is to introduce students to using the tools and layers of a graphics manipulation program to create a desktop publishing product in the form of a word cloud. To assist them in creating their own visual representation. This lesson is meant to encourage students to use the learned skills to create word clouds to extend the learning in core classes. The instructor will facilitate  students in brainstorming through the use of a discussion board with a topic of how to apply the learned skills into projects and activities in core classes. Examples will be given in using word clouds to develop and connect to vocabulary introduced in pieces of literature.

The main Pedagogy (P) of this lesson focuses on a project based lesson in which students developing skills to create visual representations to explore the use of images as meaning making tools. Students will increase their skill level in working with layers to create different levels in an image allowing them to manipulate each level as separate entities. In addition to the skills students will participate in brainstorming and collaboration activities to create a list of ideas on how to apply learned skills to extend the learning in other academic areas.

The main Technology (T) of this lesson involves the use of a graphic manipulation program and a discussion board to participate in synchronous class brainstorming. This lesson will also utilize text and image based instructions embedded in a web based course management system and videos demonstrating the skills needed to complete the project.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)

Project Based Learning allows students to play an active role in the learning. When students complete a project they are able to apply what they have learned to other situations. In this project based learning students are actively engaged in learning about different levels of design and at the same time build vocabulary as they connect to real world situations. In this project based lesson students are taking initiative and responsibility in choosing the vocabulary to be included in order to connect to the project. They are thinking “deeper” about the content and taking ownership in the learning. The reflective discussion encourages students to take the learning to a higher level through making a connection between the project and future use of the skill.

Support: Students demonstrate better problem-solving skills with PBL than in more traditional classes and are able to apply what they learn to real-life situations. (Finkelstein et al., 2010)

Project-based learning (PBL) more closely mirrors real-life and allows for deeper learning competencies in content knowledge, cognitive strategies and learning behaviors (Duffey & Fox, 2012). The use of discussion forums as a vehicle for learning is based on the pedagogical tenets of collaborative learning theory, which call for collaboration between participants, experimentation, and open inquiry. Students should feel comfortable voicing opinions and exploring new ideas and approaches to the topic (Nelson in Reigeluth, 1999).

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)

The main technology used in the lesson is a free photo imaging editor: GIMP. It is best suited for the content learned and taught because the content goal is to learn how to work with layers and text effects. I know this isn’t exactly what we are looking for but the truth is that it is the best because it is free, there are an endless amount of tutorials that are very suited for beginners and the age group, and it is a good tool to use for an introduction to graphic design! “So why is GIMP the photo editing, creation, and manipulation program that is the favorite? Because it is free! You may be thinking that it should not matter since the others are already owned by the school. The reality is, programs that are most popular to students are the ones that they can also use at home.” The content goal outside of using the tool is for students to make the connection between the graphic product they create and how it can be used for core classes. That connection will come from the discussion board. Allowing students to access and share resources online creates a classroom environment that resembles more of a real world experience. Offering students options to how they learn – text based, video, screenshots, web based programs – helps them take ownership of their learning and deepens the learning experience. Students sharing opinions, resources, and information about what they are learning gives students a voice in the learning and offers a personalized learning experience.


Arguably, discussion may not only supplement the content delivered in courses, but it may also augment understanding of the ideas and issues discussed in traditional, hybrid, or fully online courses. According to Dengler (2008)

However, recent studies support the theory that viewing is instead an active process, one which can be “an ongoing and highly interconnected process of monitoring and comprehending” and “a complex, cognitive activity that develops and matures with the child’s development to promote learning” (Marshall, 2002, p. 7).

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)

When students work with a photo imaging editor they have the opportunity to explore working with layers learning that each part of the project is separate from the rest. This knowledge allows them to make changes to each part separately without affecting the rest. This gives them a strong introduction into the field of graphic design. Students also have the opportunity to work with different text effects and thereby gain a greater understanding of the field of typography. When students have the opportunity to connect with other students using a discussion board and share ideas and connections they have made, they are able to extend the learning and apply what they have learned to other areas.

Support: According to Dengler (2008), a form of active learning such as discussion boards and chats can help students to practically apply the knowledge (theories, etc.) they are gaining in their courses. The students, through discussion boards and chats, have an opportunity to learn from each other.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)

Describe: This lesson introduces students to the skill of working with layers. It helps them move away from a beginner level using a photo imaging program toward a slightly more advanced level. Using a project based learning method works well with this lesson because students are completing a project while learning a new skill. The use of the discussion board will give them the opportunity to connect and share with other students on how to use the learned skill in other core classes as a visual representation and communication tool. Hopefully they will think about an object in a piece of literature and filling it with new vocabulary or a civics project where they can fill the silhouette with new terms. Using video tutorials and other media to learn the skill and practice the steps will give them the opportunity to move through the project at a pace that works for them.

Support: These findings build on an emerging evidence base about the promise of personalized learning practices and the role of technology as an enabler, which includes other recent studies such as the Center for Reinventing Public Education’s report Is Personalized Learning Meeting Its Productivity Promise? Early Lessons from Pioneering Schools (May 2014); a new SRI international study Blended Learning, funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (May 2014); and recently released data about student performance in the personalized learning model used by New Classrooms: Innovation Partners for Learning (fall 2013

6 thoughts on “TPACK Myers

  1. Great start. Here are my thoughts:

    Content (C) – Creating and using digital “word clouds”, right?

    pedagogy (P) – project based learning. collaboration and discussion.

    Technology (t) – graphic manipulation program, discussion board, digital video, images, and text

    I think i need more information on this lesson. I am not clearly following the connection between learning to use layers in a graphics program and word clouds. Do you have an example of what they are creating?

    1. In this project students create a silhouette of their face using GIMP. Then they choose words that they associate with (favorite team, music, books, sayings, etc.) using text layers. Then they can explore using filters that apply different text effects based on what they have learned about Typography. The goal is to be able to remove the silhouette and have the words create the shape of their face. They never quite get the whole shape but they really get the idea of how changing the appearance of the text gives dimension to the shape. If they get each text layer to touch a point on the outline of the face, the text will form the shape and that becomes a word cloud. They learn a lot about working with layers because they can change and move each word (layer) without changing any of the other layers. Here is a student example: .

  2. Great post. I like the use of projects and they way you give the skills they can use in the future. Most teachers have to answer the question, “When will I ever use this?”. I think they way you have designed this module, the question is answered over and over and students know that they are leaving the class with skills they will be able to use in the future.

  3. I know I am not in your group, but I had to comment. I want to be in your class!! This is understandable to me and it sounds like a lot of fun, too. I like the suggestions of using it in civics, which to me equals usage in history. 🙂
    I might check out GIMP on my own, since it’s free.
    Good job, Debbie.

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