How to Identify your TPACK needs in Literacy Lessons today

Teaching Strategies

By Michael Hilkemeijer

In the words of many authors, “the world of communication, literacy and education is changing”. We now live in a Knowledge Society where a person’s individual needs to access, analyse and create information is essential for a prosperous future. The production and flow of information is ‘unprecedented’ (Rudd, 2006). As primary educators, there is really no choice about inhabiting the ICT integrated environment as it is here stay and will forever play a key role in a child’s education. The choice we have is to decide whether or not we are going to engage in it for our teaching of literacy. Today, for this reason, ICT and literacy have become more and more important in the curriculum where the student comes into contact with new and evolving literacies. 

ICT stands in interesting relation to literacy, being as it is capable both of supporting and promoting the basic skills of reading and writing. It has the potential to support effective teaching and learning throughout the curriculum. The changes that ICT has made to literacy learning have been profound and its definition involves more than the ability to read printed texts. As a result, new skills are required and include: 

  • The ability to find information;
  • The ability to develop critical thinking and evaluate;
  • The ability to re-present information in different ways for different audiences and;
  • The ability to use new media as a creative space.

TPACK Needs and Challenges in English/Literacy

New technologies means new ways of literacy learning and this means new skills are needed for primary teachers in particularly. Literacy across the curriculum then is significant and students must learn to read in addition to learning how to obtain and interpret meaning from texts in many different forms like web pages and blogs, not to mention from non-text communications such as video and images. As a consequence, your TPACK means knowing when to use technologies that help guide the development of reading and writing skills in all current digital formats. 

If you are to exhibit TPACK planning then you will need to consider how technology tools enhance and help accomplish goals and objectives of writing. You could, for example, think from the TPACK perspective how having students use a digital medium like video, audio and even presentation software, to tell their stories, can help address both digital and traditional literacies. 

What are the challenges for teachers?

The TPACK challenges that teachers face vary and are to do with their Content, Pedagogical and Technological knowledge. I have listed below what you must in order for each along with the strategy you could use to improve it.

Literacy teaching resources

Content Knowledge

  • You must think in terms of visual and graphic literacy, as well as reading and writing literacy;
  • Help students interpret and produce communication in video and images as well as in text form. 

Strategy: Consider the following question and activities –

Do I have the English/Literacy content knowledge I need to assist my students in meeting the standards within my classroom? 

Continue to learn about the ‘new literacies’ which require learning new content in digital and information literacies.


Technological Knowledge

  • You must become proficient in the new tools that both help define literacy in the 21st century and make possible the strategies to teach it;
  • Become informed consumers of online sites that can support instruction in all of the areas of English;
  • Not only understand how to use technology, but also determine how it changes the way literacy is taught.


Strategy: Do I have the technological knowledge needed to teach the English/Literacy content within my classroom? 

While you may be familiar with general word processing features, it will be important that you are familiar with aspects such as track changes and autocorrect. Learn the skills fundamental to digital and information literacy that are not familiar to you. Software that support word development skills include blogs, wikis and sites that offer online access to authored works and locations to publish student work. 


Pedagogical Knowledge

You must acquire new pedagogical skills and create new strategies to meet the special needs of this increasingly diverse population.

Strategy: Do I have the pedagogical knowledge needed to teach the English/literacy content within my classroom? 

See examples how to integrate blogs and wikis most effectively or carry out lessons using digital storytelling. The same sources that offer content and technological knowledge may offer some examples for you. 

To integrate ICT effectively into English/Literacy lessons, you must combine the subject content knowledge with the pedagogical and technological knowledge. Your decision making may be complex as you consider many classroom and instructional variables related to designing learning activities that incorporate TPACK thought and application. However, with continued professional development and preparation experiences this can be achieved.

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