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Making Connections Between Content and Pedagogy

Making Connections Between Content and Pedagogy

Author: Trisha Fyfe

Making Connections Between Content and Pedagogy

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Welcome to a tutorial on making connections between content and pedagogy. We'll be covering ideas today that you will use on a daily basis as a teacher. As an educator myself, I know I sure do. Today, I will address two main questions throughout the tutorial.

First, what are connections between content and pedagogy? And number two, how can I use these connections in my very own classroom and in my teaching? It is so important for us as teachers to have the tools and knowledge to teach to those high standards that are set for our students today. To help our students, we must understand two things-- we must understand how to approach, through different angles and different lenses, our students in our teaching. And this is the pedagogical knowledge component of Shulman's model.

We also need to have a good understanding of our content and deep rooted understanding of the material that we are teaching, and the connections within that. And this is the content knowledge component of Shulman's model. So the deep rooted understanding of the content and the ability to approach this content in teaching from different lenses will help ensure that all of our students are reaching our goals and objectives we have for them. So let's look a little deeper at content, specifically, and why that is important to understand.

What does it mean to have content knowledge? Content knowledge can include several different things, including a deep knowledge of the subject matter, really, truly understanding the central facts within that content, understanding the procedures within that content, the ability to connect ideas together, and throughout the content you're teaching, and the ability to transfer knowledge and skills within that content area. So let's take a look at an example of a lesson from a middle school science classroom.

And today, we'll focus on a lesson on, let's say, human anatomy or the organs within the human body. In order to teach this lesson, you really need to have a deep understanding of science, anatomy, and specifically life science-- all three of those combined. You also need to understand how ideas are connected within those areas-- maybe compare and contrast the anatomy of a human versus different animals, or different organs of different living beings, and those types of things.

You need to be able to create mind maps or make connections. And these are great tools for students, if you don't already use these. You need to be able to develop authentic experiments, or inquiries, within the area of the anatomy or specifically, the human body and the organs. We also need to have an understanding of the best practices and effective teaching strategies for middle school students, in particular, for our example we're using here in this tutorial.

We need to have a deep knowledge of processes and practices, and a knowledge of our tools for evaluation of understanding and instructional strategies. Let's apply these ideas to our classroom. And we'll use the same example of a middle school science classroom, and that lesson we were teaching on human anatomy and the organs within the body. But now, let's apply a pedagogical perspective to things. Let's look through different lenses there.

Let's first try a cooperative activity. We could put the students into groups, and have them work on a lab for the human organs of some sort, exploring the organs in the human body. And maybe at the end of that, we'll have them present, as a final product, the knowledge that they learned together. It would be important in this type of group to give each student a different role, so that we knew that they were all doing their part.

Maybe we could also try a questioning strategy. Here, we might have students completed a KWL where they would first tell us what they know about the subject of the human organs, and what they would like to know, and then after, they might apply what they've learned. They could read a chapter on the organs of the human body in a textbook, and maybe discuss it as a class. And then after that, write a summary or draw a diagram as a final product of their knowledge.

We really, as teachers, need to be thinking constantly about bringing in technological tools and digital tools into our classroom. Our students are exposed to that at home every day, especially at the middle school level. So we really need to bring those experiences into our classroom to engage our students and help them learn better. We do, however, need to understand those tools, and realize that we need to look at the pedagogical perspective of those tools, and make sure that we're using the correct tools.

In this type of classroom, we could maybe use some advanced searching on the internet, or digital mind maps, or maybe a collaborative discussion board to further our knowledge of the human organs in the body. In today's tutorial, we dove deeper into some of Shulman's ideas, and applied and connected them to our own classrooms by answering the following questions.

What are connections between content and pedagogy? And we covered a few ideas there, and I also gave you some examples of a middle school science classroom. We also covered the question, how can I use these connections in my own classroom? And again, those examples of the particular activities were really relevant to this question, and answering it. As always, I enjoyed exploring these ideas with you, and I hope that you have some extra tools and ideas to use in your classroom now.

Let's apply these ideas by reflecting on the questions, what are the advantages to thinking about the connections between content and pedagogy? What do you think the challenges are in incorporating both of these into your teaching? For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please see the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks that will be helpful for applications of this course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on "Making Connections Between Content and Pedagogy"


(00:00- 00:27) Introduction/objectives

(00:28- 01:18) Content and Pedagogy

(01:19- 02:44) Content

(02:45: 04:58) Pedagogy

(04:59- 06:15) Review

Additional Resources

A Rich Seam: How New Pedgagogies Find Deep Learning

This white paper by Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy explores the intersection of pedagogical strategies, technologies and systems to improve instruction. Of particular relevance are Chapter Three: The New Pedagogies - Deep Learning Tasks, and Chapter Four: The New Pedagogies - Digital Tools and Resources.

Inside the Classroom, Outside the Box: Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge

This site offers a clear overview with an infographic of the relationship between content, pedagogy and technology. Additionally, this site offers useful links to learn more about TPACK and its application in your practice.

MERLOT Pedagogy Portal

This website is designed to help teachers learn about different instructional strategies. The portal provides easy how-to steps to incorporate strategies based on theory and research into your instructional design and practices. To use this site effectively, type the strategy you want to learn in the search box at the top right and use the connected drop down box to select "learning exercises."