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Shulman's Pedagogical Reasoning and Action Framework

Shulman's Pedagogical Reasoning and Action Framework

Author: Katie Hou

This lesson explores the components of Shulman's Pedagogical Content Knowledge Framework in the 21st century classroom.

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Hi, I'm Katie Hou. Thank you for joining me today to talk about Shulman's Pedagogical Reasoning and Action Framework. Remember, this class is all about you, the learner. So please feel free to fast forward, rewind, pause, or use any of the resources from this presentation to help guide you in your classroom.

Let's get started by looking at the essential questions that we'll be able to answer after we're done with this lesson. For starters, what are the components of Shulman's Pedagogical Reasoning and Action Framework? And what does this framework look like in my classroom? Also, how can these components help me in my classroom?

As a reminder, I like to use application lessons to help illustrate the point. And today's application lesson is based on letter sounds. Ideally, this lesson would take place over the course of a year during the kindergarten year. The examples will be given in blue, and the key terms will be given in green. Remember, key terms are important, so you'll want to record those.

So what is Shulman's pedagogical content knowledge? Well, according to Shulman, pedagogical content knowledge is the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular problems, topics, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners and presented for instruction. This looks like a really complicated explanation, but honestly, it's not. And Shulman really breaks it down by discussing six domains of teacher knowledge.

Let's look at those domains now, so that we can have a better understanding of this definition. We're going to call these observable classroom behaviors. And this is, what exactly can the teacher do that's observable to help with pedagogical reasoning and action framework? For starters, we have comprehension for understanding. And this is just knowledge of the content area.

For our example lesson, this is just knowledge of phonetics, or the different sounds that letters can make. This moves on to transformation. And this is just knowledge of how your students learn best.

So for my kindergarten students, I've noticed, even though it's just the beginning of the year, that they really learn best through songs, as most little children do. So I'm going to use songs to help me represent my content. Combining the comprehension and transformation is really where the instruction takes place, and the instruction is just teaching the material. So for me, it's going to be teaching phonics to students through singing songs about the different sounds that letters make.

Then, we have evaluation. This should be ongoing throughout the lesson, and especially for a yearlong lesson. You don't want to wait until the end of the year to evaluate whether or not your strategy is working. So this is just checking for understanding. And it's assessing students for their knowledge of the letter sounds. This doesn't have to be a formal assessment. This could be a formative assessment or a performance event.

And then we have reflection. What worked and what didn't work? Again, this should not wait until the end of the lesson or the end of the year. In our case, it should be going on all year long. And this might lead to differentiation for different students, or maybe a reteaching of a single letter for the entire class.

Lastly, we have new comprehension. And this is just where reflection and evaluation combine. And this leads to a better and deeper understanding of not only the content area, but also the pedagogy, meaning the teaching strategies. So an example might be, reteaching the phonics lesson using a different method, if what you found is that it's not working, or it's using the singing method to work on other subjects in the class because maybe it's working really well.

So how could I practically use these in my classroom? Well, let's look at the best practices for these six areas of knowledge. What's the best way to show comprehension for understanding? One of the ways is clearly defining goals and objectives. Even with these little bitty kids in kindergarten, it's important to write the objectives on the board and to orally review them with the students. You might even have the students repeat them back to you.

Comprehension for understanding also looks like teachers reviewing previous content. If I'm starting this phonetics unit at the very beginning of the year, I may not have that much content to look at. Chances are the different preschools from around the city aren't sending me all of the data that I need. So I might give a pre-test or a benchmark test at the beginning of the year to gauge what my students know and really base my lesson on that.

And then, teacher checking for understanding of previous content and identifying new goals and objectives of content being taught. During the phonics lesson, it's assessing if students have successfully mastered previous letters that I've already taught, and then either moving forward or reteaching based on that. The best practices for transformation of ideas are just that ideas really must be taught through examples, real world situations, and connections.

So an example of the letter k might be-- or any letter for that matter-- is going to be through an alpha-friend song. And it's going to be like, Suzy seal in some sort of crazy situation that Suzy seal, for the letter S, gets into, and the children will remember that. The best thing for transformation of ideas is that students are easily able to connect to the ideas.

And music aiding learning and literacy actually has a lot of research behind it, and showing that it is a great way for students to connect to ideas. And one such researcher is Laurie Curtis, in her book that she wrote in 2007 that talks about, it's actually a case study for kindergartners and the use of music to enhance their literacy study.

So there is evidence that says this works. It's working for my students based on my observations. And I think it's a good way for them to connect to what I want them to learn, which, in this case, is phonics.

Next, we have instruction. This is just the teaching act or strategy used. So it's the alpha-friends song. And maybe more than that, it's discussing words that begin with the letter of the week, or practicing writing the letter of the week, or reading a book with a focus on the letter of the week. The strategies are endless.

And then, my strategies for instruction are selected based on the content and on the objectives. Next, we have evaluation. And this is just checking for understanding with formative assessments and performance events, surely, of course. This might be a performance event that I do at the end of each semester, or it might just be a little way for me to check in with the students when they're working at different centers for their formative assessments.

Next, we have a reflection. And this is just the constant review and analysis of strategies. So are the students learning through song? If not, change the strategy. Or if the majority of the class is and little Joey isn't, then differentiate for little Joey so that he is still learning. And remember that reflection needs to be performed during and after the lesson, and that reflection's purpose is to refine teaching strategies.

Next, we have new comprehension. And this is just based on the reflection process. And it's that teachers create new understanding of their teaching practices, their knowledge of the content, and the knowledge of their students. So now I know this group a little bit better, I know what works with them and what doesn't. So I'm going to use this when we move on to our numbers unit, for instance.

So how can this help you in your classroom? Well, Shulman can actually benefit you in a lot of ways. I think, as a classroom teacher, the most important thing is to always be intentional and transparent in what we're doing. And I think that Shulman's framework really helps to inject intentionality into the teaching that's going on in the classroom.

And one of the ways that it injects this is by forcing the teachers to set goals or objectives for the class. By using Shulman's framework, it is also helpful with using Understanding by Design, or lesson planning where you identify your goals first and then plan your lesson around that. It also forces teachers to practice reflection. What's working in my classroom? What isn't working?

It also is really useful for data analysis. We live in a data-driven society, and education should be data-driven at all. Shulman's framework forces teachers to collect that data and really evaluate it. And it doesn't have to be formal data, and Excel sheets, or things like that. It can just be your observations and then your reflection on those.

It can also provide for differentiation, which is really important. Because it's so important to remember that not all of our students are going to learn in the same way. And lastly, but certainly not least, it's really helpful for forming relationships with our students, because through our differentiation and through our reflection and our data analysis, we're learning who are individual students are, and we're making relationships with them, which is really one of the reasons everybody wants to go into education in the first place, because we love relationships and we want to work with kids.

OK, let's take a moment to reflect. What are some obstacles you can foresee when trying to implement Shulman into your classroom? And which one of the six observable classroom behaviors do you think would be the most useful in your classroom, and how will you implement this?

Let's review our essential questions. So we talked about, what are the components of Shulman's Pedagogical Reasoning and Action Framework? What does this look like in a classroom? And how can these components help me in my classroom?

As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning, and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set. Thanks for joining me today, and happy teaching.

Notes on "Shulman's Pedagogical Reasoning and Action Framework


(00:00-00:16) Introduction

(00:17-00:35) Essential Questions

(00:36-00:51) Reminders

(00:52-01:25) Definition of Shulman's Pedagogical Content Knowledge

(01:26-03:24) Observable Classroom Behaviors

(03:25-06:44) Best Practices

(06:45-08:07) Using Shulman's framework in the Classroom

(8:08-08:31) Reflection

(08:32-09:06) Conclusion

Additional Resources

A Framework for Learning to Teach

This article ASCD article by Charlotte Danielson is a straightforward intersection between Shulman's framework and strong teaching and learning in the classroom as defined by Charlotte Danielson's Teacher Evaluation Framework.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge

This article by Matthew Koehler connects the work of Shulman to the TPACK Model. Koehler indicates that although Shulman does not include technology in his theories, it is the intersection of content and pedagogy that technology should support as a tool.