English teacher education programs often look for ways to help preservice teachers engage in critical reflection, participate in communities of practice, and write for authentic audiences in order to be able to teach in the 21st century. In this article, the authors describe how they used Twitter to provide opportunities for reflection and collaboration during methods courses in two English education programs. The authors examined the affordances and limitations of using Twitter in methods courses and suggest revisions to help other teacher educators consider ways to use Twitter in their own courses. Specifically, the authors suggest that Twitter is useful for ongoing reflection and provides potential for preservice teachers to engage with larger communities of practice outside of their own institution; however, preservice teachers may need scaffolding and guidance for developing critical reflection skills and maintaining involvement in communities of practice.
English/Language Arts Education
Teaching mathematics for understanding requires listening to each student’s mathematical thinking, best elicited in a one-on-one interview. Interviews are difficult to enact in a teacher’s busy schedule, however. In this study, the authors utilize smartphone technology to help mathematics teachers interview a student in a virtual one-on-one setting. Free from physical constraints and preconceived biases, teachers can concentrate on building questioning, listening, and responding skills when noticing student mathematical thinking. Teachers engaged in four communication types when working with students through this technology: clarification, verification, and either extension or redirection.
Social Studies Education
The microblogging service Twitter offers a platform that social studies educators increasingly use for professional development, communication, and class activities, but to what ends? The authors drew on Deweyan conceptions of participatory learning and citizenship aims of the field as lenses through which to consider social media activities. To determine how and why social studies educators use Twitter, 303 K-16 self-identified social studies educators were surveyed in this study. Results from respondents suggested that they valued the professional development experiences afforded by the platform, but were less likely to utilize Twitter for communication or class activities. Themes and examples that point to ways social studies educators use Twitter are described to provide insights for educators aiming to use social media professionally. Questions are also raised concerning whether social studies educators have missed opportunities to use social media to connect across racial and cultural boundaries and for civic purposes.
Engagement in game design tasks can help preservice teachers develop pedagogical and technical skills for teaching and promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Through the design process, preservice teachers not only exercise critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, but also learn about an instructional method to support their future students’ problem-solving skills. Becoming comfortable with games and game design, however, requires firsthand design experiences, which teacher education programs hardly provide. Given the limited opportunities and research, this study attempted to gain insight into the implementation of a game design workshop to teach preservice teachers how to integrate game design in their future practices. In this exploratory case study, we analyzed reflections and lesson plans from four preservice teachers who participated in a game design workshop. Overall, the preservice teachers found the workshop to be effective in teaching them the intricacies of the game design process. However, both the participants’ learning experiences during the workshop and the level of pedagogical elements present in their lesson plans varied depending on their technology knowledge and teaching context.