Editorials

English/Language Arts Education

Fostering Preservice and In-Service ELA Teachers’ Digital Practices for Addressing Climate Change

by Richard Beach, George Boggs, Jill Castek, James Damico, Alexandra Panos, Renee Spellman & Nance Wilson
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This report presents research on preservice (PST) and in-service teachers acquiring digital practices for addressing climate change related to knowing how to employ digital practices for studying visual representations of climate change and engaging students in critiquing online information about climate change. Study 1 examined PSTs understanding of climate change through participation in visiting a laboratory involving scientific study of ecological systems to interact with scientists, collect digital artifacts, and create a virtual field trip using these artifacts for instructional purposes. Study 2 involved PSTs and in-service teachers responding critically to the NASA Climate Change website, identifying digital literacies their sixth-grade students would need to employ in responding to this website and designing activities to foster critical response to the website. Some PSTs focused on issues of bias and ideological assumptions, while other PSTs focused on comprehension strategy instruction. Study 3 examined PSTs critiques of the reliability of two web sources containing conflicting claims and evidence about climate change based on analysis of screenshots of each source, a digital literacy web-based tool for critical analysis of the sources, and whole group class discussion. PSTs assumed the need to consider both perspectives on the validity of climate change claims.

Preparing English Teachers With Critical Media Literacy for the Digital Age

by Jeff Share & Tatevik Mamikonyan
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This work addresses the potential for English teachers to prepare their students for the literacy requirements of the digital age. The authors reviewed the literature about media education and teacher preparation, focusing on the need for students to think critically about the information, technology, and media they interact with daily. Based on the authors’ experiences teaching a critical media literacy course in a university teacher education program, they designed a survey for former students to comment on their successes and struggles in bringing the ideas from the course to their K-12 students. Through this online survey, secondary English teachers and elementary teachers were questioned about the critical media literacy teaching they had been doing with their students. An exemplar secondary English teacher who regularly incorporates critical media literacy into her instruction was also interviewed. The data from the literature, surveys, and interview provide examples of the potential English teachers have to teach with and about media and to analyze media critically.

Mathematics Education

Why and How Secondary Mathematics Teachers Implement Virtual Manipulatives

by Lindsay Reiten
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Although teachers are expected to teach with technology, they often are not prepared or supported to do so (Albion, Tondeur, Forkosh-Baruch, & Peeraer, 2015), a critical issue in mathematics education (Wilson, 2008). The study described in this article investigated why and how secondary mathematics teachers implemented virtual manipulative (VM) tasks during and after participating in a professional development (PD) opportunity aimed at teaching with VMs. Findings indicate that teachers used VM tasks due to instructional benefits, for example, supporting students’ developing understanding and differentiation. Additionally, they used VMs and tasks due to the support they received from tools introduced during the PD. In this study, teachers primarily used VM tasks to support students’ developing understanding, to provide in-the-moment feedback, and as a reteaching tool. Mediating factors, such as student needs, curriculum, time, tool limitations, and so forth, influenced why and how teachers chose to use a particular VM.

Science Education

Preservice Science Teachers’ Beliefs About Computational Thinking Following a Curricular Module Within an Elementary Science Methods Course

by J. Randy McGinnis, Emily Hestness, Kelly Mills, Diane Jass Ketelhut, Lautaro Cabrera & Hannoori Jeong
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The authors describe their study of a curricular module on computational thinking (CT) implemented within an elementary science methods course and reported insights on preservice science teachers’ (PSTs’) beliefs about CT integration. The research question was, “Following participation in a curricular module on CT, what is the nature of PSTs’ beliefs about CT integration in their elementary science classrooms?” The authors designed and implemented a three-class-session CT module within an undergraduate elementary science methods course. They observed and collected field notes on PSTs’ (N = 39) participation in the module, along with class artifacts. They examined the data to gain insight into PSTs’ perceptions of CT integration in elementary science education, its feasibility, and its value for their own teaching practice. They found that PSTs overwhelmingly supported the pedagogical innovation of integrating CT in their science teaching; they appreciated that CT modernized and made science education engaging for young learners; and, they generally believed that CT integration supported the implementation of what they understood as good science teaching practice. However, the PSTs believed they would face a variety of challenges in their efforts to integrate CT into their science teaching. Implications for CT teacher education are discussed.

Social Studies Education

Integrating Media Literacy in Social Studies Teacher Education

by Meghan Manfra & Casey Holmes
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Social studies teacher educators must confront the new realities of democratic citizenship education in an era dominated by misinformation and fake news.  Using the Teacher Education Technology Competencies (TETCs) as a guide, the authors provide a five-part action plan for situating media literacy within social studies teacher education: connecting media literacy with the purposes of social studies education, exploring the history of fake news in United States history, tracing the history of the field of journalism and journalistic ethics, analyzing contemporary examples of fake news, and developing efficacy working with tools and heuristics for detecting fake news and misinformation.  Research suggests that a comprehensive multifaceted approach to media literacy can help students develop civic online reasoning, navigate political bias, and participate in online civic activities. In order for preservice teachers to adopt media literacy as part of their teaching practice, social studies teacher educators must improve their own efficacy navigating social media, news media, and other sources of information, while integrating media literacy regularly into teacher education programs.

General

Should We Ask Students to Tweet? Perceptions, Patterns, and Problems of Assigned Social Media Participation

by Daniel G. Krutka & Nicole Damico
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Teacher educators have increasingly integrated  social media into their education courses with aims including improving instruction and preparing students for a connected world. In this study, the authors sought to better understand the possibilities and challenges of scaffolding 60 pre- and in-service teachers across two universities into professional learning networks (PLNs) through a social media assignment. Participants analyzed educator practices, participated in, and envisioned future uses of teacher Twitter. Consistent with previous studies, education students were positive about the relational and relevant aspects of Twitter use. However, students’ participation did not mimic the participatory cultures of affinity spaces often reported by connected educators in the literature. Instead, participants tweeted around deadlines and quit using their accounts for professional education purposes once the class ended. In contrast to recent literature, this article argues that social media integration for education students should focus on relational and relevant engagements and content, as opposed to attempting to build social media augmented PLNs for unknown futures.

The PICRAT Model for Technology Integration in Teacher Preparation

by Royce Kimmons, Charles R. Graham & Richard E. West
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Technology integration models are theoretical constructs that guide researchers, educators, and other stakeholders in conceptualizing the messy, complex, and unstructured phenomenon of technology integration. Building on critiques and theoretical work in this area, the authors report on their analysis of the needs, benefits, and limitations of technology integration models in teacher preparation and propose a new model: PICRAT. PIC (passive, interactive, creative) refers to the student’s relationship to a technology in a particular educational scenario. RAT (replacement, amplification, transformation) describes the impact of the technology on a teacher’s previous practice. PICRAT can be a useful model for teaching technology integration, because it (a) is clear, compatible, and fruitful, (b) emphasizes technology as a means to an end, (c) balances parsimony and comprehensiveness, and (d) focuses on students.

Current Practice

Microcredentialing of English Learner Teaching Skills: An Exploratory Study of Digital Badges as an Assessment Tool

by Kerry Purmensky, Ying Xiong, Joyce Nutta, Florin Mihai & Leslie Mendez
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Digital badges are a promising innovative tool to support teacher candidates’ instructional skill development. Although digital badges are increasingly utilized in online teaching and learning, their effectiveness is still under investigation. This exploratory study reports on 151 elementary level teacher candidates’ participation and success rate in a digital badge system named MELTS, which was specifically designed for cultivating, assessing, and recognizing 10 specific English learner teaching skills. To earn a digital badge, participants in the study were required to (a) pass online module assessments, (b) participate in coached skill practices, and (c) effectively demonstrate mastery of targeted teaching skills before an expert panel. Findings show that participants who completed the online modules and skills practices were successful in demonstrating the targeted teaching skills to receive MELTS badges. Although participants reported a positive experience in the skill practice sessions, the participation rate in the badging sessions was lower than expected. Implications and challenges are discussed.