Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

Using the SAMR Model to Increase Your Classroom Tech Impact

Using the SAMR Model to Increase Your Classroom Tech Impact

By Lauren Steinmann

In my childhood elementary school, the hot technologies of the day were overhead projectors, ditto machines and the occasional listening center with five kids plugged into a cassette player. Now, with iPads and laptops, SMART Boards and video cameras, classrooms of today are a far cry from the ones we grew up in.

Yet, I wonder, how thoughtful and purposeful is the integration of all this technology? As teachers, are we creating transformative experiences that are more meaningful and lasting than those in our own childhoods?

“As teachers, are we creating transformative experiences that are more meaningful and lasting than those in our own childhoods?”

The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model is a framework developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura to address this very question. See how you can use it to improve your use of technology in the classroom.

What is SAMR?

SAMR is similar to a ladder, with each ‘rung’ representing increasing levels of integration and engagement. There are four levels, which include:

SAMR model_graphic Substitution: New technology simply replaces old technology. An example of this is using a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs to type an essay.

Augmentation: New technology adds small improvements to a task without really changing the task. When you add in features from the word processor such as spell check or the thesaurus, you are augmenting your task.

Modification: New technology introducing more functionality and change to a task, such as commenting through Google Docs.

Redefinition: A completely new task that was once impossible or unimaginable before the technology was introduced. An example of this would be to have students collaborate on Google Docs to edit an essay or story in real time. Other examples are sharing the document with a classroom across the country and video chatting about their reactions to the work.

When looking at the SAMR model, we can imagine an invisible line separating the bottom two ‘rungs’ of the ladder, which focus on enhancing learning, from the top ‘rungs,’ which focus on transforming learning within the classroom—focusing on the top rungs is called teaching “above the line” and makes your use of technology much more powerful.

Use SAMR in Your Classroom

Use this model to transform your daily classroom experiences and be more effective with technology.

1. Explore

You don’t need to be a tech expert to use technology in the classroom. That being said, teachers benefit greatly by exploring apps and programs to get a feel for how they can work in the classroom. As a Digital Learning Coach, I am constantly in the classroom helping teachers, but I have found that they get more from trying things themselves, rather than being told what to do—just like students. Pick an app, any app, and explore it. Expand your knowledge so you can use new technology to modify and redefine for greater impact.

2. Get Out of the Singular Mindset

Ask yourself: what do I want my students to accomplish today? Do you want them to type an essay or produce a thoughtful piece of writing with the help of their peers? Use an app or demonstrate their understanding of a complex topic? When you stop focusing on ‘small tasks’ and look at the broader picture of learning goals, you will be able to create tech-infused lessons that can reach higher levels in SAMR.

“When you stop focusing on ‘small tasks’ and look at the broader picture of learning goals, you will be able to create tech-infused lessons that can reach higher levels in SAMR.”

3. Expect More and SMASH

Often when we think about technology in the classroom, we have one activity or one program that our students use—typing an essay in Google Docs, playing review games in a math app or creating a cartoon in an online program.

Start expecting more; have students: collaborate and peer review in real time to create the essay, use multiple apps to create their own math review games and share it with their peers, or take the cartoons that they create and drop them into an interactive project platform where they ‘app-smash’ them. When we take our students from being consumers of technology and transform them into producers, they can create amazing things. This is the difference between substituting a technology for something else and using technology to redefine what students are doing—a subtle but critical modification.

4. Lean On Others

You don’t need to be a tech superstar to bring technology into your classroom. Seek out colleagues (and students) and see what you can learn from them. Search for ideas on Twitter, Pinterest, forums and blogs. Then take what you learned and apply it to the SAMR model: modify something new by combining it with something old. When you stretch your own capabilities, your students will do the same.

5. Be Flexible

Technology is constantly changing and evolving, and so your teaching must be doing the same. Don’t be afraid to try out a completely new idea or combine things that may at first sound a little crazy. Your flexibility and willingness to fail will show students that they can be adaptable and brave as 21st century learners.

SAMR is a framework for technology integration that you bring it to life. When you lead by example and act as a model of innovation for your students you redefine and transform student learning.

Harness the power of classroom technology with a fundraiser through Learn2Earn.

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