It is probably not a great blogging practice to begin with a disclaimer, but I’m doing so anyhow as I AM NO EXPERT. I am truly interested hearing from those who have additional insight, experience, examples, and more. So as you’re reading and think “I have an idea,” please scroll to the bottom and leave a message…or five! Please also consider joining our #WATeachLead Chat on Sunday, February 26 at 7:00 PM PST led by @mrs_tilley.
I wrote in November about my school’s experience moving 1-2-1 this school year. From the comments for that post, I learned about ditchthattextbook.com, which has become a lifeline for me in my SAMR journey. The creator of that resource, J. Matt Miller, and shakeuplearning.com founder, Kasey Bell, additionally just began a Google Teacher Tribe Podcast that heavily influences my thinking about effective technology practices in the classroom. If you are not yet aware of these resources, I recommend checking them out.
So, SAMR–What is it?
SAMR, most basically, is a technology integration model for educators developed by Dr. Ruben Puntedura. It outlines four categories of technology integration as follows:
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
When I first learned about SAMR at a conference last summer, I imagined that S-substitution was the “lowest” or “worst” level and that R-redefinition was the “highest” or “best” level. While I’m still striving to transform many aspects of my instruction with technology, I now recognize the enhancement levels are completely appropriate for a number of tasks and occasions. In fact, I still appreciate the “no technology” level at various times as well.
Thus, the key, I believe, is matching technology integration to the assignment or activity purpose.
So, SAMR–What does it look like?
Putting examples in writing is a bit of a risk for me as I don’t like to be incorrect, and it’s possible that what I would define as modification, others may define as augmentation, for example–it seems this is a common fear among educators as Miller points out here in his blog post A SAMR Deep Dive: Deconstructing SAMR with Examples. Nonetheless, here I will outline and categorize some examples of what I have seen the teachers in my building do with the technology in their classrooms this year, our first year of 1-2-1, our year of exploration. Again, please feel free to weigh-in with comments regarding your experience with or understanding of this framework.
Substitution: Technology is a direct substitute for what was done before; the core idea of the task remains the same
- Students annotate an article with Google Docs–they highlight, insert comments, and keep it for later use with a writing project→ Though done in a digital format, the annotation task and resulting product remain the same
- Students complete and submit an exit task in Google Forms; the teacher scrolls through the responses and makes mental notes of what to re-teach tomorrow→ Again, though completed digitally, the feedback loop remains the same as what was with scratch paper responses submitted as students walked out the door
Augmentation: Technology is a direct substitute but provides some functional improvements
- Students are working on a shared Google Slides presentation in small groups; each member of the group is in charge of a different part of the larger presentation, but they can all collaborate in real-time→ The real-time collaboration improves this group task; no longer are students gathered around one computer watching one person create the project
- Students complete a writing assignment in Google Docs and turn it in Google Classroom; the teacher provides written feedback using the suggestion mode as well as comments and then uses Goobric to attach a rubric and score the assignment→ As a teacher who has transitioned to collecting all major assignments in this fashion, I find I am more organized, I save time in grading, and students are more easily able to track their writing progress as it is all in one place
Modification: Technology allows for significant task redesign
- Teacher connects with and arranges a Skype call with the CEO of a company, somebody with an inspiring story and background similar to that of our students; students are able to hear a first-person account, ask questions, and interact in real-time→ Previously, students may have simply read an article or watched a YouTube video, but technology allowed for actual connection with a potential role model
Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously not possible
- Teacher uses Khan Academy to differentiate instruction in an algebra support class, identifying skill deficits and targeting lessons to fill those gaps–all students are working on personal areas of weakness→ The format of this support class is completely redesigned as the instructional capability of the technology allows students to receive the specific support they need at the exact time they need it; the teacher becomes the coordinator of learning
As I reflect on our journey as a school, I see multiple examples of the new technology augmenting our instruction–in fact, I might argue that many tasks become easier when completed with technology and thus fall into the augmentation category. Examples of modification or redefinition are more challenging to identify at this time as we are all still learning our way. However, we have had a taste of what they may be like, and as we move toward increased collaboration within our classes, between our classes, and even with others outside our school, region, and country as appropriate, aspects of our instruction will transform.
My District’s SAMR Professional Learning Journey
I have already outlined a number of resources that have been helpful to me in my quest for support this year as my school district is small and I am the resident “expert,” the technology coach. To support my colleagues, I have led a number of workshops during our bi-monthly collaboration time.
I started with the basics including how to turn on and use the technology and the ins and outs of our technology use agreement, and then I introduced the Google Drive and other key applications. Blogs and Youtube videos geared toward various content teachers were provided and exploration of content-specific applications, extensions, and websites was encouraged. Other teachers shared about what they were using which included mini-presentations about Kahoot, Quizziz, Quizlet, and more. I also try to use the key applications anytime I am leading a professional learning opportunity, which means teachers are using a shared Padlet to record their ideas about research skills our students need to develop or are creating a shared Slides presentation to summarize their best content practices for assessing source’s reliability.
I haven’t yet discussed the SAMR model as I didn’t want to overwhelm anybody in our first year. Looking ahead to next year, though, I plan to start with the model, some examples, and really encourage teachers to find ways to push themselves to the next level.
Another District’s Model
My CORElaborateWA colleague, Kati Tilley’s larger school district is 1-2-1 in grades 3-12 with access also provided K-2. I recognize the merits of their model of gradual release as use of the technology was piloted in content-areas to begin with. They built capacity by training those in high functioning/high-needs departments before they went whole-school with the new technology. They additionally have one or two technology mentors in each building who are paid a stipend to assist their colleagues with instructional technology. They also offer multiple opportunities for teachers to get what they need when they need it–that’s their motto. Some ways they do this include:
- Offering over 100 online, clock-hour classes through their Professional Learning Portal. Run through their Moodle server, they are created by their Teaching and Learning Staff (coaches, etc…) and are only available to district employees
- Providing a tech-focused Ed-Camp for everyone in the district one time per year
- Offering “Tech in Five,” tech tips during staff meetings
- Providing face-to-face classes after school and during collaboration time on specific apps and tech topics (clock hours provided)
Kati says this has been a revolution in her district, that she could go on and on, and I am eager to learn more from her experiences. Again, please join #WATeachLead on Twitter as we chat about SAMR and educational technology on February 26 at 7:00 PM PST.