Taking Paths Less Traveled

Joyful Hiker. Mother. Teacher. Adventurer.

I started out my #CUE18 conference experience by attending the session titled “Climbing the SAMR Ladder: Designing Engaging Lessons for 21st Century Learners” presented by Julia Maynard, Michael Bloemsma and Jill Bromen of San Francisco USD.

They began their presentation with discussing their district’s demographics, and their technology goals. The phrase that stuck out most to me is: “We must focus on equity of access and equity of opportunity with technology.”

Equity of Access and Equity of Opportunity

I work in a district with high rates of poverty. Most of my students do not have access to the internet at home. This year my classroom got 1:1 Chromebooks and I have been learning how to implement them in my classroom while the rest of the school prepares to receive their 1:1 Technology in the upcoming year.

Many of my colleagues are struggling with the idea of so much student screen time and question the legitimacy of technology in their classrooms. When we think of helping students be ready for their future, however, we need to realize that students in places where parents make their living creating and developing technology already have a vastly higher advantage for the 21st Century job market. If we don’t allow our children access to technology now, they will not be in a position to compete with their peers.

I see that the push-back from my colleagues stems from a misunderstanding of how we should be using tech in the classroom. The SAMR model answers that question.


SAMR Model as depicted by Sylvia Duckworth

I love this image for the SAMR model. The first one I saw used an upside down pyramid that didn’t suit my logical brain.  This model works for me because we can talk about going deeper. Another image that would work would be starting in a boxed classroom and moving into outer space… maybe someone could draw a model to show that one!

For the teachers who are reluctant to use technology in the classroom, it is because they are seeing technology at the substitution or augmentation level. This represents the majority of the programs purchased for us by our district.

Michael walked us through some examples of what each step in the SAMR model looks like in the classroom and this is what I took away from their message:

  • Substitution: Students write a paragraph in Google Docs.
  • Augmentation: Students write a paragraph using Google Docs, use spell check, change the fonts for a clean published look.
  • Modification: Students write a paragraph, using Google Docs, prepare for publishing, and share with classmates for editing.
  • Redefinition: Student paragraphs are turned into newsletters and shared with the school or community abroad and post it to their google site for an online portfolio.

As I grow to understand the goals of technology in education, I realized that we need to shift our understanding of technology. Those resistant teachers have a great point! Substitution levels of technology are a waste of time. Pen and paper have much more meaningful applications, even if it is only in the beneficial kinesthetic action of thoughts from brain through hand to pencil and paper. The skills that our students need include using the 4 C’s and technology blended into a fun and engaging classroom atmosphere.

Please note!  I am new to this, so if someone can help me improve my understanding, please message me!

One thought on “The SAMR Model

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Taking Paths Less Traveled

Joyful Hiker. Mother. Teacher. Adventurer.


Thoughts and ramblings of a young adult

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