“Let’s look at your unit plan using the SAMR model”. Are you at the top? Are you winning?
It is a frightening start to a PD session that has teachers scrambling to redefine their tasks just to show that they can. You had a awesome lesson with some moments of technology substitution and augmentation where your students were working towards all of the right standards and using all of the right thinking skills. All of a sudden there is a push to take a step or two up the SAMR ladder so that your favourite lesson can be deemed as a redefinition of it’s former self. So that it is no longer your favourite lesson but a new lesson that was made possible because of technology, but it must be awesome. Right?
I wrote about the SAMR model back in course one (here and here) and I think that as a framework for building and reflecting on technology in education it works great. What worries me about the implementation of the SAMR model is that there might be an expectation that all learning experiences need to reach the top tier in order to be fully engaging and valid. They don’t.
Here is short video on the SAMR model if you need a recap:
The video gives a creative writing example that moves up the SAMR model (starts at 1:20). But what if your learning target was to “Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience” (AERO English Standards) then turning your writing piece into a video wouldn’t be what you were trying to assess. Why couldn’t we stop at modification in this case? It’s a valid question. But then a valid response might be that we have ICT standards to address in our subject areas too and taking the next step would address those.
So how do we find a balance when designing our lessons/units?
Use the resources available to you to enhance the learning in your classroom without taking away from the learning. As we become more at ease with the technology I honestly think that the redefinition opportunities present themselves. As I move into my coaching role with teachers next semester I will certainly be using the SAMR model to help identify/guide/reflect on technology use but I want to maintain focus on student learning and let that be the driving forces of any technology implementation.
How do my classes stack up?
I am always using technology in my classroom. My problem isn’t finding more tech opportunities, rather it’s trying to choose the right tech opportunities and then seeing if they can redefine the learning experience. My weakness has always been the new shiny toy and sometimes I find a new tool that I want to fit into my lessons instead of the other way around. I guess it could be worse but I think that redefinition needs to be genuine (I wonder if TPACK does a better job of explicitly addressing that?) At the end of the day if I’ve got a lesson that is still winning without technology (I have a couple) I am not going to throw it away. Having said that, I’m well on my way to creating a blended learning environment in my 9th grade classroom so I don’t think Ruben P would be too disappointed in my efforts.