8 Examples of Transforming Lessons Through the SAMR Cycle


Examples of Applying the SAMR Model can Help Teachers Understand and Embrace it

The SAMR Model for integrating technology into teaching, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, has gained a good deal of exposure in recent years. “SAMR” is an acronym that stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. The SAMR model provides a technique for moving through degrees of technology adoption to find more meaningful uses of technology in teaching and move away from simply using “tech for tech’s sake”.

We recently discussed the SAMR model during an Academic Technology Work Group meeting at The College of Westchester. We examined the video, SAMR in 120 Seconds. One thing that really struck me is how much the example helped, so I made it a point to gather and/or create some more examples.

Following are 8 examples of the SAMR process, each taking an example of a typical classroom exercise that does not use technology and walking it through each phase of SAMR. For half of these, I searched and borrowed from examples that teachers had written about online (original sources are provided – in some cases I tweaked the example a bit). I also created examples of my own. In working through this, it became apparent to me that while Substitution and Augmentation can be relatively straightforward conceptually, there is even more room for interpretation when it comes to Modification and Redefinition.

The goal of this exercise was to help me (and readers) better understand the SAMR model, and to really see how lessons and assessments can be transformed while considering the benefits of evolving them through these stages. I find it particularly interesting to see the vast difference in between the original lesson and the redefined lesson … there is often a much wider range of skills required in the latter stages, and lessons can become much more engaging and collaborative when modified or redefined.

Lesson: Writing a Short Paper

Taken from: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/08/samr-model-explained-through-examples.html.

Original Assignment: A hand written paper.

  • Substitution: A Word Processor replaces a Pen/Pencil in a Writing Assignment.
  • Augmentation: A Word Processor and text-to-speech function are used to improve the writing process.
  • Modification: The document created using the Word Processor and text-to-speech function is shared on a blog where feedback can be received and incorporated to help improve the quality of writing.
  • Redefinition: Instead of a written assignment, students convey analytic thought using multimedia tools.

Lesson: Geography & Travel

A modification of an idea found at https://edofict.wikispaces.com/SAMR+Examples.

Original Assignment: An overview of a location consisting of hand written content supplemented with compiled cut-and-pasted magazine clippings.

  • Substitution: Use presentation software (like Powerpoint or Prezi) to construct a presentation providing information about a selected locale.
  • Augmentation: Incorporate interactive multimedia – audio, video, hyperlinks – in the presentation to give more depth and provide more engaging presentation.
  • Modification: Create a digital travel brochure that incorporates multimedia and student created video.
  • Redefinition: Explore the locale with Google Earth; seek out and include interviews with people who have visited the local.

Lesson: Understanding Shakespeare

Taken from: https://edofict.wikispaces.com/SAMR+Examples and modified.

Original Assignment: Read a Shakespeare play in traditional printed format.

  • Substitution: Read Shakespeare texts online.
  • Augmentation: Use online dictionaries, study guides, history sites, to supplement reading.
  • Modification: Use multimedia resources like text, audio, and video tools to jointly construct knowledge, learning, and understanding of a portion of a play, or a character, as a group project.
  • Redefinition: Answer the Question, “What did the culture of the time have on the writing of Shakespeare’s plays” my using a Concept Mapping tool and constructing a mind map demonstrating key elements through words and images.

An Assessment Exercise

Idea taken from: https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model and slightly modified. In this example, we take a simple form of assessment and evolve it into a collaborative group project.

Original Assignment: Take a quiz, answers handwritten in a printed form.

  • Substitution: Distribute the quiz in a Word Processor file format and have student fill in answers on a computer.
  • Augmentation: Use a Google Form to deliver and complete the quiz. “There is some functional benefit here in that paper is being saved, students and teacher can receive almost immediate feedback on student level of understanding of material.  This level starts to move along the teacher / student centric continuum. The impact of immediate feedback is that students may begin to become more engaged in learning.“
  • Modification: As an alternative form of assessment, students could be asked to write an essay around a relevant theme. The written essay could then be narrated and captured as vocal recording.
  • Redefinition: “A classroom is asked to create a documentary video answering an essential question related to important concepts. Teams of students take on different subtopics and collaborate to create one final product.  Teams are expected to contact outside sources for information.”

Following are some example lessons, evolved through the SAMR model, that I have tried my hand at creating.
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about how effectively an approach constitutes “modification” or “redefinition”, but that’s not the point of the exercise. To my way of thinking, it’s more about understanding the difference between a just replacing or augmenting a “paper” lesson with a “digital” one and actually evolving it in a beneficial way and exploring new possibilities.

Lesson: Art/Painting

Original Assignment: Drawing a picture using traditional brush, paint, paper. Of course, there is a a big difference between doing this “by hand” in the traditional manner and doing it digitally – digitally is by no means “better”, it is just different and opens up some interesting possibilities.

  • Substitution: Use a digital drawing/painting program (like MS Paint) to draw/paint a picture.
  • Augmentation: Use a tool that allows the creation of your masterpiece to be “played back” (like Educreations, for example).
  • Modification: Pull a background image to use as a “canvas” – you could even scan something hand drawn and use that.
  • Redefinition: Create Artwork Collaboratively using a Collaborative Online Whiteboard (like Twiddla or one of these other tools).

Lesson: Email Etiquette

Original lesson: Review printed copies of Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines.

  • Substitution: Students read an online article discussing Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines.
  • Augmentation: Student read an online article discussing Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines that includes links to examples, and offer comments online indicating their top 5 favorite tips.
  • Modification: Student watch a video discussing Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines and after reviewing the guidelines, they create a Twitter account and Tweet their top 5 tips.
  • Redefinition: Student watch the guidelines video, then assess examples of Email Etiquette ‘violations’ and indicate which guidelines should be applied to correct/improve on the examples.

Lesson: Learning Fractions

Original Assignment: Show understanding of fractions on a worksheet by coloring in blocks.

  • Substitution: Use an Excel Worksheet to let students “color in” the blocks.
  • Augmentation: Use Google Sheet to let students “color in” the blocks, where the teacher can offer feedback directly on Google Sheet.
  • Modification: Use Google Sheet and direct students to online examples and supplementary learning materials for areas that they might struggle with.
  • Redefinition: Use a Fractions App instead (here’s a handful of examples for iOS devices).

Lesson: Phys Ed – Learning To Hit a Baseball Well

Original Assignment: Learning how to hit a baseball by watching and listening to a Coach or Phys Ed instructor show you and then trying it yourself.

  • Substitution: The coach/teacher videos the training exercise and uses this as the lesson.
  • Augmentation: The coach/teacher videos the training exercise and provides links to other training content (videos and articles from other coaches, etc).
  • Modification: The coach/teacher videos the training exercise and “flips” the lesson, having students watch it as homework, and using class time to practice and reinforce techniques.
  • Redefinition: Students watch video examples and practice the techniques, then the coach/teacher videos them hitting balls and provides feedback about their technique.

Hopefully these example of lessons modified through the SAMR cycle help to encourage you to think about how you leverage technology to make some of your lessons more interactive, collaborative, and engaging with some of the many great technology tools available today! Here’s a set of tools that may be helpful when working to evolve your lessons: 10 of the Most Engaging Uses of Instructional Technology (with Dozens of Resources and Tools).

Creative Commons license image source.


7 Characteristics of an Innovative Educator

Written by Rachelle Wootten


What are the characteristics of an innovative educator?

Reflective – As an educator, it is important to reflect on what is working and what is not.  Even though it can be a little uncomfortable, we have to admit when a great lesson was really a flop.  We must constantly examine our processes and our concepts to make sure they are what is best for the students we teach.

Learners– An innovative educator is always learning, reading, listening.  Every student, staff member, professional development opportunity is viewed as an opportunity to get better and be better in the classroom and in the education community at large.  They create local and global professional learning communities.  They take responsibility and initiative for their learning.

Creative– When I say creative I don’t mean in the sense of artistic even though some innovative educators fall in this category.  I mean creative in their thinking and approach.  An innovative educator is very uncomfortable with doing business as usual, especially when it yields no result.  So they go to work brainstorming ways to make things better.  They may change up a lesson to make it more engaging or increase student motivation.  They may adopt a more unconventional approach to handling challenging students so as to develop a stronger rapport.

Innovative Educators - Teach Amazing!Connected– It’s hard to be classified as innovative when you are disconnected from your students and trends in the profession.  How can you know what your students need and what will be the best approach to use with them if you are not connected to them personally?  Innovative educators close the gap between the traditional images of teachers so he can determine what is best for each student.  In addition, because they are life-long learners, they are abreast of changes occurring in their field and how to best apply these new changes to their instruction.

Collaborative– Education is one industry where sharing is necessary and vital to true innovation in the classroom.  When teachers work together to solve problems and share successes, our students perform much better in the classroom.  An innovative educator is always exploring topics with other educators, sharing what they know with others.  They are members of Professional Learning Communities where they learn and share with others.  They know that none of us is as smart as all of us.

Inquisitive– How can I improve?  What did I do wrong?  When is the best time for this approach?  How should I adapt this for my struggling readers?  What can I do to extend this lesson for my gifted students?  What if I did it this way?  Innovative educators are always asking questions.  After all, it’s not about having all the answers; it’s about asking the right questions.

Principled– Innovative educators live life according to strong values. They want to make a difference.  They believe that being an educator is a great way to make their mark in the world and they don’t take it for granted.  They believe in being a role model to the students they serve and look for opportunities to show they care by their actions not just with words.  They also care enough to make tough decisions even when it’s not popular and accepted.  They stand up for their beliefs.