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Tech integration and the SAMR model: aim for transformation, not just enhancement

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

Technology is so pervasive and seamless today that it makes its way into our lessons almost subconsciously. 

The good thing is that today, almost every school would have access to the internet/wifi, at least a teacher computer and hopefully a projector … and mobile devices … students have smart phones! We can turn their smart phones into instructional aides during BYOT/BYOD - bring your own tech days …. 

There are also of course schools with access to Chromebook trolleys, iPads trolleys that can be booked etc…. And smart boards …

But, … I like to follow the SAMR model in determining why am I brining technology into a lesson:

The idea of the SAMR model ‘ladder’ is to aim for 'transformation, not just enhancement.

In other words, low end tech use is called substitution, — followed by augmentation — modification ——redefinition …..

This in turn kind of mirrors “the continuum of constructivism beyond hands on” for me and the 5E model

I really like this continuum in the link below that shows the transition of students from consumers to producers (student scientists). 

I find that if incorporated purposefully tech in class can empower students, provide enrichment and extension for high-achievers and gifted students

... while also making level the playing field for low-achievers or those with learning exceptionalities (UDL and assistive tech)

This is also consistent with the TPACK model (technology, pedagogy, content knowledge): “‘‘a representation of the knowledge required to use technology in an educational setting in ways that are contextually authentic and pedagogically appropriate’’ p. 375

A sample application of SAMR to integrate technology into senior chemistry teaching:

Traditional Lesson: organic chemistry SCH4U - organic chemistry nomenclature …

1. Substitution: I use a smart board instead of the white board to draw and make additions to a template sheet that the students have (fill in blanks style)

2. Augmentation: I connect Avogadro to the whiteboard. Avogadro software allows me to create any molecule in 3D and do manipulations to it (visual-spatial)

3. Modification: students use an app to “study … the names and structures of all the important chemical functional groups. Quiz themselves, and do it in a way that's fun and logically organized.”

Organic chemistry nomenclature app

4. Redefinition:  students research one family of organic compounds (alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, etc.), find a real-life application(s), describe its structure, and how its physical and chemical properties allow it to be used for its current applications, what are its environmental impacts … they do their research using a shared google docwhere they can collaborate, and then they create a multimedia presentation video using screencast-o-matic or keynote or iMovie or Educreations app or Explain Everything app where they teach their organic molecule family. This can in turn become ‘kids learning from kids’ because their project can be shared with other students …. They can also use an organic kit model to build the molecules and film it and explain as they do that ….

Some examples of technology integration from my personal experience:

my teacher website: I extensively use my website so kids have 24/7 access to high quality resources like videos (flipped class), khanacademy videos, PDF, slides, problems, checklists, etc... (students can in turn use Chrome text to speech software to have the PDF's read to them (students with exceptionalities)

Google Classroom: I extensively used google classroom (it basically like owl here at Western). I can create test review chat sessions where students post Qs, and their peers or I answer them, I can create assignments that they submit etc, and it can be very transparent and even parents can become involved by invitation etc... Edmodo can also be used

entry/exit tickets: I use this for diagnostic or formative feedback … but I want a fast, fun, paperless way to do this that records the data, stats, on a regular basis so if needs be, at the end of term, I and the student/parent can sit and I can show them how their kid did over the course of the term …. Their participation and readiness levels …… ‘ongoing assessment’ 

PLICKERS! I love plickers. Awesome because no student device is needed. Just one decide (tablet or phone) is enough as you scan their answers ….. fast, easy …. Check out this link: 

Socrative or Kahoot: allows to instant connect with students as learning happens — assess students with prepared activities or on-the-fly questions to get immediate insight into student understanding (game-based platform)

Show and Tell apps/activities: students, individual, or in groups, engage in authentic problem solving but they record their thinking processes and decision-making

Educreations, sreencast-o-matic, keynote, iMovie, 

Simulated/virtual learning: gizmos, virtuallab

Apps: atom builder …., QR codes, etc...

Avogadro: 3D space and visualizaiton

Enhancing Chemistry Basics with Technology

Here is a link with a series of ‘if’ statements that suggests how you can use tech in class depending on what is available (schools that have/have not access to tech)

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