Technology, SAMR individualizes instruction

Imagine walking into a classroom where a high school student is annotating and analyzing a passage from a book, while the classmate next to her decides to brush up on last week’s lesson on close reading first.

Look further and you see 15 students working independently at their own pace while another meets with his teacher for some one-on-one help.

Is this level of classroom differentiation possible? It is for high school English teacher Mrs. Pia Caro, who implements technology based learning model using iPads.

Students in Mrs. Caro’s English classes use Google Classroom as a tool to enhance their learning.  Google Classroom lets students ask and answer questions that only Mrs. Caro can see. It also feeds student progress back into an online dashboard that Mrs. Caro uses to tracks her students’ progress in a given lesson. She monitors each students’ progress, giving regular feedback. If a student falls behind or misses a class due to illness or an athletic event, Mrs. Caro can step in and tweak her assignments.

Working in a Google Classroom help students by letting them learn more at their own pace and retain the information being given to them. According to Mrs. Caro, students can, in some ways, absorb more from lectures with technology than they can with just paper and pen. They can download lesson readings, look up unfamiliar concepts on the fly and create accurate, well-organized notes. In addition, if a student is too nervous or embarrassed to ask a question in class, they can refer back to previous materials or reach out to the teacher through e-mail or by adding a private comment in the Google classroom. Not only can students learn the material given, but they can also seek extra help online at their own pace and time, without feeling embarrassed for raising their hand.

Mrs. Caro uses Google Classroom as a hub for resources for students to access online. Video, audio, animation, and other applications and added into her virtual classroom for students to enhance teaching and learning efforts.

Mrs. Caro has been integrating technology in the classroom using iPads to achieve the skills that digital learners need to compete in our global society for years, and has been a pioneer in the SAMR model.

SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Short for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition, the  model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology. The goal is to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students.

Some of the ways that Mrs. Caro redefines typical classroom assignments are through visual essays/collage boards or video/rap presentations instead of a handwritten essay or vocabulary worksheet.

Click here for a helpful explanation on SAMR or read below for some specific examples:


Original Project or Lesson:
A hand-written book report turned into the teacher

  • Substitution: Students create book reviews using Google Docs and share them with the teacher.
  • Augmentation: Students use various add-ons for their book reviews, such as speech recognition for voice notes and word prediction.
  • Modification: Students use Google Classroom to post their book reviews, receive peer feedback, and participate in ongoing discussions about their book.
  • Redefinition: Students use a similar free video app to create a 30-60 second book trailer. Working with the technology integration specialist in the school, the students turn the URL of their book trailer into a QR code, and then put their QR code into the book jacket for any student to scan and access the trailer.


Original Project or Lesson:
A class presentation on regional animal adaptations.

  • Substitution: Students read various articles online about how animals adapt to their environment.
  • Augmentation: Students choose an animal and work in groups on a shared Google Presentation to research their animal and present their findings to the class.
  • Modification: Students put their presentations on a blog or online classroom to write learning reflections, post comments, and discuss peer learning.
  • Redefinition: Students use Skype in the classroom to meet live with a science museum director to compare/contrast animal adaptations of their region with other animals in other regions of the United States. Prior to the live meeting, they use Google Earth to research various areas and animals of that region to determine what types of adaptations these animals might demonstrate.

Original Project or Lesson:
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 selected location
  • 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 location with Google Earth; seek out and include interviews with people who have visited the location.

Original Project of Lesson:
A report and presentation following a pen-pal exchange with a student from a different country

  • Substitution: Students from different countries meet weekly on a video chat service like Skype or Google Hangouts. They take turns conversing in each other’s native languages, offering suggestions for improvement. Later, they write each other questions and answer them in the different languages.
  • Augmentation: Video chat allows students to see each other’s facial expressions and unspoken cues, as well as interpret context clues.
  • Modification: Students send questions back and forth to each other in a shared Google Document and discuss them in a video chat. That unique combination of suggestions and revisions in real time wouldn’t be possible by with sending letter or making a phone call. In this case, we have changed the task completely.
  • Redefinition: By adding a social media element — students becoming Facebook friends and staying in touch with each other frequently and long-term — the task becomes something that was previously inconceivable.
Posted on Categories Archive