(Last Updated On: July 11, 2017)
By Carol Curtis
It is a whole new world that is changing exponentially! As I transform from a caterpillar (teacher) to a butterfly (facilitator), I am finding that I need to rethink everything I have spent 25 years learning. As I travel this road, I am overwhelmed with developing what I envision the blended classroom to be. So I am trying to make small transitions (baby steps) to reach this new classroom. One baby step is to rethink how I am utilizing technology in the classroom.
I like the SAMR model. As I develop how I am going to help student reach a specific goal, I am rethinking the process and the product. For this, I have found the SAMR very helpful in questioning my integration of technology. Am only substituting what I have done in the past making no significant changes to teaching? Am I augmenting my approach to use technology to replace something I already do but make better because of the technology? Am I modifying the task to have the students utilize the technology is a more significant manner? Am I redefining the task by looking at the goal and using the technology to be create, collaborate, and share?
For example, I am developing a math unit on integers. As I examine the Core Standards and my previous lessons, I am finding I can use technology to help me create a more dynamic unit. The SAMR model really makes me examine each standard carefully and think about how I can help my students reach a particular goal. I find that I am looking at bigger real-world math questions. I am developing more opportunities for students to discuss, describe, analyze, question, and collaborate as they problem solve. Therefore, students will be asked to explain their thinking through viable arguments, as well as comment on and critique the reasoning of others. I am finding that more open-ended questioning and performance tasks are the focus of my lessons rather than a skill set.
This unit is no longer a series of skills that build up to an outcome. Rather, it is a real-world situation that drives the need to communicate ideas and collaborate on solutions. These “online conversations require students to articulate their process, ask questions, offer insights, and build on other students’ reasoning.”1 Now there will be multiple approaches to solving problems.
Learning activities will include some substitution. Some basic worksheets and activity instructions will be online instead of hard copy. One difference will be that these will be delivered through Google Classroom where students will also be able to scan and submit their work. The teacher will be able to comment on the work. Students will also be sharing their work in groups using the SMART Board.
Skills will delivered through different formats. This is an augmentation of the lesson because students will be able to choose between Khan Academy, Compass, the teacher’s video, and direct teacher instruction and review to learn the skill. Students also have control over the speed of delivery. Students will only need to work on the skills that they have not pretested out of. Therefore, students will have a more individualized focused set of skills to master. Students can replay the lesson so the lesson also becomes a resource. Another augmentation of this unit will be that the home base will be the classroom Weebly. Assignments, tasks, and announcement will delivered through Google Classroom.
Reflection and discussion will be modified and become more significant. Students will discuss various questions about the materials and skills. The need to write viable answers with explanations and justifications will be a challenge. Students will also be developing the ability to comment on other students’ ideas. These discussions will also produce additional questions and insight. Effort, understanding, and behavior APK charts will also be completed through Google Forms. This will change the use of this by allowing the teacher to monitor students’ self-reflection and intervene when needed. Exit slips will also be done with Google Forms allowing formative assessment to direct small group work.
Finally, students will be asked to complete a performance task. With technology, this task will be redefined. As they complete this performance task, different ideas, approaches, and products will be shared. This will be a collaborative task with a variety of different possible answers. This task will be more real-world applicable. Students will be required to use resources to help them solve this problem.
It is a lot different to rethink an entire unit using the SAMR model, but it helps in the preplanning stage. In the blended math classroom, there will be different uses of technology. The SAMR model helps to rethink how technology is being used. The SAMR also helps me think about how to structure a unit to transform it into a 21st century learning experience.
1Tucker, Catlin R. Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to