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Tech Your Teaching: When, Why, and How
January 28, 2016 | Volume 11 | Issue 10
Table of Contents
Bloom's, SAMR, and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Tech Integration
Having devices in your classroom for students to use, whether you have carts of computers, iPads, or Chromebooks; a 1:1 program; or a BYOD initiative, can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Using these devices to provide content support and differentiation for each student is not hard to do. You have long been supplying material for your students at all levels to both remediate and expand their knowledge base. But what about designing formative and summative assessments that use technology and target higher-order thinking skills? Teachers should ask themselves this question, as well as how to develop tasks that transform what goes on in the classroom.
Tech in Bloom
We are all familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy—a pedagogical model of cognitive-thinking skills used to design learning experiences that move students to increasingly higher-order tasks. Since Bloom's was revised by Anderson and Krawthol in 2000, the cognitive skill levels are now represented by action verbs to indicate active engagement—remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create—with "create" moving up to represent the highest cognitive level. Andrew Churches built upon this model by creating materials that provide guidance as you develop digital assessments in the classroom. For instance, his mapping of Bloom's levels with higher-order thinking skills terms matched to technology applications can help you determine which cognitive skill level to target for an assessment you are creating.
Unpacking the SAMR Model
A post on Jeff Utecht's "Thinking Stick" blog provides four questions to think about when embedding technology in the classroom.
These questions get at the core of another pedagogical model specifically developed to support technology integration that transforms learning experiences: the SAMR model. Popularized by Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR model has four levels: substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition.
The substitution level is analogous to Utecht's question about using "technology to do old things in old ways." The substitution level is where educators usually start determining how to use technology. We take an assessment that we have developed in the past and transform it into a technology-based assessment. For example, a note-taking assignment transformed at the substitution level would involve students using a word processing application and online tools such as Google Drive, Office 365, or Pages in iCloud to type their notes.
The augmentation level requires teachers to add some functional improvement to an assessment by substituting a digital tool for a nondigital tool, which is equivalent to using "technology to do old things in new ways." There are many ways teachers could augment note taking. Students could use "text-to-speech" software and app options to dictate their notes. They could embed URLs to related items directly into their notes to allow for further exploration. With online tools, students could take part in collaborative note taking, with multiple students taking notes in the same document or with the same tool.
When Utecht talks about teachers "creating new and different learning experiences for students supported by the use of technology," he is talking about the modification level of the SAMR model. When designing assessments at this level, you must look at the toolbox of apps and online tools that are available for your students and develop a totally new assessment. You still need to develop a rubric for your expectations, but students get the chance to make some choices on how to complete the assessment. Students might choose to sketchnote their notes, create an animated digital story to showcase their understanding, record what goes on in the class and make a movie, find or create images to illustrate the main point and use the class recording as a soundtrack, or take their notes the traditional way and develop a comic strip illustrating the main concepts for a younger grade. The possibilities are endless!
Teaching and Learning Redefined
In the SAMR model, the redefinition level is defined as "tech allowing for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable." I believe that determining whether or not teachers have the ability to develop a "previously inconceivable" assessment would be hard to assess or even describe. The most logical overview of the redefinition level, in my opinion, has to do with students choosing tasks and tools to show what they've learned. Their access to thousands of apps and online tools, the technologies that allow real-time communication and collaboration, and their ability to produce a product for an audience outside of the classroom were previously inconceivable tasks that are now possible. This has transformed teaching and learning.
What moves a task to the redefinition level is the global collaborative component, whether that be synchronous or asynchronous collaboration. After watching the same TED Talk, students from around the world can take notes in a shared chat area in Padlet or Today's Meet, offer their thoughts and ideas, and then build upon others' posts. Or, students could simultaneously contribute to a mind map in a real-time collaborative tool such as Mindmeister, where each student takes a different node and then adds to the nodes of others to showcase global differences and similarities.
Handing Off to Students
I want to share another pedagogical model based loosely on SAMR that I feel is more practical and explanatory called TECH: traditional, enhanced, choice, and handoff.
Source: From "Turning SAMR into TECH: What models are good for," [blog post] by J. Roberts, 2013, Literacy, Technology, Policy, Etc … A Blog. Retrieved from http://www.litandtech.com/2013/11/turning-samr-into-tech-what-models-are.html
This model, created by Jen Roberts, is useful for teachers who plan their technology assessments, administrators who observe teachers, and students who use technology in the classroom. It also promotes the notion that using technology for classroom assessments should lead to learner-driven tool and task choices. Teachers need to be familiar with various tools, but more important, they need to understand how to use creative tools to demonstrate acquisition of knowledge and let students pick their own tools and projects.
Don't fret over trying to replicate a specific pedagogical model in your classroom. Good teaching has always included teacher guidance and support. Assessments, both formative and summative, are great tools to use to gauge student performance. Embedding technology meaningfully and appropriately and encouraging supervised student choice will allow students to determine how to communicate to you (and the world) that they have taken the content, connected it to their prior knowledge, and chosen the best way to creatively showcase what they've learned. That is the goal!
Anderson, L. W., & Krathwol, D. R. (eds.) (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.
Roberts, J. (2013, November 30). "Turning SAMR into TECH: What models are good for," [blog post]. Literacy, Technology, Policy, Etc … A Blog. Retrieved from http://www.litandtech.com/2013/11/turning-samr-into-tech-what-models-are.html
Kathy Schrock has been a school district director of technology; an instructional technology specialist; and a public library, middle school, academic, and museum librarian. She is currently an online adjunct graduate-level professor for Wilkes University (Pa.) and an independent educational technologist. Follow her @kathyschrock or contact her at kathyschrock.net.
ASCD Express, Vol. 11, No. 10. Copyright 2016 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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