Tag Archives: blended learning

Using the SAMR Model of Technology Integration

by Hope Morley

When integrating technology into your lesson plans, it can be difficult to determine where to start. There are countless tools at a teacher’s disposal—Google sites, podcasts, wikis, and social media, to name a few. Do you have to change all your assignments? The SAMR model provides a good ladder to help teachers start to work toward technology integration.

The SAMR model, developed by Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D., provides a framework that serves as a guide to help teachers integrate technology into their existing lessons. When walking through the framework, focus on the learning objective and be willing to modify the end product.

SAMR, technology, framework, model, learning objective, integrating technology, redefinition, augmentation, modification, substitution, Google, Skype

Image courtesy of Ruben R. Puentedura

Substitution: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change

In short, the same task could be accomplished without technology.
Example: Students use Word or Google Docs instead of pen and paper to write an essay about solar energy.

Augmentation: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement

The same task could be accomplished without technology, but technology makes it easier, faster, or more efficient.
Example: Students use the collaborative tools in Google to peer edit essays or use the spell check feature to check their work.

Modification: Tech allows for significant task redesign

The task now may include elements that are not possible without technology, such as an authentic audience, off-site collaboration, or multimedia.
Example: Student groups work collaboratively in Drive to create a website using Google Sites with the content that would otherwise be in an essay.

Redefinition: Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable

The task supports multiple learning styles, helps students gain communication skills, and allows learning to be student-centered and extend outside the classroom.
Example: Students use Skype to work with students in a state with different solar energy potential to create a Google Site using images, videos, and charts.

The project at the redefinition level is completely different from the original pen-and-paper essay. In addition to learning the content and building writing skills, students learn to collaborate with others outside the classroom (an important career-readiness skill) and to use new tools. That kind of project would never have been possible before adding technology.

It can be difficult to determine exactly which classification a task fits into—Is this augmentation or modification?—and that’s okay. The SAMR model works best as a way to start thinking about integrating technology. Getting all assignments to the redefinition stage shouldn’t be an end goal. In fact, some tasks work best at the substitution or augmentation stage.

Keep this in mind as you are updating your tasks: Be careful not to separate the tool from the instruction. The pedagogy is more important than the technology. If the students aren’t meeting your learning objectives, then look at changing the task before you blame the tool.

Use these steps as a way to start thinking about technology integration. It isn’t valuable to your students to say “I want to use social media in the classroom” and then tack it on as an additional assignment with no connection to your learning objectives. Instead, start with the learning objective and think about how technology can improve the experience for the students.

How do you use the SAMR model in your classroom?

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

How to Use Videos in the Classroom

by Hope Morley

A video we made using PowToon

There’s no shortage of video-sharing websites that teachers can access to enhance their lessons. But how can you find the most helpful, appropriate, and engaging videos for the classroom without spending hours sifting through the millions of online offerings?

Finding Videos

When it comes to finding video content online, YouTube seems to be the obvious choice. But YouTube isn’t as useful in the classroom as you might expect. Anyone can post to YouTube, and there is little to no content moderation, so you never really know what recommended videos might pop up. And videos often start with ads that may or may not be student-friendly. Plus, many schools block the site. However, SafeShare allows you to share a YouTube video safely. SafeShare removes the ads, sidebars, and recommendations for related videos, so students see only the content you’ve chosen for them.

SchoolTube has been designed specifically as a YouTube alternative for K–12 students and teachers to share content they’ve created. A team of volunteer teachers and other school staff moderates each video posted on SchoolTube to ensure that it’s suitable for student viewing.

If you’re looking for premade video lessons to incorporate into your lesson plan, Khan Academy is a good place to start. We’ve reviewed Khan Academy and found that the site has several helpful features, including a variety of video lessons across several subjects and metrics that keep track of students’ progress.

Making Videos

Plenty of educators have developed video lectures simply by setting up a tablet or camera and hitting record. But if you don’t want to be the star of your own video, various screencasting tools allow you to make a video screen capture of the movements you make on a computer or tablet. This method is perfect for creating a how-to video or recording on-screen video of an IWB presentation you’ve made. Some of this software must be purchased, but there are free options as well. (We use Quicktime on a Mac to create our ActivInspire how-to videos.)

One notable video-making option available online is PowToon, a site that provides templates for creating customized animated videos and presentations. To test how user-friendly the site is, we made a video on how to use a semi-colon. The 2-minute, 23-second video took almost 2 hours to make (mainly because we were having fun playing around with the different choices), but the site was relatively easy to use. We stuck to the free version, but subscriptions are available that include longer video lengths, better upload quality, and other style options.

Using Videos

So you’ve found or made your video. What’s next? Free web tools encourage higher levels of student engagement and interactivity than simply watching and discussing a video in class.

The Mad Video allows you to add “tags” to any Vimeo, Brightcove, or YouTube video to link to related articles, images, videos, or websites. As they watch a video, students can click on these tags to access the additional content. This is a great tool for differentiated instruction, since you can add content targeted to students of differing abilities.

VideoNot.es allows users to annotate online videos in real time. Simply provide a link to the video, and take notes as you watch. VideoNot.es synchronizes your input with the video, so later, you can click on your notes and the video will automatically jump to the related segment. This service connects through Google Drive, so you must have a Google account to use it. VideoNot.es is a must for any blended or flipped classroom.

How do you use videos in the classroom?

Hope Morley

Hope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

6 Lessons in Blended Learning

by Tom Nieman

Last week at a presentation at the Illinois Charter Schools conference, Phyllis Lockett, the CEO of New Schools for Chicago, introduced Chris Liang-Vergara (FirstLine Schools) and Anirban Bhattacharyya (KIPP) as “national experts” on blended learning. That seemed to me quite a large introduction, but they lived up to it.

Both Chris and Anirban were about as unassuming as two presenters could be. Mild-mannered and soft-spoken, they addressed the fifteen or so of us in attendance as learners like themselves, seeking answers for ways to raise student achievement. No razzle-dazzle, just here’s what we have been doing, and here are the results, so what do you think?

Following up with them after the presentation, I found both very approachable, and both offered to work with us at our Chicago charter schools if we wanted. Anything they had learned they were willing to share. None of this was about them; what they knew was to be shared in the interest of better educating kids.

Here are a few takeaways from their presentation on blended learning:

1.     Blended learning can increase achievement.

Chris explained that starting a well-functioning charter school improved student achievement by about 25 percentage points, but then the school achievement scores flatlined. Once a blended model was adopted, gains in achievement took off again.

2.     Blended learning is not necessarily about the technology.

Both models of blended learning depended on small group instruction and focused RTI interventions, with personalized and differentiated help for every student.

3.     Blended learning is not about programs.

Both Anirban and Chris deflected focus as much as possible from the curriculum programs they were using. The curriculum software and the hardware were less important than the data they generated, because the data was what helped teachers place students in small groups and address their individual needs.

4.     Data-driven instruction now means individualized data generated daily by each student, not merely their annual test results.

Managing this flow of data into actionable instruction seems one of the biggest challenges in both blended learning and conventional learning environments.

5.     Blended learning involves reworking staffing and scheduling throughout a school.

The blended models described in these case studies utilized all personnel at the school to create the effective small group instruction needed, and the daily schedule also underwent a complete revamp.

6.     Blended learning is about helping master teachers teach more effectively.

The blended models created environments where the best teachers had time to teach their students in small groups, and the whole school seemed focused on helping give students the most personalized and differentiated instruction possible.

So learning seems to come in the most serendipitous ways. One cold Chicago morning, at a small presentation at a small conference, Chris and Anirban shared a wealth of learning on the benefits of blended learning, and the case studies about their experience describe what it takes to make it happen.


For anyone interested in learning more about blended learning, you can read about the specifics of their models in two excellent cases studies published by the Susan and Michael Dell Foundation.

FirstLine Blended Learning Case Study
This is a paper details the blended learning initiative at Chris’s school, the Arthur Ashe Charter School in New Orleans.

KIPP Blended Learning Case Study
This study explains the blended learning initiative at Kipp schools, specifically blended learning at KIPP Empower in Louisiana. Anirban Bhattacharyya works with the KIPP Foundation and is in charge of instructional technology for all 144 of their schools.

Tom NiemanTom Nieman is president of Green Light Professional Development and Nieman Inc., a privately held company that specializes in developing curriculum materials for educational publishers.

Khan Academy: Data-Driven YouTube for Math Class?

by Erin Dye

Headphones and keyboard for Khan Academy

New tools for math class | credit: © Restyler | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Khan Academy has gotten quite a bit of buzz lately, including hype around their high profile partnerships. Their videos have been the subject of both praise and censure. Because of all this, you probably already know that Khan Academy hosts videos on a wide range of subjects with the goal of creating blended classrooms and differentiating instruction.

What I didn’t know until recently is that the site has made major changes to the way math teachers can organize lessons, oversee class behavior, and monitor progress. The site had some data management before, but the interface, the reporting, and the behavior management mechanisms have been revamped with the busy math teacher in mind.

For example, check out this video on how the glossy new dashboard works.

The dashboard offers a rich array of sorting options. You can organize your reports by class, by student, by exercise, by activity, by date, and by the goals you set for the class or for individual students. You can see a top-level chart that shows how the students are doing overall, and you can drill down into the data to find out why a particular student is falling behind, seeing exactly where the confusion lies. You can then assign that student a set of videos, lessons, and games that will help him or her grasp the concept. You can differentiate between students who have completed skill versus those who have mastered the skill.

Khan Academy has aligned their content to the Common Core for grades 6–8, and they are in the process of mapping lessons for the other grades. At a recent professional development seminar in Chicago, the facilitators mentioned that similar interface changes may be coming to their other subject areas in the near future.

If you’re considering blending your classroom, Khan may be what you’re looking for. Create a free login, then check out their Resources page for a walkthrough of how to get started.

You can also see testimonials from teachers who have used Khan Academy to support their blended classrooms.

Have you tried it? Do you love Khan or does it leave you cold? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Erin DyeErin Dye is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development with extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.