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Evaluating Lesson Plans: SAMR

Evaluating Lesson Plans: SAMR

Author: Trisha Fyfe

This lesson wlil provide learners with ways to critcally evaluate lesson plans through the lens of Digital Bloom's.

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Source: Image of light bulb, Public Domain,; Image of Digital Bloom’s, Creative Commons,

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Welcome to a tutorial on evaluating lesson plans using SAMR. In today's tutorial, we will take a look at this question here. How do I evaluate my use of the SAMR model in my teaching? Let's begin with a glimpse of the SAMR model or a review of the SAMR model.

So, remember that the SAMR model is a ladder-like model of four steps. And moving from the bottom to the top, we start with those low-level thinking skills and those areas that are designed to enhance lessons, like Substitution and Augmentation. Moving up the ladder, we move to those M and R-- Modification and Redefinition-- that are intended to transform lessons.

So what we're going to do today is apply these ideas to an actual lesson and evaluate the use of each of the four steps. We will use the same lesson we used in previous tutorials on water analysis where students will test water and report the findings and the levels of contaminants. So what is the process of evaluation and self-assessment for teachers? What you want to do is ask yourself the question, is the technology that I'm using-- and we'll use some guided questions here-- is the technology I'm using aligned closely?

Is it aligned to both the instruction and the assessment? Is it aligned to the technology that you're using? Are those standards appropriately used? Is the technology I'm using supporting my individual learners in my classroom? Are all of my students' needs being met? We have very diverse students in our classrooms. We want to make sure the needs are all met.

Is technology I'm using engaging? Is it meaningful for my students? Are they finding relationships and new understandings throughout the lesson? Is technology addressing different levels of thinking, not just those low-level thinking skills but all the way up to those high-level thinking skills on Bloom's Taxonomy?

Is the technology I'm using transforming my students' learning? Is the technology enhancing the learning of my students? Are they engaged, and are they making those connections? Is the technology beneficial in many different ways? Is it helping my classroom to be a positive environment for my students, maybe building relationships between students and those communication and collaboration skills?

So many questions to ask yourself when you think about technology in terms of SAMR. Let's call these our guided questions. And when you use these guided questions, you really want to think about each of the four levels of SAMR and apply some of these questions, if not all of them, to each of those levels. So let's do just that. Let's apply these questioning techniques.

We'll start with substitution, the very first level. And here we are going to have our students analyze water and use an Excel table for data entry. So we'll ask ourselves a few of these questions. Are we engaging our students? And I would say for this one that's a yes. Instead of using pen and paper, we're giving our visual learners and our kinesthetic learners a chance to do something different than just recording information with a pen.

Is this digital task aligned? And again, yes. The job is the same as using a pen and paper. It's meeting the needs of where we want our students to be, but we're just using another tool. Is it meaningful and beneficial? Yes. I think that for students this is a very beneficial way for them to become engaged in the lesson right off the bat.

Let's move to the second stage, which is augmentation. And here we will have students use advanced tools in Excel to graph the results, so things like graphs or charts or some kind of other visual that we will add into the actual information of Excel.

Let's use a few guiding questions to assess this step and our use of technology. Is this supporting our individual learners? And for the most part I would say yes. There's not enough detail in this actual lesson plan here, but using those advanced tools would help our students that are very visual or kinesthetic learners. Maybe having them work in groups might be something we could add, and that would be beneficial in that our lower-level learners could still benefit from that use of technology that maybe they might be scared to use otherwise.

Moving on to higher-order thinking skills like in modification, we might have our students record their experiences using some kind of Web 2.0 tool, adding narration and pictures or film, video maybe. And here we're starting to transform the student's learning. Let's ask ourselves a few guiding questions to evaluate this level of SAMR.

Let's start with transforming student learning. Is this task that we've used technology for, as far as the film and video and the narration aspects of it, is this transforming their learning? I would say yes. We're asking our students to expand on the previous learning or the learning that we just did when we documented the results and having them add narration. So they're having to do some planning there.

Is this task engaging and meaningful? And I would say yes. It is engaging. It is meaningful. We're asking students to create something, a narrated version with maybe some video of their findings. Moving to redefinition, we'll have our students collaborate to understand their findings and present that information in a wiki or a blog. And here we'll use a couple of questions to address this area and the technology that we're using.

Are wikis and blogs a beneficial way to incorporate technology and show student learning? Yes they are. They're beneficial in many ways. They are helpful for student collaboration if we're having them work together, as well as that feedback that they get if they post those online. A blog as well will do that same thing. Are these tools aligned closely to what we want our students to know, our assessment methods and our instruction, or maybe the technological standards at the grade level.

As far as the assessment and instruction, they are aligned. We want our students to be able to transfer learning and show high levels of understanding in those higher-level thinking skills. And a wiki or blog will do just that. These guided questions here are some really important questions for us to address the level of technology that you're using in your teachings. It's also important for you to make sure that you're asking yourself other questions as you need to in the process.

For example, if you're at a particular stage, you might ask yourself, does the task fit at this level in Bloom's Taxonomy? So you're able to develop questions as you need them, use these six questions as a guide for assessing your level of technology and how that is appropriate for each level of SAMR.

Let's review what we've learned today in this tutorial. We answered this question. How do I evaluate my use of the SAMR model in my teaching? I revisited the SAMR model, and we applied SAMR-- those four stages of the ladder-like model-- Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and at the top redefinition. We went through, did I appropriately use SAMR strategies or levels to bring my students to that deeper level of understanding? A really important question to ask yourself.

As always, I've enjoyed exploring these ideas with you today. I hope you are able to use these tools often in your own classroom. Let's apply these ideas. Who can you collaborate with to help you evaluate your use of the SAMR model? What might the challenges be in self-evaluation regarding SAMR in your teaching?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Notes on "Evaluating Lesson Plans: SAMR"


(00:00- 00:17) Introduction/objectives

(00:18 - 01:01) Review of SAMR model

(01:02- 02:49) Process for evaluation- guiding questions

(02:50- 06:46) Applying guiding questions to SAMR

(06:47- 07:50) Review/Reflection

Additional Resources

Laptops and Learning: Levels of Implementation - SAMR

This site provides several SAMR resources, including a SAMR lesson planning template. In addition, there is a helpful video on SAMR from Dr. Puentedura.

Ruben R. Puentendura's Weblog (Official SAMR Website)

This site offers articles, research, and resources for teachers on implementing both SAMR and TPACK. In addition, Dr. Puetendura's SAMR model is explored in depth. This is an essential website for anyone interested in implementing SAMR in their design and instruction.

Rubric from Midway School District

This rubric supports teachers as they evaluate their lessons for the use of SAMR levels. This rubric can also be used in backwards design for the development of lessons that clearly and effectively consider the SAMR levels.