As a technology teacher, students know that I love computers and all things techy. For Teacher Appreciation Week, a first grader gave me a thumb drive. Tech can be so fun and can be great for personalized learning.
That being said, I am actually not a proponent of tech for the sake of tech. I’ve even put up posters like the image below around my school to make the point that technology is not best used as a babysitter. Bottom line: Kiddos at computers are not rotisserie chickens. You can’t “set them and forget them.”
To gauge how well a teacher/school is doing this, we have the SAMR model, a framework that helps teachers, school leaders and districts think about how to use technology.
What does SAMR stand for?
Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.
It’s possible to use technology as a substitute in a way that actually isn’t very innovative, like I mentioned above. An example would be transitioning from a paper exit ticket to a digital one. This doesn’t dramatically shift how students learn or how teachers teach. While it does make the teacher’s life easier, it doesn’t augment, modify or redefine how students learn in their classroom.
Connecting SAMR to Personalized Learning
Teachers often use the SAMR model to guide personalized learning and also gauge how well those initiatives are going.
For example, if you are setting a goal for students to read more content at their specific current skill level while still giving them a choice about what they’re reading, you might look for an innovative technology solution to help with this. An online library of books is a substitution in place of a physical library, and while it has some potential pluses, it might simply be “technology for the sake of technology.”
Using Flocabulary for Personalized Learning
So, what kind of technology fits into a few different stages of the SAMR model and is actually innovative? Flocabulary. For example, Flocabulary represents the “Augment” phase if you were to use The Week in Rap to teach about current events. It replaces a potentially offline task (learning about the news) and enhances it with video, a Discussion mode and other features.
The SAMR approach works well with other assignable or adaptive programs, like Khan Academy or iReady. But, the bonus of a program like Flocabulary is that the content is particularly engaging and sticky. My students beg me to watch the videos again so they can sing along. You won’t find that with just a printed math worksheet.
Have you used Flocabulary to personalize instruction in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below!