Whenever a teacher uses technology to enhance a student's learning, the activity falls somewhere on the SAMR model. A low level activity would be considered Substitution. For example, let's say you get kids to read a story on the iPad instead of the regular paper copy. That's it - nothing else. You have substituted a paper copy for technology, and maybe the student is a bit more engaged because it's the iPad, but there's no other benefit to using the iPad. This is considered a "direct tool substitute."
Augmentation is the next level of integration. So let's say, while reading the story on the iPad, the child can touch some of the words and have them read aloud. That's cool, but the student could also have someone sit beside him with the paper copy and have words read aloud too. But this is a definite "functional improvement," as seen in the model above. Both Substitution and Augmentation are considered Enhancements to tasks.
There is a significant jump to the next level of SAMR: Modification. This level includes redesign of the task. Using our same reading example, now the student could be asked to read the text aloud and use an app to record himself reading. Then the audio recording could be posted to a class blog. Whoa! Authentic audience! World wide audience! Feedback! Not just feedback from the teacher, but feedback from anyone else who reads the blog and comments. As the student reads the comments on his recording, he has the opportunity to rerecord and replace the original upload.
The final level of the model is Redefinition. Now we're talking about creating new tasks, "previously inconceivable" ones at that. The audio recording in the example above could be added to Explain Everything (I wrote about it here), and annotations of the reading strategies employed by the student added to the slides, and/or images, and/or video. The ultimate in creation. Previously inconceivable.
The model above (created by Kathy Schrock) shows how SAMR connects to Bloom's Taxonomy. There are four levels of integration, and just because a task falls in the lowest level doesn't mean we shouldn't employ it. However, as educators, we need to be aware of SAMR, and strive to reach for those upper levels too!