Have you heard of Dr. Ruben Puentedura? I had, in connection to some model of technology called SAMR (which stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition), but to tell you the truth, I didn't really get it. Today I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Puentedura speak at the MAETL (Manitoba Association of Educational Technology Leaders) meeting, and it was a light bulb moment! Now I get it! Basically, SAMR (created by Dr. Puentedura) is like Bloom's Taxonomy, but specifically applied to educational technology. Here's how it works:
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!
More and more I'm becoming convinced that the way to get kids to understand (really, thoroughly, completely) is to get them to communicate their thinking. All of the professional development I've had the opportunity to take during my year and a half as Numeracy Lead Teacher has pointed me in that direction.
At a workshop this week, the participants were asked to look specifically at three of the six goals that our province has set out for mathematics instruction, which are:
One activity to meet these goals would be to simply arrange the students into small groups or pairs, and ask them to list all of the ways they can think of to solve a mathematical equation. I'd like to take it a step further and ask them to use technology to gather and sort their ideas. Once they're convinced they've got all the ways they can think of, have them present their ideas to the rest of the class. In the picture above, I've used the app Popplet to record some possible ideas students may generate. Once the popplet is created, it can be shared through the iPad and an LCD projector, or saved as an image or pdf and emailed to the teacher, or saved to Dropbox.
The last step could be to make a list of all the strategies the students have discovered as a whole class and sort them by least efficient to most efficient. There's sure to be some good debate going on there!
Communicating, reasoning, efficiency, mathematical literacy and thinking critically, while integrating mathematics and technology. What a lesson! And all from one equation.
I have finished an amazing week with a wonderful bunch of Gr. 3- and 4-ers! Their teacher and I planned a reading response activity for them which included creating a book trailer for the book they had just finished reading. Before I arrived at their school, they had read the book and created a new book jacket for it. I made a trailer for a book as well, to show them what a trailer might like like. Here is the one I made for them about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, retold and illustrated by James Marshall. (I didn't take the time to make my own illustrations, as the students did, so I have to say the students' trailers are much, much better than mine! )
Together with the students, we created the criteria for their trailers, which we would make using iMovie. We decided that about half of the illustrations in the trailer should be their own. The trailers had to include the author's and illustrator's names, and we discussed the Fair Dealings copyright laws of Canada, which states that "short excerpts" of printed material can be reproduced for educational or review purposes. Because we wanted to upload the trailers to YouTube, we also discussed parental permission for putting their work online. Parents were asked to indicate exactly what their children could put online, including their work, their first name and their image. If permission was not granted, that child's trailer would only be viewed in class and not uploaded. If no name was to be used, the students used an alias. And if no image was to be included, we just made sure that no photos included the child's face. We really hoped that we could upload to YouTube, as we wanted to create QR codes for the trailers, as discussed below.
Then we got to work! Students learned how to take photos of their own and the illustrator's work, as well as how to resize, rotate and crop. Illustrations were created, and the trailers were viewed and reviewed many, many times! They also created some puppets of the characters in their books and videotaped scenes. Each student created their own trailer, as the school has 1:1 iPads on loan for several weeks. This meant that if they needed to videotape, collaboration between students would be required. It was busy and messy, but the learning in that classroom (including the teacher and me!) was amazing! Remember Bloom's Taxonomy? Creating is at the top. And while using the trailer templates didn't allow for complete creativity (lots of drag and drop), these students were definitely creating! Here's a great blog on using Bloom's Taxonomy with digital tools - the Bloomin' Peacock.
Lastly, once the trailers were completely finished, we uploaded to YouTube, and then used the share code to create a QR Code on goqr.me. We printed out the code and attached them to the inside cover of the books. Now, when students want to check out a book from the school or classroom library, they can use i-nigma or another QR Code Scanner app to easily view the trailers. (I wrote about using QR Codes in the classroom here.) I should mention that when we uploaded the trailers, we decided to make them unlisted. That means that if someone searches for the trailers, they can't be found. The only way someone can watch them online is if they have the link (or the QR Code).
This is my new favourite thing - my document stand for the iPad. I have wanted a document camera ever since I saw one at a conference several years ago. The price tag was prohibitive though, and I learned to make do without one. This fall however, I purchased a Justand iPad Stand for less than $100. By fitting my iPad into the stand and setting it at a right angle (see picture left) my iPad becomes a document camera. I just have to turn the camera function on and connect my iPad to my LCD projector with a 30-pin to VGA adapter (sells for about $35). Now, whatever I have going on under the iPad is projected onto the screen for my students to see. This is a super option for demonstrations and shared reading.
The Justand can also be lowered so that it is just an iPad stand, making watching videos nice for small groups of students. It is also excellent for students to record video or stop motion animation. See why it's my new favourite thing? :)
I have used Investigations in my early years classrooms for many years. Basically an Investigation is a research project on a topic of their choosing. Students may choose to work independently or with others. I first learned about this format of non-fiction writing from a Tony Stead workshop that I attended many years ago. Since then I have purchased several of Tony's books, including Reality Checks, Is That a Fact? and Good Choice. Is That a Fact? is the text that includes the most information related to Investigations. I recommend reading all of his books though! They are an easy read, and so valuable for early years.
To begin an Investigation, students choose a topic that is important to them (say, dogs). Then, they create an essential question related to the topic (say, What are some ways that dogs communicate?). This is the step that many of my students have trouble with, and require a great deal of support.
Photo credit: www.montanaheritageproject.org
Students then work on their research. They may have a book that has spurred this question, or they may do research on the internet, or through interviewing an expert. In a 21st Century classroom, the internet plays a huge role in research. I encourage my students to evaluate the sources of information they are using. Is that a good website? Why? Maybe we should Skype or tweet a question to an author, scientist, or veterinarian? How else can we learn about your topic?
When the students have collected their information, the next step is to share it with others. In the past, my students did this by making a poster, which they presented orally to the classmates. These were then displayed in the classroom and students had a certain criteria (created collaboratively) to follow. Now students have so many more opportunities to share their learning. Here are some ideas:
In my classroom, I have always taught through themes, and I follow the Reggio Emilia approach to early years education, which advocates for students learning about what interests them. To make time for Investigations, I do not timetable Science, Social Studies or Art. Rather, I timetable 40-60 minutes per day of Exploration time. This is where I offer provocations for learning on topics related to these subjects. Another approach that is popular in today's 21st Century classrooms is Genius Hour or Passion Time. Paul Solarz, an educator I've connected with through Twitter, has an excellent blog on this topic. I recommend exploring it!
Travelling Curriculum Support Teacher