Thinking SAMR

I always teach lessons with the SAMR model in mind, but often wonder if I am truly interrupting the model correctly. Below you’ll find graphics that I’ve created to align SAMR with both a math and Language Arts lesson (I’ll be adding more in the coming weeks).  Do you agree with the models? Is my thinking correct?

For reference, I’ve included Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura’s video that explain’s his SAMR model, An Introduction to the SAMR Model and SMAR in 120 Seconds.

I believe that SAMR is still widely misunderstood and not used with consistency.  I’m hoping, that these models, with input from people such as yourselves, will give teachers a good reference to understand SAMR and begin/continue to transform learning . You’ll find rich discussion below the models and will gain an understanding that SAMR is widely open to interpretation. You’re welcome and encouraged to add to the discussion.


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  • Since I used the Smart Board, was more efficient in sharing the prompt and it could be projected and highlighted, I figured this would be suitable for substitution (of the traditional Black Board or photocopy).
  • I believe my lesson was augmented when students created their own question and instead of using paper and pencil, the technology (iPad and Explain Everything) acted as a direct substitute with functional improvements (take picturesof their models, create charts, use of variety of tools).
  • I believed my lesson went above the line and into transformation (modification) as they were able to record their thinking and explain their math processes using the voice recorder, the students could project their work to the SMART Board with ease, play their recording and other students could give feedback. I believed that this was significant in task redesign. Traditional methods had students up at front with chart paper, always difficult to see and struggling to explain their thinking.
  • I was confident my students sharing their problems with the world via Twitter, the developer of the app retweeting it,  a class working on it within 10 minutes and replying with an answer and my class confirming it as correct then following with a more difficult question was redefinition, as this was previously inconceivable.


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15 Responses to Thinking SAMR

  1. Bill Shidler says:

    You are so right about trying to ‘best’ understand SAMR model – would love to see more lessons that outline like you did what each step resembles. As we get deeper into SAMR, I would love to see lessons that focus more on the ‘MR”………..Thanks for sharing – haven’t found too many like this:)


  2. Sharon says:

    I, too, am working on deepening my understanding of SAMR. I am definitely still learning so I hope you don’t mind if I share my thoughts.

    While your audience changed in your steps, which likely made the task more engaging for students, the task itself really didn’t change. In the end, the students are still doing essentially the exact same thing: creating a problem for others to solve. To move this task up the ladder, perhaps students could crowd source some data about the number of K cups used by people who will volunteer that info (via Twitter, since you are already using that to connect with others) and then use that information to develop their problems. In addition, I may have their peers answer the problem but also use the resulting information to create something that shows how much impact using k cups has over a period of time. Perhaps an info graphic or video explaining how far the resulting empty K cups would stretch if placed end to end, and then send those products back out to the people who contributed to your data. The task then becomes to use the information they gathered from outside to mathematically determine the impact of this product, and to share that information to persuade others about the impact their use is having on the environment. This would also encompass far more concepts (data management, media literacy, etc). I’m not saying my example would be “R” on the ladder, but I think it may make the task richer.


    • mrcameron14 says:

      Sharon, I appreciate your well thought out reply! My students and I are currently doing exactly what you have suggested and shortly after the March Break you will see our idea, in regards to how we we will “grow” our work with KCups beyond our classroom:)
      I’m still struggling with SAMR. Are you suggesting that my whole lesson (as outlined in my graphic) is still at the substitution phase? Based on the videos I’ve provided for reference on this page, I would argue that the lesson at the very least had been modified, to reach beyond the line into the transformative level. I would also argue that the use of tech has helped redefine the lesson, since two years ago, before I became proficient on Twitter, sharing a problem with another class in real time and collaborating on a solution was previously inconceivable for me. Again, that’s based on the videos that I watched by Dr. Ruben Puentedura and the examples he has given. Conversely, others have given me feedback stating that they think my S is really an A and my A could be M. Needless to say, the model is widely interpreted, but the fact that we are even having this conversation certainly proves that education is being transformed! Appreciate your comments and input. Hopefully others will weigh in as well. I think it’s an important discussion.
      I will be posting a graphic (using the same model) soon on how my students took created “one word” resolutions, used tech to photo edit their art, turned them into a video and then shared with world for feedback. The video can be viewed here: Is that redefinition???


  3. Sharon says:

    I definitely don’t think that the task is still at the S, as students using video through Explain Everything to share their thinking and then having others (via Twitter) respond is offering significant benefits. I would just suggest that the student learning that has come out of having another class respond to the question isn’t significantly changed. It could be, depending on what comes out of the follow up discussion as a result, but posting the problem on Twitter and having someone else solve it doesn’t really impact the task itself.

    The other thing I would add is that this task not being R isn’t an issue – Dr. Puentedura discusses the importance of having tasks at all levels of SAMR and using one step to build on another. So wherever this would be placed on SAMR, the fact that you are building on it down the road to take it beyond this initial step is exactly the intent of SAMR. We should be doing a number of steps along the way – so we may hit S, A, A, S, M, A, R rather than just leaping straight to redefinition. Dr. Puentedura has stated that this is preferable because the more complex the task the more possibility of something going wrong. You need those stepping stones along the way as a “safety net”.


  4. James Gibbons says:


    Further to your post on my blog (, with regards to the redefinition phase and like Sharon has mentioned above, has the task itself really changed or are you just using technology to do the same task in a better way? Engaging with others is great and Twitter is a fantastic vehicle for facilitating this, but could your students have just asked others in the class or maybe even a different class and got the same results? It has potential, but it’s where you move it forward. Instead, why not take it a step further and get them to create a tutorial to help others solve questions of this type which they could publish? This could be an iBook, a video, a comic strip style page, a blog post; the possibilities are endless and perhaps even offering a choice may again be an engaging way to approach this. The fact that this is aimed at a real, global audience who could critique their work or pose questions is what starts to redefine the initial task.

    One thing I’m working on at the moment in some of my classes is developing articles for Simple English Wikipedia: a massively underdeveloped, but potentially a fantastic resource for students. For example, we’re creating an article as a class for a flood event which we’ve been studying in Geography. It teaches lots of skills, especially literacy (in particular writing for a certain target audience) and selecting evidence to support their work and referencing it accordingly. Could you perhaps identify any places within your curriculum where something like this could be done?


    • mrcameron14 says:

      Hello James, I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty to copy our discussion from your blog over to this discussion as I believe it is both valuable and insightful for other teachers “Thinking SAMR” like ourselves…
      James Gibbons says:
      March 14, 2015 at 7:47 pm
      Thank you for the feedback. Firstly, I think SAMR is always going to be open to interpretation. Also, it’s not necessary to incorporate all 4 elements into a lesson. Teachers should be aspiring more towards the Transformation end of the model (Modification and Redefinition) however I think Augmentation definitely has it’s place at times and perhaps substitution to a lesser extent. Finally, there’s a bit more to it than just doing a task that wasn’t possible before and calling it Redefinition: as educators I think we understand it’s more about the pedagogy behind it. Using the example in your post, how did learners benefit by sharing their math problem on Twitter? Why is it better than just asking other people in the class?

      mrcameron14 says:
      March 14, 2015 at 8:11 pm
      The class that responded was a grade 7/8 class I believe. They responded to the question by providing an equation for the pattern rule which was 3n-1 students typically write pattern rules as multiply the first number by 3 and add 2 to get second number. From our sharing of the question and collaborating my students learned/ were reinforced another way if expressing pattern rules. As well, my students did not use calculators while the class from S Ontario did which prophets a whole discussion around efficiency vs struggling with the math to fully understand the problem. Would either of these two learning opportunities have happened without us creating a tweeting out our k cup problem to the world? No. Dedefinition?
      Again appreciate the discussion!
      Would you mind posting your comment on my page as there is quite a discussion evolving there as well.
      James Gibbons says:
      March 14, 2015 at 10:14 pm
      Sounds great! I think that it’s knowing the context is important. The fact you were able to interact with others is such an effective way to engage learners. I like how you used it as a basis for discussion, especially since the methods were different. That’s what makes this useful since without that it’s possible that they would have just been aware of the one way to address the problem. Again though, my one question is, has the task itself really changed or are you just doing the same thing differently? Twitter is such a powerful tool for things like this, I think though its important to err on the side of caution as, like anything, it loses its effectiveness in terms of engagement if it becomes overused.

      By all means I’ll add a comment to your post: I’ve been working on something recently with my learners which you may find useful.

      So with all things being said, do you still think that I did not reach redefinition in this instance? Again, based on the discussion and new learning that resulted by us reaching out to a different, older class via technology, I think the task itself has changed. The original task was to share their math thinking with the class using Explain Everything. With the use of Twitter, instead of just sharing their math thinking within the walls of our classroom, they were able to share with a different class and get a glimpse into another room, where students solved the problem using a calculator and with the use of an equation. The task changed (or evolved) as a whole new dimension/opportunity was brought to it and my students’ learning and understanding changed as the result of our reaching out beyond our classroom”. Again just my interpretation based on what I have learned, with particular reference to the three videos provided on this page.
      I’ll be posting another graphic soon based on a Language Arts lesson that should further the discussion.
      Would LOVE to get input from Dr. Puentedura!


      • James Gibbons says:

        No, that’s fine. This discussion itself demonstrates the fact that elements of SAMR are down to interpretation and sometimes it’s difficult to make a judgement without having the full context. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for educators not to get too hung up on constantly Modifying and Redefining tasks: instead the focus should be on the learning outcome. Teachers around the world are still teaching excellent lessons without technology and whilst technology can enhance the learning, it may not always be the case. It’s about using it when it is appropriate. You may achieve excellent outcomes after only modifying the task.

        The fact you used Twitter to engage with others probably hooked your students into the learning. Also since they were able to gain the perspective of the there class may have enhanced their understanding of the concept. Have they learnt more by doing the task this way? If they have, does it really matter whether somebody would class it as Augmentation or Redefinition?


      • mrcameron14 says:

        Hello James! Thanks again for your input and comments. I agree that it is difficult to make judgements without having full context. The intent of my graphic to to provide a model for teachers to reference to help them use technology to enhance and transform their teaching as well as their students’ learning. I certainly agree, that good pedagogy always supersedes any technology use. The fact that we are having this discussion proves that we are mindful of the way we are choosing to integrate technology into our classrooms, with student learning at the forefront, that’s good pedagogy!
        I’ll be adding more graphics soon as well as a template of the model for teachers to use.
        Again, thanks for your input and for helping me to grow my understanding as I continue to “Think SAMR”!


      • James Gibbons says:

        Sounds great, I look forward to seeing them. We’re all forever on a learning journey!


  5. Jamye Abram says:

    I really love all of these thoughtful, insightful comments about the application of the SAMR framework. As with anything, I think there are levels within the levels for this model. While there are many fantastic suggestions for other ways to transform this lesson (I especially like the soliciting of K Cup stats via social media and the students producing tutorials), I would still argue that this lesson is in fact an example of transformation in accordance with the SAMR model.

    This lesson moved from individual work in isolation (even though they were completing one another’s problems, there was no mention of peer response to the work) to incorporate reflection, publication and participation in a global conversation. Although the initial task is still the same, in the original process they only completed one another’s problems. There was no mulitmedia application to the creation of the problem, they weren’t giving and receiving feedback, they weren’t reflecting on their process, they weren’t presenting their work and findings, they weren’t publishing their work globally, and they weren’t participating in a conversation about their work in social media where they would be tasked with articulating their understanding of the concepts. Each of these additional components have elevated the original assignment by requiring the students to develop skills that not only were absent from the original task, but were inconceivable without the technology utilized.

    Furthermore, while I agree that this example could be expounded upon to be transformed even further, the original intent of this is to provide an accessible example of SAMR for teachers that are not familiar with the framework, and I would guess teachers that are not super comfortable with technology in general. This less extravagant transformation will be something relatable and easy to grasp for those teachers that might be unfamiliar with this concept.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. mrcameron14 says:

    Thanks Jamye for your insightful, thought provoking response and feedback! Please pass this along to all who you think will find it useful. Thanks for helping to transform the way we teach and collaborate as this discussion clearly would not have happened much less than five years ago! I think we’re redefining education as we speak!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Given the lack of clarity around SAMR levels, I wonder if it’s even worth trying to peg lessons into the four categories? Not sure it actually matters that much.

    We’ve taken a different approach. Take a look and see what you think:

    We’re having GREAT conversations with teachers using this lesson discussion/redesign protocol.


  8. I think you need to go to the productivity research on which SAMR is based.

    Put aside the four steps for now. Here’s the insight from productivity research.

    When computers were introduced in the 1970s there was no real productivity. Why? Because they were used primarily automate or dress up old processes. What they were attempting to DO had not changed.

    So when did productivity catch up?

    When businesses created a new function of sorts — capturing data, analyzing data, using data to make decisions. This allowed businesses to do things like build mathematical models of supply chains, provide just-in-time ordering based on scans of outgoing merchandise, project earnings under different models and identify risk points. As a result, productivity exploded in the 1990s.

    SAMR is a handle on that fundamental insight. Computers didn’t simply change what businesses produced or even how they got there. They changed what it was to be a business, and aligned it more with the capabilities of the computer — business today is about weekly projections, analysis, just-in-time ordering and decision-making.

    I don’t believe that doing a video instead of a paper is much more than substitution really, unless we believe that the creation of videos has some sort of magical ability to increase the impact of education.

    What we have to ask is what it is that has made the net so productive in other arenas, and how we can harness that in education. It’s not about video. It’s about inquiry and connection. You can connect with the entire world, and you can investigate any subject from your home or business.

    The type of education that benefits from that is open, collaborative, inquiry based education. Connected Learning. Learning that looks, more or less, like what people use the internet for professionally.

    SAMR is a nice way of pushing people on an assignment basis without requiring much command of research into Connected Learning or Inquiry-based/Problem-based learning. But the big questions are not what the target media is. The big issue is whether the general structure of the instruction takes advantages of the unique and PRODUCTIVE affordances of the web.


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