Tech This Out!

An Online Digital Toolkit of Resources for Teachers

The SAMR Swimming Pool

"You have to be comfortable wading in the water before you can venture into the deep." - Carl Hooker, author of the blogpost Taking a Dip in the SAMR Swimming Pool
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Welcome to Education, the world of acronyms! A profession unique in its own, in that we as teachers, literally speak our own language. So, when Dr. Ruben Puentedura took the ideas of content, pedagogy and technology and put them together, what better way to share his overview of technology integration than to use an acronym! Insert SAMR. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. At it’s simplest form, the SAMR model states that when you introduce technology to an environment, like a classroom, generally the first thing the user will do is figure out a way to use technology as a Substitute for an existing task. As you “climb up the SAMR ladder” you see a shift of pedagogical practice from teacher-centered to student-driven. This is exemplified by the “R” in SAMR which stands for Redefinition – or, simply put, when technology allows for a creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. The slight controversy is that Carl Hooker, author of the blog Hooked On Innovation sees SAMR in a different way. His approach to SAMR is more simple: It isn't a ladder that we should try to climb, but instead a pool that we need to be swimming in.

So, instead of feeling the pressure to work your way up to the top of the ladder, you can now relax and know that it's ok to wade in the water. In fact, It's also ok to get out of the water (just no running!)

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Enhancement Shallow End

"The ideas behind Substitution and Augmentation are that you are swimming in the pool of technology integration, but you don’t have to wear yourself out treading water. As a teacher, you know you can always just stand up and breathe. These tasks are simply technological extensions of your everyday teaching and if things get really messy, you can always step out of the pool and still get a majority of your goals accomplished. Sure, it won’t be as stimulating or engaging, but learning and traditional teaching can still happen around the edges." - Excerpt from Carl Hooker's Blog Post on Taking a Dip in the SAMR Swimming Pool

Think about the moment right before we enter into a swimming pool. I don't know about you, but for me personally, I always dip my toes in first to check the temperature! If it's not the ideal temperature, I'm more than likely going to enter in slowly (on my tip toes). Some teachers jump right in with integrating technology into instruction, the curriculum and with assessment no matter what the temperature. Others need time to walk step by step until they can adjust to the "depths of new pedagogical practice."

The majority of teachers want to test the water several times before fully submerging into technology integration and that is ok! Eventually, they will get comfortable wading in the shallow end and want to "venture out past the rope into the depths beyond basic technology integration."

Transformative Deep End

"Once you cross the rope, you will not be able to stand up (except maybe hopping on your tiptoes for a little while). Someone venturing into this end of the pool, must have confidence in their teaching and know that they can tread water at times, but when things are going right and redefinition is happening, it’s almost like you can walk on water." - Excerpt from Carl Hooker's Blog Post on Taking a Dip in the SAMR Swimming Pool

Carl Hooker will say, and I too have seen this to be true in my coaching experience, that without practice "stumbling around in the shallow end of the pool" teachers can drown when diving head first into the deep end to quickly. It's important to think about the purpose of swimming here!

"Some teachers may decide to jump off the diving board straight into the deep end and learn how to integrate from day one with a particular learning objective. Others, elect to take swimming lessons (Professional Development) and use the occasional swim noodle (instructional technology integrators) to help them stay afloat. In addition, they will want to make sure that a lifeguard (Principal) is on hand should they begin to really struggle and possibly blow the whistle when they need to take a break." - Excerpt from Carl Hooker's Blog Post on Taking a Dip in the SAMR Swimming Pool

The thing both Carl Hooker and I want you to take away this year is that without practice, support and motivation rarely would a teacher venture into the deep end of the SAMR swimming pool and it is also ok to wade in the water in the Enhancement Shallow End. In fact, it's ok to cross back and forth over the rope based on the outcomes of your lessons. However, once you do cross over that rope you may realize that you aren't swimming alone.

" Swimming in the Transformative Deep End doesn’t mean the students are on the side of the pool cheering you on. It means they are in the pool with you – working, collaborating, problem-solving, and creating their future with you at their side." - Excerpt from Carl Hooker's Blog Post on Taking a Dip in the SAMR Swimming Pool

Swimming In The Deep End!

Colett Berak's third grade class at Hinkle Creek Elementary were swimming in the Transformative Deep End when they created their Literacy Garden last year and their ThingLink presentations to go with it. Through the Literacy Garden, students were able to practice many literacy, math, science, and technology skills that helped them create a purposeful project and give back to their school community. You can read more about Mrs. Berak's Literacy Garden on the Noblesville Schools Technology Blog Miller Learning.
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The Search Is Over!

Looking for the right technology tools to integrate into instruction, the curriculum and with assessments can be just about as overwhelming as drinking from a fire hydrant! Thankfully we have found some great online resources to point you in the right direction!
Teachers, Meet Graphite!


Graphite is a platform created to make it easier for educators to find the best apps, games and websites for the classroom. Make sure to check out:

  • App Flows - App Flows are five part lessons created with integrated digital tools and content with pedagogical insight. They have been designed to help you think with purpose about why, where and how you can integrate digital tools into each lesson.
  • Top Picks - Browse Top Pick apps, games and websites by subject or skill.


EdTechTeacher is a website that is dedicated to providing the best possible resources to help teachers leverage technology to improve teacher and learning. Browse resources by Innovation Projects and Lessons, search tech tools by Subject and Skill, or get recommendations for apps organized by Learning Activity and Device. Make sure to check out:

  • Free Live Webinars and Recording!
  • December 3rd: How to Get Started With the Hour of Code
  • December 9th: Creating and Collaborating on eBooks
  • December 10th: Beyond the Hour of Code: Coding by Design

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Teacher Spotlight! Creating a Digital Sharing Wall

This year, seven 1:1 5th grade iPad classrooms were added at the Elementary Level thanks to a $100,000 grant received from the Department of Education. Since then, these teachers and their students have had the chance to explore what it means to become a truly "blended" learning space. With content and the learning experience taking place with the enhancement of new tools, the teachers have been faced with the new challenge of finding ways to share their students learning and thinking with others.

We are surrounded with endless apps and web tools that help enhance these learning experiences for our students however, often times the final product or digital path in which our students took to get there becomes locked inside the device. Having to think outside the box, several of our 1:1 5th grade teachers had their students create Digital Sharing Walls for them to display their thinking and learning with others. The students are then able to archive and build an ongoing portfolio of their work.

This year students in Wendy Penn's 5th grade class at Promise Road Elementary were empowered to lead student led conferences. Using the web tool Padlet students shared their work with their parents who have access to their child's private Padlet "Digital Sharing Wall" throughout the year.

Upcoming Topics

At the beginning of each month look to see new resources to add to your digital toolkit right here, with Tech This Out!

Upcoming Topics for January Include:

  • Making Thinking Visual
  • Inquiry Circles with Tech Integration
  • I-Step: Resources to Support the New Testing Format
  • Canvas in the Elementary Classroom
Scheduling a Coaching Chat

I would love to sit down and chat with you about all of the wonderful things that you are doing in your classroom. Let's discuss why technology would be a great enhancement and brainstorm ways to integrate it into your learning environment! -Courtney