SAMR: From Climbing To Swimming

Eldorado Springs Pool

Photo Credit

Two weeks ago I wrote about climbing the SAMR ladder—this week I’ll further examine effective integration of this model.  Through deeper research on this framework, along with collaborative projects with elementary students and teachers, it’s become evident to me that the model is not so much a ladder as an overarching paradigm that allows students to engage in more immersive and dynamic learning experiences. In his role as Director for Instructional Technology in the Eanes Independent School District, Carl Hooker suggests it’s not a ladder at all that we are trying to climb, but something a little more nebulous and fluid.  The problem with the “ladder” visual is  teachers may think they have accomplished all they need to once they reach the “R” in SAMR and don’t know what to do next.  This idea resonates with me—a ladder suggests climbing one step to reach the next, yet the teachers I’m working with are often reaching the highest level or redefinition phase without deliberately completing each preceding phase.

Mr. Hooker cites a conversation where colleague Greg Garner suggests It isn’t a ladder that we should try to climb, but instead a pool that we need to be swimming in. This was a perfect metaphor for what I have encountered thus far in the classroom—to achieve success along this continuum is not as much based on the proverbial climbing of the ladder as it is individual enhancement—or swimming in the pool. While a creative video production is an amazing way for students to combine a variety of 21st century skills, not every classroom project has to be transformed.  I’m well aware that some of the most valuable classroom learning experiences occur by way of a book report, research paper, or classroom discussion.

The SAMR model has been a terrific framework for integrating iPads as an impactful resource in elementary grades at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.  A few weeks ago I met with third grade teacher Vicky Schreiber to figure out how to integrate iPads more effectively into the student experience. Following a brief meeting, Vicky’s creative ideas were in motion. The hard work of the students along with assistance from new media specialist Karen Kolkka, our vision came to life by way of a remarkable, student driven video production.  Below are testimonies from the bright minds behind our culminating project:

Vicky Schreiber writes, “The third grade boys of 3S are on their way to making a global connection. Years ago, my family hosted a foreign exchange student from Spain—Esther to whom I’ve remained close over the years. Through our relationship, I have been fortunate to meet Montse, a close friend of Esther’s, who teaches third grade on the island of Tenerife. Through email exchanges, Montse and I decided to make a global connection by creating and sharing videos of school life both at SCH and the school in Tenerife.

The students researched Tenerife on their ipads, creating maps and venn diagrams. They generated a list of places to be photographed and  videoed.  With a partner, they set out around campus to get the pictures and videos needed.  Once the information was gathered they created an imovie complete with green screen shots and voice overs to give a comprehensive look at SCH through the eyes of a third grade boy.”

Karen Kolkka writes, “Today’s students are eager to share their stories with an authentic audience and this was a perfect opportunity to do so! I was delighted to share my iMovie expertise and help students fulfill their vision. Students had captured images and video with their iPads, sharing what they considered vital aspects of their school and each of their learning environments. We met in the computer lab and began the editing process by selecting the best of the images and videos to share using the AirDrop feature. The next editing step was ordering the content to create a narrative tour through the school day. The students wanted to share images of Philadelphia as well as an overview of what Philadelphia is like, and where the school is situated within the city. Green screen video was decided upon as a good vehicle for this content! Finally, voiceovers were added to describe each of the locations depicted of the school environment and because the audience, a 3rd grade classroom in Tenerife speak Spanish, translations were added as text to the images. Today’s students are eager to share their stories with an authentic audience and this was a perfect opportunity to do so! I was delighted to share my iMovie expertise and help students fulfill their vision.”

Check out the production below!

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