Last summer, I made the transition from classroom teacher to technology integrator, supporting the very teachers I used to work with in their use of educational technology. There was so much to learn about my new role, though what surprised me most was discovering the systems that are working behind the scenes and that enable our school’s seamless integration of technology. Quite honestly, these systems were something I took for granted, given that their work enabled so many of the projects and experiences my students and I engaged with on a daily basis.
Given the complexity of these systems and the reality that Avenues’ campus is opening very soon in São Paulo, my fellow technology integrators and I realized there’s a need to somehow catalog our use of these systems so our knowledge could be transferred from our office to all of Avenues’ campuses around the world. As a result, we embarked on a months-long process to sort through every education app in our arsenal and categorize them.
At Avenues, our technology integration team relies heavily on the SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition) model. SAMR is a model popularized by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura that helps teachers think about how best to integrate technology. It gives us a framework on which to design tasks that use technology and a means to classify how they impact student outcomes. The SAMR model has four levels, broken into two groups. Use of technology for redefinition and modification of curriculum is considered transformation, while augmentation and substitution of curriculum using technology is considered enhancement.
At Avenues, we always aim for our use of technology to fall into the transformation bucket. We strive to use technology to create learning opportunities that were previously unavailable, and we push our students to use technology to create in ways that were formerly impossible.
The SAMR model becomes extremely important when considering which apps to use with our students. We love apps like Book Creator, Tiny Tap and ScratchJR because they allow for creation, rather than consumption of technology. They do not mimic tasks that can be done with pencil and paper, instead offering new and dynamic learning experiences that require critical thought and that can give instantaneous feedback.
So we began looking through our systems and documenting every app we use with our students, from nursery through 12th grade. As we began to sort them according to the SAMR model, we were having difficulty because so many of our apps fell into a single category – redefinition.
Instead, we looked to Bloom’s Taxonomy, feeling inspired by some of the work we saw being done at other schools while at International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in 2017.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a structure that helps classify educational experiences into differing levels of thinking. It helps teachers in designing their curriculum, so we thought it might be able to help us in our organization of our apps.
We began sorting our apps by grade level according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, and our finished product is now published for our community and those around the world. This document will be instrumental both at our campus as a record from year to year and also for our new campuses opening around the world, and it helped reaffirm our department’s goal of redefining educational outcomes with the use of technology, since so many apps fell into the “create” category.