ISTE for Coaches – Co-planning 21st century learning activities

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership
d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

Inquiry Question:
How can we use SAMR model to help teachers to improve lessons?

What is SAMR?

When we piloted the 1:1 laptop program and BYOD initiate in our international school, the school administrators chose the SAMR model to evaluate the effect of technology integration. SAMR model is designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura (Figure 1) to guide teachers towards effectively infusing technology into their classes to transform learning to higher-order creative and critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. SAMR includes four categories: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Each category has an impact on learning from different angles and raise teacher awareness and the capacity to select the appropriate technology tools for specific goals. SAMR model help to build and develop the teacher’s mindset of using technology meaningfully in classes rather than in favor of rich-tech solutions with no reference to learning objectives and context.

Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. Figure 1

SAMR is not Like Climbing A Mountain

Have you ever been striving for reaching the Redefinition level in your classes? SAMR is not like climbing a mountain but a constant ongoing journey. Each category has its own effect within equal weight. Redefinition is not a summit to climb and conquer. Also, the technology you used always has invented ways to accelerate student learning without max-out. Teachers should choose technology skillfully and mindfully to impact the nature of teaching from the four categories and result in promoting student learning outcomes rather than pushing to Redefinition blindly.  

Retrieved from

Work with Bloom’s Taxonomy to Meet Specific Goals

We crawl before we walk. Learning always being a sustained process on cognition development from lower level to high-order level. Many teachers and tech coaches keep staying at Substitution for a long time before they move on to the next stage. It doesn’t matter which level you are at and how long you have been there, but it matters that if you embed technology for pedagogical sake to reach specific learning goals and keep moving on in the four categories. The image (Figure 2) shows the correlation between the SAMR model and Bloom’s Taxonomy. Teachers should make a decision on what, how and why to use technology in classes depending on which cognitive level they are developing for students.

Figure 2

Substitution-the door to the technology integration

Substitution is the simplest level in the SAMR model, but it is the essential level to shift learning to be digital and visible. Technology tools selected in the S level should reinforce students’ memories of new knowledge and stimulate their understanding.

Augmentation-Discover new features of technology tools

Augmentation is the level that technology has functional improvement. Students and teachers will initiate to involve digital tools in old learning activities to achieve more engagement and motivation. The tools should provide more opportunities to share new knowledge and perspectives and get feedback in time from teachers to deepen understanding.  

Modification and Redefinition – Create new ways to solve problems

In the transformation stage, teachers redesign learning tasks and encourage students to leverage appropriate technology to lead student-centered learning and demonstrate learning outcomes through creative ways. 

A New Structure of the SAMR Model

Hamlin Tech Team created an infinity symbol (Figure 3) to explain the SAMR model in a new way. This is a non-hierarchy structure in which each category has the same value. The right and appropriate technology tool matching the specific task will have the maximum positive effect on learning.

Figure 3 Created by Hamlin Tech Team

In this image, Redefinition level is not the summit of technology integration, but it is a start sign for the next round of innovative integration. SAMR is described as a loop in which four categories have an interdepend relationship and impact increasingly on student learning. Teachers as the innovator in education should integrate technology wisely and mindfully with the SAMR model as the self-assessment tool to improve learning and teaching to meet the 21st century’s needs.


Integrating Technology into Your Classroom with the SAMR Model. Retrieved from:

Portnoy, L. (2018). How SAMR and Tech Can Help Teachers Truly Transform Assessment. Retrieved from:

Swanso, P. (2014). Rethinking SAMR. Retrieved from:

The Hamlin School. (2014). SAMR Model: Excellence in Teaching with Technology. Retrieved from:   

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