When I first started to integrate tech into my lesson planning, and I am talking many moons ago here, I was definitely more focussed on the tech, than I was the students, or the learning targets. I think in many instances this is why the impact that I may have been looking for did not take place. When I think back, part of this was due to the fact that I was a newer teacher and there is a tendency to want to be progressive and bring new things to the classroom, without always thinking it fully through. In addition, being new, there was a lack of that deep knowledge of standards and learning targets. The other part was if I thought I had found some great new tech tool, at least in my mind, I would jump in right away. Sometimes it is best to seek out the advice of others before jumping into something new. I think the below meme represents where I used to be ๐Ÿ™‚

When I look at the way I plan technology integration currently, it is completely different. I know that my time working in curriculum had a profound effect on how I approach my work now, and this is a great thing. As Kim Cofino mentions in her article 3 Steps to Transforming Learning in Your Classroom, it has to start with what you want a student to know and be able to do, what are your learning targets? I quite like that this was labelled as step zero, because this should be the basis, the foundation, before you even speak the words technology.

At this stage, two other things that I like to consider are the SAMR model and the TPACK model. You can see the SAMR on Kimโ€™s Blog post, I have included the TPACK model below.


These two models help me with planning purposes and keeping me on the right track. If you are unfamiliar with them, I highly suggest reviewing them before beginning to embed technology into your unit planning.

Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Unplugged Conference at the American School of Bombay.  There, I attended a session by Dr. Ruben Peuntedura, the creator of the SAMR model. Here are a couple of my key takeaways from his session:

  • The most challenging stage is to move from Augmentation to Modification
  • SAMR Ladder – Take a unit of study and start with substitution and move along towards Redefinition – One does not need to move all the way to Redefinition, a new teacher to the technology can stop at a point that makes them comfortable
  • The research tells us that the SAMR model works (exponential pay off as we move along the ladder), it is vital to provide the time for teachers to do the work.  It will be work to learn and implement the technology, but we have to support them to do so
  • To do the best design with the SAMR model, it is important to consider the TPACK model at the same time
  • Authentic audiences drive students to perform better, the research supports this.  Additionally, authentic mentorship combined with an authentic audience drives this further

If you are looking for some of the research that he mentions above, or looking to delve deeper into the SAMR model, Rubenโ€™s blog is a great place to do some research:


There is a great article on the blog, entitled SAMR and the EdTech Quintet, which speaks to integration of the model with TPACK, the EdTech Quintet, and other models, plus it includes research on the positive impact of using the SAMR model.

After I consider those models, then I select the tech. This is where having some experience, a good network, and being a connected educator come into play.  We all know there are too many tools in existence for us to keep up with all of them. However, through our network and connections we can conduct the research that we would like. And of course this is only in consultation with the teacher, as I want to make sure their students are ready(and the teacher too), and the students have the prior skills to allow for success. Of course we may have to push them out of their comfort zones, but we want to ensure we have them set for a positive experience and growth. From our readings I also like the Teach Thought article on 15 Questions To Ask About Tech Integration in your Classroom.  These make for some solid reflection before heading into the classroom with your tech.

Kim’s other steps include using real world tasks and utilizing an authentic audience. These are two steps which are highly valuable and help to motivate students.  As Dr. Peuntedura mentions above, authentic audiences help to drive students, and even more so when coupled with authentic mentorship. I’m also a big proponent of Project Based Learning, which is a model that supports authentic tasks, and authentic audiences.

I came across the video below when searching for embedding technology into the classroom.  A couple of important points that Khan makes. Firstly, he states himself, that the technology is a tool, not the primary, a tool to complement what is happening in the physical classroom.  Second, he speaks about personalized learning, students learning at their own pace, and learning about what interests them. Again, no mention of tech, but students first. It’s a short video and worth the watch.

This week especially, I am really curious to hear how others go about embedding technology into their classrooms. What do your processes look like?

7 thoughts on “Knowledge and Skills B4 Tech

  1. Hey Ryan,

    I agreed with everything you said in your post and also thanks for sharing some extra materials to check out. I’m curious about the video and Dr. Ruben’s site. Truth be told, I haven’t checked them yet. But the thing that I wanted to respond to, I know, I know, is your meme of Jonah Hill.

    I agree that the knee-jerk reaction that we often have is to get excited about the new because it’s new. There are two things that I’d like to say about it.

    1. Are we modeling the right way of behaving? Are we encouraging students to be wasteful consumers who are discarding something that works perfectly well because there’s something new and shiny? Does this create the have and the have-nots in school? Is that the kind of environment that you want to have?

    2. Perhaps we can geek out a bit as teachers and technologists behind the scenes. It kind of is our job to be “a Jonah Hill” and build a large repertoire of technology so that we can recommend the right tool in the right time.

    I don’t necessarily mean to say “do as I say not as I do”, but I would like to advocate that we encourage others to consider why we need something that is new (i.e. does it solve problems, is it innovative, does it have an original feature). Or are we celebrating pointier “tail-fins”?

    Then behind the scenes, can’t we dig through menus, try tools out, discover what makes it tick and add it to our collection of tools?

    #tailfins ?hahaha >_<


    1. Alex, first off, congrats again on the new job!

      I love your questions from section 1, I personally ask those exact same questions, and we should, as responsible tech promoters!

      Your second set of questions got me thinking, and I agree. Because we should geek out behind the scenes, that is often how we discover if the tech is useful, or what the glitches are before we go to “market”, so to speak! I agree having that repertoire is important, and a network too, because we don’t always have the answers ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Thanks, Ryan I appreciate all the information you gave about the SAMR model and will take some time to look into TPACK. I agree with what you said about taking the time to learn about, plan, and implement the use of technology. Please tell me where I can find this time that you are talking about?

    I also identify with your early practice and how people want to jump into using a new tool (and rightly so as it can be exciting) without the time to unpack the how and why we are using it. It is very important for staff, coaches and administration to provide some of that precious time for discussions and help create platforms to share how we can implement tech-rich ideas in our class with the focus being on how it improves learning and not just the wow factor.

    Looking at the comments following your post between you and Mike I agree that a lot of the geeking out and investigating tools behind the scenes, as this helps us to think about how the students might play with it, begin considering how it can be used to enhance learning, and also have fun. I love taking the Speros home on the weekend to play with my daughter or practicing stop motion with her. How many prep periods or time after school have you spent on this right? Loads trying to figure out a new device, app, etc.. I have some time planned to look into 3D printing this week, it will be my geek out session I guess.

    Lastley, one of my favourite meme formats with using Wonka, well done.


  3. Hey Flynn, everyone needs a little Oompa Loompa in their life, right? I too bring home tech to play with my kids, it is a great way to experiment and learn, and have fun. I quite enjoy the Spheros! They are simple and fun, and get kids block coding.
    We just got two 3D printers at our school this year, we are currently printing parts from one machine, to build our own one of them ๐Ÿ™‚
    Please reach out if you have any questions @ryanpersaud23
    The SAMR stuff is pretty interesting and Reuben has definitely done his research, which I like. But moreover, I appreciate that he does not simply state you must get to the “R” , but that any movement along the continuum will have lasting positive effects.


  4. Thanks, correct about the idea of redefinition not always as a necessary goal, but something that could be attainable in the right authentic experience.
    What kind of stuff do you make? I am going to make ramps for the Spheros.


  5. Thanks for the great post, I have so much to learn! It’s amazing you attended a session with Dr. Peuntedura. What’s even more amazing is that I hadn’t even heard of him or SAMR until I started this unit. No kidding! I only got my teaching cert in June 2017, so I’ve only been a real teacher since August 2017, starting at 45 years old. Yes, I got into teaching rather late. When I read the SMAR model, I was shocked. It was like Peuntedura had read my mind, but as I found out, he got there long before I did. After being a low-level geek and informally teaching tech to friends, family, and journalism school colleagues, I came to some of the same conclusions Peuntedura had 20 years earlier. I wish I had heard of him a long time ago, but at least I know it now and you’ve given me the TPACK model to chew on, so thank you!

    I came up with my own version of SAMR independently (https://colin.coetail.com/2019/02/06/and-in-the-beginning-u4/) because I repeatedly experienced first hand how challenging tech was for most people to learn. Teaching or using tech for tech’s sake was a recipe for frustration on both sides, mine and theirs. Plus, introducing the high probability of technical issues is very risky. As they say, is the juice worth the squeeze? For a lot of people, it isn’t. As an elementary school teacher, when you’re teaching 4 or 5 different curricula, wasting time with untested tech that doesn’t truly augment, modify, or redefine is very frustrating. I’m a very new teacher, but I’m not young. I wish I’d gotten into teaching, especially internationally, a lot earlier, but there are some benefits to my advanced age. I tend to err on the side of*not* introducing new tech, especially *new* new tech, when I don’t think the time and the learning curve aren’t worth the return.


Leave a Reply to Alex McMillan Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s