In the Midst…

Yes! We have started our new NGSS unit, Systems and System Models with our grade 9 students, and so far, so good! I want to use this next blog post to organize my thoughts and get some feedback from you before I get too deep in this unit and project.

My Ideas

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My idea for the organization of my video is to highlight each part of the SAMR Model and demonstrate, through a variety of means, how I am achieving each part of the model with my students and how it is impacting their learning. So, the idea is to spend about two minutes on areas of my unit plan that involve 1) no tech, (and the following parts of the SAMR model) 2) substitution, 3) augmentation, 4) modification, and 5) redefinition. Below you will find some of my examples for each area.

No Tech

There will be certain aspects of this unit that involve absolutely no technology. One example of this that I may showcase is the “carbon cycle discussion and poster.” This activity will represent the “before” picture of what our students understand about the carbon cycle before doing any research or getting any kind of instruction on the concept. I am choosing to include this in my final project video, even though it doesn’t represent how I am incorporating technology into my lessons, because I wanted to get student feedback on the use of technology vs. no technology for certain classroom activities. Now on to some tech talk…

By Lefflerd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Substitution

This part of the SAMR model is when “technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change.” There are some aspects of this unit that definitely exemplify this part of the model. One example is posting a case study and lab handout that we used in class to Moodle (our online learning forum). Instead of printing out the case study and lab handout for each student, we, essentially, posted it online so that all students had access to those documents. Another example would be using a Google Doc as their “notebook” for this unit. Instead of doing their classwork in a notebook, my students are using a single Google Doc to house all of their information and resources (data collection, images, links, etc.) pertaining to this unit. And the best part is they can’t exactly “lose” it!

Augmentation

This part of the SAMR model is when “technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement.” One example of augmentation from this unit is a Socrative “Space Race” quiz. We used this activity as a diagnostic quiz at the beginning of this unit. Instead of printing a quiz and handing it out to each student individually, we allowed them to work in small groups on their computer to answer the questions. On the screen in the front of the room, students could visualize how many questions each group had answered and how many questions each group had gotten correct. It created a bit of competition among the groups, and our students were WAY more engaged 🙂

Modification

This part of the SAMR model is when “technology allows for significant task redesign.” Now that I know about the SAMR model, I am constantly thinking about how I can improve my classroom practice so that I am striving to use technology in a manner more indicative of the modification (and redefinition) stage of the SAMR model. For this unit, we have included the use of The Carbon Cycle Game. It is an online “game,” where you travel through the carbon cycle as a carbon atom based on your answers to each question. This is definitely not something that the students would be able to do without their computers. We haven’t used it yet, but it is planned for this unit. And I am very excited to see how it works out!

Redefinition

And last but not least, this part of the SAMR model is when “technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.” I believe that we have two clear examples of redefinition in this unit. The first example is not only using Google Docs as their “notebook” for this unit, but the fact that it is shared with me so that I have access to all of the students’ “notes.” I have the ability to comment, chat, and edit their work in real time, as well as the ability to check their revision history. Such functions were unheard of not so long ago. The second example is a product that we are having the students complete toward the end of the unit, which is to create a documentary. They will be creating a documentary on the relationships among the Earth’s systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity. Without their computers and certain software, there is no way that my students would be able to take on a task such as this one!

Now What?

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Well…now that I am in the midst of it, that’s what I have so far! I believe that we have a pretty solid plan for this unit that successfully incorporates a variety of technology in a meaningful way for our students. But I want to know what you think! What do you think of my categorizing of the planned activities? Is any of my categorizing mislabeled? What could I add/delete/modify to make this unit plan better? Luckily the unit has just started, and I have a bit of wiggle room if needed! I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂

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