Go Beyond Substitution to Foster Individualization

The SAMR model has been on my mind a lot lately. I remember being so excited when I first learned about this idea developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. But, as I watch and listen to teachers transition to a 1:1 classroom, I realize that we may be taking this model too literally. Just because there is a level called substitution does not necessarily mean our expectations for new teachers should start there. When a new teacher of 1:1 learns to use the iPad as simply an alternative for writing a paper, spelling words, or drawing, nothing is gained from it except the ability to save paper and pencils. We want teachers to buy in to the power of personalized devices rather than do it because they see it as yet another mandate from the county. Teacher buy-in is crucial for deployment of personalized devices to succeed, and I’m beginning to think buy-in happens best when we share approaches that are simple but exist higher on the SAMR model than substitution.

It’s only then will teachers discover why iPads are my lifeblood: INDIVIDUALIZATION. No two students are ever the same and our iPads offer me tools that I can use to leverage the strengths of each student. I am able to share with students innovative strategies to use with these tools that either modify or redefine the way my students think, share, and learn. The students get to choose which strategies and tools work best for them and the outcome is mind-blowing. Your role as the teacher begins to shift, and your students’ motivation, conversation, and critical thinking skills exponentially increases. The iPads isn’t just great to help students learn content. It’s great because each student discovers HOW they learn best. That “how” is what ensures them to succeed at whatever they learn or do next. Imagine how much more one can accomplish when they know their learning identity! If only every student knew they were a blogger, or a creator, or a social-networker, or a graphic designer, or even a producer. The sky is the limit! My wish is for more teachers to leap over the substitution level and try a strategy with iPads that modifies or redefines instruction. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching every student become individual rockstars who learn how to succeed by not conforming to school, but by beating to their own drum.

Here’s a 2-minute video I made for the Apple Distinguished Educator application where I share my story of how iPads transformed myself, my classroom, and my students.