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8 Examples of Transforming Lessons Through the SAMR Cycle

by Kelly Walsh on April 20, 2015



Examples of Applying the SAMR Model can Help Teachers Understand and Embrace it

The SAMR Model for integrating technology into teaching, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, has gained a good deal of exposure in recent years. “SAMR” is an acronym that stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. The SAMR model provides a technique for moving through degrees of technology adoption to find more meaningful uses of technology in teaching and move away from simply using “tech for tech’s sake”.

We recently discussed the SAMR model during an Academic Technology Work Group meeting at The College of Westchester. We examined the video, SAMR in 120 Seconds. One thing that really struck me is how much the example helped, so I made it a point to gather and/or create some more examples.

Following are 8 examples of the SAMR process, each taking an example of a typical classroom exercise that does not use technology and walking it through each phase of SAMR. For half of these, I searched and borrowed from examples that teachers had written about online (original sources are provided – in some cases I tweaked the example a bit). I also created examples of my own. In working through this, it became apparent to me that while Substitution and Augmentation can be relatively straightforward conceptually, there is even more room for interpretation when it comes to Modification and Redefinition.

The goal of this exercise was to help me (and readers) better understand the SAMR model, and to really see how lessons and assessments can be transformed while considering the benefits of evolving them through these stages. I find it particularly interesting to see the vast difference in between the original lesson and the redefined lesson … there is often a much wider range of skills required in the latter stages, and lessons can become much more engaging and collaborative when modified or redefined.

Lesson: Writing a Short Paper

Taken from:

Original Assignment: A hand written paper.

  • Substitution: A Word Processor replaces a Pen/Pencil in a Writing Assignment.
  • Augmentation: A Word Processor and text-to-speech function are used to improve the writing process.
  • Modification: The document created using the Word Processor and text-to-speech function is shared on a blog where feedback can be received and incorporated to help improve the quality of writing.
  • Redefinition: Instead of a written assignment, students convey analytic thought using multimedia tools.

Lesson: Geography & Travel

A modification of an idea found at

Original Assignment: An overview of a location consisting of hand written content supplemented with compiled cut-and-pasted magazine clippings.

  • Substitution: Use presentation software (like Powerpoint or Prezi) to construct a presentation providing information about a selected locale.
  • Augmentation: Incorporate interactive multimedia – audio, video, hyperlinks – in the presentation to give more depth and provide more engaging presentation.
  • Modification: Create a digital travel brochure that incorporates multimedia and student created video.
  • Redefinition: Explore the locale with Google Earth; seek out and include interviews with people who have visited the local.

Lesson: Understanding Shakespeare

Taken from: and modified.

Original Assignment: Read a Shakespeare play in traditional printed format.

  • Substitution: Read Shakespeare texts online.
  • Augmentation: Use online dictionaries, study guides, history sites, to supplement reading.
  • Modification: Use multimedia resources like text, audio, and video tools to jointly construct knowledge, learning, and understanding of a portion of a play, or a character, as a group project.
  • Redefinition: Answer the Question, “What did the culture of the time have on the writing of Shakespeare’s plays” my using a Concept Mapping tool and constructing a mind map demonstrating key elements through words and images.

An Assessment Exercise

Idea taken from: and slightly modified. In this example, we take a simple form of assessment and evolve it into a collaborative group project.

Original Assignment: Take a quiz, answers handwritten in a printed form.

  • Substitution: Distribute the quiz in a Word Processor file format and have student fill in answers on a computer.
  • Augmentation: Use a Google Form to deliver and complete the quiz. “There is some functional benefit here in that paper is being saved, students and teacher can receive almost immediate feedback on student level of understanding of material.  This level starts to move along the teacher / student centric continuum. The impact of immediate feedback is that students may begin to become more engaged in learning.“
  • Modification: As an alternative form of assessment, students could be asked to write an essay around a relevant theme. The written essay could then be narrated and captured as vocal recording.
  • Redefinition: “A classroom is asked to create a documentary video answering an essential question related to important concepts. Teams of students take on different subtopics and collaborate to create one final product.  Teams are expected to contact outside sources for information.”

Following are some example lessons, evolved through the SAMR model, that I have tried my hand at creating.
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about how effectively an approach constitutes “modification” or “redefinition”, but that’s not the point of the exercise. To my way of thinking, it’s more about understanding the difference between a just replacing or augmenting a “paper” lesson with a “digital” one and actually evolving it in a beneficial way and exploring new possibilities.

Lesson: Art/Painting

Original Assignment: Drawing a picture using traditional brush, paint, paper. Of course, there is a a big difference between doing this “by hand” in the traditional manner and doing it digitally – digitally is by no means “better”, it is just different and opens up some interesting possibilities.

  • Substitution: Use a digital drawing/painting program (like MS Paint) to draw/paint a picture.
  • Augmentation: Use a tool that allows the creation of your masterpiece to be “played back” (like Educreations, for example).
  • Modification: Pull a background image to use as a “canvas” – you could even scan something hand drawn and use that.
  • Redefinition: Create Artwork Collaboratively using a Collaborative Online Whiteboard (like Twiddla or one of these other tools).

Lesson: Email Etiquette

Original lesson: Review printed copies of Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines.

  • Substitution: Students read an online article discussing Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines.
  • Augmentation: Student read an online article discussing Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines that includes links to examples, and offer comments online indicating their top 5 favorite tips.
  • Modification: Student watch a video discussing Email Etiquette concepts and guidelines and after reviewing the guidelines, they create a Twitter account and Tweet their top 5 tips.
  • Redefinition: Student watch the guidelines video, then assess examples of Email Etiquette ‘violations’ and indicate which guidelines should be applied to correct/improve on the examples.

Lesson: Learning Fractions

Original Assignment: Show understanding of fractions on a worksheet by coloring in blocks.

  • Substitution: Use an Excel Worksheet to let students “color in” the blocks.
  • Augmentation: Use Google Sheet to let students “color in” the blocks, where the teacher can offer feedback directly on Google Sheet.
  • Modification: Use Google Sheet and direct students to online examples and supplementary learning materials for areas that they might struggle with.
  • Redefinition: Use a Fractions App instead (here’s a handful of examples for iOS devices).

Lesson: Phys Ed – Learning To Hit a Baseball Well

Original Assignment: Learning how to hit a baseball by watching and listening to a Coach or Phys Ed instructor show you and then trying it yourself.

  • Substitution: The coach/teacher videos the training exercise and uses this as the lesson.
  • Augmentation: The coach/teacher videos the training exercise and provides links to other training content (videos and articles from other coaches, etc).
  • Modification: The coach/teacher videos the training exercise and “flips” the lesson, having students watch it as homework, and using class time to practice and reinforce techniques.
  • Redefinition: Students watch video examples and practice the techniques, then the coach/teacher videos them hitting balls and provides feedback about their technique.


Hopefully these example of lessons modified through the SAMR cycle help to encourage you to think about how you leverage technology to make some of your lessons more interactive, collaborative, and engaging with some of the many great technology tools available today! Here’s a set of tools that may be helpful when working to evolve your lessons: 10 of the Most Engaging Uses of Instructional Technology (with Dozens of Resources and Tools).

Creative Commons license image source.



Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Zarina Khan February 22, 2017 at 10:52 pm

I am a kindergarten teacher and would like to use technology purposefully and in a more meaningful way. I would appreciate if you could suggest any ideas. Thanks in advance!

Maria February 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Great post! Thank you!

Debbie Raukar October 27, 2016 at 3:48 pm

I found the article interesting and helpful, however, I would take issue with calling using an app for teaching fractions as redefinition. Basically the apps are more of a substitution for fraction activities and or games. I think a higher level for redefinition would be creating a fraction lesson related to (i.e. making pizza fractions from pizza that students made, then doing a Google hangout with a pizza making expert or another class with mystery fraction numbers).

Dean P. October 24, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Mr. Walsh,

I would like to add my name to the list of presenters who would like to include your examples (with credit to you) in a training module for instructors. They will be pulled from their categories, and instructors will be required to sort them back in as a learner-centered exercise.

I will share the files I create here for printing by others, if desired.

Dean P.

Richard Medina September 28, 2016 at 5:21 pm

As students move higher up the scale. They learn to become computer savvy for the 21st century

Millines September 13, 2016 at 10:19 am

Good Read

Innocent Oaikhena August 30, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Hi Kelly,
Your examples here really helped me better under the SAMR model. I had searched online repeatedly for a clearer, straight-to-the-point explanation until I came across this. Thanks for sharing.
Kindly grant me permission to use some of the examples here in a presentation to a faculty here in Nigeria. I will definitely give you credit if you allow me to share your examples. Thanks in anticipation of positive response.

Kelly Walsh August 5, 2016 at 5:54 am

Go for it Gaby – feel free to share these! Thanks.

Gaby Krumm August 4, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Thank you for your post. I would like to use your examples in a presentation to our teachers. I will definitely give you credit if you allow me to share your ideas. Thank you in advance.

Glenn Hervieux May 31, 2016 at 11:38 am

Response to Linda Ausley & Kelly Walsh: I agree that Redefinition isn’t the goal for all lessons. Especially for the younger grade levels, students need to get some basic technology literacy (substitution, augmentation) before they can really function well in the other layers of the model effectively. Not to say PreK-3 can’t use the technology in Modification/Redefinition, but it’s just going to look a bit different than for students who are a bit more mature in their skillsets. Some schools ignore the lower grades in terms of helping younger students develop basic tech. literacies and make it harder for them and their teachers to implement higher levels of tech. integration. Something to reflect on…

I also like the video “Introduction to the SAMR Model” ( by Common Sense Media. The video presents a very clear description of each level, the purpose of the model, and some questions to engage teachers as they evaluate their use of technology integration. One of the better videos on the SAMR model, in my opinion.

Kelly Walsh May 25, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Absolutely Tim … and thanks for asking permission.

Tim Paul May 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Hi Kelly
Great examples. Can I use these examples in a document that I am creating on incorporating the SAMR model into technology integration decisions for my college?

Luella Crowther May 24, 2016 at 9:35 am

Students need the challenges in creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. SAMR can help teachers use technology as a way of accomplishing these challenges. While not every lesson will be at the top of the SAMR “ladder”, but as we become familiar and more comfortable with this format, we can increase the number of assignments that are. It will take a shift in the way we design lessons. I believe the effort will come with big benefits.

JoAnn Bagwell May 16, 2016 at 10:10 pm

I must admit I thought as long as students had the i-pad in their hands I was “using technology”. I love the idea of using technology to move up the level of DOK. I really liked the specific examples of lessons. Very helpful.

Joel Anderson May 12, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Good reminder to help get us out of the technology rut that we sometimes get stuck in. Thank you.

Kelly Walsh April 17, 2016 at 8:12 am

Thanks everyone for your feedback – so glad this is helpful!

Robert Hall April 16, 2016 at 4:13 pm

I think the information here will help me move my use of technology to the modification and redefinition levels.

Amy Crowther April 14, 2016 at 10:22 am

Valuable information as to how we can integrate technology in the classroom.

Corey Crowther April 13, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Good info. There are some great ideas and guidelines to help integrate technology into the classroom.

Carla Har-Paz September 9, 2015 at 11:01 am

Thank you very much! The examples you have put together illustrate the SAMR model very well. Introducing technology in the classroom has to be a gradual process .Teachers and students have to understand the purpose of what they do as they go throughout it.

Kelly Walsh July 24, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Thanks Michelle! (For other readers who don’t know the acronym, I am pretty sure “DOK” here refers to Depth of Knowledge).

Michelle July 23, 2015 at 7:46 pm

“It is also important not to assume that Redefinition is the goal that must be reached for with all lessons – any point along the spectrum can be fine. ” This is such an important statement for those who teachers who are not digital natives, and may be struggling not to be overwhelmed. Even though we need to stretch our students to be able to answer a DOK4 question, not all questions should be DOK4’s. There is a time and place for DOK questions 1 – 3 as well. There is also a time and place for Substitution, Augmentation, and Modification as well as Redefinition.

Cecil Vega June 15, 2015 at 9:51 pm

I thought the 8 lessons without technology that converts to the use of technology was great. Evaluation what you do now can help introduce tech into classrooms.

Linda Audsley May 7, 2015 at 2:27 am

Interesting. This model is derived from Bob Eberle’s earlier SCAMPER creation model…so not forgetting…..

“Combination” – perhaps combining digital devices eg: phones and tablets/ipad in an exercise, using Skype education tool on devices for global interactions/discussions with other schools

“Put to other purposes” – conduct online surveys, set up a yammer site for asynchronous discussions on a forum

“Eliminate” in an art lesson change a drawing from colour to monochrome, compare Google map’s sat display with a terrain perspective, remove sound from video to explore body language

Eberle did not see this model in terms of mandatory stages, but simply a tool to encourage creativity through the utilisation of different perspectives.

Kelly Walsh April 27, 2015 at 12:20 pm

It is also important not to assume that Redefinition is the goal that must be reached for with all lessons – any point along the spectrum can be fine. The levels are largely just guidelines to encourage thought and ideas about how to get more out of tech integration, and not to confuse “substitution” with richer, more meaningful uses of technology in the classroom.

This article provides further insights:

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