© 2014 zoyagill

Briefing Note: Teaching the First World War using SAMR

Continuing on from my previous post, I have elaborated on the mindmap to create a unit of work that could be taught in relation to the use of weapons in the First World War. SAMR is a relatively simple concept to understand but can be difficult to implement.



 As educators it is our role to prepare young people for the world into which they are entering. This world is increasingly connected and technology orientated, meaning the way in which we teach our students should reflect that – indeed one blogger has referred to it as ‘Education 3.0’, where education moves beyond the teacher-student and student-student relationships to a model embedded in emerging technologies, where ‘content is freely and readily available’ (Geisen, 2014). Utilising the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition), developed by Puentedura (2014), I shall explore five activities that could be used to teach Year 9s about the use of weaponry in the First World War but they can be adapted for a variety of topics and age levels.

Looking at the Substitution model, something as simple as utilising the computer to write notes and essays meets this definition. This is something that most students are already doing on a regular basis. Despite this being a lower level enhancement of writing, it is still an integral part of the classroom.

Focusing on my set of activities, however, I would start with the use of gapminder.org to graph global population change, showing the dramatic changes in population during and after the First World War. This can be used as an engagement activity to prompt a preliminary discussion and is a form of Augmentation as the students and teachers are able to play with the statistics and use visuals in a way they would be unable to without technology. It does not stretch further than then enhancement stage, however, as it is ‘still teacher centred with just some student engagement in their own learning’ (Theisen, 2013: 523).

Secondly, a Modification of what can be done in the classroom, the students play an interactive trench warfare game on the BBC website[1]. They must choose weapons in order to complete a mission with the result of the battles reflecting the nature of warfare at the time. In this way, the students begin to learn about the First World War in an innovative way, ‘deriving knowledge from these explorations [and] experiments…creating…new questions for themselves’ (Puentedura, 2009).

 This game activity leads into groups of students collaborating on GoogleDocs to write a report to the Ministry of War advising on the most effective weaponry to use in battle. They are expected to research information on their weapon choice when compiling this report. The use of GoodleDocs allows the students to review each other’s work, leading into the second part of the activity in which they use Google Survey to vote on the most effective military approach, in light of the various reports. This activity is Augmentation, as much of it could be carried out without the use of technology, however there is distinct functional improvement, as students share their output and the teacher can easily collate the votes and data. Indeed, this activity could shift into the realm of Modification if turned into a larger, inter-class project.

This idea of collaboration and exploration beyond the classroom is an integral part of shifting into the transformation stage, outlined by Jacobs-Israel and Moorfield-Lang (2013: 17). Indeed, the third activity involves the students creating a collaborative padlet page when researching and forming a line of inquiry for their summative assessment. In a traditional classroom the students would store their bibliography either in their workbooks or a computer file. Using padlet and separating it into ‘keep’, ‘maybe’ and ‘discard’, the students are able to use it as a collaborative cognitive tool. It is a multi-modal resource that can be accessed by other students. The task is Modified, as the students are engaged in their own learning, something that, according to Theisen, is key to the Transformation stage (2013: 523).

They then use the padlet page to make a documentary using Movie Maker. If the task were to end there, with the students submitting it for assessment, it would fall into the category of Modification. There is a final step, however, that would push it further into Redefinition; the posting of it on either YouTube or SchoolTube. When determining whether a task has been Redefined, one must consider ‘How is the new task uniquely made possible by the new technology’ (Puentedura, 2013)? By connecting the students and their work with institutions, people and ideas from outside the classroom, and indeed around the world, one can see that without technology this task would be impossible. There are a variety of ways one can use Redefinition. One blogger, for example, suggests cultural exchanges with schools in other countries through the use of Skype or through collaborative tasks that look at their different perspectives on a global event (Miller, 2014). Reflecting this, my students’ videos could be shared with other schools either within Australia or around the world. This could then form part of a wider project in which students create documentaries about their countries’ involvement in the Great War and share them with others, creating a global learning community in which students learn from each other and not just their teachers and textbooks. This is particularly fitting in light of the centenary of the start of a war that represented how globally interconnected we are as a society.



Geisen, J (2014, February 23rd). SAMR as a Framework for Moving Towards Education 3.0 [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/samr-as-a-framework-for-moving-towards-education-3-0/

Jacobs-Israel, M. & Moorefield-Lang, H. (2013). Redefining Technology in Libraries and Schools: AASL Best Apps, Best Websites, and the SAMR Model. Teacher Librarian 41(2), 16-18.

Miller, M. (2014). 10 Ways to Reach SAMR’s Redefinition Level [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://ditchthattextbook.com/2014/04/03/10-ways-to-reach-samrs-redefinition-level/

Puentedura, R. R. (2013, August 15th) SAMR: Redefinition, In Context [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2013/08/15/SAMR_RedefinitionInContext.pdf

Puentedura, R. R. (2009, July 28th)  TPCK, SAMR, And Games [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com

Puentedura, R.R (2014, January 15th). SAMR: A Brief Contextualized Introduction [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

Theisen, T. (2013). New Spaces New Realities: Expanding Learning Any Time, Any Place. Foreign Language Annals 46(4), 523-524.


[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/worldwarone/hq/trenchwarfare.shtml


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