To be completely honest, I remember seeing the SAMR model before and not getting much out of it. I am a very visual, hands-on type learner and so often times if I hear of a new theory or method of teaching, without concrete examples which I can relate to, the information is quickly deemed irrelevant and forgotten.  I have too much going on to dig deep enough on my own.

In my school I have access to computer labs (4 for the whole school) and occasionally to a cart of mediocre laptops which I share with 12 other teachers in my department. While we have a BYOD approach, very few students have their own laptops, so we mainly use the BYOD for their smart phones.

Our school purchased a platform called D2l where I put due dates and materials organized by classes and content.  I teach 4 different classes so I keep all 4 levels updated, uploading all the Power points used in class as well as the material we use (in case they misplace it).  I include helpful links, activities, games and video tutorials which I find online.  This takes quite a bit of time.

Within the classroom, I have been able to incorporate almost daily use of assessment and review methods such as Kahoot, Quizlet Live, and Poll everywhere, using their cell phones.  We also go to the lab about twice a month in order to create flashcards on a system called Anki, which uses a sophisticated algorithm of spaced repetition to help them remember the vocabulary.  They are then expected to use the flashcard deck five times a week on their own for quick reviews.

I also assign Quizlet reviews (I pay for my own Teacher account so I can track their work) and make practice and regular quizzes on Quia for them to take, trying to provide for some instant feedback and practice.  I offer Bonus points based on progress made in Duolinguo:  a free online App for language learning, where I also created a class for each of my 5 sections and where I assign a goal for each marking period.

For oral activities I have experimented with Voicethread, which is a site where they can create a type of Power Point and then record their voice over it, or add their recorded comments to a Power Point I created and shared with them.

Finally I use Google docs for almost everything and Google classroom for them to create projects and for me to keep everything semi-organized.  However I have to admit that I feel rather scattered with all of this technology and am not sure where any of it falls within the growth mindset or the SAMR model as I rarely have the luxury of stepping back and analyzing it all.

I will attempt to analyze and dissect my use of technology through the SAMR lens starting with the flashcard program Anki:

Substitution and Augmentation is certainly taking place, because instead of writing out flashcards on cardstock, they are using a computer program.  They are also creating each card with pictures that are meaningful to them, augmenting their involvement and engagement.  The process itself is fun and creative for most of them, as they laugh at the pictures they find on Google and share them with their neighbor.  They take ownership. Some of them have 250 cards at this point, and some only have 130.  There is no reward or penalty for the number, as long as it continues to grow.

The Modification of the traditional task of working through a deck of cards is built in with the program’s algorithm, meaning that they will only need to study the few cards each day that the program identifies they are about to forget.  As they study they choose how easy it was to remember each term, and they rate the difficulty level.  This is a modification from the traditional method of going through the whole deck and making piles of the ones we easily knew and those we didn’t.

Finally Redefinition with this task is that they and I can receive a statistical read out of all the reviews they have done, their time put in, the progress they are making, the cards they have added, and a forecast of the upcoming reviews scheduled.  This allows them a visual of the effort they are putting in. There is no “test”, it is simply showing up regularly and putting in the effort.  I believe this supports the growth mindset of focusing on the process, and eventually seeing results from it.  The results encourage further engagement in the process.  They do receive a grade depending on whether or not they completed their 5 reviews per week and added some cards.  But it is largely autonomous and they are not graded on the quality of their cards or the pictures chosen, as I allow them to take ownership of that, after establishing clear guidelines in the beginning of the year as to how the cards should be laid out.  Within those guidelines there is a lot of freedom and room for creativity and personalization.

Stepping back and looking at the activity through the SAMR model, I actually feel pretty good about using this Anki program – which is new to me this year. I adopted it after reading about it in a book over the summer.  I feel it also fits in nicely with the growth mindset, since it focuses on effort… but feel free to correct me if you see something differently.  I know that the “false growth mindset” involves praising effort alone and blindly telling students they can do anything, then blaming their mindset when they don’t succeed.  While I do reward the effort involved in this Anki task, I also feel that I am giving them a learning strategy which they can use in their future learning, thus supporting their growth.  I do believe that it is meaningful work, as the process helps them learn, and the process itself provides helpful feedback. When it comes time for the test, they have the opportunity to show what they have learned through their effort. If they fail miserably, I allow for a retake which is averaged with their original grade, allowing them to revise their work and learn from their mistakes. To the best of my current knowledge, this is the growth mindset approach.

The questionnaire on Dweck’s site tells me I mostly have a growth mindset. While this may be true, I do have an important goal that has always been in the back of my mind since I began teaching 7 years ago on which I have never acted because of what I now realize is a fixed mindset.  I have not acted on this goal as it seems too difficult to incorporate given my working conditions.  It seems too daunting in the face of the confinements (and sheer amount of work) of my job.  I also am averse to failure, and I don’t want to fail my students…sometimes it is safer to stick with the tried and true than to forge ahead with a new, unproven, crazy idea.  What if it doesn’t work?  (fixed mindset talk) Finally I value sleep and time with my family, and I fear that taking on any more than I currently do would rob me of those two precious necessities.

This new focus on the Growth mindset has re-awakened the possibility of attempting this “crazy” goal, even if it is risking failure. I like how Dweck says “If I don’t try, I automatically fail.”  This hit home for me.  I need to apply the four steps when it comes to pursuing this goal: first recognize the fixed voice telling me to maintain the status-quo and not step out of the expected norms.  Then, I need to recognize that I have a choice, and finally answer that fixed mindset with my new growth mindset – I can absolutely take action towards my goal and even if it fails, I will have learned something and grown from the attempt.

Lastly, as I mentioned before I am a hands-on, visual, practical learner. I needed to see examples of how this SAMR model works in a language classroom.  I read an article called “Don’t reinvent the wheel” which outlined a way of redefining the regular speaking assessment through the use of technology.  There is so much out there that I have no idea even exists, let alone how to use it in the classroom!  I came away with a renewed desire to tackle new technology and use it in the classroom to enrich the tasks we do by substituting, augmenting, modifying and finally redefining the very manner in which my students engage with the material taught.  The material is the same, the manner of delivery and learning it can be enriched through technology if I have the proper attitude and growth mindset.  By emphasizing process and progress, and by modeling a growth mindset in my own approach to teaching, I can encourage a growth mindset in my students.


Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, Add Rims! – Using the SAMR Model in the Foreign Language Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2016, from


Dweck, C. (2015, September 22). How to encourage students [Digital image]. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from

SAMR learning model [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2017, from

SAMR drawing [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2017, from      Copyright Sylvia Ducksworth @edappadvice