Engaging Learners Using the SAMR Model

Area(s) of Focus: technology, math, curriculum
Division(s): Primary
Level(s): Grade 3

Engaging primary students using iPads across the curriculum to transform student communication, critical thinking and the application of learning by using the SAMR model.

The project aims to prepare students for the 21st century workforce with a focus on new Global Competencies. The goal of this project was to re-define learning activities that were not previously possible without the use of technology. Lessons were designed to focus on collaboration and creativity, all while exploring a range of learning opportunities using iPad technology (Green Screen by Do Ink, Draw and Tell, ChatterPix, Book Creator, Popplet, PicCollage). This project focuses on apps that allow children to persevere, collaborate and communicate through self-directed learning.  

Team Members

  • Claudia Kruse

    Waterloo Catholic District School Board

  • Laura Mundell

    Waterloo Catholic District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

Our overall goal was to gain a greater understanding of the SAMR model by developing higher order thinking tasks that engage students and allow them to communicate and apply their learning using iPad technology. We wanted to collaborate and network with each other to create and implement a variety of lessons using iPads. We explored and learned about various apps and tools that would help students to create and transform their learning with tasks that were previously inconceivable.

Activities and Resources


  • Became familiar with the SAMR model using video clips and charts with a focus on Modification (significant task redesign) and Redefinition (new tasks previously inconceivable)
  • Reflected on current practices and implemented the SAMR model into our program
  • Explored new apps for students to demonstrate deeper learning
  • Designed new tasks to engage learners
  • Shared new learning with primary division colleagues



Innovate with iPad: Lessons to Transform Learning in the Classroom by Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen

iPad Apps

  • Green Screen by Do Ink
  • Draw and Tell
  • Popplet
  • Book Creator
  • ChatterPix
  • Pic Collage

Web Links

The SAMR Model Explained by Students

Unexpected Challenges

  • Student access is limited due to sharing four iPads between two classes
  • More time is needed to learn the apps and to discover how to use the features
  • Free apps had limitations which required us to purchase upgraded options
  • Sharing projects with the global community was a challenge due to student privacy – this limited us to sharing within the school and parent community

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

Our classrooms are busy with students  learning and teaching each other how to use the iPads and the apps. We have noticed that students are more willing to share their ideas and discoveries by helping each other. They are excited, engaged and eager to show their learning to each other, to other classes in the school, and to their families (posted on class websites).  

  • Students demonstrated leadership skills when they discovered new app features and became “teachers” in the classroom
  • Increased student voice and communication
  • Increased collaboration
  • Increased independence
  • Self-directed learning improved
  • Excitement to learn was enhanced
  • Willingness to try and take risks
  • The learning environment was respectful and encouraging. For example: students felt comfortable “yelling” out “Quiet on the Set!” when they needed to record their voice or make a video. Learning was FUN!


  • PD sharing with primary teachers about our project
  • Shared  student work with families on class websites and ePortfolio
  • Students led the Grade 1 and 2 classes in a collaborative session about iPad apps and their feature 
  • Students will teach the Grade 7 students on how to use the Green Screen app as part of their artwork in June
  • Students will host their families in June for an evening to showcase their learning and to model use of apps

Project Evaluation


  1. Teacher Learning – taught us to look more critically at tasks and to ensure that these tasks provided students with opportunities to be engaged and to demonstrate deeper learning. The SAMR model was in the forefront of our planning and task implementation. This is now a norm for us when developing curriculum.
  2. Teacher Collaboration – by the end of this project, we felt that our profession learning grew through regular discussion and meetings. The collaboration helped to provide consistency within both of our Grade 3 classes. This allowed us to build a stronger sense of community among students in both classes.
  3. Student Learning – engagement, ownership of learning and student voice was embedded in all iPad tasks and then was transferred to other areas where iPads were not used.
  4. Student Collaboration – students who were previously reluctant to share their learning, demonstrated leadership when using iPads.  

Next Steps

Next year, we would like to start earlier with technology projects and to find ways to reach out globally.