It's not simply about the technology, it's about creating a healthy, challenging learning environment for our students!

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, while others build windmills. Chinese Proverb

What is SAMR?

SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Popularized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology.

Basically, SAMR give teachers a framework to check the effective use of classroom technology. Digital worksheets are nothing more than a Substitution. How effective is the technology in your classroom?

Watch the video on the right to get a better understanding of the SAMR model.

SAMR Student Choice Matrix.pdf

What is TPACK?

The TPACK framework was introduced by Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler of Michigan State University in 2006. With it, they identified three primary forms of knowledge: Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), and Technological Knowledge (TK).

Look at the diagram below. You’ll notice that the three primary forms of knowledge are not entirely separate. In fact, the intersections of each are critical because they represent deeper levels of understanding.

TPACK shows us that there’s a relationship between technology, content, and pedagogy, and the purposeful blending of them is key.

TPACK Example

Below is an example inspired by a video by modified by Dee Thomas

Your Original Lesson Plan

Imagine you are a 7th grade life sciences teacher. The topic is “cell anatomy.” Your objectives are to describe the anatomy of animal cells and explain how the organelles work as a system to carry out the necessary functions of the cell.

The traditional strategies or activities might go as follows:

  1. Walk through the cell’s anatomy and the basic functions of each organelle, referencing the diagram in the textbook
  2. Break the class into small groups. Task each group with labeling their own diagram of cell anatomy and researching a single process to present to the class later on. You may want to choose the process for them to avoid duplicate presentations.
  3. Have each group present the cell process they researched to the class.

Got it? Okay. So how might the TPACK framework be used to enhance this lesson?

Applying Technological, Pedagogical Content Knowledge to Your Lesson

As mentioned before, the TPACK framework is based on three primary forms of knowledge. So your first step should be to understand your primary forms of knowledge in the context of this lesson.

  • Content Knowledge (CK)—what are you teaching and what is your own knowledge of the subject? For this lesson, you’ll need a solid understanding of cell anatomy and processes.
  • Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)—how do your students learn best and what instructional strategies do you need to meet their needs and the requirements of the lesson plan? In this case, you'll need to understand best practices for teaching middle school science and small group collaboration.
  • Technological Knowledge (TK)—what digital tools are available to you, which do you know well enough to use, and which would be most appropriate for the lesson at hand? For this lesson, students will need to label a diagram and present, so the ability to fill in blanks with an answer key, find images from the internet, create slides, etc. are important.

Now that you’ve taken stock of your primary forms of knowledge, focus on where they intersect. While the ultimate goal is to be viewing your lesson and strategy through the lens of TPACK, or the center of the model where all primary forms of knowledge blend together, taking a moment to consider the individual relationships can be helpful.

  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)—understanding the best practices for teaching specific content to your specific students.
  • Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)—knowing how the digital tools available to you can enhance or transform the content, how it’s delivered to students, and how your students can interact with it.
  • Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)—understanding how to use your digital tools as a vehicle to the learning outcomes and experiences you want.

Now let’s weave all this technological, pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) together and enhance the activities of our original lesson plan. The ideas below are examples of activities that can be added to the original list. Remember, the goal is to be purposeful in applying each form of knowledge.

  1. After walking through the different parts of a cell’s anatomy, break your students into small groups and have them collaborate on completing a Check for Understanding quiz via Google Classroom. Include an interactive question that provides a diagram of a cell with blank labels and requires students to drag and drop the proper labels in place from an answer key (PearDeck).
  2. Have each group use Chromebooks with recording capabilities (ScreenCastify). Have each member of the group choose an organelle to personify, and have them record each other explaining who they are (or which organelle they are) and why they are important for the cell (Flipgrid). Finally, have them upload their videos to a media album so your students can watch each other’s videos on their own time and leave comments.
  3. Instead of researching a cell process (e.g., cell respiration, energy production, etc.) in one type of cell, have your students compare the process between animal and plant cells and make conclusions regarding the differences they find. Require each group to construct an artifact of their research by creating a one-page brief in Google Docs, a flowchart comparison (Piktochart,, Smore), or a video explanation (FlipGrid). This can be turned in via an assignment in Google Classroom for credit.
  4. Armed with their knowledge of cell anatomy, function, and processes, have your students analyze the connections between different animals and plants in their natural habitats. Have each group infer what might happen when one animal or plant is placed in a habitat other than it's natural one. Each group should compile evidence to make their case (articles, videos, etc.) using Padlet, Google Slides, or other similar tool.