Monday, December 14, 2015

Apple - What's Next Research

We arrived at 1 Infinite loop on Tuesday evening. You always hear about how amazing Apple events are in Cupertino but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Seeing that I had been to a What’s Next event before, I knew that the event would be engaging, informative, and full of learning. However, I did not expect to leave with my brain absolutely filled to the brim with new knowledge. 

The purpose of the trip was present our findings from a research project that Berwyn South District 100 is a part of. All schools involved are Apple Disntignsuhed Programs who are innovating learning in incredible ways. What we all had in common was that while we had thriving 1:1 programs, we were all ready to consider, “What’s Next?” to continue innovating and providing our students with the very best education they deserve.

To give you the back story, the initial kickoff event was in February 2015 where the team from BSD100 determined what exactly our research question would be. As they began to develop the question, they realized that although we are all using devices, we do not have a common instructional language when it comes to technology integration. The question helps us find the common language so that no matter where you go across our 8 schools, Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition will be common, comfortable terms that all stakeholders (parents, administrators, students, teachers) can speak to, explain, and practice when it comes to effective technology integration. 
 Our research question: "Is there a correlation between teachers who integrate SAMR in their instruction and the performance data and school experience reported by students and parents?”

Since last February, a core team of leaders +Ramona Towner +Jen Lehotsky +Todd Bittorf +Michael Saracini +Kirstin McGinnis and a few others have conducted research across stakeholders in our community to help answer this question. Steps such as creating and conducting surveys, gathering and analyzing data, identifying SMART (SAMR Model Action Research Team) D100 Champions as above the line teachers, training students and teachers on SAMR, just to name a few. 




  1. Take time to make change
  1. Focus on your research question
  1. Ask permission from professional researchers to use their question sets (they are not biased and are professional!)
  1. SHARE results with your community 
  1. Don’t expect to see improved student outcomes at S 
  1. S & A are done to enhance what you were already doing, what are you doing (ENHANCEMENT)
  1. When you reach M & R you must answer the question “Why?” If you cannot truly answer why you are doing an activity at M or R, then you should not be doing it and the task just becomes ‘cool.’ (TRANSFORMATION)
  1. Beware of ‘cool’ - just because integrating tech into a lesson can look ‘cool’ does not mean that it is answering the “Why” (see above to 3)
  1. The best way to learn about SAMR is to ‘get your hands dirty’ - take a lesson and move it above the line of the ladder, anywhere from 1-3 hours to be truly meaningful 
  1. Bloom’s highest level is creating, but is creating redefinition? Does it answer the ‘Why’?


Mary Havis and I had the unique opportunity to present this action research project to the rest of the group that attended. We then received feedback from Ruben Puentedura, Damian Bebell, and Holly Ludgate after the presentation on how to improve our work. Following feedback, we had targeted breakout sessions where Apple educators workshopped with us to refine our story. 


Having the opportunity to work with professionals in the field who have such a pride for education was invigorating. Too often as leaders we are not always able to share the successes and mistakes that we make with other districts but this event gave us the opportunity to share successes and for us to learn from each other’s mistakes. 

Some take aways from the other district’s projects:

Seeing that our research project focuses on integrating the SAMR model into our instruction, take aways from Ruben. I knew I couldn’t leave the event without having a 1 on 1 conversation with him. I asked him to explain the SAMR model to me at each level in his own words. This was a very interesting conversations to hear it from the creator himself. While some of these I already knew from reading his work, training sessions, and my own practice, it was important for me to hear these from Ruben himself. 

Moving forward with SAMR integration, I am looking forward to continuing my journey of SAMR as a reflective layer to effective instruction. I am looking forward to taking the work that I did over the last few days to help impact the SMART D100 research team. I will be eager to share the final results of the project soon!

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