Teaching Above the Line

Integrating technology as a classroom teacher can feel like being asked to go on a mission to Mars. Teachers are already responsible for curriculum, assessment, feedback, and more. Now we have to know the ins and outs of fleeting applications that may be nothing more than passing fads?! It turns out, this is a skill our students will need to know as 21st century learners. The ability to learn the essentials of an application for a specific use is a highly rated skill. Additionally, using technology to create content requires students to have a deeper understanding of the content.

One way to conceptualize the integration is SAMR. Created by Dr. Puentedura, SAMR is a visual model representing the integration of technology in the classroom as a ladder students can use to reach deep levels of understanding. “Teaching Above the Line” means delivering a lesson that would not be feasible without the integration of technology.


SAMR does not mean that technology always improves a lesson but it allows for the use of technology to make teaching more efficient and more effective. Follow this link for a video offering an example of SAMR in the social studies classroom.

SAMR will make that trip to Mars will feel more like a walk in the park.

Motivating Students with Technology

Motivated students are successful students. Shaun Killian’s 2015 article, 8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On, identifies practices that lead to high levels of student achievement. Though Killian does not identify any as such, each practice reviewed in the article can be motivating. For example, students can be motivated by feedback on their progress (#2), opportunities to socialize with peers during “work together” sessions (#7), or an increase in self-efficacy (#8). The integration of technology can also be a key factor in motivating students, specifically in order to engage students with content (#3). Technology integration is a high yield practice Marzano and Hattie would agree on.

5455242_origTechnology is a tool that should be integrated when the tool yields improved results. For example, in my “Who’s on Top?” lesson about feudal society, I did not choose to include a digital component to the Do Now. I wanted the students to start with manipulatives and force them into a conversation about their background knowledge. Access to the internet at the start of the lesson would decrease the chances of a conversation developing as a simple Google search would identify each feudal class. Technology is integrated during note taking, though research has proven pen and paper notes are more likely remembered. My students respond positively to note taking on the Chromebook and negatively to note taking on paper. The motivation to complete the task outweighs the potential increase in memorization. I can overlook this concern as I have worked “multiple exposures” into the lesson as well (#5).

d9420-mindmupMindmup is a technology that allows students to achieve a Depth of Knowledge (DOK) level 4 on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy; Analyzing. Mindmapping is listed as a keyword in this DOK level, but this particular assignment also involves organizing, attributing, outlining, structuring, and linking. If you are not familiar with Mindmup.com it is a free cloud application with a minimal learning curve. (Reader tip: select View and show toolbar if you open up Mindmup to an empty screen). The latest version allows for vertical mapping and the integration of images. Mindmups can be saved and linked to Google Drive. 

Mindmup2Motivation can be the determining factor in mastery and the integration of technology such as Mindmup increases student motivation.

Works Cited

Alcorn, Angela. “Try MindMup Mind-Mapping Via Google Drive.” MakeUseOf. 11 July                         2013. Web. 15 May 2016.    

Cauley, Patrick. “MindMup.com a Tutorial.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 July 2013. Web. 15 May               2016. 

Churches, Andrew. Http://edorigami.wikispaces.com REMEMBERING. Educational Origami.                   Web. 15 May 2016. 

Edutopia. “An Introduction to Technology Integration.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 Dec. 2012.               Web. 15 May 2016. 

“John Hattie.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web. 16 May 2016.

Killian, Shaun. “8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On.” The Australian                        Society for Evidence Based Teaching. A+, 17 June 2015. Web. 15 May 2016.

Marzano, Robert. “Tips From Dr. Marzano.” Marzano Research. Web. 15 May 2016. 

“Robert J. Marzano.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web. 16 May 2016.