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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

A Fine Time for Rhyme (aka the SAMR Remix)

The other day I decided to remix (no big shocker there, considering my track record), the brainchild of Dr. Ruben Puentedura – Harvard Technology Fellow and founder of Hippasus, an education consulting firm aimed at transformative applications of technology in learning. The thing I’ve always wanted to switch up, despite the fact that it completely makes sense and I admire his utter brilliance is the model of tech integration known as


First off, I must admit  have a personal bias against all acronyms as they are a bit like a math problem to me, in that, unless they spell an actual word, I shy away from them. So CIA makes me cringe but COBRA plan is perfectly fine. Get it? (on that note did you know that “care” in “care package was originally an acronym?) “S.A.M.R.” has also never tripped off my tongue and I blame it ALL on the “R” factor. “R”s (at least American ones, and I’m American) are not pretty. When I took singing lessons as a teen my vocal coach told me never to sing the R’s and now I sound pseudo British but who cares, right? If It had been “S.A.M.I.” or “S.A.M.U” I think I could have grown to love it more.


My little sketchportrait of Ruben

(I like to do sketchportraits and say that people have been “pinkified”)

The second issue is the vocabulary. I am fortunate to speak at and attend many conferences and S.A.M.R. as a concept shows up at almost every one in workshop, presentation, or keynote form. So many of my friends are doing wonderful things with offering practical examples, and perhaps my favourite post is from the incomparable Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth): “Here Comes the SAMR”. But despite the fact that yes, we can acknowledge we are all intelligent, professionals sometimes (more often than not) simple is better – I am going to come right out and say that I think that the terms “Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition” are a bit of a mouthful. Again, not sure why I want things to trip of my tongue like some 1950s Hollywood musical but I do:

And that brings us to the power of rhyme (and especially rhyme attached to music!) in learning. Those of us from the Sesame Street generation also weaned on Schoolhouse Rock! need no convincing. We go to the polls every other November humming “I’m Just a Bill” and can’t hear a train whistle without thinking about Conjunction Junction and its Function.

This episode of “DNews” provides some insight into the whys of rhyme, and its cousins assonance and alliteration (which you can read more about in my previous post on creating my Google Teacher Academy parody music video):

I’ve also long been fascinated by the work of Dr. Daniel Levitin of McGill University and his work on music, memory, and the brain – a teaser here in “Why Do We Remember Old Pop Songs But Forget Where Our Keys Are?”:

I think we can safely say that rhyme – especially if it is attached to music – but rhyme with its inherent sing-song-y qualities, is STICKY. It causes an “earworm ” or “Ohrwurm” as it is known in its original German (for more, see the work of Oliver Sacks)



So here it is, folks. My S.A.M.R. remix that started as a whimsical wordplay exercise as I was prepping for a keynote and and ended up being pretty popular on Twitter. I’ve even had a few requests from people who want to make it into a poster. All my sketches are Creative Common license with Attribution so please go ahead, but do me a favour and let me know – I love hearing how you find my small contributions the least bit useful.  Think about this notion of rhyme when you try to get elaborate ideas across, or you ask students to articulate complex concepts. Just because it’s simplified and whimsical does not mean it lacks substance. And if any of you would like to make it into a my guest 🙂


#edtech #technologyintegration #music #teaching #rubenpuentedura #technology #samr #SteveWheeler #timbuckteeth #earworm #education #oliversacks #samr #rhyme #daniellevitin #remix #memory

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