Technology-Enhanced SIM™ Content Enhancement Instructional Delivery

Instructing with SIM Content Enhancement Routines (CER) is looking different than in the past. At the CRL, we wish to support teachers in their transition to instructing CER in varied teaching and learning environments (e.g., remote, virtual, in-person with social distancing). In the future, even when typical classroom instruction resumes, teachers may continue to enhance their CER instruction with technology; thus, we hope this resource will have ongoing relevance.

There is a large volume of incredibly useful technology tools available to educators today. Therefore, quality over quantity is key, especially for systematic use of technology tools. We want to focus on technology tools that support instruction of content more than tools that are designed primarily for practice drills or memorization of facts. Additionally, when possible, it is important to select technology tools that can be used routinely (i.e., during CER-focused instruction and other types of instruction, and by several teachers with the same group of students). Thus, teachers will want to select high-utility tools that are generalizable across different settings. Another factor is to select tools that allow for high-touch, which means the technology promotes the ability to communicate often with students to address a lack of connection teachers and students experience during remote teaching and learning. Finally, considerations for digital equity are paramount.  Click here to listen to Nanette Fritschmann describe these overall considerations.

“I have found that one thing students are struggling with the most, especially in our new normal, is routine. Introducing and implementing as much Content Enhancement as possible should be a breath of fresh air for most students. If they can see a device, whether it be in a "brick and mortar" or "virtual" situation, they will have great recognition for the routine. In fact, if a Course Organizer/Unit Organizer structure is being used by the teacher, students should be able to participate/follow along with the class even if an extended absence is required.”

Organization of concepts, materials, and assignments has amplified importance in a virtual learning environment. To illustrate, when students are not able to physically hold classroom materials and assignments in their hands, it is challenging for many to infer where to find specific assignments and when to complete them. Further, they may not see how concepts connect and relate as well when social learning is diminished. Fortunately, the use of Content Enhancement Routines restores organization and conceptual thinking in virtual learning environments.


Check out this video about how to use a Unit Organizer in a Digital Classroom from RAISEup Texas.

Additionally, technology selected may vary with opportunities for synchronous versus asynchronous teaching along with any access to a hybrid model of delivery (some face-to-face with some remote learning). Considerations are made for what is desirable to hold constant (such as maintaining fidelity to the Cue-Do-Review instructional sequence and using the Linking Steps to engage in interactive dialogue while co-constructing the visual device with students), and for what needs adaptation due to the virtual or socially-distanced classroom environment. As examples, we adapt methods for engineering active student engagement and how students record on their visual devices.

Co-constructing Synchronously Online The heart of CER instruction is co-constructed learning with students. Similar to face-to-face instruction, teachers plan how to include all student voices when building a visual device together. During online instruction, it is even more critical to use methods to draw students into the virtual space to make contributions. Teachers may gain student participation through randomization tools, providing pre-work before synchronous sessions so students are prepared to contribute, and use breakout rooms to co-construct portions of CER visual devices, such as “always present characteristics” on a Concept Diagram or “like characteristics” on a Concept Comparison Table.

Other online blogs and websites provide numerous ideas for how to engage students in online instruction. Here are a few recommended by SIM Professional Developers:

Co-constructing Asynchronously Offline
To include absent students or those with limited internet access in the use of CERs, teachers are being creative. Check out this example from Sarah Davidson, a SIM Professional Developer in Florida, using Nearpod to co-construct the Unit Organizer Routine with students asynchronously. After clicking the link and watching the first video of Sarah speaking directly to her students, use the blue arrows on the right side to move through the experience from a student’s perspective. As another idea, teachers can prompt the use of CER as a personal strategy for learning while reading, writing, preparing for sharing ideas with the class or others, and recording ideas during class. CERs can serve as the basis for partner work, too.

Obtaining Access to Digital Visual Devices
E-books published by KUCRL are available for some CER and provide a PDF of the visual device. If you own the hard-copy of any CER guidebooks, please contact or your SIM Professional Developer to obtain a digital copy of the visual device. Visual devices are currently available as Power Point slides, which can be converted to Google Slides or saved as PDF or JPEG image files to allow for typing on the device, using Chrome extensions, Apps, or inserting text boxes on top of images. Some Apps allow for PDF files to become fillable, with textbox overlays, such as Seesaw and PearDeck. When visual devices are saved as the background image on a Google slide, then textboxes can be inserted to type on top of the visual device. Another option, CORGI-2, is being developed by KUCRL and CAST International, specialists in Universal Designs for Learning, and is available for free for a select number of CERs. CORGI-2 technology, which is a Chrome Extension, gives students access to each visual device to be interactively developed and provides supports such as introductory videos, text to speech, and dictionary supports, among others.