"Spice Up Your Life" With Some Kaizena!

Back in 1997 (when connecting to the internet required a dialup and designated phone line), a new pop rock group, Spice Girls” came out with their song, “Spice Up Your Life.”  

The video can be found here (from the album Spice World):  


It reached number 1 in the UK and number 8 in the US. “Spice Up Your Life’s” main focal points were: (1) celebrating diversity and embracing one another’s differences though a combination of pop, Latin and Bollywood styles all meshed into one and (2) promoting girls and women to branch out and take the lead.

The music is fun and the lyrics are fine. The message is spot on: spice up your life by embracing differences. Changing up a routine, making a new friend, or trying something new are all part of spicing up one’s life.

                          “You’ve got to reach up; never lose your soul.” - Spice Girls “Who Do You think You Are”

The same is true for assignments. When you were a student you probably had teachers who would pull out the same dastardly worksheets or would hold the exact same U.S. History Fair with the same topics covered and researched by the current class. I bet you have colleagues that do this.

Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t reuse materials or assignments that work. However, we can spice things up. One such way is to use the SAMR model. Created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the model helps educators to change, enhance, and transform an assignment using technology. There are four levels (in order of least to greatest transformation from the original assignment): Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. Below is an image with examples, created by Kathy Shrock,

and a video explaining how the SAMR model can be utilized in schools and higher ed learning institutions.


                                                 “All you need is positivity” - Spice Girls “Spice Up Your LIfe”

Now that we have a working mindset as to what SAMR is about, let’s put it into practice, using the Spice Girl’s song “Spice Up Your Life” as the content.

Here is the original in class assignment (handed out on a piece of paper with the expectation that it will be handwritten):

Write a 2 page expository essay on the Spice Girls’ “Spice Up Your Life” lyrics focusing on how it promotes diversity and feminism.

Now, using the SAMR model, let’s change this up.

These are just four examples. I bet you can come up with many more. You can see the progression of complexity and the transformation from the original assignment. In all four cases, the goal (studying the song’s promotion of diversity and feminism) is the same.

So, why are we writing about this for our Kaizena page? Because regardless of the level of complexity or transformation of the assignment, students need guidance and feedback. Ah, there is that universal word again - feedback. In all four examples, students will require feedback from you - the teacher. Whether using text, voice comments, lessons, or skills, the feedback you will provide will guide the students progress and help them meet the goals of the assignment.

                                                                                “Do It” - Spice Girls Album

And there is more. Not only does Kaizena’s feedback tools work in conjunction with the SAMR model, the four types of Kaiena feedback represent the SAMR model.

Let’s return to the Spice Girls assignment. Suppose you collect the hand written essays on “Spice Up Your Life.” As a teacher, you will write out feedback to the students.

Now, using the SAMR model, let’s change this up. We will take the substitution model of the assignment (Students use laptops or Chromebooks to compose the essay individually) and show how Kaizena’s feedback tools follow the SAMR model.

So now “People of the world: spice up your life.” Transform assignments through the SAMR model. Transform feedback through Kaizena.

Ariel Margolis
Ariel has designed innovative instructional and e-learning curricula for more than twenty years. He is Director of Student Support Services and Adjunct Lecturer in special education at Hebrew College.
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