Welcome to my blog! I'm Karen Belt, a teacher and leader of digital learning, working at Lynmore Primary School in Rotorua, New Zealand. I'm teaching in a Year 2 class using iPads to engage and motivate learners and improve student achievement. This blog documents my teaching journey and my learning processes with iPads in the classroom. I've proud of having been a member of the inaugural Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy(MDTA) program and last year a Spark Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher (MIT) and Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir teacher.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Today during reading, two students were reading our horse story from a few weeks ago (which is displayed in the classroom).  This was independent of the teacher, after they had finished their assigned activity.  They recorded each other and Nature had the forethought to swap iPads with Deborah so that her video was on her own iPad!  It was great to see them independently thinking about recording what they were doing and they were so keen to share with both Michelle and I as soon as they had finished and have it displayed on the Apple TV for the rest of the class to see.  We made sure we viewed it and were extremely keen to demonstrate to the students that we really liked what they had done!  

This instance really shows how confident the students are getting with the iPads and how they have an expectation of recording all their learning, all the time!  We also had a new child enter the class today (Phoenix) and she was extremely keen to use an iPad - we need to try and have these ready if we know new students are coming!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

..... and more Explain Everything!

I can fast see this being our "go to" app as it has so many uses!  Today Michelle and I briefly brainstormed some ways we wanted to use this over the coming weeks:

  • Number 1 - 9 for students to trace over (useful for students that cannot form their numbers yet) - students can say the numbers as they trace over them
  • Numbers 1 - 5 for students to put in the correct order - again students can say the number as they put them in order
  • Before/After numbers for students to move the numbers to the correct place
  • Full alphabet for students to trace over as they say the alphabet
  • All the lower case letters for students to use to make High Frequency Words

Today we introduced the Google Drive to the students as a way to share a EE project for them to work on which we have previously created.  The instructions worked really well and students were immediately engaged at their individual level (some students were tracing over numbers as they said them, some were sorting numbers into the correct order while others were concentrating on before/after).  The great thing about this was different students could be working on the same activity and we were able to look at their learning later in the day and review what they had done!  We also had students that were able to find a quiet place in the room and share what they had achieved.  This sample completed by Kahurangi was one of these - he completed it independently after a teacher led session!

Other work was collected while working with the teacher:

And this sample was completed independently after first working with the teacher:

Monday, 24 February 2014

A New App ... Explain Everything!

Today we used the Explain Everything (EE) app for the first time - and did some learning along the way!  We had the initial instructions completed to get into the App and create a new document, but didn’t have these printed so we used my computer to show these to the students (and refine the instructions as we went).  This really reinforced the need to keep these steps ‘simple’ with a picture for each step.  

All students managed to access the app and create a file, taking a photo and adding either pen or voice - the instructions worked really well!  To us, this reinforced the importance of having them, and also in introducing only one app at a time - we may have tried to “rush ahead” with apps if the iPads had been ready and available on the first day, so this delay has actually been a benefit in reinforcing the need to slowly introduce new things.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Expanding Oral Language through brainstorming and gifting

Team teaching to the fore today!  As part of our writing we put together a brainstorm of ideas using the idea of “down at the river”.  It was great to see the ideas continually embellished by the students as they drew on the ideas of the student that contributed before them.  Some words were gifted to the students during the session (eg moat) and it was great to have Michelle getting the ideas from the students as I recorded them on the whiteboard.  We reflected after the lesson that it would have been great to have some of the ideas recorded via video so next time we do the session we will set up an ipad to record the whole session, knowing that we can cut out pieces that we’d like to use.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Progress already ...

Today we again discussed our weekends with Michelle and I modelling the conversation that we wanted the students to have with peers about what they did.  This was much more successful today with most students sharing with their partner and all students able to tell the whole class what they did on the weekend - woohoo for progress!  Then we recorded the students stories in their writing book and each student copied this text underneath before videoing their story.  All students were able to recite at least one sentence of their story to the video including students who had previously refused to be videoed).  Its great to be able to see progress so quickly with students now more willing to not only share orally but also be recorded!


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Focusing on Oral Language

Once again today we cemented the writing that we co-constructed with the class by using Oral Language.  In order to help the students remember a more complex sentence, Michelle introduced actions this week to supplement the singing.  Our motivation was the horse which students had photographed last week.  After writing our story on Tuesday, today the students practised and we videoed them singing the story and doing the actions.  This medium also gave us the opportunity to see which students were contributing to the singing and which were not as we could study individual students on the video.  We are also able to get students really used to being videoed, particularly as new students enter the classroom.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Week 2 .. confidence is growing!

Today we videoed some of our class reading their stories about their weekend - we had previously discussed these in a half circle and introduced pair share for the first time. 

We wrote the story for each child and had them copy the text underneath and then illustrate their story with a picture.  After a few practices we used the iPad video feature for some students to share their stories and we have put these on our class blog.  Through the students sharing their stories orally, we were able to see that Ilaisaane is “shadow copying” and we have combined some of the videos to illustrate this for future reference (Ilaisaane is on the right of the video).  We want to continue to use the iPads to record (particularly oral language) as this gives us the opportunity to revisit the learning and adjust learning intentions and teaching methods as required.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Taking Samples to Gauge Progress Later

Today was our first round of taking samples of the students' oral language and we did this as they read a sentence we had constructed as a class throughout the week.  We added to this sentence over a number of days and then turned it into a “song” so the students could easily remember it.  When it came to sampling the class, some students were very keen to have a go, while others were very shy and not prepared to even try.  We will need to get samples from these students next week.  

The following are two examples of the samples recorded today:

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Introducing the Stylus ...

We feel it is important for students to get used to using the stylus quickly before they get too used to using their fingers.  The stylus will assist in their pen grip and we think it is important to improve their fine motor skills.  Today we introduced the care of the stylus and how to use them properly and then students tried this out individually which gave us the opportunity to correct them quickly if they were using the wrong grip or the wrong end of the stylus.  We were able to explain carefully to the students the need to look after them and return their to their proper home in the classroom.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Scaffolding for our students

Revisiting the photos that the students took yesterday was a great inspiration for our writing lesson today!  Students recognised the pictures of the digger they had taken and Ms George modelled writing about this experience today.  

Many students have quickly grasped how to AirPlay their iPads to the Apple TV to view their photos, but for students that need additional scaffolding we have produced a table which shows the icons for the 4 steps which are required.  We trialled using this visual key today with the students and it was extremely successful and is something we will look at repeating for different operations we introduce to the students.  This is a great example of refinement after we had tried something the day before, and discussed how we could make it even easier for the students to grasp the “how to”.

To reinforce the learning from our first day, we again used the iPads to photograph our learning, this time in the maths area.  Students selected a number (up to 9) and assembled counters/bears/bugs to represent that number.  They then used the iPad to record their learning and shared this with others via the Apple TV.

Monday, 3 February 2014

iPads on Day One

Five students on day one, and day one of the trial! Our iPads are still to arrive but we were keen to implement them into the class routine from day 1! Exploring the Pt England School grounds was a great opportunity to document our learning using photos! We were able to share these on the Apple TV later in the day and will revisit the photos taken by the students tomorrow during writing time. 

What we discovered today: We need to have more than 1 copy of our icon wall display - while having it on the wall is great for students to refer to, during the initial teaching of the tool it is helpful to have a copy at the teaching station to refer to! 

What worked well: Having a device for each child. Modelling using an iPad and setting boundaries for taking the iPads out of the classroom. Students having the freedom to capture their favourites and sharing their images with the class. Opportunities to discuss the images with students.