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.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Term One ... where did the time go?

WOW - my first term as a teacher and its over!  Despite the exhaustion it was bittersweet to wake up this morning and realise it was time for a break!  And a review!  Time to look back on my own personal goals for the term and think about the great learning strides that the students in Class 20 have made and celebrate how far we've come .... but the journey is only one quarter done for the year and already Michelle and I are thinking of new ways to extend the learning next term!

I'm amazed at the progress some of the students have made and I can't help but compare some of the oral language gains that we've achieved and celebrate these.  Compare these two clips, the first a scaffolded class sentence which students were extremely reluctant to repeat, let alone record, followed by a narrated presentation by the same student with no teacher input.

Nature 7 Feb from Team 1 PES on Vimeo.

nature fia fia from Team 1 PES on Vimeo.

We've sung, danced and explored our way through the first term.  The students have been SO engaged, which is constantly commented on by visitors to our room and the iPads are just a natural part of our teaching.  Michelle and I continue to discuss and think of ways that we can use them innovatively and this will only continue next term.  We've already thought of new things to explore with Explain Everything!  I'm ready for a holiday, but at the same time, I'm SO excited to continue this journey.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Drawing and Talking .... take two :)

After the success of our session last week, we were keen to use the same technique with the students again before the holidays.  This time we took notice of the noise created by many students recording all at the same time, and spread them out among the classroom with some of the more able students working outside or in the corridor so the videos had less background noise.

We used the experiences of the weekend for today's session and again scaffolded the activity by demonstrating with the students what they had to do.  Michelle did this, drawing on an experience from her weekend cooking dinner.  We started with a pair-share activity so students could share with a friend what they had done in the weekend and then many were able to complete this task independently and add detail to their story.  It was extremely interesting to note that some students copied what Michelle had done rather than drawing about their own weekend (despite us specifically telling them to draw about their own weekends) - some managed to try again and successfully produce a story about their own weekend on the second attempt.

This is something we will continue to use as an activity into the new term as we can see huge improvements in the oral language.

Here is a sample from the stories created today:

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Further extending Oral Language with EE

After an amazing Fia Fia performance last night we decided we wanted to use that as a writing motivation for today.  After discussing what we wanted to do we decided to start with a pair-share of our experiences from the night followed by the students using Explain Everything to make a drawing of their performance and us capturing their thoughts by typing up individual stories.

Michelle suggested that instead of us typing up the stories, we used Explain Everything to capture their stories by each student talking about their picture as they completed the drawing - this is the first time we have done this, and we would need to demonstrate the activity to the class.  Using the Airplay function we were able to do this and I drew a picture of me on stage, talking about my drawing as I did it and adding detail.  I modelled turning the recording off while I thought about what I was going to draw next.  When I had completed the picture we were able to replay the recording and the students could see the picture being drawn with the voice-over explaining what I was drawing.

The students then went to their own individual iPads and began the activity.  I noticed a few things:

  • Many of the students copied what I had drawn (eg the stage, lights, costume) and used similar language to what I had used - I'm sure as we do this activity more often they will begin to experiment with their own thoughts and language
  • Some students didn't record as they did their drawing, however, with teacher prompting they were happy to record a story to go with their picture.
  • Many students were extremely keen to use the AirPlay and watch their work on the big TV
  • Teacher Dashboard is great to review the students videos later and assess what each child has done
As this was the first time we've attempted this activity I was extremely pleased with the results and would like to follow up with another session of doing the same thing before the holidays in order for this learning to be embedded.

Check out some of the samples from today's session:

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Sharing the successes ...

One of the great things about being a part of the MDTA program is the opportunity to use this time to create - a few weeks ago as a team,  the 10 beginning teachers created a Romeo & Juliet site for the English Department at Tamaki College  -  a true example of many hands making light work!

Now we have the opportunity to create a site to help our learners in Term 2!  As our five year olds are not yet able to read information on the site, after discussing ideas with Michelle, I will be working on a resource site for teachers to use in the future as they move to using 1:1 devices.

This also gives Michelle and I an opportunity to reflect on the learning we've done this term and the resources that we have so far created.  I would hope that the site would be a continually evolving rich resource base for years to come.

As I begin story boarding for the site and start the creation, I look forward to revisiting the learning and experiences I've had this term and hope that through sharing these, other teachers are able to transition to this exciting digital environment!  Watch this space!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A "veiled" idea for writing ...

Today Ms George bought out a huge piece of tulle fabric as a motivation for writing.  The students thought it was great to hide under this fabric and move around the room.

Our next step was to gather ideas of what it felt like being under the fabric.  This is some of the rich ideas that we crafted as a class, building on the ideas from the students and gifting them additional vocabulary.

Then as a class we took a vote about which idea we wanted to write about.  A huge group of boys liking the plane idea, had the class writing this story by the end of the session:

 How can we add to this story?  Watch this space!