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, 22 May 2014

How we share our Explain Everything projects

As part of our MDTA digital immersion session yesterday, we explored the use of Screen Recording to create tutorials.  My recording captures how I share Explain Everything projects via Teacher Dashboard to all my reading groups each week.

Hapara Teacher Dashboard makes it so easy!  We share upwards of 30 projects per week and it takes about 15 minutes to do them all!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Highlights of our journey so far

Michelle and I presented at staff meeting yesterday about our journey so far with the pilot of iPads as 1:1 devices with our Year 0/1 class.

To begin our presentation, we played this Ted Talk which underscores one of the things we work hard to do in Class 20:

"Our job is to encourage students to be creators not consumers"

We put together an extensive Explain Everything project (over 50 pages) by combining many of the projects we've created over the past 14 weeks, so the staff could see some of the learning that has been happening in our classroom.  During the presentation Michelle explained some of the many reasons we had behind different projects and explained why we'd created the activities we did.  We also continually emphasised how great it is to be able to "hear what children are thinking" even if they are working independently.

Monday, 19 May 2014

How we use Explain Everything for Reading follow up

Often we have visitors into our classroom observing how we use Explain Everything on our 1:1 iPad devices in the classroom and asking questions about how we manage this process and if it is time consuming to create each project.

One of our biggest uses of this App, is for reading.  Michelle and I create the purposeful activities as a follow up to the guided reading session, on an iPad and upload the Explain Everything as a project to a Google folder in our Google Drive.  While initially these projects were time consuming to create as we came to grips with the use of Explain Everything, we are now much faster at creating these, and have found the projects evolve as we try new things.  Also, as our students progress with their reading we are able to reuse projects with new groups and we find ourselves only needing to create new projects for our top groups.

Every child has their own Google account.  We then use Teacher Dashboard to share a weeks worth of reading projects to each group.  Our reading groups are assigned within Teacher Dashboard and as our groups are always changing and evolving it is easy to switch a child out of a group and into a new group on the Teacher Dashboard to ensure they receive the correct project.  As the projects are shared to each child's account, Teacher Dashboard automatically adds the child's name to the end of the project to prevent children accidentally saving over our master (or someone else's work!)

We scaffold the activity with the students each day at the end of their guided reading session and they work independently on the project after this session.  Students know how to save the projects back to their Google Drive as a movie file and we have the Explain Everything viewer app on our teacher laptops to assist in viewing projects that have been saved as an Explain Everything file rather than the movie.  We encourage the use of the recording feature so we can hear what the students are doing and thinking and we can look at filling any gaps in future lessons.

As our children are young, once a week we file the previous weeks reading activities into a reading folder and download the new weeks activities from their Google Drive so they are loaded and ready to go - we would hope that students will be able to complete this process themselves as the year develops.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Bringing together experiences

As we begin to explore our "Move it, Move it" topic for the term we are thinking about technology that we see that makes our life easier.  Over the past week we have seen the use of a pulley in two different instances - at the Zoo to raise the bird feeding station off the ground so the pests can not get the food, and at assembly when Mr J demonstrated using a pulley to life a very heavy item.

Today as a motivation for our writing we borrowed Mr J's pulley and had a photo of the pulley from the Zoo.  Students took turns using the pulley in our classroom to lift our bucket of fruit before sharing with their pair their ideas on how the pulley worked.

As these ideas were shared back with the whole class we recorded these ideas on the whiteboard with Michelle repeating and clarifying each idea for understanding.  This also introduced vocabulary words associated with the pulley system.  Finally we finished our session today with a small sentence about the use of the pulley in the zoo which we will expand on tomorrow.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Constantly revising and experimenting with new ideas

As the holidays come to an end, I'm really looking forward to getting back into teaching and seeing my class tomorrow! Michelle and I are constantly reviewing our practice and coming up with new things to experiment with. After being introduced to the story of Dr DeSoto at one of our lectures last term, we're going to try embedding that video into an Explain Everything for the students to watch as an independent reading activity. On subsequent slides we have activities where they work with the rich language which is included in the video, and then create an illustration to summarise the story - watch this space for the results!

After discussing the needs of our students during one of our University sessions, we highlighted letter identification and sounds as a gap in knowledge for many students. I want to try some additional work on these to see if it makes a difference - I've created Explain Everything projects for five (most used) letters of the alphabet - again for students to work through independently during reading rotations. The below screen shots show what sort of activities are included on each project - the first slide includes a sound bite so students are able to hear the letter name, sound and which words are on the page. I'm excited about trying this resource this week and building an entire alphabet if it proves successful!