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.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Writing using the iPads

One curriculum area which we haven’t to date used the iPads extensively with is writing.  Our main rationale for this was the need for learners to learn how to write using the traditional pen and paper.

We did implement a few innovations using the iPad during the first two terms, including having a lined page on an Explain Everything template for learners’ to practice writing their name as well as a trace the letters of the alphabet project (to assist with correct letter formation).  However, for the most part we have focused on writing using books and pencils.

That has all changed in the last few weeks as Michelle identified a need for our learners’ to remember their stories in order to write them.  They have some amazing ideas, many of which have come about through the rich gifting of oral language we are doing in the classroom (drawing on school wide professional development we are receiving from Dr Jannie van Hees).  We have trialed using Explain Everything to record their stories orally and then have the learners use the playback function to assist in their writing.  This innovation has shown immediate results with some great stories being created and written by our learners.

This approach has highlighted that learners are able to locate high frequency words and sounds within a word, and record these into sentences but they struggle to retain sentences (or multiple sentences) in their head and sequence it for writing.  Through this recorded scaffolding they are experiencing success in their writing which in turn is engaging them in writing.

In combination with this, we are now allowing learners to type their stories directly onto the iPad on some occasions.  This has resulted in greater detail in the stories and learners are even more engaged in writing and keen to write all the time.  This was highlighted last week when many selected writing during a twenty-minute period of ‘free choice’ in the classroom. 

While it is early days, the results already from learners recording their stories orally first and then using this recording to write has been so effective that we plan on continuing it into next term.

Two samples of independent, unscaffolded writing from my learners:

An example of a recorded sentence which a learner has used to write their story:

This post appears as my fortnightly contribution to the University of Auckland's Top of the Class blog, of which I'm a regular contributor.

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