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, 16 February 2015

2015 Inquiry ... the journey begins!

As part of our Professional Development at Pt England this year we are all undertaking a professional inquiry into an area of particular interest.  We are grouped with others that have a similar interest/project and meet 3 - 4 times a term to discuss ideas and report on our progress.  My inquiry title is:

"Developing independent higher order thinking activities for Year 1s, to support reading"

I will be documenting my PES inquiry journey on my blog using the "Inquiry2015" label so that posts relating to it are easy to locate.  Today is the first meeting with my Inquiry group and we have been asked to consider and report on the following questions:

What are my students doing now?
My learners started school with very little alphabet knowledge and many do not know the difference between a letter and a word.  We have begun our reading project with all learners either on Magenta 1 or 2 in the classroom.  During our reading rotations we currently have jigsaw puzzles, blocks or drawing as a rotation activity away from the teaching table.  Some of my learners have yet to start school.

What am I doing now?
I have implemented a reading rotation and grouped my learners into reading groups (maximum of three learners per group) for guided reading sessions each day.  Today we begun using Explain Everything as a follow up activity (after scaffolding at the teaching table) with the learners manipulating words to form a sentence to match their reading book.  This encourages them to notice and recognise.

What am I wanting to change?
I am wanting the Explain Everything activities to extend beyond a cut up sentence or practicing of high frequency words.  I would like purposeful activities and tasks which are rewindable and recordable, and encourage higher order thinking, which in turn will help with engagement.

What am I going to try that I think will impact my students’ learning?
The tasks and activities will need to be highly scaffolded to begin with for my learners and I expect one activity to be used for at least half a term, possibly a whole term so learners can really get to grips with it.  I'd like to encourage the activation of prior knowledge and create links between texts. Initially these activities will need to be heavily pictorial and oral while learners are getting to grips with reading and writing. The recording function within Explain Everything allows the capture of learners thoughts and ideas without them needing to write it down and I intend to focus on this heavily in the first term.

I look forward to hearing the ideas of others this afternoon and beginning this inquiry journey which allows me to investigate and unpack an area I'm extremely passionate about.


  1. Thank you for sharing these experiences as a 1:1 teacher of ipads! We are starting to THINK about moving in this direction with our own Year 0/1s and there is so much wisdom here! I have really enjoyed viewing and reading the photos and lesson descriptions. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks Miss Kyla - I really enjoy blogging and great to hear that others are receiving benefit from reading my posts!