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.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Chromecast @ Reading Time = Awesome

I was inspired by an observation I did in Helen King's classroom late last year when I observed what she did with a Chromecast!  Having put a few months thought into what I wanted to do and the needs of my learners, I've created a reading rotation and incorporated the use of photographs of my learners to assist in them identifying which activity they need to move onto.  This visual chart also assists in providing structure for my special needs learners.

We've been using the Chromecast for nearly two weeks now and its working really well.  I've gradually introduced more and more activities into the rotations and after trialling a few systems have found that a timer on my iPad set to 15 minutes is the best fit for the activities I have planned.

There are two significant points with my rotation chart:

  • Time with the teacher for guided reading is not scheduled on the rotation chart - I call each group as I'm ready for them and they stop whichever rotation they are on and come up for guided reading at that time.  I find this allows me to be more flexible with my guided reading group - if a group needs additional time I have that flexibility (without the rest of the class being bored with their rotation) and if learners are away and the session takes less time I can move on quicker to the next group.
  • Learners working on a guided reading follow-up activity complete this before moving onto the next rotation.

Our current reading rotation includes the following activities:
  • Listening to books using the Sunshine App on the iPad
  • Practising our letters using an Explain Everything project (different levels to suit individual learners)
  • Building tower creations with our lego blocks
  • Using Explain Everything to create a picture (usually relating to our inquiry topic) and adding information about your picture using the record function
  • Practicing high frequency words (at each learners individual reading level) using an Explain Everything template
  • Learning our class wide "star" words of the week - three words which we focus on as a whole class - these are decided based on the needs of our learners and practiced using an Explain Everything template
  • Using KidPix on the computers to create an image
  • Completing an unfinished guided reading follow-up activity from the previous day (Explain Everything)
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Reading a book in the library corner

I'm amazed at how much the learners are enjoying the rotation, and the visibility of what they will be doing during reading on a particular day.  Each new icon is carefully scaffolded over a few days so that even my newest learners are confident with with equipment (eg ipad and stylus) they need and where they need to go to find the work they are moving onto.  

I find the Chromecast amazing to work with as I can continue to use my laptop with other tabs open (eg my reading planning) while the reading rotation remains permanently on display.  I'm also able to make changes immediately if learners need to be moved away from others or need an alternative activity as a result of our guided reading session.  

Already we have used it in other ways to watch several videos or browse other classes blogs.  I have plans to use the Chromecast to display "how to" instructions for learners to learn how to save their work which I can quickly personalise to the particular lesson.


  1. This is awesome Karen, reading your post I totally get how this is working for you and your learners especially the value of the visual!

  2. You are amazing Karen . you inspire me each time I read a new post about learning . many thanks -elizabeth