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, 31 August 2015

My 2015 inquiry ... revisit and review

As part of our ongoing inquiry into our practice, this afternoon we are meeting to discuss where we are at, and giving feedback and support to those in our group.  This term, I'm working with a new inquiry group.  My group, and links to their inquiry blogs are:

Russell  (Principal @ PES)
Ben  (Year 5 teacher)
Chrissie  (Year 2 teacher)
Sandy  (Creative Space teacher)
Willis (Maker Space teacher)

We have been given some focus questions to guide our discussion this afternoon and I've decided to unpack each question on my blog so I'm prepared for our session today.

One of the challenges/barriers my students have is……
Generally speaking learners' have less oral language than you would expect in a "typical" new entrants classroom. While there are many reasons for this, such as them not undergoing as many experiences in their pre-school lives, or speaking their mother language at home, it necessitates the need for us to gift rich vocabulary to the learners. This can be challenging to do in reading as so much time is spent on decoding, allowing little room for this necessary gifting.

To address this in my teaching I have tried…….
Following the professional development with Dr Rebecca Jesson, our team discussed the limitations we have in gifting vocabulary during our guided reading session. I was reminded of the need to 'read to' my learners, with the three texts being the optimum number each day. I've struggled with doing this up to now, due to the inability of my learners to sit still on my mat for even a minute, without calling out and interrupting the flow of the story. As detailed in an earlier post, I'm trialling a solution for this, and trying hard to achieve my target of "three books a day." This 'reading to' allows me opportunities to gift vocabulary, and I've also tried extending a text which the learners have been captivated by into a motivation for writing, allowing for further gifting of rich vocabulary as well as adding to the 'experiences' bank for each learner.

The impact of this so far has been …….
While only early days, I have achieved my target on 9 out of the 10 days tried, and the learners are actually asking "when" we will have story time each day. My star chair remains a huge motivator for learners who seemed unable to sit still in the past, so much so that I plan to extend it into all mat time sessions as an extrinsic motivator. To date, I've extended one of the books into a three day writing session and combined this with a fun out of class experience to support the learning. We unpacked some great vocabulary around the word "big" with a combination of gifted words and words that learners were able to share.

So .... where to next ??? …….
My next challenge is to find a way to continually use this exciting new vocabulary, particularly when learners are working independently. I plan to try and incorporate some of it into my Reading Activity projects, again scaffolding this carefully to ensure its used correctly in context as well as adds to the value of the activity.

Today's meeting this afternoon was great - we have an amazing group that covers different levels/areas throughout the school and its great to hear their challenges and what they are doing to make a difference in the lives of our tamariki in other areas and higher up the school. We were reminded (during our inquiry group and also earlier before we split into these smaller groups) that we are an innovative school and have 'broken new ground' on this journey into the whole school using 1:1 devices. I've been privileged to be part of the journey in the junior school and personally really enjoy the ability to continually try things so my learners get the best from me as a teacher. Having 1:1 devices makes learning more engaging, repetitive and visible in my classroom and my ongoing challenge is to continually ensure it is utilised to its fullest potential.


  1. A rich reading to programme will be a huge vocab boost, especially fro those who are still encountering very limited vocab in their own reading texts. Three a day is an ambitious aim - good on you!

    1. So far have managed 2 every day and 3 some days and we've had some great conversations and stories as a result! We've discovered some amazing picture books already and definitely open to suggestions for ones that my learners would love :)