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.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

So I can't see all my reading groups each day ..... now what ?

Last year, team teaching with Michelle, we were able to see all our reading groups each day, and I believe that impacted their learning immensely.  To date this year I've been able to see all my groups every day on most occasions.  However, as each learner progresses at a different rate, I've had to increase the number of groups I have and now with eight reading groups (maximum of three learners per group) its impossible to see them all each day and give them the attention they deserve.

The question I've been mulling around for the last week is how can I have the other learners engaged in purposeful activities during reading time on the day I'm not seeing them?  I currently have engagement in a variety of activities, including the Explain Everything activity they complete as a follow up to the text they read during their guided reading session.  Ideally, I'd like the learner to reconnect with this text on the second day.

I explored extending my Explain Everything projects so they were larger and took them longer to complete.  However I wasn't totally happy with this approach as the learners enjoy (and stay more engaged) through the variety of things they do during a normal reading rotation.   Combined with this, the learners that are quicker on completing their follow up activity could potentially complete it all on the day they saw me and would therefore have no need to engage with the text on the second day.

Last week I trialled a second reading activity which was slightly more generic.  I created a range of single page stand alone slides, focusing on comprehension, retell, word work, letter identification and pictorial representations (things that I've identified my learners need more work on).  A new feature of Explain Everything (v 2.71) allows me to insert whichever of these stand alone activities I want to focus on for the week into a new project with the touch of a button.  I'm able to create a second project quickly for individuals or groups to complete using their existing text, which I can add to the existing reading rotation.  The ease with which I can add slides from my existing bank ensures its not time consuming, but enables the personalisation which I value.  Importantly - all the instructions on the slides are verbal as well as written, so learners can listen to what they need to do, fostering independence.

Locate words in your text starting with each letter
Identify the words starting with the letter b

Match the capital letter with the lower case letter

As I review the work completed this week I'm excited that learners have definitely reconnected with the text on a second day.  Interestingly, despite scaffolding "retell" by demonstrating and modelling, most learners have not retold the story by summarising what happened, but instead read the entire book to their iPad.  I can't see this as a bad thing at all - I can hear what words they are struggling over, and while I need to provide further instruction and demonstration on retelling, the way they have completed the activity has provided valuable reading practice for individual learners as well as provided me with information for follow up lessons.

For this week I have kept several of the existing slides and introduced a few new slides, thereby ensuring learners can practice from the known as well as be engaged with new activities.  I have plans to add to my bank of slides as the needs of my learners change.

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