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.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Capturing the learning from other apps ... with Explain Everything

We've been using the 100s board to practice our skip counting (in 10s and 2s) during maths time.  Often this will be an independent task and I want to capture what progress they are making.  Last week I introduced my top maths group to screen shots on their iPads.  We then imported the photos they had taken into Explain Everything - up to this point they had been taking photos from within Explain Everything so this was a new way of using their tools.

They took to the concept very quickly and they were able to complete the task and then record on their Explain Everything project to show their learning.  This gave me visibility of what they were doing and I could quickly ascertain that one learner was stumbling in the "teens" even with the visual in front of her.  Another learner was confident with the counting however "sixty" and "eighty" crept in rather than "sixteen" and "eighteen".

Monday, 14 September 2015

Term 3 Inquiry Presentation

The year is flying by and once again its time to present to a group of colleagues on my inquiry progress.  I like to mix up my presentations and use alternative ways to present as a way of keeping my skills with different software current as well as giving me different tools to utilise.

And so we start typing .... another Explain Everything tool is introduced!

As often occurs, another professional conversation with a colleague had me thinking about another use for Explain Everything.  She is having learners use the keyboard and typing onto the iPad, particularly for those learners who struggle with writing.  To date, my learners haven't used this tool but I do think its a great first step into publishing their own writing via Blogger, which I hope to achieve by the end of the year.

To this end, I am introducing a new slide to the Reading Activity project this week.  I do try to introduce a new one each week and have a bank of 15 slides now that I can pick and choose from for different learners or groups.  This also helps with variety and engagement with this activity.  The new slide asks learners to copy/transcribe the words from one page of their book.  To scaffold this for my learners I've created some laminated keyboard cards which shows the letters in lower case.  I remember from last year that many learners struggled to find the letters on the Upper Case keyboard.  One of the updates I'm most looking forward to is the introduction of the lower case keyboard for the iPad as this will negate this scaffolding.

As with any new activity I will introduce this to the learners as a whole class first on the Apple TV so they can see how to change the size of the text box and how to put a space between words.  I fully expect to take this activity further and over the coming weeks learners will have the opportunity to type some of there responses as well as handwrite others - I think the combination will give them an opportunity to practice both their skills.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

10,000 + ... wow!

I've been a little quiet on the blogging front over the last couple of weeks, even by "my" standards!  Its been a busy few weeks with most of my non-contact time going on my dissertation and contribution to the Manaiakalani Film Festival - the event itself is still over a month away, but our entries are needed by the end of this term in order to allow time for the behind the scenes work to be completed!  That said, I have a number of posts in my 'head' which I'm hoping to have posted over the next few days.

Tomorrow we have our termly staff presentations on our inquiry journey and I've been putting my presentation together this afternoon - yes the blog post is already scheduled!  I frequently use my blog as a way of looking back at what I've been doing over the term and in doing so today I noticed this number:
WOW!  I love blogging (thank you Dorothy Burt for getting me hooked!!) and for me its a way of reflecting on my journey - the things that go well and also things I need to try to do differently.  As a Beginning Teacher it also allows me to look back and see what I did this time last year and what worked well so I'm able to repeat it.  Its extremely motivating to hear from others that have found something of interest on my blog and taken the time to comment or email me directly.  Having said that I read blogs from all over the world and they constantly inspire me, but I often don't take the time to leave a comment so I can only hope that my 'click' on their blog, or frequent return visit is as motivating for them as it is for me!

One such 'click' today (a referral from Innes Kennard - thanks Innes!) took me to an article by Kelly Walsh entitled "The State of the iPad in Education in 2015".  One particular comment made reminded me of the supportive collaborative environment I'm lucky enough to work in.   

"Of course, achieving results like these doesn’t happen magically. Just giving devices to students and hoping it makes a difference is not a plan at all and is likely to result in nothing more than a waste of school funds.
Successful implementation of any large technology initiative requires effective planning and well designed professional development. It’s really just that simple. 
Pt England School is innovative in so many ways and we are lucky to be provided with continue Professional Development opportunities that we can use to support our pedagogy and teaching practice. This supportive environment allows me to be continually innovative to ensure I plan engaging and personalised activities for my learners.

Finally - to all those viewers of my blog - thank you!  I hope you find something useful, something that helps in your practice or inspires you to try something new.   Your "clicks" have sure motivated me!