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.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

ULearn15 .... innovate, collaborate, educate

I'm excited to be attending and presenting at ULearn15 at the Sky City Conference Centre in Auckland.  As a second year BT this is a great opportunity to collaborate, connect, learn and share from other exciting innovative teachers from around New Zealand and the world.

Even before the event started this morning I reconnected with other amazing educators that I'd met throughout my first eighteen months of teaching.  Following a powerful welcome, the first Keynote was the inspiring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap for the Future of Education.  I always really enjoy listening to speakers that engage the audience from the outset and encourage us with thought provoking comments and activities.

Grant's first activity was to share via Twitter one word that would sum up your classroom for the remainder of the year.  Using the hashtag #onewordk12 some of the most frequently tweeted words definitely appeared on my list!

Grant shared stories from his visits to schools around the US and shared how schools are moving away from a more contained, controlled and predictable system, becoming more:
  • creative (student owned, knowledge creators)
  • adaptive (collaborative)
  • permeable (partnerships with the community, online, blended, regional, global)
  • dynamic  (messy, noisy, tailored, eg take it apart Tuesday)
He provided a timely reminder about some of the biggest barriers to change:
  • Fear and inertia­ - change cannot happen without taking risks 
  • Anchors ­ - attaching us to ‘time, space and subject’ ­and "holding us to a world that no longer exists"
  • Silos - ­ standing in the way of connectivity

"We are not guides on the side, teachers are smack bang in the middle of everything"
"Learning in the future is about being connected"

Many of the messages and ideas delivered in today's Keynote address appear in his TEDx address:

My second session today enabled me to sign up and explore the Pond.  While I'd heard of it before, as is often the case, I'd yet to find the time to explore and this session provided that opportunity as well as to hear ways that it can be used to share and explore resources and ideas that are contributed by like-minded educators.  For those new to Pond, I'd encourage you to explore the "Starter Pack" once you've created your account - it gives you a short overview and unpacks the 'buckets' and 'ripples'!  I have more exploring and this session certainly inspired me to dig deeper in the future.

My first presentation at ULearn15 was during the afternoon session so I took the opportunity to explore the Trade Exhibitions and MakerSpace room prior to my presentation (you can never have too many pens!).  Following my presentation I enjoyed hearing from teachers at Oratia District School as they shared how they collaborate with their planning in MLEs and the ways they encourage self directed learning from their students.

I've had an amazing day one to this inspiring conference and look forward to the sessions I'm booked for tomorrow and the thought provoking ideas they will share.

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