Welcome to my blog! I'm Karen Belt, a fourth year teacher working at Lynmore Primary School in Rotorua, New Zealand. I'm teaching in a Year 3 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.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Learning into practice ... being inventive with activities!

As summer school progresses, today we put the theories of the last few days into practice with some activities to assist in cementing our learning!

While many of the activities are not "as" suitable for five year olds, I found the overall variety of the activities both interactive and engaging - they all made me think and relate back to the readings but because they were all different it added to the resource bank of possibilities while giving the group as a whole an opportunity to engage in dialogue!

In no particular order a few of the activities we completed today ...


  • Create a rap to summarise key points of a selected theory of learning - now, I'm not at all a fan of rap music but still found this task entertaining.  It also made me think about how I could rephrase the intended message to fit the verse of our song.  Importantly, in my own classroom it wouldn't have to be a rap song, it could be a poem, a ballad, or set to the tune of a nursery rhyme (I particularly like this one and will try it with my five year olds!)
  • Create a newspaper headline to summarise your learning - particularly liked this one because you had to explain your meaning in just a few lines!
  • Positive and Negative view point - this was a collaborative Google Doc with a table to type ideas against a number of view points.  What I particularly liked about this was it scaffolded us to think about the positive and negative side of each scenario.  So often its easy to just consider one side of a position.
  • Visualising your position - this was a great activity, and I really enjoyed it which is interesting given I can't draw at all - but it was all about representing how you position yourself with regards to learning and learning theory.  My image (below) comes from my learning being pieces of a puzzle, hence the jigsaw pieces on my t-shirt.  The people on my shoulder represent the learning communities I involve myself in and being keen to share my knowledge and skills with others.  The yellow question marks (representing blonde hair) is for the reflective nature of my practice, always considering how things have gone and what I could do next time to improve.   I love my job and going to work each day, hence the smile, and the heart.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Unpacking the SAMR model of learning

Today our Digital Enhancement paper unpacked a few different models of learning.  While I'm very aware of the SAMR model it was a great refresher today and I particularly like this image which links to Blooms taxonomy.


So often when models of learning are introduced, we don't have an opportunity to see it in action or think about how we can apply it to our own teaching practice.  One of the practical activities we had an opportunity to explore today involved revamping a suggested lesson to incorporate a digital transformation - definitely a case of many teachers heads can come up with some amazing ideas!

At times I think I struggle to achieve at the transformation level with my five year olds - I often think that the same activity could be completed with paper and pens, although would definitely not be as engaging.  I was reminded today however, that adding the video and audio components allows for the learning to be visible, even after it has occurred - and this can't be achieved with simple pens and paper.  I'm re-energised about extending my planning and aiming for more transformational learning in 2015!

As we pass the halfway point of our week of lectures, I'm impressed by the content and the purposeful activities which we undertake to help us cement the learning.  We have had some amazing discussions and its great to get an insight into others thinking, planning and teaching pedagogy!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Online Presence ... my brand!

As part of the MDTA program, I'm completing a Digital Enhancement paper at the Auckland University this week.

One of the thought provoking messages from the first day, was around a digital online presence, or a personal brand.  In the current age of social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are commonplace, and so different to when I attended school in the 80s - an electronic typewriter was a "luxury"!

Consider this video clip:



I was already aware of the importance of what I post online and the digital footprint that I am creating as we often share this message with the learners at Pt England.  Privacy settings are available for a reason but you also need to be vigilant and check them often.

I enjoy sharing my learning experiences via my blog and seeing the visitor numbers increase (and which posts are more popular!)  But, in all honesty, I'd still blog without the visitors - for me its a place to be reflective about my teaching practice and the things that work (and those that don't) in an environment where I don't need to APA reference and can look back on my previous experiences and reflections - something I have been doing as I plan my lessons for Room 19 in 2015.

Through my blog, I'm aware I'm creating an online presence - and I'd like to think that presence shows me as a reflective practitioner, with a strong passion for technology-enhanced learning, innovation and a willingness to share my teaching pedagogy with the wider educational world.