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, 20 March 2016

Manaiakalani-Google ClassOnAir .... its live!

I'm super excited to be one of five teachers involved in a great new initiative in 2016 -  Manaiakalani-Google ClassOnAir!  This is an opportunity for us to share whole lessons and planning with other teachers around the world as well as showcasing the work our learners complete independently.

The site launched over the weekend and my first two lessons are now live, with additional lessons posted approximately every two weeks.  My focus will be on literacy (reading and writing) with other teachers focusing on different curriculum areas.  These are:

Matt Goodwin - Pt England School Year 5 - Reading
Nicola Wells - Tamaki College Year 13 - Science/Biology
Stephanie Parker - Stonefields School Year 4-6 - Reading/Writing
Jason Sharma - Tamaki College Year 13 - Maths/Statistics

All our lessons are able to be accessed via the Manaiakalani-Google ClassOnAir home page or you can visit My ClassOnAir Site directly.  I look forward to sharing even more with the teaching community and welcome feedback or comments.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Encouraging comments from parents

As part of my Spark Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher (MIT) goals this year, I want to encourage parents to not only read, but comment on their learners blogs.  This is because my students most value the opinions of those that are closest to them - their whanau.

During our meet the teacher session last month I talked to many of the parents about this and this week I've sent home a bookmark with details of how to access not only their tamariki's blog but also the Parent Portal (a feature of Hapara Teacher Dashboard).  As many parents will be accessing from their phones or tablets, I included a QR code as a fast way to get to the blogs.

I'm delighted to say that already I've noticed comments appearing on my learners blogs.  In order to safe guard my learners I receive an email of all comments and am delighted that some of the comments are coming from whanau as well as other learners at Pt England School.

We often share the comments as a whole class but learners are also able to access them as part of our reading rotation.  For viewers of my blog, if you'd like to check out the blogs of my learners (and leave them a comment) they would love to here from you.  All my learners blogs can be accessed from this page.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Writing with Google Docs

One of the challenges I have as a teacher this year is adapting to the new year level (Year 3 after teaching Year 1 for two years) and using technology to extend learners in my classroom.

My inquiry for 2016 into my own practice is with writing and I have many learners in my classroom that are unable to complete even one sentence without support.  Many of my lessons to date have been whole class based, all writing about the same topic.  This is because I quickly discovered, in my first weeks this year, that unless I took this approach, my whole writing lesson turned to noisy chaos within five minutes.

When I took the lessons right back to basics of just writing one GREAT sentence, I was able to circulate and provide support to all those that need it, and this enabled all learners in my classroom to experience success and they were keen to share their sentences via their blogs.  Initially we are focusing on just a few things - capital letters, full stops and adding "juicy vocabulary" to make the sentence interesting.  In order for the learners to have a library of ideas to draw from, we discuss the motivation for writing before we start (usually an image) and brainstorm some vocabulary as a whole class.

While this has worked well for those learners that struggle to write, other learners are of course ready to move onto additional sentences and need an additional challenge.  Last week I introduced using Google Docs with these learners (some had been using them last year already), being sure to carefully scaffold how I want them used in my classroom (naming conventions, where to save etc).  These learners are willing and able to write more than one sentence, and the use of Google Docs keeps them challenged as well as making it easier for me to provide comments and ongoing support to them.  This week that will be particularly important as I plan to build a story over several days in a carefully scaffolded structure - the use of Google Docs will allow me to provide comments to the learners each night that they can review before moving onto the next step of their writing.