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.

Monday, 18 April 2016

GAFE North Island Summit Day 1

Once again I had the privilege of attending the GAFE Summit.  This blog post is a reflection of the sessions I attended on the first day and the ideas and inspirations that I took away from it.

Opening Keynote:  Falling in Love with the Future - Molly Schroeder

An inspiring keynote to start the conference and which had me thinking about what the world looks like now for learners and how it could change in the future.

Some of the most applicable messages I took away from this session are:

  • Whatever we think is the best technology is the worst our students will ever have 
  • Create a community of problem solvers in your classroom
  • Learning is messy!!!!!!!
  • Encourage moonshot thinking and expect failure! What does moonshot thinking look like?  It includes big ideas and living in a BETA world 
  • Create a sandbox in your classroom - play with technology & have learners experience laughing, hi fives and warm fuzzies 
  • Unleash the potential of my students to surprise me; ask different questions
  • Learning is a design challenge - be open to trying different things
I also really enjoyed the person emoji that Molly used throughout her presentation and explored Bitmoji during the break.

Session One:  Presenting HTML & Google Sites

Session Two:  Improve Writing with Google - Kimberly Hall

The session explored the use of of Google Docs for writing and featured advice to use the Contents and Reference section with learners.  For more reluctant writers, voice typing can be used to help them create.   Some other great extensions and addons which were show cased include:

Draftback (chrome app) - watch the writing process unfold as a movie for any Google Doc that you are an editor of

Read/Write extension for Google Docs - this includes a prediction tool which gives suggestions for the next word when you are writing.  Additionally, the picture dictionary can assist learners to make sure they have included the correct word by providing a visual representation of any highlighted word.

SAS Writing Reviser (addon) - analyses a piece of writing including such things as how many times a particular word appears in your writing.

Session Three:  The Best Hidden Features of Chrome - Kimberly Hall

A great session with hints and tips to maximise your Google Chrome.  The ideas I found most useful are listed below (some I was already using).

Omnibox Magic - its more than just a place to type an URL
define - dictionary definition for any word
convert measurement, speed, area, length
set timer for - timer and stopwatch function - can go full screen also
yt <tab or space> - search youtube directly (you need to set this up in your Chrome settings first)

Jump between open tabs quickly - Command plus a number to jump between the open tabs where the first tab open is number 1 (up to 9 tabs only)

Restore/Reopen the last tab that you closed - Command + Shift + t

Simple Ext Manager - easily manage your Chrome extensions 

Tab Scissors and Tab Glue - split your screen into two to copy data from one window to another and then clue it back together again

Add to Google Drive - enables you to right click on images and save directly to your drive

Session Four:  The Creative Agency - Simon Ashby

This session explored digital tools that can be used in the classroom to allow learners to share their learning.  Although not all will be efficient on an iPad, and some are more applicable as a teacher tool for the age group I currently teach, the Chrome Apps I explored throughout the session are:

Google Drawings - simple interface, easy to share, free - could be used to add speech bubbles, infographics, annotating own work

Canva - graphic design which is very easy to drive

Fotor - photo editing with the ability to create photo collages

SketchToy - draw and then watch your drawing re-draw itself

Floorplanner - design rooms, houses from your browser 

GardenPuzzle - design gardens from your browser

Newspaper Generator - turns your text into a newspaper article

Demo Slam Highlights

The last session of the day was a Demo Slam in the auditorium.  The following were my favourite tips from the session:

  • Bitmoji ... I admit to having already created one during breaks between sessions!
  • Corgi Orgy - not sure that I can really explain this one .. you might just need to click on the link
  • GAFE Tip Posters - created by Monica Isabel Martinez
  • Omnibox searching - similar to the ideas posted during Session Three above
  • Eye dropper and Paletton - match a colour from a website and make a colour palette with complimentary colours

A great first day - bring on Day 2 for my GAFE Amazingness!


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