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 1/2 class using Play Based Learning (PBL) and 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, 20 March 2017

Exploring Seesaw

As part of my involvement with the Towards Transformation program, over the last few weeks I've been using the app Seesaw with my learners.  Seesaw is an app on my learners iPads and I use a web browser to access the material they have uploaded.   Because my class is not quite 1:1 with iPads yet, learners scan a QR code each time they want to upload some work and then select their name.

Initially we had a few small teething problems as learners forgot to log out and the next learner scanned the work without checking but I turned this into a teachable moment and explained the importance of always logging out.  The learners are enjoying being able to review their work so far this year as well as read the comments that I leave for them after each piece of work.

I have moderation set for each piece of work - this is great as I know which pieces I haven't looked at and can immediately see the next steps for learners that haven't quite mastered a strategy or concept that I have been teaching.  Seesaw also has the ability to share students works with their parents also, something we will be doing in Room 30 very shortly - they will also be able to leave comments as well as see what we are doing in class each day.

For me, there are some real benefits with using Seesaw.  These include:
  • Notifications if I forget to approve work
  • The ability for learners to record their voice from within the program - we have been publishing writing but learners also read their story too
  • The ability to add video as well as images.  We have been sharing to the camera roll and then uploading from there.
  • Being able to comment on my learners work and my learners receive a notification when they log in that they have new comments.
  • The ability to share work with each learners parents.
  • The ease with which learners can login and publish their work - we went over this in class a few times and all learners were confident within days.
I'm really looking forward to exploring Seesaw further over the coming weeks and sharing the learning that we are doing in class with our parents/whanau.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

iPad Tools

Recently in my classroom I've been using a terrific Accessibility feature on the iPad, to help those learners who are lower in reading.  Often I include extensive instructions on particularly my Explain Everything activities to ensure learners remember what they are suppose to do after when they are working independently.  I have in the past used soundbites (using an app called Quickvoice) but I was reminded recently about the "speak" function where learners are able to highlight a piece of text and the iPad will read it to them.

To enable this function on the iPad, go to your Settings.  Under the 'General' option, choose Accessibility.  At the bottom of the first box, select "Speech" and enable the top option "Speak Selection".

My learners used this function within Explain Everything.  They simply highlight the piece of text they are unsure of and select "speak".  The text will be read to them and they know exactly what my instructions said.  NB:  In Explain Everything, the text cannot be locked down if you are wanting to use the speak function - I do occasionally forget this but my learners know to just unlock the text to use this function.