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.

Friday, 21 April 2017

GAFE - Closing Ignite sessions

The GAFE Summit experience today finished with a Ignite session. Ignite is a series of speedy presentations. Presenters get 20 slides, which can automatically advance every 15 seconds. The result is a fast and fun presentation which lasts just 5 minutes.

Beginner Code - Switching - Jim Sill

Past performance is no guarantee of future results!
Sucking is the first step to being sorta good at something - Alexis (founder of Reddit)
You need to switch your code to try something new.
To adapt you have to change your attitude, language and thinking.

Hardwiring Happiness - Rick Hanson Ph.D
Do a beginners mind - challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Reaching the Summit (and surviving) - Stuart Kelly

What does it take?  Citizenship; Culture; Connectivity; Celebration; Cash; Communication; Community;
Infrastructure is everything  -  the backbone of success!
Recognise the talent within your own school.
Remember:  students, students, students!  Think, move, grow in teams!

My Digital Journey - Angelnella Tupua-Wilson

Angelnella is a student at Aorere College and shared her digital journey.  When she was 8 or 9 she could not imagine having her own Chromebook or device.  She finds having digital devices in classes great for communicating and sharing ideas even outside the classroom.  Its a move away from the traditional classroom.  Last year she took robotics as it was something she knew very little about and wanted to prove that anything is possible.  She hopes her future will revolve around technology.

More than a coincidence?
- Chris Betcher

When you mix with the right people, your success exceeds the chance of statistics.
Chance favours the connected mind. - Steven Johnson

GAFE Day 2 - Afternoon sessions

This blog reflects the afternoon sessions I attended on Day 2 at GAFE.

Exploring Google Expeditions with Cardboard - Jim Sill

WOW!  First time really playing with cardboard and was great to get a free one - thanks Jim!
You will need to download the Expeditions app to your phone or iPad.  Virtual Reality is a chance to scale experimental learning.  This allows the teacher to bring the lesson to the learner.

The expeditions have some leading information and guiding questions (and answers) to assist the teacher in leading your journey.  The teacher can pause the journey.

You need to build a kit - you need devices (e.g. iPads, phones).  Ask for donations of old phones. You need a teacher device (e.g. iPad) and the device will push the image out to the learners.  You need to use a router (not connected to the internet) to share the images to your learners (as most schools block peer to peer sharing on their wi-fi networks).  Expeditions doesn't require the internet to work when we are running Expeditions.  Teacher is able to press and hold and direct learners to any part of the image.

Expeditions are able to be searched or you can browse different Expeditions on the first screen.

The teacher is able to use the experiences from the Expedition in the classroom to encourage rich discussions, great writing, extensive oral language and opportunities for further questions and explanations.

During the session we explored El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, USA; Observing the Gorilla in the Congo; 

Where to next? Google Teacher Certification - Kimberley Hall

Link to the Google for Education hub is here.

When doing the exams register for them using your personal gmail account as you are less likely to change your name than your school.

A few helpful hints for the Level 1 and 2 exams:
The exams are 3 hours long so you need to plan your time as once you start you can't pause.
The exam can take 24 hours to be sent to you after purchase to plan carefully.
Once you have purchased the exam, you have 7 days in which to complete it.

Recommendation:  Check out the review questions and exam sample questions first - it does help.

Presenting at GAFE - Day 2

Our second session that Clarelle and I presented today was our learning looks in the classroom.  Our full presentation is available here:

GAFE Day 2 - Opening Keynote

An amazing performance by Fa Man, Aorere's premier Barbershop quartet kicked off Day 2 of the GAFE summit.  It certainly put everyone in the mood for a great Day 2.

Let Learning T.R.U.M.P. Teaching and Tech - Richard Wells

"I hate it when he just keeps talking"
"They just keep throwing random stuff at us"

"I wish I could just work on the thing I need to"
Quotes from teachers on PD

Strategies help learners when they are stuck.  e.g. when you get stuck on a word .... and allow learners to find their own answers.

Learners like playing games because they know the rules, how to play and what to expect from others that are playing the game.  They have the strategies they need and know what they are doing.

We need to worry about the strategies we are giving kids so we can see the Key Competencies happen.  This will help them make their message clear - they can "play on the pitch without the coach!"  

What tools have we given our students to manage their time and their learning?  Are you managing your tools and your time effectively?  How are you giving feedback and at what speed?  It is hard to give a rapid feedback loop in the classroom.  In a computer game the feedback loop is so fast and it is why they are popular.  To speed up the feedback loop, use your other students.  As part of the Keynote, Richard used a Google Form to collect many ideas from his audience of tools that can be used.  


How can we integrate Google into our classroom?  Richard would suggest;

  • Google Keep - gather data but ensure your students understand how and what they need to collect?
  • Google Slides - present your data but ensure you have a tool on how to collate and use the information you are presenting.  Use a template so that people are able to read the information that is provided.  
  • Google Sites - put it out there and make something of the connections you are making to extend your understanding.  But unless you have a tool on how to extend the thinking, the Sites won't have an impact.

What tools are we providing to Relate to Others?

  • Google Docs - work on your own or use the share feature to work together.  The ability to make comments and have a discussion doesn't mean you are 'good' at working together.  What tools have we provided to help with this?
  • Google Hangouts - a great tool to get outside the classroom but how do we make the most of the moment?  How are we best going to carry this out?
  • Google Cardboard - put your students in the shoes of another.  They explain to you what its like to live in your world.
What tools are we providing to Manage Self?
  • Google Countdown Timer - great for teaching boys.  If you want something done, get it to countdown on the TV and boys will be more productive.
  • Google Calendar - colour your week and manage your time.
  • Google + Communities - allow for the management of work for learners (13+) as well as your own professional development and conversations.
What tools are we providing for Participating?
  • Google Forms - putting your hand up and answering questions - an effective way to encourage participation in your classroom.
  • Google + - contribute as a team, particularly applicable for secondary school learners.
  • YouTube - change the world using videos
Before you are able to effectively to use any of the Google tools it is important to teach the "How to?" How to behave as an individual, group and with others?  Then you are able to add the Google Tool as they are equipped to use the tool properly.  How to talk?  How to critique?  How to best present images?

Thursday, 20 April 2017

GAFE Day 1 - Demo Slam Reimagined

This year the Demo Slam was slightly different to previous years.  Each presenter was given 2 minutes to prepare and then 2 minutes to present after being given one of the random Key Competencies to present on based on Richard Well's KC image:

The Demo is extremely fast paced, so I've tried to include as much detail as possible for each:

Demo 1: Participate 
Import an HTML table directly into Google Sheets directly from a website.
Into a cell type the following:  =IMPORTHTML(URL, query, index)
URL - The URL of the page to examine, including protocol (e.g. http://).
The value for URL must either be enclosed in quotation marks or be a reference to a cell containing the appropriate text.
Query - Either "list" or "table" depending on what type of structure contains the desired data. index - The index, starting at 1, which identifies which table or list as defined in the HTML source should be returned.

Demo 2: Participate
Use a table in Google Docs to encourage participation - each learner can then type into their own box.
Todaysmeet.com - open a new room and determine how long its open for.  Learners are able to select a nickname and post comments in the room - extremely engaging for learners.

Demo 3: Clarity
Google Image Search extras.  When searching for an image, select the more button to access these options.  Under colour, select "transparent" to search for only images that give a transparent background or "animated" to select .gifs which are animated.
CraftyRights chrome extension - the ability to set your image search to only produce images that are free to use.

Demo 4:  Manage
Using Google Forms to encourage learners to be reflective and show progress over time - the example showed how their reflections changed from just a simple sentence, or even N/A to full paragraphs over a term.

Demo 5:  Empathy
Do you struggle with showing YouTube clips in the classroom because the "up next" suggestions are inappropriate, or the comments are not appropriate for your learners?  These great ideas remove the 'other videos' suggestions and comments.
viewpure.com - simply copy in the YouTube link to play or
put in "_popup" to in the URL to achieve the same effect e.g. from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmJ-4B-mS-Y to https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=OmJ-4B-mS-Y

Demo 6:  Participate
Te Kete Maori app is an introduction to Maori culture and some of its key phrases, customs and songs. The kete includes commonly used words and phrases, some basic written greetings, and helpful tips such as how to greet visiting business delegations, and steps for a basic powhiri. To aid pronunciation, audio guides are also provided: simply touch on any Maori word, phrase or song to hear it said out loud.

Demo 7:  Thinking
An online quiz maker (similar to Kahoot) quizizz.com/

Demo 8:  Participate
Google Forms using "Get a Prefill Link".  Using Google Sheets you are able to simply change for each learner and automatically create a QR code for each learner.

Following this initial round of Demo Slamming, the four winners then competed again, this time with  1 minute to prepare and 1 minute to present.

Demo 9:  Manage
Bitmoji to share how you are feeling.  Bitmoji's drag easily into the Google Suite e.g. Hangouts, Slides, Docs

Demo 10: Manage
StayFocused chrome extension - block websites you set for a nominated period of time.  Chrome will prevent you getting access to the websites, allowing you to complete your tasks without distraction. Google Calendar - find a time in others calendars quickly using the find time feature.

Demo 11:  Thinking
Do you struggle with drawing?  Using autodraw it a quick and easy way to turn yourself into an artist.  My second look at this website today, and I can think of many ways it will be really effective in the classroom.

Demo 12:  Thinking
How many times have you been asked by a colleague, "how do you recover a deleted file in Google Drive?"  Have you ever wanted to just say "lmgtfy"!!  There answers is as simple as this!

A great way to end the first day at GAFE 2017 and I'm really looking forward to Day 2!

GAFE Day 1 Final Session

Story Writing in the Digital Classroom - Kimberley Hall

Creating a Choose your Own Adventure story using Google Slides.  If you don't do some level of planning, learners will struggle to achieve success.

This hands on session encouraged us to create our own Choose Your Own Adventure story in just 1 hour.  There were a range of great ideas to use to animate our story which are detailed here.  Despite the limited time frame, I managed to complete a quick story, inspired by some of today's session.

GAFE Sharing - Creating Google Sites to Lead Learning

This year I'm presenting two sessions with Clarelle Davis - our first session is how to Create a Google Site to Lead Learning!

GAFE 2017 Day 1 - Morning Sessions

Session One:  Experiencing a Student Led Classroom - Today! - Richard Wells

"Teachers struggle with modern learning environments" - headline in Stuff just last week.

"Students must have strategies for meeting challenges" - NZ Curriculum, Managing Self
The curriculum encourages all students to reflect on their own learning and use self-assessment. so students are able to assess how they are doing.

The key word for student-centred learning is: negotiate

How can we equip learners to do the things we need?  They may not be the 'normal' tools. Learning tools come in all shapes and sizes.

This Key Competency image, created by Richard Wells:


Ideas for learning using the Key Competencies

Operate classrooms like a sports field - the coach steps off the field for the match so the players need to know all their moves in different situations before they take the field.  How can we empower our learners to be this way in the classroom?

Session Two:  A-Z of lesser known Googley Goodness - Kimberley Hall

I really love Kimberley Hall sessions and once again this one did not disappoint.  So many great ideas and apps to explore.  

The full list is here and  my blog post will focus on my favourites or ones that I'm really keen to explore and use in my classroom or personally.

A great way to start a session - Google Feud which is fun and engaging.  You need to remember that it is based on world answers, not just New Zealand.

androidify - the ability to  personalise the character which will play on presentations, websites or can be used in character animations to help with writing.

Boomerang for Gmail - ability to schedule emails or boomerang the email back to your inbox as a reminder.  New feature for Boomerang, how likely are you to get a response?

Explore Function in Drive (Slides, Docs, Sheets) - in Slides it will suggest layouts, allow you to research or suggest charts based on the data that is in your sheets.

HelloSign for Gmail - add a signature to a contract or document digitally.

CraftyRights - automatically shows you images which are free to reuse

Audio Library on YouTube - a great resource when movie making or for background music

Autodraw - very brand new!  It will give suggestions and draw for you

No formatting button - this button will clear the formatting of anything you have pasted into your doc/blog/sheet/slides.

Piktochart chrome extension - great to have this as an extension rather than using an alternative website.

The Great Suspender - suspends activity on every tab except the one that you are working on.

Zoom feature on a Mac - enable under Mac Accessibility feature and then can use Ctrl and two fingers to zoom into where you mouse is.

GAFE 2017 - Opening Keynote

Once again I'm lucky to be attending the GAFE Summit in Auckland, this time representing Lynmore School.  This blog post will document my thoughts and findings throughout the session.

Opening Keynote:  Iteration and Innovation in Education
- Jaime Casap

Why do we care so much about Education?  Education is what changes a family's destiny! Education disrupts poverty!  If you work hard, get a good education, anything is possible.  No matter how many years you teach, the impact you have on students goes on for generations.  It is possible to have an impact on students for years to come, on students that you possibly won't even meet!

We need to take the best of what education is and take it to the next level.  How can we do that using technology?  Our job is to prepare kids for the future.  We need to remember that the 21st century is already here!  Computer science in NZ is a huge part of this future.  Out of the top seven jobs in this country, six are information technology positions.  This is true throughout the world and why it is important to have computer science as a part of education.

We know what good learning looks like compared to the past.  Things such as personalisation, modern, motivating and engaging  are common place in the classroom today, allowing us to deliver education in different ways - thanks to technology!  Given where technology is today, how can we take the best ideas and bring it to life.

Do you remember when we had to call the internet, and the internet was busy!  What was your reward when you got online?  Today - how do our expectations differ?  Generation z learners are global, social, visual and technological.  How children today think about learning is different given the world they are born into.  Children today learn by exploring whereas we waited for someone to teach us.  We need to pay attention to that.  What is generation z facing?  The technology of today isn't close to what is coming.  They are able to visit places virtually that we never dreamt possible in the past.  Today we can merge the real world with the virtual world.

Skills that are needed in the workplace, in a technology world (as per big companies employing technology specialists):
  • problem solving 
  • team-working
  • communications
  • critical thinking
  • collaboration
  • creativity
  • literacy
  • digital literacy
  • leadership
  • foreign language
  • emotional intelligence
The process of problem solving is what kids need to do as through this they will develop the learning they need to solve the problem.

Iteration is the result of critical thinking - feedback to take learners to the next level is more important than a grade.

Collaboration is how problems are solved - one of the things that Google looks for is collaboration skills.  The ability to listen, the ability to reach consensus, and to take a step back and let someone else lead.

We need digital leaders - if students don't learn how to be strong digital leaders in schools, they won't learn it anywhere else.  Can they tell the difference between a news site and a sponsored site?

There is therefore a need for a culture shift.  How do we bring education to the next level?  Converting information into intelligence is important.  There will always be a need to memorise but at some point information becomes a commodity with no value.  How do we ask questions that you can't look up on Google?  That is the challenge for us and our learners.  Student centered learning models give the learner the opportunity to explore their own learning.  A great teacher helps these students strive, with the use of technology, maker models and forward thinking.  

Iteration and innovation drive transformation!  Think how Google has changed.  It can happen anywhere!  It takes time and problem solving to make progress.  The future classroom starts on Monday - experiment, try new things, we are just getting started!  We are not behind, we are in the middle of change.  Only 40% of the world are online!  This is the most exciting time in Education.  To a 5 year old, the latest and greatest phone today is the worst piece of technology they will see in their life - it is their Commodore 64!  Do we have the right processes in place that they are going to need to thrive and build the skills to solve the problems of their world!