On the very FIRST episode of the Blending In Podcast, I'm chatting with my friend and colleague, Erin Carr! Erin is a middle school math and science teacher at Diamond Valley Middle School in Hemet Unified School District who is in her 16th year of teaching (which includes a year of online and hybrid teaching during the pandemic).
She is a mom to four kids and has been married to her husband Brian for 18 years. Erin believes that teachers play an integral role in the lives of each child they encounter, and that a good education is the key to a successful society.
In today’s episode, Erin shared what motivates her to “rethink” about how she engages her students when creating blended learning experiences for them.
In our conversation, Erin shared a story that resonates with her titled The Starfish by Loren Eisley. This story serves as a reminder to her of why she chose to be an educator and still chooses every day to do this work - even with all its challenges - and the story also served as the inspiration for the title of this episode - Schooling Starfish!
In order to be successful at “schooling starfish”, Erin discussed the importance of getting to know her students and making sure they feel like they belong to the learning community. Some of her favorite traditional community building activities that help her get to know the personalities of her students include games like Guess the Gibberish, This or That, and Would You Rather.
During our chat, Erin and I also talked a lot about how clearly understanding learning targets and standards truly helps give her clarity and focus when she’s designing blended learning activities for her students. Erin discussed having a UDL mindset when designing learning experiences for ALL students and how using visualization in every activity/lesson is a critical component for learners in her classroom. Additionally, as part of managing her classroom and student behaviors during blended learning, she stressed the importance of active monitoring of students on their devices with the GoGuardian student device monitoring program.
We also discussed the value of collaboration with our PLCs when designing blended learning activities and developing common assessments together. We chatted about the value of utilizing social media networks like Twitter (#teachertwitter & #blendedlearning) and TikTok (#teachertiktok) to connect and gather ideas and time-saving resources from other teachers.
Erin’s Top EdTech Tools are: