E07 - Reimagining EDU with Inland Area Educators

Episode Music Credits:  Old Love Instrumental by Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, 100% Clearance through Musicbed 

On this very special episode of Blending In, I chatted with three very special inland area educators as part of a live panel at IACUE’s Reimagine EDU Conference in January of 2023!  My guests were Lisa Moe, known as @MissMoeTeaches on social media networks, who is known for the way she gamifies learning for her students; Kevin Roughton, an award winning social studies teacher and author of Teach with Magic; and my good friend and colleague, Dr. Christina "Tina" Brown, who is a Language Arts teacher and Instructional Coach alongside me in Hemet Unified School District.  In our chat, Lisa, Kevin, & Tina offer some insights into blending in innovative instructional techniques to keep students motivated and engaged.  

Lisa began by sharing that she became known as “MissMoeTeaches” simply because she wanted to find a way to connect with her students!  What started as an email became a social media profile and now she has thousands of followers that she inspires with her gamified learning strategies!  Go follow @MissMoeTeaches on Instagram and/or Twitter to see what she’s sharing!!!

Next, Kevin shared how his book Teach with Magic - about using Disney imagineering techniques in the classroom - came to be.  He was inspired by Marty Skar’s book One Little Spark - Mickey’s 10 Commandments and the Road to Imagineering. After reading Marty’s book, he explained that he had a revelation that “This is what a classroom should be like,” and that inspired him to write a book about how these 10 commandments could be applied to the classroom!  Kevin was so kind to give away a copy of his book at the conference!

My last guest, Tina, shared her experience with teaching English Language learners in both South Korea and the United States with both children and adult learners.  She has recently transitioned out of the middle school classroom and into a new role as an instructional coach for teachers.  Tina shared how she sees this new role as “casting a broader net” in the world of education.  

The first topic the group discussed was cultivating community with students.  Lisa shared that because she was using a lot of technology before the pandemic with Google Classroom, that her students didn’t have as big of a struggle transitioning to online learning as others who had been using little to no technology.  She stressed that because the use of technology wasn’t a barrier for her students, that the connections she had made with students prior to the shutdown continued to happen over Zoom. Kevin added that a big part of making those connections is just being yourself and letting students be themselves!  Tina added that there is value in the consistency of social emotional interactions not only at the beginning of the year, but throughout the year as well, even with gamified learning tools like Bamboozle!  

Next, the panel discussed supporting ALL students with learning and “not just doing tech for tech’s sake” as Tina noted.  In a one-to-one Chromebook environment, Tina mentioned how station rotations could be utilized to provide different types of activities with various scaffolds and supports - she mentioned PearDeck and DeckToys as a couple of tools to enhance instructional models to support students in mastering learning goals.  Lisa added the importance of soliciting student voices about their learning experience - what they want to learn about, how they want to learn about it, etc.  Lisa mentioned how Project Based Learning and Choice Boards can help students direct their own learning. Kevin claims to be a “choice menu hipster” who “was doing it before it was cool.”  He believes it is important to let students choose the product they want to create and the topic they want to dig deeper into.  Tina added that choice boards became a huge engagement piece during online learning and offering voice and choice to students kept them motivated to demonstrate their learning in their own way. She gave a shout out to Flipgrid for providing this platform where students can share their voice.  

I asked the panel to share what challenges they’ve encountered when trying to implement the 4Cs - critical thinking, creativity, collaboration & communication.  Kevin jumped right in and shared the challenge of helping students get out of the fixed mindset belief and self-doubt that they aren’t creative. Tina added that when we ask students to be creative, there is the challenge of letting go and releasing creative control to students because of the fear (again, a fixed mindset belief) that things may end in chaos or disaster.  To embrace this challenge, Tina advises to embrace the life long learner mindset and try your best to have clear expectations for how the technology tool (like Voki for example) should be used.  Lisa added that throwing the problem-solving mindset to the students when things present a challenge and giving them the choice by asking “How do you want to represent your learning?” can be a way to encourage critical thinking and creativity.

The panel offered some final words of advice to teachers on how to blend in meaningful use of technology:

Do you know an innovative educator who should be a guest on the Blending In podcast? Nominate them HERE.

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