NLP – my scarf is complete!

Today marked the conclusion of our Networked Learning Projects in CEP810, but I definitely plan on knitting more in the future. I chose knitting as my skill to learn (using only YouTube and help forums) because it was something I always wanted to learn to do. I have been given knitted scarves as gifts in the past and really wanted to be able to make one for myself (and perhaps save some money, too, by not buying every cute scarf I see). Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve not only knit a pretty good garter stitch-style scarf, I’ve also learned a lot about myself as a learner in the process. I’ve embedded a video below that I feel really shows my learning and progress through the past few weeks.

I began thinking I would knit a scarf, it would be quick, and then I could knit another before our projects were due. I finished my first scarf – but I totally underestimated the amount of time it takes to knit! I’ve learned how to cast on, how to perform the garter stitch, and how to bind off. I’ve worked my way through tight knots and learned to keep them close to the end of the needle so that they are easier to work with. I have pretty much committed the steps to muscle memory. My current scarf didn’t turn out as long as I would have liked it to be. I’ll definitely make a longer one for my next knitting project.

At first, I was very nervous about learning with the internet as my only source. My mother-in-law knits, and I would have rather just asked her what to do. However, I kept to the YouTube and help forum road, and I am so glad I did. I was able to explore different how-to videos to discover exactly what I needed from a video in order to do my best (visual AND audio together). I learned that you definitely cannot judge an internet source “by it’s cover” – I had to watch the videos for at least a full couple of minutes before I realized whether or not they would be helpful for me as a learner. It’s okay to use more than one source, or to begin using a source and then decide it isn’t what you thought you needed. Help forums allow you the chance to connect with real people who share your interests. They really wanted to answer the posted questions to the best of their ability. Usually someone would post a source to go to for more information, so it’s collaboration on a whole new level. You end up visiting sources that you never knew existed. The nice thing about the internet is that it is readily available (for the most part) and that you can find what you need without leaving home… or, if you have left home, you can keep up with what you need to know using a device with internet access.

In the future, I definitely feel more confident about learning (and teaching) online. The amount of resources available to us online is infinite. I would love to be able to lead a class in which I post videos online for students to learn from, and then meet face-to-face to discuss them. Showing students how to be responsible citizens online opens up great opportunities for them to network with other students. It helps our students to see the importance of staying connected with one another and sharing ideas with technology. Our students are certainly lucky to be growing up in such a technologically-advanced world.

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21st Century Lesson Plan – Animal Reports with Educreations

Our task this week in CEP810 was to design a “21st Century Lesson Plan” using an aspect of technology that would allow our students to do one (or more) of the following: design, create, inquire, play, problem-solve, and/or evaluate. Students needed to do so within the context of our curriculum and in a meaningful way. Having taught second grade for the past two years, and being familiar with that curriculum, I chose to go the route of designing a plan for second graders.

I chose to work off of a non-fiction writing unit that I LOVE teaching. Students pick an animal they are interested in and spend a week or so researching with some chapters in mind (habitiat, what they look like, etc.). Students collect information through books and the internet, using links found through the school’s media center website. They use post-its and organize them in a journal or booklet. The usual end-of-unit product is a book that they write and put together with all of their facts, or a short PowerPoint presentation… but with today’s changing educational field, a book or plain PowerPoint presentation is not enough. So, how could my students share their work in a more creative way, using something they already love? After searching online, I remembered that some of my team last year used Educreations for a science lesson. This program allows students to sketch a picture and record audio in order to create a slideshow. It is available on the iPads, and they LOVE using these. What a perfect match!

With Educreations, students are an author and illustrator through a resource they already know and love – the iPad. When students add audio to accompany illustrations, the presentation crosses into the “multimedia zone” and now the students can become owners of their work. With the 21st Century Lesson Plan I put together, students will first play around with the program to get used to it. The next day, they will again be “playing” but also creating, working on their final piece for the unit to share with others. They will share their facts and research and also have the freedom of drawing their own illustrations. They will decide what to sketch to best represent their learning, just as Thomas & Seely (2011) believe students should be able to do. Students will be able to draw exactly what they want to show rather than spend fifteen mintues hunting for the “perfect dolphin habitat picture”. They could import a photo, but I chose not to have them do that. By sharing with their classmates and not just me, they will have more of a purpose for their work because their audience is no longer just “the teacher”; their work is reaching “real audiences” as Hobbs (2011) states regarding her core competencies for fundamental literacy practices. Educreations is the perfect program for this.

**Here is a great introductory video to Educreations, if you’re interested!

 

References:

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.

Networked Learning Project update – scarf in the making

It’s safe to say that my life has revolved around knitting lately. I was actually caught by another teacher knitting in a classroom during lunch while subbing last week. I am really enjoying making my scarf and am so excited with how it is turning out. I knit so much yesterday that my fingers actually hurt by the end of the night.

So far, I’ve learned how to “cast on” (a.k.a. get started) and how to do a garter stitch (my scarf is made entirely of garter stitches). I would say my scarf is maybe 1/3 of the way finished. For casting on, I learned first by watching a video from Knittinghelp.com.

I caught on really quickly because it reminded me of playing cat’s cradle with yarn when I was little. I practiced casting on until I felt confident. It was finally time to begin the garter stitch… but my challenge definitely arose when I just could not figure out, for whatever reason, how to move on to actually doing the garter stitch after casting on. My knitting never looked like the video, which was frustrating. My rows looked like they were missing stitches. I decided that I needed to watch more than one video to find the one which best met my needs for casting on. After looking at a few more, I found a video for casting on by needle, rather than by hand (there are two ways to cast on, and I had no idea!).

After watching and re-watching the video for quite some time, I finally felt like I had it and could maneuver on to the garter stitch within the same video. I ended up bouncing back and forth between the “casting on by needle” video and the original one I found in my last NLP post for “super-beginners”.

Both of these videos had very up-close views of the knitting, which made it easy to follow and learn. They did not have a lot of background noise, making it easy to focus. The video from knittinghelp.com had these features as well, but I stopped using it when I couldn’t master going from casting on to the garter stitch. I didn’t feel like it was the video for me. I learned that I am definitely an auditory as well as visual learner, though. I found one video which was close-up of the hands with NO NARRATING at all, so I thought it would be great to watch.

Turns out, I need to hear the steps as well as see them. I was way too distracted by the music, and couldn’t read and watch at the same time.

I only used help forums when I needed to figure out the materials for getting started. I would rather just read what someone says about materials – most videos assumed you already knew what type of yarn and needles to buy. In the forum, I felt like people were more personal and said exactly what worked/did not work for them. The responses in the forums from knittinghelp.com were what I used and the member’s responses pointed me in exactly the right direction.

Below are some photos to show my progress, and a short clip about a key moment in my learning. Despite the fact that I want to see how beautiful my scarf looks at all times, it is MUCH easier to knit when your stitches are bunched up close together on the needle. It leads to less pain in your fingers, too.

photo 1 (2) photo 2 (2) photo 3 (1) photo 4 photo 5

I can’t wait to show you the finished product. Stay tuned!

Getting organized… the Wunderlist way!

This week in CEP810, we learned about David Allen’s (2001) idea of “Getting Things Done” (GTD) – increasing productivity, without stress! We were introduced to some tech tools for GTD and asked to pick one to explore. I chose to explore an app called “Wunderlist” for creating to-do lists and setting reminders. I created lists for groceries, tasks around the house, to-do’s outside of the house, and school. I really liked that I could set specific dates/times for tasks to make sure that I complete them before they’re due. I also liked that you can move the list items around within the list (e.g., the grocery list items can be moved to reflect the order of Kroger’s aisles). A feature like that could be VERY helpful when attending a staff meeting and setting up the agenda – the items can be moved around to reflect the most successful order of completion. It took me a few days of using it before I realized I could set specific times for reminders – I thought I was limited to just the date, so I was really happy when I found out I could set a time, too! I didn’t find any constraints with using Wunderlist. It is helpful that you can share your lists with others – again, coming in handy when working with your grade-level team or staff around the school. You may not be in the same room, but you can view the same material and still collaborate. Overall, I am really pleased with Wunderlist. Check it out, and enjoy!

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Reference: Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New York: Penguin.

My first experience with POPPLET!

This week we began our learning in CEP810 with a personal brainstorm on Professional Learning Networks, or PLNs. We were asked to use a type of technology (new to me, maybe not to others) called “Popplet” to create a web/map that reflected where we go to find information related to our work, and who we go to for it. Since I am still waiting to be recalled back to my district (keeping those fingers crossed 24/7), and haven’t started guest teaching yet, I decided to make my map based on what I was familiar with based on the last two years when I had a classroom of my own. However, some of my popplets could definitely apply to a guest teaching situation as well – the Principal, other staff members, and staff lounge, for example, are all great resources for finding out more information related to education.

In thinking about it, I found that I mainly rely on colleagues, committees, and the internet when it comes to gaining information related to my work. I found that my principal and office staff have great, specific information on items like evaluations, incorporating teaching methods, etc. My colleagues, and especially grade-level team members (there were 7 of us last year who taught 2nd grade), definitely provide the best insight for me as far as curriculum goes. I can count on them to offer advice and suggestions on best practice and to make sure I am not missing anything (a common fear as a new teacher – did I forget something majorly important that I might not have noticed??). I would go to committees to gather information that pertains to the world outside of curriculum – like resources/events to support students and families, ways to promote a positive atmosphere across all classrooms, and how I can get parents more involved. The internet helps me a lot with curriculum and planning as well. I access the SmartExchange often to find fun, interactive lessons for the SmartBoard related to content I am currently teaching. I use the Oakland Schools/Common Core sites to make sure I am on the right track with my reading, writing, and math units of teaching.

Please feel free to take a peek, and share any other resources YOU rely on in your building. I would love to hear what kinds of resources others count on, and add more to my personal PLN!

 

PLN Popplet

Networked Learning Project – Post #1

This week in CEP 810, we were instructed to choose something that we have always wanted to learn to do… and learn how to do it using ONLY YouTube and online help forums. My husband and I actually JUST looked on YouTube earlier this week for how to remove baseboards from a wall, because our basement flooded and we needed to tear out the walls and had no idea where to start. We found a video that was really helpful, and I was really proud of myself when I was able to remove the first baseboard all on my own. As fun as that was, I decided that for this assignment I would pick something a little more interesting to me… knitting! My mother-in-law made me a beautiful wrap last winter and I love it. It is a solid color with these huge buttons on one side, and it fits under virtually any of my winter coats. I think I should learn how to make a basic scarf before I go about adding buttons and fun details. I would like to knit a cream-colored scarf first, since that color can go with just about anything. It looks like the garter stitch is an easy pattern for beginners, so I will use that. My learning goal is to be able to make a regular scarf for myself (and hopefully save money by not continuing to buy scarves every time I see one that I like!).

To get started, I googled “learning to knit a scarf” and found a YouTube video for what the creator calls “super beginners” (that’s definitely me… check out the video here). By the 1:05 mark of watching, I realized I did not know a single thing about what yarn to use, needle size, “casting on”, or slipknots… so I really needed to find something that literally just walked me through the basics. I found a help forum on knittinghelp.com that I think will be helpful as a resource (check it out here). It looks like some posters recommend using the videos on the website, so I like that there are various ways to learn through one site.

I will be keeping you updated on my progress, and hopefully by the end of the project I will have a beautiful, warm, hand-made scarf that cost less to make than it does to purchase. WISH ME LUCK!

[picture credit: http://newstitchaday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/nsad-knitting-101-garter-stitch-cover.jpg ]