How it’s going!

Well this week has been good for getting my quilt sewn. I have put a lot of blood sweat and tears into this thing! This week I finished sewing all the last blocks I had to sew together, the 8 X 8. Then I worked on actually worked on sewing those into strips that are as long as a queen size quilt. I have mentioned it before, but it’s easiest for me to just lay it across my bed and see where the ends fall, as to how long or wide the quilt will actually be.

So, once I finished sewing the strips together, I very nervously, decided now I need to start sewing the strips together to get the top of my quilt put together as a whole. Right now I just have almost all of them just pinned together for now. I did practice sewing the two long strips together with just the two that I could put at the bottom, just in case I messed it up! However, it went easily, I had no problems and it looked great.

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The pinning has begun!

I find it so much easier to pin everything first, which was a recommendation from my mom actually. You see, when you pin all your strips together, you can just slide them in the machine one after another saving you some time, and it saves some thread. Usually, I would just do one at a time and then pull it out of the machine, when you do this, it pulls a lot of thread out with it, so there is a method to the madness!

Since I’m getting closer to sewing the strips together and getting the top of my quilt completed, I have been researching ways to attach the back to the front. I will just put a solid brown on the back of the quilt, so that it matches (and it’ also a little less expensive material). The middle of the quilt is this fluff stuff that comes on a big roll and it’s called batting , and this is more or less used as a filler or the stuff that gives the quit substance to keep you warm. It’s not to thick and it’s not too thin, and is made specifically for quilting.

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Just keep sewing!

 

So, one of the ways I found to tie them together, it to actually tie them together. This method uses yarn. With a big needle you can come to the corners of your blocks on your quilt and pull the yarn through it, and make a knot. The second method, and the one that would probably look best on an adult quilt, is sticking all the pieces (the top, batting, and back material) through your sewing machine, and where your 8 x 8 blocks meet, sewing straight down a line, and do this for each row of blocks. You can do this by hand and it would probably look even nicer, but for the sake of time, this time I will opt for the sewing machine!

Discovering ds106!

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Photo CC By: Alan Levine

As part of my research and discovery for alternative ways to teach, I have found ds106 to be very helpful in finding new ideas to make my classroom more innovative. So, what ds106 is, is a digital storytelling class, that is completely free course to take, for anyone around the world! What the creators of this website course have done, is made a site that anyone could complete assignments using various technology skills, to tell their own life stories, or even fiction stories that they felt they wanted to share. Anyone can challenge other students in the class to learn more, create more, and also can share ideas TO the creators, of more digital assignment possibilities.

What’s so awesome about the idea of ds106 is that people are continuously learning using their own resources, and learning from each other through the technological resources that we have been so blessed to have in our 21st century lives. Everyone has different creative ideas and abilities and if we can use technology to help each other learn, meet new people to share our ideas with, and let them share their ideas with us, the expanding of our learning just keeps on going!

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Photo CC By: Thomas Fairbank

I have several ideas for this in my classroom. While I feel that I do not have the time to commit to actually signing up for this course, anyone can get on and check out the work that is being done by others completing and adding too the course. I can use some ideas of assignment’s from this course, and change it to fit my own lesson plans, so that my students can begin to share their learning stories though technology. I would be completely open to having my student’s submit assignment’s through sharing their own GIF or writing their own blog, or using compiled pictures, voice recordings, videos and even made up stories to explain how they might have learned and interpreted information that I have been teaching them.

Another thought that comes to mind, is making several learning experiences through videos of projects that the class has done, assignments that turned out awesome my student’s have submitted, to create a big story throughout the school-year of the learning that did take place in my classroom, and sharing this with ds106, parents and administrators. I always like to have hardcore evidence to give my students of what learning is and how much they have challenged themselves and succeeded throughout the year.

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Photo CC By: Scott McLeod

This digital storytelling has endless possibilities, and it’s something that I will definitely keep going back to constantly to see what ideas others have shared, for myself to keep learning new digital technology, and then to share those ideas with my students, so that they can keep expanding their creative abilities through technology. It helps that there is a radio station and a TV channel that I can refer to and share with my students (when appropriate) so that they can also get a better idea and understanding of what it means to keep learning and sharing ideas though digital technology.

 

 

 

Inquiry Based Learning

This week I have really been researching different teaching/learning approaches to help my students learn that information that we have to teach, but they might not always be the most interested in. I have come across Inquiry-Based Learning, which is an approach that teachers can use to help aide students to learn how to learn. Now this sounds kind of confusing, but it means that us teachers essentially are there to give our students the resources and the tools, in order to learn how to learn on their own, and to get interested in learning!

What teacher’s can do to adapt this into their classroom is to first learn what your students are interested in, what makes them tick. This is an important component to any classroom that desires a safe and enriching environment. Help your student’s start the inquiry process, but connecting your curriculum topics to what they are interested in, and then ushering them to ask questions about the topic. How they feel about it, what more they want to know, and if things could be changed.

We call this questioning, taking in INTEREST in education. Then, the best way that I can explain this is to have you think back to your science classes in school. There was always a hypothesis, then finding the evidence or carrying out the experiment, supporting that evidence, and being able to explain and support all your reasoning. So essentially we are setting our student’s up to be scientists of their own education. Pretty cool right?

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Photo CC By: Ken Whytock

So when we are teaching inquiry based learning,the teachers role is to find fun ways to express the topic and explain it. Then have students write down their hypothesis, or their questions, this get’s them thinking critically and using that higher level learning ability that aides in memory and creativity. Let your student’s communicate their thoughts with one another, they can then build more ideas and information as a class unit.

Next your student’s should conduct a little research, this is where they can utilize their beloved technology, to find out more information or to answer their questions, this is the experimenting or finding evidence. Then you can help them present their ideas by giving them choices on how to share their findings, through a presentation, a poster or some other type of art, such as writing.

Inquiry based learning has seriously become a science proved way to better the education process. If you would like to check out some more information on the subject there is an awesome organization that teaches teachers how to teach inquiry based learning, by using inquiry based learning to teach teachers!! Check it out: What is IBL?

I also want to share with you some excellent teachers to follow on Twitter, as part of following and getting a bigger Personal Learning Network that we discussed last week. Here they are:

@rgriffithjr

@WRChamberlain

@Kristy_Vincent

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing

Well this week my project was kind of mundane. NOT very exciting at all! I had to do dirty work, sewing together the little pieces into blocks that are 8 x 8. In order to move forward with my quilt I had to get this done, then next week hopefully I can get the rest of my strips sewn out. The next step will be to sew all of the strips together, to make the top of my quilt whole. However, for right now it is very time consuming to sew together each individual strip, to make it one whole block!

I have learned a lot while doing this project. For one, I have learned that there are MANY different way’s to express your artistic side, not just though paper and a paint brush. When you are quilting (or whatever your desired task is) you can do it in whatever pattern you want. You can make it whatever colors you want, it’s basically all up to you! Either way, you still get your desired goal in the end. I think that this is how we should teach our students to learn, we can make our own decisions and the possibilities of how to get there are endless.

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Photo CC by: Bustle and Sew

I have also learned much patience. There is a lot of thought and math put into making a quilt. You have to make a plan so that everything comes out precise, otherwise you might not get the ending you desired for! Also, when you are stitching you cant just hurry through it, you have to go slow, and really look at what your doing, in order to get the best look for your quilt. We can also apply this to teaching our students how to learn. You can’t hurry through an assignment and put in answer’s that you think that might work, you have to think about it, research the topic, and then use critical thinking in order to come to a desired result. If you put in an answer off the top of your head, you get a bad grade, because you haven’t actually learned. Kind of the same as your learning project, don’t you think?!

I have been researching other project’s to sew now that I have some better abilities with actually sewing! I thin that when we teach our student’s we can gain their interest in a topic that they might not have thought interesting before, and when they do gain interest, they keep on learning! Same with my project! Check out this video, some of my research!

 

Starting a PLN

PLN’s or Personal Learning Networks are a new found glory to me! It can be blogs on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook, that teachers share about new and awesome resources and idea’s they have found, to better their classroom. This week I have found many great people to follow, and learn ideas that they have found successful in their classroom. In fact I probably went a little crazy adding all types of people using the #PLN on Twitter, many great people with certifications such as PhD’s and Doctors in the education field.

Here is a link to a great article on why it is a great idea to set up a PLN if your an educator.

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The great thing about having a PLN is that I can add my co-teachers on my PLN as well, such as Twitter, and have them add my blog, or even encourage them to create their own blogs as well. Then I can take all the new information that I am learning found these astounding people, and share it with my friends as well so they can learn a thing or two. As teachers we have to be constantly looking for new information to make our classroom’s better. Teachers don’t always have a lot of time in the day to stop and discuss all the new technology or ideas we have found, but we somehow do make time to check our social media accounts, and THAT is where we can quickly share thoughts and ideas, in a simple easy to manage form!

Anyone can join your PLN, so you could have educators from all over the world come check out your blog, or your videos and even follow you on Twitter! Obviously all teachers have different ideas about how to make their classroom better, so why not share with each other!

I found particular interest this week in watching some seminars that were posted via Twitter. Also, I love bringing creativity and art’s and crafts into my classroom, and I found many that had quick pictures and instruction’s to grab my attention and check it out. So many of them were really easy to follow, and even explained what type of learning my students would receive for doing such an activity. Check out this website for ideas on starting your own PLN: The Educator’s PLN.

If your looking for someone to follow on Twitter, I suggest adding this man. Excellent Professional resources and advice! Here is an example of his work.

 

Teaching Through Passion

As a teacher, it has been drilled into us to tell our students as much as we know, about everything we know. How do we get across the idea of relevance? It’s important to be passionate about what you are teaching, and it’s OK to share that passion with your students, but to do share in a way that get’s your students passionate about the subject as well.

After reading an excellent article by Ainissa Ramirez, Passion Based Learning, I have gained many insights on all of the great new ways that we can teach our students. In order to make our classroom a passionate filled one, that focuses on creativity and individuality, we have to get to know our student, and find out what THEY are passionate about. When we find out what makes them tick, we can apply the knowledge that we know to their real life experiences, and passion, to make the material relevant.

In this ever changing technology filled world, if a student want’s to find out any type of information they have the internet at their fingertips to tell then ALL that information. It used to be that teachers were the sources of this information. So as teachers, what can we do to foster our students ability to learn, and to learn in a way the sparks interest, and from that interest, creativity and most importantly, passion!

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Photo CC By: Marta A. Orlowaska

In Ainissa Ramirez’s article. it goes on to explain that in order to bring passion into the class we have to get rid of the practical view of things, and adopt a new sense of classroom. We have to get rid of so much mundane book reading, and introduce more inquiry- based learning, more problem and design-based learning and more project and discovery based learning. However, I have to banter with this.

I feel that this type of learning, inquiry-based and creative discovery IS the only practical application for the classroom. Showing students way’s to express their ideas after we have had a group discussion or lecture by drawing, painting, graphing and mapping, and using technology to compile applications and bring about new ideas. This type of learning sparks passion, because we are letting student’s ask their own questions and using the type of material and application that fits their individual learning style.

Obviously not all our student’s are going to love the subject we are teaching as much as we teachers do. However, it’s important that we make our classroom’s exciting and engaging, and when we share our passions, show an interest in their passions, then the passion becomes a positive feeling, and the idea is, that it becomes infectious!

In another article by Saga Briggs, 25 Ways to Institute Passion-Based Learning in the Classroom, teacher’s can get a better sense of what they can do to make sure that passion based learning is their classroom, or becomes part of it anyway!

I agree with the standing’s of the article, when it particularly explains that we need to give student’s the resources to find their own interests, and teach themselves more about what they love. If you really think about it, that’s where passion starts, finding what you really enjoy, and research more about it, find out way’s to express it, and share with other’s your inquiry. In sharing with others, you are teaching other’s to share this passion. So, especially you are giving your student’s the resources to learn more about a topic, and then teaching them to teach others!

 

 

Progress!

This week I spent quite a bit of time working on my quilt. I have made considerable progress on it. Last week I had all my pieces cut out and had started sewing my blocks together. This week, I started to sew all the blocks that I had sewn together into strips of blocks. You do this so that it is more symmetrical when you sew the quilt together as a whole.

Holy cow! I tell you what, it takes a lot of work to sew together a bit quilt. This week I think I spent more time threading my sewing machine, and the “bobbin” which is the thread that is under the sewing machine. The bobbin thread sews the the top thread to the bottom thread to make the stitching more heavy duty.

I also learned that you can change the sizes of the stitches that the machine sews, so if you want the stitching to be really tiny and look very neat you can do that, or make it big if you want the stitching to look more like it was hand stitched. I do the smaller stitching. However, you have to pace your foot pedal (the part the runs the machine) because if you go to fast the machine will pull your material through very fast, and you will lose hold of it! Yea! This happened.

After that happened it made my patched block crooked so I had to take this little tool called a “seam-ripper” and take out all the stitches so that I could redo it. Lesson learned.

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Seam Ripper Photo CC By: Chris Taylor

I measured how many 8 X 8 blocks I would have to sew together to get the desired width of the quilt. I just laid the whole strip I had sewn together out on my queen sized bed to see if it spanned the length. It did!

Then I started sewing together a bunch of blocks the same size as the one I laid out, and I made considerable progress on getting many strips sewn together. Right now I have to sew some more 8 x 8 blocks together to make some more strips. But by laying everything out I have a way better idea of what I’m doing and what my next steps are going to be.

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So, next week I will have to sew some more patch blocks together, which I will probably sew a bunch of blocks, and then work towards sewing more, whole, strips! Stay tuned!