A Good Week

imageOkay, so this week I was pretty ambitious. I finished my bag and learned new stitches. I haven’t started my lap blanket or Lillian’s sweater. I think I’ve made great strides this week and am pretty proud of what I’ve done. This is the Tunsisan stitch. It’s foundation is an Afghan stitch then takes a turn that it is more complex.

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The stitches I chose were a bit more difficult than the crochets that I’ve mastered. And I can say I’ve mastered gem and I feel good about it! I learned the basic afghan stitch and I want to try to use it on a blanket eventually, once I’ve mastered it. It’s a bit more difficult and I haven’t fully gotten it down just yet.

image It is a bit more complicated than the crochet stitches I’ve been doing up to this point. While learning it, I realized that I needed a bigger yarn and needle to properly  perform all of the stitches I learned this week. I have both and hope to use these stitches better. Though… Hey look pretty cool in the tie dyed yarn!

image This is an extension of the basic afghan stitch it basically just makes it bigger. It’s pretty complicated when compared to the other stitches I’ve been using. There are a lot more steps in this and I have been trying to figure them out to make this easier to work my way through them.

image This is a puff stitch. It took me so very long to get this one accomplished. I honestly thought that it wasn’t supposed to curve like that! I thought that I was doing something wrong, I mean it has to be wrong right? No. It is supposed to look like this. When I found this out, I got the best idea! I want to make blankets for each of my girls and use this stitch to make butterflies to insert on them, which is something else I figured out this week.

image And finally. . .  the popcorn stitch. It looks pretty complicated, but in fact, it was the easiest one I learned this week. It is just a double crochet stitch with five double crochet stitches in one foundation chain stitch. I was actually pretty surprised at how easy it was. Then I thought, “Oh yeah, I’m great at this!” Then I tried the Afghan stitch and that took way too long. I was very excited to learn this particular stitch because my grandmother used it often. I actually have a blanket that she made using this stitch. I just did one row, and it was really time consuming. She used this stitch on an entire blanket! I know that each stitch is full of love, though, because she began making it for me the day  I was born. She called it my wedding blanket and she gave it to me on my wedding day. It’s a great tradition that she did for every one of my cousins. I like the idea and it’s something that I want to do for my girls and my grandchildren, should I have any.

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I had a pretty good week and I’m pretty pleased with all I’ve accomplished. Next week I want to start my black and white lap blanket and start learning more stitches for the sweater for Lillian, and start (hopefully finish) Athena’s (my niece) scarf. It’s been a great hobby, and I hope I can master it.

“Feed me, Seymour!”

Upon reading Chuck Frey’s blog, How to Cultivate a Personal Learning NetworkI see ways to “feed” my Personal Learning Network. He gives great advise that he got from Howard Rheingold. He gives eight tweets from Rheingold and conveys a meaning that he got from them. I am not as articulate as Chuck Frey, but I’m going to attempt to give the advice that I got from reading his blog.

  1. Explore: While checking out candidates and their shares, keep an open mind. You could learn something that you weren’t expecting to pick up, something that could be useful to you or others. Be open to “people, opportunities, possibilities, to knowledge”.
  2. Search: “Your goal is to identify people and potential sources”. Keep adding to your Personal Learning Network. The larger your network is, the more you get out of it.
  3. Follow candidates through RSS and Twitter: Cull out those who don’t meet your needs. Go through your feeds, read what your candidates are posting, if they aren’t sharing things you need, then they aren’t part of your Personal Learning Network.
  4. Always keep tuning your network: Add more, drop others. Keep those who are helpful, get rid of those who aren’t.
  5. Feed the people you follow: If you find something that someone you follow would be interested in, share it with them. They are more likely to share with you (quid pro quo). Don’t be afraid to make the first move.
  6. Engage the people you follow: Ask questions, begin discussions. But. . . be polite, kind, and show gratitude.
  7. Ask questions: Be insightful, the answers may help not only you, but also other followers.
  8. Answer questions: If you’re asked, do your best to answer. Use the advise that Chuck Frey gives.
  • “Beware of unintentionally sounding curt or sarcastic”- even if you are naturally so.
  • “Watch your tone and tenor”- this is difficult in an online setting, but possible.
  • “Remember: electronic communication channels are missing the non-verbal elements of communications”- you can’t be seen and they can’t judge your reactions
  • “Don’t ignore others”- no one wants to share with someone who doesn’t share with him/her.

With my Personal Learning Network, I can see myself fine-tuning it. There are some English teachers that I am following on Twitter and Pintrest who are English as a Second Language instructors. I don’t plan to teach ESL, so I may cull them out of my PLN. I don’t think that feeding my PLN will be a problem because I come across so many sources from other people that I can share with the people I follow. Since I began following others in a Personal Learning Network, the number of my followers on both Twitter and Pintrest has doubled. That is in less than a week! I am, however, very cautious online, and I don’t know, at this time, if I’ll have the courage to share my ideas with people I follow.

I need to feed my PLN as it feeds me, and because I love the things that are being shared with me, I think that I can pull out a spoon for those I follow.

photo courtesy of gettyimages.it

And yet. . . Underachieving is Okay Too

So, last week I made so much that this week I feel like a slacker! I began George Washington’s (GW) (Named after George Washington Mclintock, a John Wayne character(my dad chose the name)), my nephew’s, baby blanket, but the yarn that I chose was not at all soft once it was weaved together. I decided to go ahead and make my niece, Oktober, a decorative scarf with it and choose another yarn for his blanket. I went with a green and gold yarn because he lives with my parents and my dad is a HUGE Greenbay Packers fan. I think that I’ll go ahead and use that theme with a softer yarn, one especially for baby blankets. I figured it would work for Tobs because she lives with my parents as well.

IMG_0050 I feel like I didn’t do much this week because I only completed one project.
I worked on the straps for my bag, but I’m only about halfway through one of them. I hope to have it completed next week.
I’ve also been looking at more stitches, and I think that I can learn them fairly quickly. I will be attempting them next week and, hopefully, be able to use them to make something new. I have decided to make a lap blanket for my couch with these really pretty black and white balls of yarn that have glittery beads attached. I want to use a new stitch for that, so I need to get to learning more stitches, especially the blanket stitches.
I think that, even though I feel like an underachiever, I did okay this week. My stitches are looking better and better the more that I do. If nothing else, the practice is worth it.

So, next week I want to start my lap blanket, buy new yarn for GW’s baby blanket, and finish my computer bag. I also have this really cute child sized pattern for a cardigan sweater that I want to start with pink and white yarn. I think that little Lillian will look adorable in it!!!! I just hope that I complete all of my goals next week as I didn’t this week.

I am proud of all that I have done and am glad that I’m learning so much. I also have a lot of people to look up to and to learn from, not just crocheting for dummies. I’ve made several connections to crocheting communities online and in my area. I’m still enjoying this, and can’t wait to see the results.

Learning from my Personal Network

Photo courtesy of olecommunity.com

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) can help you learn through other people’s mistakes because, let’s face it, none of us can make all of them. A PLN consists of “experts” or “veterans” and “newbs” in a vocation, such as teaching. These people come together in an online community and share ideas and stories. They share what works and what doesn’t. They are able to ask questions and give advice. PLNs give teachers a community to share and question, to brainstorm ideas, and to use as springboards for success.

My journey through PLNs has mostly taken place on Pintrest. I can tell you that my boards are getting larger and larger because of all of the things I’ve been finding in my subject, English 7-12. I love so many of the ideas and I hope to use them in my classroom, you know when I have one!

PLNs help you make connections with professionals and build relationships because there is always someone there to answer you your questions, share their stories, and chat with you about your problem. They can help you collaborate and learn from professionals and “experts” and help you develop professionally. With PLNs, people are able to share new perspectives. This means that I can share what I think about YA Fiction with a thirty year vet (English Ed) and he/she will take my thoughts into account, not just flick them off.

While building my PLN, I searched for English Teachers and PLNs on Pintrest. I found more than enough to to give me plenty of ideas for my classroom; not just in reading material or assignments, but also classroom management and decor. There is also advise about how to teach easily distracted students. These are professional teachers with professional pages, for the most part. I think that I can use them as sources to informally develop my knowledge of teaching.

I think for most new teachers, a PLN is a good thing to have. New teachers can use this source to help develop a creative and safe classroom. They can also use them to share their experiences and mistakes with other new teachers; situations that they will also encounter in their own classroom. They can share what works and what does not. They would be able to chat with “experts” and learn from their experiences.

Using PLNs is a great source for new teachers to learn how to run their classrooms and teach others new styles that work in theirs. No teacher, no matter how long they’ve been on the job, will say “no” to new, good ideas.

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing!

Ok! So, using the stitches that I learned last week, I made some stuff! I have all of the panels for my bag for my computer done, and put together. Now I just have to make the straps for it and it’ll be complete. But first I have to get some more of that yarn because I’ve run out!

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Because I am enjoying myself so much, I decided to make something wearable, and I knew that I couldn’t make any clothes. I made my girls some scarves with the double crochet that I learned last week and attached the ends so that they stay on.

IMG_0047  Too bad it’s warming up!

I’ve also decided to try something a bit more difficult while using the same double crochet, so I am making my nephew a baby blanket, and my husband’s best friend is expecting a little girl next month, so I’m going to get something made for her. We, my husband and I, were recently in Lincoln to visit and go to a baby shower. We went to a hobby store because I wanted to pick up “some” yarn… I may have gone a LITTLE overboard.

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I have plans for all of them! I may be having more fun with this independent learning project than was strictly necessary, and I know that I am going to keep using it. I am enjoying my new hobby, and I’m so glad that I am catching on as well as I am. I hope to have my bag done by next week and G.W.’s blanket going. I also want to make Lillian a sweater, which uses the same double crochet that I’ve been using and is a little bit more advanced than the scarves, but not by much. I also want to start learning new stitches. My goal is to master five more next week in addition to my bag, the blanket, and the sweater.

I am loving this expedition into crafts. It has been a great journey, one that I believe my grandma would be proud of me for having taken. I am buying yarn and looking at patterns. I got a crochet book of patterns, and I bought more crochet hooks. I added a crochet board on Pintrest so that I can go back and see what I like. What started as an assignment is quickly turning into a life long hobby, one that I can share with my children and their children. One that I am coming to love.

Learning/Teaching with/through Passion

photo courtesy of cafetruth.com

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photo courtesy of conditionforlife.com

Passion-based learning is taking the country by storm.

Oh, how I wish the previous statement were true. Passion-based learning should be taking the country by storm. This model of learning invigorates students and causes them to want to learn. I found a couple of articles that give ways to do this, to encourage students’ passions by leading by example.

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photo courtesy of elliottcaras.com

Kimberly Vincent’s “Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning”  suggests that “we must switch from a control narrative in the classroom to a passion narrative”. This means that we need to change things in the classroom. We need to passionate about our subjects, the topics within them, and the passions of our students. Our being passionate will spread the passion to the students: “Being transparent with students and building relationships with them beyond the classroom can help drive learning- students work harder with people who matter to them”. We need to become more than teachers to students. I don’t know if I agree with this one hundred percent. I can see and understand the reasoning behind it, but I think that there needs to be some authority. I understand that you can have affection and authority, but I don’t know that getting too close to your students (i.e. being friends on Facebook or following them on Twitter) is a good idea. I do agree with Vincent’s assertion that we need to be passionate about the topics we are teaching. If we are passionate about them, then students will be as well. I also agree with Vincent when she says we need to connect with parents. Usually both parents and teachers have a student’s best interest at heart. I say usually here, because I know that’s not always true. I think that seeing education as a partnership between teachers and parents is a great approach to passion-based learning. In most cases, parents know what their children are passionate about, and can give teachers a good idea of the approach to take with them.

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photo courtesy of freespiritsunited.com

Sara Brig’s “25 Ways to Institute Passion-Based Learning in the Classroom” gives amazing ideas to teachers for inserting passion into the classroom. I’m not going to list all of them because there are so many with so many ways to institute them. I love so many, almost all, of these examples, and I suggest anyone who wants to enter the education system, or with children in school, implement these suggestions. I especially love “Let students share their passions”, “set aside time to let passions flourish”, and “share your passions with the students”. First, “share your passions with the students”. I don’t mean tell them your life’s story. I mean give them your passion. I would tell my students that I love to read anything I can get my hands on, I mean anything. I also love to write. I write fiction, non-fiction, and literary analysis. I’m not telling them something that they don’t want to know, I’m just giving them a little information about me, what I am passionate about. “Let students share their passions”. This means that we are non-judgmental. No one has the right to make fun of another person’s passions, whether we share them or not. For instance, one of my fictional students LOVES Twilight. I, personally, think that it is a waste of paper. I don’t tell my student “That’s stupid, pick something else”, I tell him/her “That’s awesome! Why don’t you write a fan fiction for your passion exercise?” Even though I’d rather watch paint dry than read a fan fiction from a book that I hate, I’m not going to stifle student creativity or judge him/her for what they love. My reaction is to be passionate about what students are passionate about, because that passion is infectious, like laughing or yawning. Finally, “set aside time to let passions flourish”. This means giving time in the classroom for passions. If you’re teaching in a school with block scheduling, this may mean that you give thirty minutes twice a week to it; if you’re teaching in a school with regular scheduling, this may mean one class period, which I would do on either Monday or Friday (both days that students don’t want to work). This is time for that student who loves Twilight to write the fan fiction or the student who likes theater to read/watch plays, or the student who likes art to read about surrealist painters. These passions aren’t the same, yet what they do with them fit in my subject (English). I think that it’s possible to use a student’s passion and incorporate it into your subject, it is a great way to help students learn without them actually realizing that they’re learning (kinda like tricking kids into eating vegetables).

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photo courtesy of opencolleges.edu.au

Our passions move us. We can use passion to teach, to learn.