My Independent Learning Project

So I’ve reached my goal with my Independent Learning Project. I learned to crochet. It’s true that there is always more that I can learn, more that I will learn, but I learned, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to learn to do exactly what my grandmother always wanted to teach me, albeit now she won’t know about it. I learned more than how to crochet. I learned a new skill that I can use to make gifts and things for my children and my future grandchildren, should I be so lucky to get them. I have been using crocheting as a way to calm myself. I have been crocheting as a way to think. It gives me the time and space to breath, to relax while also doing something productive. I have had some of the best ideas I think I’ve ever had by putting a hook to yarn.

I haven’t finished my lap blanket, the black and white one. image

The yarn that I have is on back order, so I’ve had to wait. I don’t feel very productive right now. I’ve just been learning new stitches, especially blanket stitches, and I’ve been working on granny stitches. Of course, that, one of the “easiest” things to crochet, is beating me up. I can’t believe how hard they have been. My fat fingers have struck again! I can’t get them! If they were circles, that would be no problem, but since I want to progress past that, to do things that are harder than what I’ve already done. But I don’t have a chance at this point. My fingers don’t want to work with me so that I can get this. But, I have all summer to work it out and I will be doing so.

I’ve also found some patterns for socks. I figure if I use them with a nice, thick wool they could be like slippers for my monsters. They love when I make things. The twins like to sit in my lap and and hold each of my hands and act like they’re helping me. I love those moments with them. I feel like I’m helping my girls learn the skill that my grandma tried so hard to teach me. It feels like I’m passing on this skill to them. It makes me feel as if my grandma is here, that she knows what I’ve done, and she’s proud of me. I really want her to be proud of me.

girls with grandma     grandma


Using Comics to Make Shakespeare Easier for Teens


My initial concept for this week’s assignment, to create something for sharing learning was to create something to help kids learn something. I went with a classic, something we all have to read in high school, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This is NOT because I like Romeo and Juliet. I can’t stress that enough! It’s my least favorite of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s not because I’ve read it for several classes, it’s because I just think that teenagers overreact and are in too big of a hurry.

Because high schoolers are forced to read Romeo and Juliet, I thought it was a good idea to make a visual. This portion is from the actual prologue. I would start the comic out this way, but change it to Modern English as opposed to the Early Modern English of Shakespeare’s time. It is frustrating, because the website, won’t allow me to duplicate this particular comic strip with the same images, at least it won’t save it, then again, that could just be my computer.

I think that these can be used for more than Shakespeare! I decided to prove that with grammar and bitstrips. I think that bitstrips are a fun and easy way for students to do assignments regarding grammar and literature. They are easier to work with than the toondoos as bitstrips are an app they can get through Facebook. I actually had more fun with bitstrips because I got to make a person who looks (kinda) like me who has a lot of different emotions, and I can change that to suit my cartoon. I think that this is something that i would use in my classroom, something that I would use, and assign for my students to use because it is easy, and there is some educational value to it. I’d use them as an assessment technique to ensure that students are understanding the concepts.

I had more fun with bitstrips than with toondoos. I think that these are both valuable tools for the classroom because they are both easy to use and students are able to prove that they understand things that I’m teaching. I think that, when it comes to language concepts and analyzing literature. I think that students (I’m going to be endorsed 7-12 English) will be able to use these tools and not really know that they are actually working instead of having fun creating cartoons.

Commas save lives. . .
Commas save lives. . .

Podcasts in My Room

I listened to “Serial” and was actually really taken with it! I think that, depending on my classroom situation, it is something that I can use in my classroom. If I end up teaching seventh graders, no, no I wouldn’t use something like this. If I teach older kids, then, yes, this is something I can do.

I love mysteries, and I think that podcasts such as this one are a great way to engage students. I think that in many cases, students are too much like BBC’s Sherlock. .  . “BORED!” Bored students are unhappy, rowdy students. This makes a mad, frustrated teacher. Engaging them with something interesting and fun, is a great way to get students interested, and possibly even reading something that actually has substance (something without sparkling vampires perhaps).

I think that I could have my students do some digital story telling, probably a in the form of a blog. I can tell you that I am having a blast with my blog, and I may just continue it when I am finished with Digital Literacy. I may continue it for my students, my family. Perhaps it is a good way to inspire a love of writing. Perhaps it will inspire a career. I think that digital storytelling, any storytelling really, is a creative way to get students to love reading. I would not be against allowing my students to do podcasts. They are creative, and I enjoy them, so it stands to reason that some of them at least, would enjoy it as well.

I think that digital storytelling, especially podcasts are a strong thing to use in an English/Literacy class because they entertain using storytelling. They keep people engaged and can be used to help teach students to find a love of literature and a desire to read a bit closer, to analyze literature. I think that audio books are easier to work with than a read aloud. I think that podcasts are easy to use and fun for students because some of them do, in fact, have educational value.

According to “What Teens are Learning from’Serial’ and Other Podcasts” the teachers are just as engaged as the students. This is an opportunity to get students and teachers on the same page, to create an environment where both can engage with one another. I like that podcasts are a source for “new ways to discuss the classics”. Now that I know there will be a Crucible inspired podcast, I may just hunt for that as it is one of my favorite plays, and I know that Juniors in high school read it. This would be a great way to give them a new perspective, as it is, according to the article, told from Abigail’s point of view. Something like this may get them involved in classics, which I adore. Some of my favorite novels are classics, some I read for fun in high school when introduced to me by a librarian or an English teacher.

I think that podcasts and other forms of digital storytelling are a fun and exciting way to get students interested in literature. I definitely think that digital storytelling is something that I would use in my classroom, given the right opportunity.

Daily Creates Week Four

  • April 5: Write a thank you note for the Easter Bunny.

Dear Easter Bunny,

I just thought I would write you a note to say thank you. Thanks for hiding the eggs for all of the kids. Also, thanks for hiding one so well last year that we found it this year. Thanks for leaving twelve pounds of chocolate and the subsequent sugar highs I’ve had to deal with. (ALL FIVE GIRLS!)

Yeah, Easter Bunny, thanks a-whole-freaking-lot.


  • April 6: Pick a character from a book, TV show, or movie and explain what makes you like them or what makes them like you.
courtesy of
courtesy of

This one took a ought of thought. .  . then it hit me! I am Fat Amy from “Pitch Perfect” We both have a dirty sense of humor that we don’t bother to hide. We have confidence in who we are and others gravitate to that. . . and of course, FATTIES UNITE!

courtesy of
courtesy of
  • April 7: What is your favorite word and why?

Quaff! It means “to drink heartily” especially alcoholic beverages. Le’s be honest. . . it’s fun to say.

  • April 8: Write a 400 word story from the point of view of two characters.

Aaron felt a prickling at the back of his neck. Turning, he saw the man at the back of the church watching him intently. A bit creeped out, Aaron turned around and watch the priest pray over the dead. Aaron’s sister, Nona, fourteen years older than he, had passed away, and her husband was burying her the best way he knew how. Aaron turned again to see the sea-green eyes watching him again. The stranger stared back at him, not even blinking. It was alarming because he didn’t know what the man saw.

Aaron left the church with his brother-in-law, passing the sandy-haired man whose brown eyes followed him as Aaron walked by with Jake. Aaron’s eyes met the man’s again. The man’s intimidating brown eyes refused to back down. Aaron looked away and felt the gaze on his back as he left the church.

Beside the grave, Aaron stood alone, watching the attendants fill Maria’s final resting place. Hearing the dew dampened grass slip beneath someone’s feet, Aaron lifted his head, but didn’t turn.

“Why are you watching me?” Aaron asked, knowing without looking that the man watching him in the church was behind him.

“I have proof that your sister was murdered.”

Jake stood beside Aaron looking at the white and gold coffin covered in white calla lilies, just what Maria would want. They had never discussed what would happen if one of them died and Jake had never expected to be the one left behind. The night before, uncomfortable on the couch, make had finally entered their bedroom. Clutching Maria’s pillow, which still smelled of her, Jake had sobbed, sitting on the bed he’d shared with his wife for the past eight years.

Jake didn’t even know his wife was sick. Why hadn’t she told him? Aaron shifted beside him, and looked behind him. Jake said nothing as they left, yet, Aaron was distracted by a man to their left.

Aaron is flirting during his sister’s funeral? Jake thought outraged. Marie was dead, jake was alone, and her brother was being disrespectful when they needed to lay the love of Jake’s life to rest.

While Aaron stood beside the grave, Jake walked away, accepting condolences from other grievers.

Hearing a gasp, jake looked at the man who’d been watching his brother-in-law and Aaron who shook his head, looking angry and intense.

Jake excused himself and moved to Aaron and the unfamiliar man.

“What’s going on?”

“Someone murdered Maria.”

  • April 9: Write a story that connects sentences from page 42 from two books. From the first book, use the first sentence and from book two, use the last sentence.

Book 1: James Dashner’s The Maze Runner- “They stared at the Box, which was closed at the moment-double doors of metal lying flat on the ground, covered in white paint, fading and cracked.”

Book 2: Nicholas Sparks’s The Best of Me- “In her mind, Oriental was an ideal place to raise children, and for the most part, she was right.”

The stared at the box, which was closed at the moment-double doors of metal lying flat on the ground, covered in white paint, faded and cracked.

“What’s in it?” Simon asked.

“How should we know?” Albert demanded. “We haven’t opened it yet.”

“Yet?” Christopher interjected.

Albert whiled on Christopher. “Of course we’re going to open it, stupid.”

Christopher and Simon shared a look, but followed the taller boy into the door of the enormous metal box.

Albert looked at the other two boys, “Well? Go ahead.”

Simon and Christopher heaved one of the huge metal doors together. When Albert screamed and raced away, the other two boys looked at one another. As if by agreement, they turned as one to look into the box. Against the wall, a bleached white skeleton was leaning, blue fabric shredded beside it.

With terrified shouts, both boys ran.

Deputy Charline “Charlie” Samuels used her sunglasses onto her head as she crouched down to look at the skeleton.

“It’s obviously a Union soldier who got lost and fell into the container then starved to death during the battle.” stated Deputy Dan Poulin, the other town deputy in Oriental, Georgia. Doc, Annabelle Martin, who was in the metal box with the body, looking at Dan while Charlie turned in her crouched position.

“How is that obvious, Dan?”

“He’s got a broken leg and there is blue fabric.”

Shaking her head because Dan always had theories that revolved around the Civil War. Shaking her head, Charlie turned back to Doc, “The bones are too new and the fabric isn’t old enough. The broken leg didn’t heal, as a fragment is in the corner.”

“Thank goodness you came down from Atlanta, Charlie.” Doc said as she examined the broken leg. “I need to get this to the lab, but i don’t think these bones have been here quite a week.”

“A week?” Dan exclaimed as Charlie stood.

She’d moved to Oriental because of her son, Gabe, who was eight and beginning to cause problems. Oriental was a small town where Gabe was beginning to flourish even as he fought. In her mind, oriental was an ideal place to raise children, and for the most part, she was right.

  • April 10: Write a personals ad from Bigfoot or the loch Ness Monster seeking a partner to love.

Slightly overly large, somewhat hairy forest dweller searching for a companion to share a life of living in misty wooded areas and hiding from tourists while leaving clues of existence.

  • April 11: Write an adventure story based on a food in the back of the refrigerator.

As she reached for the onion the back of the fridge, something happened to Delia. She wasn’t sure what, but when she woke, she wasn’t home.

Standing, Delia looked around her at the mint green walls, the golden trim, the clear glass windows. She moved to the window and gasped as she looked out. A whale swam by and Delia fell as she scrambled away.

Her breath coming out in puffs, Delia found a door. Expecting it to be locked. Delia tugged it and fell backward as it opened without trouble. No longer thinking, Delia ran from the room. A woman in a mint green jogging suit watched her coolly.

“May I help you, miss?” she asked, looking unperturbed by Delia’s rushing form the room.

“Where am I?”

Her eyebrows knitted the woman answered, “Atlantis, miss.” The woman watch Delia as if she’d lost her mind.

Why am I crazy when she’s telling me I’m in Atlantis?

“How did i get here?”

“You were summoned by the council, ” the Atlantian replied.

“Uh. . .” Delia began. “Okay. .  . why did the council summon me?”

“You have to answer to the charges, miss.”


“Yes, miss. The murder charges.”

Daily Creates Week 3

  • It was easy to figure out, but my food story was about mashed potatoes!
  • March 29: What is the Thinker’s Plan?

I don’t know how it happened. I just sat down to plan a way to beat Athena at chess and all of a sudden, I’m stuck. I must have been close for her to retaliate, though I think I would rather have lost the game.

  • March 30: What is inside room 814?

Gripping her key card in her sweaty hand, Estella stood outside of room 814. Even though she had heard the stories about the room, she’d booked it. As a travel writer for “Great Escapes”, Estella had been to many hotels. This article was for the Halloween edition of her column, “Hotel Escapes by Estella”. She purposely chose a “haunted” room in order to try to “creep up” her column. She didn’t believe in ghosts and didn’t expect anything to come of this. She knew how to embellish things, and would do so after she spent the night in room 814.

Estella entered the room which was cool. Closing the door, she moved to the heating unit. It wasn’t on so she switched it on to warm so as to heat the room a bit. Pulling her camera out of her overnight bag, she took photos of the room, the large, luxurious bed, the enormous copper tub and spectacular shower. The room was amazing. Haunted or not, she was looking forward to trying out the four-poster bed big enough for six.

“Hello?” Estella called. “Is anyone here?”

As she expected, no one answered. Shaking her head and laughing at herself, Estella set up the night vision camera and spoke into it. The video feed, should anything interesting happen, would be displayed on the magazine’s website with the other authors’ videos.

“Well, guys!” she said into the camera. “This is my first night, and if the hotel’s website is any indication, my only night. Room 814 was the site of the suicide of Emily, a young, beautiful girl who can be seen in her wedding gown. Legend has it that on her wedding day, Emily discovered that her fiancé, a young confederate soldier, was gunned down when he was mistaken for a deserter. Emily killed herself in this room, the room she was dressing in. I am leaving this on all night because guests have reported seeing Emily in front of the full length mirror in the corner here,” Estella said pointing to the antique mirror, “looking at her reflection, tears in her eyes. She is also seen standing over the bed when people are sleeping in it. The hotel owners tell me that Emily, in her despair, hanged herself in the bathroom. Tonight, we’ll find out if that’s true!”

Estella winked at the camera and went into the bathroom to take a bath in the huge copper tub.

After a peaceful bath, Estella sighed as she lay down. Tired, she fell asleep quickly, and spent a peaceful, ghost free night in the soft, lake-sized bed.

Back in her office, Estella reviewed her footage from room 814, knowing that there would be nothing on it because she had slept without interruption.

She nearly spit out her coffee when the figure in white passed in front of the camera. Estella watched as the woman with long chestnut hair stood before the mirror. On the audio, she heard the woman’s crying, something she hadn’t heard the night of her stay. The woman, Emily, could be seen through, and she moved to the camera as if curious. She bent and stared into it.

“Ethan,” she said, her voice a whisper. She turned to Estella’s sleeping form. “We’ll get him back.”

She moved to Estella and lay down beside her. “We’ll find him together. . .”

Emily turned to mist and Estella watched in horror as the mist moved into her, disappearing in Estella’s body.

Estella felt herself falling back, moving into the back of her mind, as Emily moved to the forefront. “I’ll find you, Ethan,” she swore in Estella’s voice.

*Emily is based on the resident ghost at Augusta, GA’s Partridge Inn. Emily’s fiancé was killed when he was mistaken for another soldier charged with treason when he was on his way to the wedding. Emily didn’t commit suicide though. She stayed in her wedding dress for days and, as the legend goes, she died of a broken heart. I don’t know the name of her fiancé, so I used one that popped into my head.

  • April 1: A bear plays a harp in the snow- write a story.

A bear plays a harp in the snow. She should be hibernating, but she can’t. Hibernation isn’t in the cards for her.

Bebinn Andraste was a lovely young woman who loved a farmer, Aed Dwyn who loved her in return. A harpist by trade, Bebinn wrote beautiful songs for him.

Jealous of the young lovers and Bebinn’s talent, the goddess, Canola, inventor of the harp, ambushed Bebinn as she walked past a loch, turning her into a bear, forced to stay awake every winter, playing the harp and watching Aed move on and live his life.

For all of eternity, Bebinn plays the harp as a bear, watching the world move past her.

  • April 2: Hindsight isn’t 20/20- write a New Year’s resolution for historical figures that missed the mark.

– Alexander the Great- 323 BC: Name an heir when I get back to Rome.

-Atahualpa- 1532: Meet more people.

-Napoleon- 1812: Invade and take Russia by the end of the year.

-Captan Edward Smith-1912: Don’t wreck another ship.

-Hitler-1940: Do better than Napoleon in Russia.

*Yeah, these are horrible, but still funny. Alexander the Great didn’t name an heir which led to the fall of the Roman empire. Atahualpa was an Aztec chief who met with the Spanish conquistadors and his people were massacred. Napoleon invaded Russia in the winter. Captan Smith wrecked two White Star ships, the first the Olympic in 1911 then Titanic in 1912. Finally, Hitler also invaded Russia in the winter. RUSSIA IS FREEZING IN THE WINTER!!!! You would think they’d have learned that!*

  • April 3: Write your tw-obituary (your obituary in less than 140 characters).

Yentle Dyas, 28, mother of three who wrote terrible blogs and studied hard has died in a freak cup caking accident.

  • April 4: Write a one paragraph story with way too many cliches.

Boomer was a bad egg. He kept coming around like a bad penny. Life wasn’t a bed of roses when he was around and it was like a bull in a china shop. Some people thought he was a diamond in the rough but a good rule of thumb was to stay away from this Jack of all trades, master of none. At Boomer’s shotgun wedding, someone took a shot in the dark and Boomer got a shot in the arm. After this close call, Boomer’s new wife’s lover was caught red handed. Boomer gave his wife the cold shoulder and rode off into the sunset.

Getting Rid of Technology

This is impossible. There is no way that we will EVER get away from technology completely. We depend on it too much. We can’t live without our smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Even those of us who lived without these things, now, we can’t go without them for too long.

Fourth through seventh grade students at Convent and Stuart Hall in San Francisco did just this. My first thought here was “fourth grade?” FOURTH GRADE?!!!!!! Why does a fourth grader have a smart phone?! But my three year olds know how to use my iPad, so I can’t really say anything. These kids in San Francisco took a Tech Timeout Academic Challenge which set out to prove that technology is a distraction.

Students signed up and gave up their tech. They sealed their cell phones for three days and tried not to use them. This is meant to help them connect with classmates and family as well as “enjoy the moment” and aid in creativity. Some kids were so attached to their technology that they felt anxiety after giving up their phones. The main temptation according to the student participants was social media. Some students, however, were glad to get away from the technology for a little while.

The goal of this endeavor was to prove that students can survive without technology and social media. The students were too distracted by text messages and social media notifications during school because they are allowed to use their technology during school hours in the classroom. I for one know how distracting this can be, so I wouldn’t like this policy as I’m trying to teach. I have the policy that I’m putting my technology away and giving students my time, they should do the same. The timeout was trying to teach students to “build the life skill of recognizing when it’s time to pay attention and when it’s time to zone out”. They need to learn to participate in class and discussions instead of giving in to the distractions of social media and technology. Kids had face-to-face discussions with friends and parents. They actually talked to their families, something which “never would have happened normally”.

One student, Ryley Aceret, learned how sidetracked he gets by technology. He noticed how much longer it took him to complete homework assignments with his technology than without it. This is something that I struggle with from time to time. I find myself “taking a Pinterest or Tumbler break” that turns into an hour on either. I think that these kids learning this lesson now is a wonderful idea now because it’s a hard habit to break later.

This Week Wasn’t Great!

So, because I was unable to get to my crocheting this week due to a family emergency, I had a rope rug with lights planned for my nieces’ room (yeah, this one)

Photo courtesy of Marla buttery via Pintrest
Photo courtesy of Marla buttery via Pinterest

Cool, right?! I was pretty excited to do it in green and blue and really wanted to get this accomplished, but a family emergency because of which I was left alone with six children under the age of four, I didn’t get it done, nor did I have time to do my blogs when I wanted to. . . yeah, it wasn’t a great week! So, I decided to keep tabs on my online activities, not because I ever do anything awesome online, but because I had no choice!

So this week, I learned that I am a very boring online user! I thought that I spent a lot of time on social media, but I don’t. I spent about twenty minutes at the beginning of the week (Sunday)  looking at crocheting patterns. I was sitting on my couch with my feet crossed (I believe it’s called “Indian Style”) barefoot in yoga pants and a tee-shirt with spit-up on it thanks to my nephew George (GW). He has reflux and after two days of that, I just stopped trying to change my clothes. This was when I thought my mom and dad would be back by Wednesday (they had to go to Arkansas) and my nieces and nephew live with them so I became the baby sitter (not that I’m too terribly resentful, I’m kidding, I love them). Any way, I was on my iPad mini 2 on my Pinterest app and looking through crochet patterns for my Independent Learning Project this week. And I found that rug pattern! I ended up pinning it because I want to make it and I stopped after that because GW was hungry and all of the girls were awake. It was nap time, what I used to think was my personal time, but GW for some reason doesn’t sleep, like ever!

On Tuesday, I prepared a project for my reading and inclusion class. I did this through smart exchange. I made a Jeopardy game for the smart board that we will be playing sometime this week when I can present it. I spent about an hour on this because I had to do so online and wanted to complete it so I could get it saved. I did this after all of the kids were in bed, something I had to do to even get the peace I needed. I was once again, sitting on the couch crosslegged. “Sherlock” was on the telly as it’s on Netflix, and the only time I don’t watch something for children! I discovered that trying to prepare a presentation while also trying to deduce with Sherlock Holmes is uncommonly difficult! The assignment, however was fun, so I got it done and it turned out great!

On Wednesday, I worked on a prezi that has been ongoing for two semesters. I am in an undergraduate research program and have been preparing a presentation that will be complete and presented April 15th. The presentation is about the Romantic Period anti-hero and how Romantic authors (the Bronte sisters mostly) use Satan from John Milton’s Paradise Lost as a basis for characters such as Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and Rochester (Jane Eyre) so I was adding and cutting and working on that while the kiddos napped, GW fell asleep on the rug and I just left him. I was, once again on the couch, and I’m afraid that my posture is horrible! I was listening to a novel for my queer lit class, Ash by Malinda Lo because, let’s face it, I have three lit classes, and this week, this was the only way I was going to absorb anything! It wasn’t like “Sherlock” earlier, I actually paid attention to what I was doing and what was going on in the novel (which was pretty good, the others in my class enjoyed it more than I, but there it is. . . ).

Also on Wednesday, after putting all of the monsters down for the night, I watched the Ted Talk and read all of the articles for the week. I was again on the couch, and like Tuesday and earlier, was on my MacBook. I don’t like to sit at my desk unless I have to type a lot, like now for instance! I like to browse and research and build things while I’m comfortable, and I can’t be comfortable with my kids, even at my desk, as the kids can’t let me do anything without trying to help or get my attention. It’s hard to get anything accomplished with them so everything gets done when they’re sleeping. Again, having by then completed Ash, the TV was on, this time I was watching “Stargate SG-1”. I finished “Sherlock” and had moved on to another nerd classic. Again, working on things and also trying to zone out and watch Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) be a smarty pants archeologist who also happens to be great to look at was quite difficult. Maybe I shouldn’t try to do homework while also doing homework. Even though I already know this, I still do it because I hang out by myself and I like the background noise.

On Thursday, I spent time researching for a paper for my linguistics class. I wrote about the controversial etymology of the “f-word”. I’m not kidding. I really wrote about it because it was interesting. I found a lot of scholarly articles about it through the University of Nebraska’s library resources. As per the usual, I was on my couch, but I was listening to a book for fun! Yeah, I did something for fun because I had listened to the three books I needed for class the following day and finished reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelly for my undergraduate research for the meeting with my mentor professor also on Friday. My friend turned me on to the book series, and I began the audiobooks on Thursday (The Selection by Keira Cass which was actually pretty good it’s like Cinderella meets “The Bachelor” while also fending off rebellion). I got a lot of information in the hour I spent researching and was also entertained by a well-narrated novel.

So, yeah, I didn’t get any crocheting done, but I spent significant time online doing work. As you can see, I didn’t really spend a lot of time doing social media stuff, but I did get a bit accomplished.

Once again, I am sorry that this is so much later than I wanted it to be. I kept putting my blogs off and I shouldn’t have. Well, It’s done now. Hope that my boring times online were at least a little entertaining.