This was an amazing project. It taught me so much about me as learner and gave me another perspective on what my students encounter daily. I successfully completed this project by producing an apron and it will be a Mother's Day gift too! Now, let's address those 10 inquiry questions I developed at the beginning of this project a few months back.
10 Inquiry Questions:
1. What resource will help me the most in pursuit of learning how to sew?
Though I know this was supposed to be a technology based learning, I found that my sewing mentor, Kathy, was the most helpful resources. She has years and years of experience and expertise and is able to help me hands on and share her success and failure stories.
2. What is going to be the most difficult part of learning?
The most difficult part of learning was being okay with it not being perfect and that it is much more time and labor intensive than I anticipated. The time doesn't bother me, however I don't have a ton of free time right now so it became a bit of stressor.
3. What are the different sewing stitches?
My vocabulary knowledge is lacking but I used two different types of stitches. I used the zigzag stitch for the top part to add detail and design to the apron as well as a little zigzag detail on the straps to give it a little something special. And I used a typical stitch for the rest of the apron. I just made the spacing a little wider or closer depending on what piece I was working on.
4. What is some terminology I will learn?
Gather: I did this to shorten the skirt in order to attach the longer piece with the shorter piece (skirt verse top).
Lining: I created a lining for my skirt, top and straps to make it look more sturdy and of nicer quality.
Needlework: Basically just using the sewing machine!
Pattern: I had to create a pattern and cut my fabric from it.
Pleat: I created pleats for the skirt to look more secure and set nicely.
Seam: Where I connect the two pieces of fabric.
Seam Allowance: This is the area between the edge of the fabric and the stitching line. I had a hard time keeping this consistent!
5. Where are the best fabric deals?
Well apparently Jo-Anns, where I went is not the best place. There is a place off 70th that is supposed to be much better with higher quality fabrics. I learned this from my sewing mentor, Kathy.
6. How much money will I save making my own clothing verse if I went out and bought something similar? (Price difference)
Well this apron cost me $15 to make while one similar at Anthropolgie costs $42. So it's a big difference! However, it takes me time to make this so maybe it evens out in labor costs...
7. Does the type of thread matter?
It does! Depends on the type of fabric you are using and the type of stitch you are trying to accomplish.
8. Am I going be able to actually wear this article of clothing out in public?
I am! Well maybe not in public, but in my kitchen, heck yes! It came out wonderfully and it quite sturdy.
9. Will I wish I had taught myself how to sew by hand?
NO!!!! It would have taken me forever!
10. Will I still be proud that I did this even if it is a failure in my mind? (this is an IF statement)
I am SO proud of myself. I got out of my comfort level and learned something I've been talking about for years. I truly loved this project.
I did it! I tackled my first sewing project and completed the piece and it turned out so much better than expected. It was so hopeful to have a sewing mentor to work with because she could guide me and suggest strategies to better my success. It is also nice to be a student with a teacher, as it provides me perspective into what my students experience every day. My first master teacher takes steel drum lessons so she is always remembering how to be a student and see through a students eyes and not always her own. The hardest part of this project that it was much more detailed and complex than I anticipated. I assumed I would go over to Kathy's and sew this baby up in 30 minutes, well, it took me 3 hours. Sewing takes a lot of patience and concentration but it is so much fun to be a student and to obtain new knowledge. I cannot wait to tackle my next project! I just found out I am getting my grandmother's sewing machine so it will be much easier to practice and develop my skills when I have access to a machine at home.
Okay so there were some roadblocks that came up in this project that I was definitely not anticipating. The first roadblock I encountered was that I did not have access to a sewing machine. I left for spring break and my mom said she would have the sewing machine up and running when I returned (it was missing two bolts apparently). When I returned the sewing machine was not ready and I needed to establish a new plan. Luckily, my mom has several contacts that sew, so I was able to call one up and ask if she would mind letting me utilize her sewing machine. This was great because she is a wonderful sewer and became one of my biggest resources. She analyzed the pattern that I had got from the blog and had lots of changes in mind. The first was that the skirt, top and straps should be double sided in order to be more durable. I started off by cutting an extra piece of each. The first piece I began with was sewing the straps. My now sewing mentor, Kathy, showed me the "inside out" trick. So you sew the inside and then you use a tool to turn it inside out. This makes the sewing much more clean. The other modification that we made to the instructions were to gather the skirt so that it would look more structured when we put it on. I played with different types of stitches (zig zag, regular and played with smaller verse larger spacing of the thread). It was an awesome learning experience because it was so similar to teaching. We took instructions (or say a lesson) and we scaffolded and manipulated the instructions to make them more efficient.
Chapter 7: "Knowing, Making, and Playing"
“A lifelong ability to learn has given human beings all kinds of evolutionary advantages over other animals. It is our killer app" (pg. 90).
Teaching is one of those rare professions that keeps your brain young, allowing you to continue your own journey as a student and a lifelong learner. We as educators speak often about creating lifelong learners, but if we aren't buying into it ourselves, then our students don't stand a chance.
How do we instill the idea that being a lifelong learner is a crucial educational mindset for our students?
For the first two decades or so of our lives, our main “job” is learning. The bulk of our time is spent in classrooms acquiring new knowledge. And then, once we graduate, we feel like the education phase of our lives is done and now it’s time to go out into the world. Have you ever thought about how odd that idea is? That only a quarter of our lives should be devoted to learning, and then we just suddenly stop learning? It’s a crazy idea – but one many have absorbed, at least subconsciously. But school is not our exclusive provider of learning. Just because you’ve finished your formal education, doesn’t mean that your education is over! And that's the best part of being an educator, that we get to be lifelong learners and it's a requirement of our job!
Teachers who adopt a lifelong learning mindset are not intimidated by technology in their classrooms or in their students’ hands. They are willing to learn about technology from theirs students and fellow teachers and adapt their teaching practices to meet the demands of their 21st century students. Moreover, digital literacy is a critical component of education today, and teachers must know how to teach and assess it in their classrooms. The bottom line: Being prepared to teach in the 21st century automatically equates to being a lifelong learner in the 21st century.
Chapter 8: "Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out"
“At the most basic level, participation in digital environments requires a sense of "learning to be", which is more about acquiring certain social practices that give meaning to experiences than it is about any kind of abstract notion of knowledge as a thing or set of facts" (pg. 101).
When technology integration in the classroom is seamless and thoughtful, students not only become more engaged, they begin to take more control over their own learning, too. Students must learn how to use technology beyond social purposes.
How can I utilize the available resources, both social and technological, for deep exploration?
I took an online health class two years ago, and that was my first exposure to participating in group discussions, solely online. It was the first time I was developing my presence online for a class. And I loved it! In 531, we did an entire book discussion online. We created 31 pages of wonderful, thoughtful and deep discussions. GoogleDocs is a simple and effective way to foster student collaboration. It is able to reach all students, especially those students that are too shy or uncomfortable sharing their thoughts in class. There are endless ways we can use technology in the classroom to help students develop a digital environment and utilizing that environment for deeper exploration of content.
The spread of smartphones and tablets in recent years has left no area of life web-inaccessible. Education is no exception. No longer limited to the classroom, library, or lab, engaged learning can happen anytime and anywhere.
Chapter 9: "The New Culture of Learning for a World of Constant Change"
“Still, some educators continue to dismiss games as frivolous or time-wasting entertainment, while others ignore the distinctions among them and consider all games to be antisocial and violent...new research shows, however, that games can in fact aid and enhance learning" (pg. 107).
Games offer students a fun-filled and relaxing learning atmosphere. After learning and practicing new vocabulary, students have the opportunity to use language in a non-stressful way. While playing games, the learners' attention is on the message, not on the language. Rather than pay attention to the correctness of linguistic forms, most participants will do all they can to win which creates more communication in my classrooms than if I were to pass out a packet and ask them to work on it with their groups.
Why use games in the classroom?
I was first exposed to Kahoot! through this class. And it's great! My students absolutely love it and so do I. My only issue is that not many of my students have access to internet on their phone and/or do not own a phone and it is very difficult to get the ChromeBooks at my school site- they're always booked! This goes back to the issues of technology not being near as accessible in education as it should be at this day and age. Besides Kahoot, I've tried other various games and the kids just love it and are much more engaged than a normal day. They are constantly asking me when they can play another game. I think the trick to games being effective in the classroom is that it's not an everyday thing.
Games work if you know your audience. Games were not an effective way to reach my students at Carlsbad. They were more concerned about doing the packet review prior to a test than playing a game, such as Jeopardy. While my current kids live for games! They also ask when we can play more. There is an age difference between my first semester kids and my current ones which I know plays a factor and it also just depends on the kids I have. Knowing your audience is key for implementing games or not and which type of games.
Chapter 4: "Learning in the Collective"
"With just a computer and access to the Internet, one can view or consume an almost unimaginably diverse array of information and points of view" (pg. 52).
Technology has opened so many doors for us, yet education has not really caught onto just how much technology can advance one's education.
The difference between innovation of the past and the present is that it is driven more by people’s creativity than by high level scientific research. With advances of the internet and technology the impossible is made possible. How do we translate that impossible to possible into the classroom?
One huge push that helps spur creativity is the internet! We now have authentic audiences looking at our posts online either through our website, twitter, etc...and commenting on it. I believe one way to translate this into the Internet is get every student a computer or iPad and let them explore and discover--just like you and I do. That is a start. Then we start slowly integrating those computers into our daily lessons. What amazes me is how slow we are in education to transition with the times! I feel that we can use this technology as a resource. Give our students access to all of the information and have them sift through the information they find to figure out what is important and useful for the task at hand. We as educators are effectively competing with technology as enablers for students’ education. I think we will have more success if we learn to work side by side and accept the technology instead of resist it. Many teachers focus too much on the negative! Our students are constantly checking their phones to see what friend sent them a text, commented back on a post/picture somewhere, so why are so many classroom still lacking computers? Our students need computers. They need to discover and not just be told to memorize facts.
Here’s a great blog that discusses how technology makes the impossible, possible. It specifically discusses children from the slums of Kenya who are able to learn from others around the world when they cannot afford books, education or even food. Technology is allowing everyone access to an education and a wealth of knowledge, especially those who could not access an education without technology. Sometimes I think we focus on the negatives of technology in our reality (students are on SnapChat or Instagram while in class or constantly texting) and I think we don’t see how positively technology is affecting those outside of our bubble.
Chapter 5: "The Personal with the Collective"
“One of the greatest concerns about digital media today is that it may be rendering our lives too transparent. Almost every new media application provides some way to share personal information with friends, coworkers, or an audience" (pg. 55).
Our kids are constantly snapping, tweeting and gramming in the classroom, but solely for personal reasons. Social media doesn't mean you have to put all of your information out there. We as educators, can teach our students how to use social media properly.
The possibilities are endless for using social media in the classroom, but how do we inform our students and parents how to use social media in an educational setting and use it properly?
Social media users share among themselves day in and day out, giving and receiving information at rapid speeds. This information is more than funny cat videos; they share views and opinions; tips, tricks, and even DIY projects (i.e. 20% project); and, among students, helpful information for classes. Their ability to assess, analyze, retain and share information is skyrocketing and they often don’t even realize they’re developing these skills. Only people born before the Internet was invented are likely to understand the magnitude of this new style of communication.
Social media networks are designed for the purpose of communal connections. Today’s students are accessing Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram to connect and share with those around them. One of the most interesting things about social media is that users can interact and engage with each other solely through a Web presence, perhaps never even meeting in person.
Chapter 6: "We Know More than We Can Say"
“Different people, when presented with exactly the same information in exactly the same way, will learn different things" (pg. 79).
Students enter classrooms with different abilities, learning styles, and personalities. Educators are mandated to see that all students meet the standards but often we see teachers teaching one way to all of their students, regardless of their obvious differences in learning styles and preferences.
Options are a great way to help students find what works for them and make a project or assignment more exciting for them. If we can make decisions every day on our different options (i.e. what to eat for breakfast, what color shirt to wear, etc.), why can’t we be doing the same in school?
Providing our students with choice is one of the most powerful things we can do for them. It empowers, engages, and inspires them. It teaches them how to make decisions, be independent, and solve problems. When we give them choice in how to learn, show, and share their knowledge we are sending some very clear messages. We are letting them know that we care about them and that we value their decisions. What better way to help build positive self esteem in our learners? We are also creating a supportive classroom environment where risk taking is encouraged and celebrated, and mistakes are not frowned upon but a reason to keep trying. Choice helps develop life long learners. Students are a lot more curious when they are in control of what or how they learn. Choice puts the student at the center of their learning. When I started to provide more choice for my students there were several changes I noticed with my students. These include increased engagement, problem solving, ownership of learning, authenticity of learning, collaboration, cooperation, peer assessment, and pride with accomplishments. These are all good reasons to give your students more choice.
Traditionally being in control is most natural for teachers. It is very easy to see why teachers struggle or are fearful with offering their students choice. As an educator myself, I totally understand that. For many, letting go of classroom control is a very scary and unimaginable task. It’s filled with a lot of “but what if...”.
Chapter 1: "Arc-of-Life Learning"
“Allen's skill was developed in two ways : first, by experimenting with various computer language programs and second, by making mistakes" (pg. 26).
I chose this quote from Googling the Error because it directly correlates with how students learn today in two different ways. We've seen how the manner of educating our children has basically remained unchanged even with technology completely transforming our world. We are challenged with adopting new ideas and new ways of learning in order to prepare students for their future. But this isn't limited to children. Allen received his degree in computer science nearly 50 years ago and has no formal training in computer programming, yet he has a whole career in the field. Allen went beyond his education in order to become skilled in his profession. And he did this through experimentation and failure.
With the rapid change we’re experiencing due to new technologies and changes to the workforce based upon these new advances how do we, as educators, keep up and remain knowledgeable about what our students need to know?
I was able to connect this chapter to so many things that we have learned through EDSS 530 as well as all of my other courses. The first connection I saw, specifically in reading Allen's story, was the story that Jeff shared with us about his daughter. His daughter, when she wants to learn something, takes to the web. She discovers YouTube videos, etc. in order to learn what she wants to learn and she does this all on her own. This is the way learning is taking place with our students these days. Allen, like Jeff's daughter, went out and experimented, researched and attempted in order to learn the skill of computer programming. Neither of the two had a teacher sitting there telling them what to do and that is the beauty of modern day technology; we can go out and find teachers everywhere just with the use of our fingertips, or maybe asking Siri.
Allen and Jeff's daughter make me realize that I am not their only resource. Now that I know that, I need to communicate that with my students. They look to me as their only resource (or my master teacher) yet they have many friends within their class, in other classes and they are fabulous at using technology. This makes me realize that I need to instruct my students how to use technology for educational purposes, including using those social networks for school (i.e. Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
Chapter 2: "A Tale of Two Cultures"
“The goal is to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. In this teaching-based approach, standardization is a reasonable way to do this, and testing is a reasonable way to measure the result" (pg. 35).
In the mechanistic view, efficiency is the goal. But the goals need to be adjusted as they are focused on learning and learning quickly so they believe the most efficient way to measure the learning is through testing. Just as the goals need to be adjusted, the assessment also needs to be adjusted.
Time seems to be the main constraint in trying to help students process material at a deeper level and really grasp the concept in general. How do we deal with time in order to create more time for play, innovation and even failure to take place in our classroom?
We are flying through my Integrated I course and I don’t feel as if my students have a real depth of understanding. We are moving so quickly that we’ll review material from a few weeks prior and the kids are completely forgetting how to approach the problem. These 4x4s are intense and the kids really don’t have a minute of rest.
In addition, I hate how with the majority of classes, students can get a D or F and then just move along to the next topic without ever truly getting the last. There shouldn't be a time limit to learning so to speak. This is a big one for me, especially in content areas like math because so much of the content builds from chapter to chapter. One way I get around this is allowing late work, quiz corrections and test retakes but more time would be beneficial for all my students and it would require more work on the teacher’s part because they would have to create projects for the high achievers to keep them motivated to continue learning.
If we want students to figure things out, they need time. Its unrealistic to think that a class that uses inquiry based learning can cover the same material that a lecture class will cover. Students get a deeper understanding of the material but that requires more time! There is definitely a trade off; it’s real. You can’t get depth and breadth. I am starting to realize, though, that the best constructionism is not about students constructing the knowledge from scratch, but constructing a “hook” (in their mind) where they can put the knowledge. Giving them suggestions or outright answers is not “cheating” if the students are ready/eager to accept it.
Chapter 3: "Embracing Change"
“Similar problems exist in the workplace. The need for innovation- the lifeblood of business- is widely recognized, and imagination and play are key ingredients for making it happen" (pg. 49).
This quote, along with the entire chapter, reminds me of readings in EDSS 531 as well as this class. And that's that play and imagination are key in the workplace and in our education. This ties into the purpose of the 20% project. We as educators need to allow our students to be creative, give them choices to explore, play and develop a personalized purpose to learning. This is key to innovation. To help develop this creativity we as educators need to provide a space within our classroom where students can take risks and begin to see failure as a beginning not an end.
Is offering our students creativity the key to innovation?
Offering our students outlets to explore and create is definitely a way to encourage innovation. One of the things I am experimenting with is having four or five options for students in how to complete specific assignments during the semester. If there are four large assignments in the semester, I will give the students five or six options to complete the assignments. At the end of the semester they must have used at least (say) four out of the six options and can only use each one one time. This helps students explore and to experiment with different techniques for completing a task and helps prevent the class from getting stale and boring!
My epiphany in this chapter came when I began seeing connections between Thomas and Brown's A New Culture of Learning and Wagner's Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World. On Page 39 of Wagner's book and in regards to incorporating play into Kirk’s life/learning (a case study): “Not only did Kirk learn what his interests were and how to pursue them, I think he also learned self-confidence. He learned to trust and to follow his instincts--perhaps one of the most important qualities of an innovator.” To help spur innovation and creativity we have to incorporate more time for play based learning where our students are exploring, struggling (not giving up), questioning, etc...and more choices. Choices in product as a “buy-in” for the content. Through the failures and successes we give our students they will develop self-confidence and a belief that they can do anything!
I LOVED this project because it really opened up my eyes to the way I could use Instagram in my future classroom. I used this project just to show some types of activities that are taking place in my classroom. It also made me become aware of what my students were doing in the class. Were they engaged, were they having fun, were they bored? If I'm going to share my classroom, my students and the activities taking place - it better not be them sitting and watching a lecture. It made me be aware that they were moving, collaborating and enjoying the atmosphere.
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. This is definitely true. One person does not have all the right answers or all the wrong answers. The more perspectives, data and information we can compile, the more helpful and guiding that information will be. For example, I implemented a new game with my students (very similar to jeopardy) and just kind of winged it. My co-teacher and I discussed what we would change at the conclusion but we did not come up with half the great ideas that my students came up with. At the end of the lesson, I passed out a half sheet to each group and asked them to write at least one thing that went well and at least one thing that could improve it. They had brilliant ideas and had I not asked them and just went off my co-teacher and my ideas, it would not have been as effective for the next period and for the future. It is important to document and share your story because you can share your ideas with others, educate others on things you've discovered and receive feedback from others. Not one of us has the answers to everything so we don't need to act like we're our only resources to look to.