Learning through Cooking?

In CEP 810 this week, I studied TPACK, which is a framework describing good teaching as the intersection of content, technology and pedagogy.  According to Dr. Mishra in his 21st Century Learning Conference Keynote, educators should not put technology in the center of their instruction, but rather “repurpose and customize existing technologies for [their] need.”  For my assignment, I had the opportunity to practice repurposing an existing technology for a new use.  Check out the video below to see how a spatula, bowl and dish can become tools to create a cheese plate.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb5hGBlErzs]
In completing this activity, I was reminded of the importance of flexible thinking.  If I had thought that I could only use a knife and cutting board to slice cheese, I would have not been able to complete the task.  I also was reminded that not all of my attempts to repurpose will be successful, as in the case of using the bowl to apply pressure.  However, by modifying and adjusting tools, better results can be obtained.

This understanding has implications for instruction.  Often times, I will not have access to the perfect tool or technology, because of cost, availability, or tech support.  I must learn and practice the repurposing of existing technology in new and innovative ways.  This will further my growth as an educator and better help my students to explore, create and share their learning.


21CLearning. (2012, March 26). Punya Mishra – Keynote Speaker @ 21st Century Learning Conference – Hong Kong 2012. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bwXYa91fvQ

Weaving in the Ends: Networked Learning Project Conclusion

Over the past few week, I have embarked on a learning journey.  Using only internet resources, with an emphasis on YouTube videos and Help Forums, I became a novice at embroidery.  This video shows my journey of learning how to embroider using online resources.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoI326L-8g4]

Through this Networked Learning Project, I was able to apply the learning and cognitive theories about which I had read in CEP 810.  As a teacher, I believe that educators need to be continually learning in order to better our instruction.  As a result of this project, I also believe that lifelong learning is essential to my profession in order to better relate to the learning taking place in my classroom.

Learning how to do something using the internet was not new for me.  I use the internet on a weekly, if not daily, basis to figure out how to fix technology at school, teach a specific skill, and search for resources for my students and staff.  For example, one day I was tasked with putting iPad cases on our school’s new devices.  Those cases were so stiff and protective that I wasn’t sure how to manipulate them.  I turned to YouTube, and sure enough, a middle school student walked me through applying the case and screen protector.

However, learning a new skill to complete a personal project using only video and forums was a challenge.  Being restricted to videos and other online materials was initially scary as I usually begin new personal projects searching books and other written materials.  I also wanted to go to my crafty friends and ask them how to embroider.  I thought I needed an in-person coach to examine my technique and give me tips. What I discovered through this project, though, was that I had resources available to me at any time and place.  I could go back and review a video if I got stuck in the middle of a stitch.  I could share ideas and gain tips from crafters around the world.

After reflecting on networked learning, I will definitely continue to learn in this manner, and I will encourage my students and colleagues to learn this way too.  It is a flexible, personalized, and ultimately community-based approach to learning.  The video format helped this visual learner, and the availability of text further supported my understanding.  I recognize that I wasn’t thoroughly connected to the embroidery community while learning basic stitches, and would have benefited from a more active participation in the online community.  In the future, I will take advantage of the online sewing circle.

Reading and Creating in the 21st Century: a Lesson Plan


Creating enthusiasm around reading is one of the aspects of school librarianship that brings me the
most joy.  Daily, I have the privilege to connect students with an author, series, or genre, which motivates them to read, thereby building their skills as readers.  However, when I witness students telling their peers about a book that was recommended to them, and an entire grade level becomes captivated by Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden series for example, I know that I have fulfilled my job at a deep level.

Over the past month, I have been working with a 5th grade class during the English Language Arts portion of their day.  Students have been reading books in groups of 2s and 3s.  In collaborating with the classroom teacher, as well as other librarians in my district, we discussed how students could share what they had learned in their reading partnerships. Since I’ve been enrolled in CEP 810, and have recently been reflecting on learning competencies for our digital world, I developed a plan for an iMovie book trailer lesson, and look forward to sharing it with my team.

One of the competencies outlined by Renee Hobbs in her book Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom is that of creation.  In this digitally connected world, students must learn and practice creating content, which will communicate their learning to a specific audience in an appropriate manner (Hobbs, 2011). This competency also fits with Thomas and Brown’s reflection in their book A New Culture of Learning.  Due to our networked age, learning environments succeed when students are able to demonstrate their learning through the creating of content (Thomas and Brown, 2011).   In the creation of a book trailer in this lesson, students will reflect on the story elements and key themes of the book, develop a trailer with images and movie clips that best represents the ideas in the book, and then share that trailer with an authentic, wider audience.  This learning experience will allow students to design, create and share a product, with the end goal of inspiring other students to want to read those books.  They will be able to choose images and themes that represent their book, and play with the story elements to best hook a future reader.  By sharing the movies with other 5th grade classrooms within our building and across our district, students will be able to impact reading practices of a wider audience, as well as get recommendations from their peers.

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

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

Sew What’s New In My Networked Learning Project?

Before beginning this networked learning project, I was an aspiring textile artist, with a dream to recreate an image I had seen on a card.  While still firmly a novice, I have learned different kind of stitches, purchased embroidery supplies, and transferred patterns to cloth since the start of this project.

IMG_5018             IMG_5025

My embroidery journey began by searching blogs and tutorials for ideas of what kind of supplies I needed, and which stitches I should learn.  After research, I decided that my pattern used a backstitch, a stem stitch, a daisy stitch and some french knots.  I viewed tutorials and replicated the stitches on my test fabric.  As shown from my example above, my initial stitches were a bit uneven and my line wavered.  I learned that a stitching along a pencil line can make shapes more even, but that practice is the only way to improve stitch evenness.

One of the early challenges I faced was the question about which fabric to use.  I wasn’t getting clear answers from tutorials or blogposts.  I decided to reach out to a crafter by commenting on her blog, asking for her recommendations.  She answered my comment!  Cotton it is.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 9.12.43 PM

Thus armed with fabric, floss and fear, I began.  I transferred the design from my postcard to the fabric, and stitched.  And stitched.  And stitched.  And ripped out stitches, re-watched tutorials on how to make those stitches, and stitched some more.  Several hours later…


I did it!  My stitches aren’t perfect, but I am so excited by the outcome.  I learned four stitches and recreated the pattern that I’ve had on my wall all these years! I am ready to take those mad stitching skills to the next level and work on a tea towel for my final project.

I made a stop motion video to recap my Merci project from beginning to end, using pictures that I took about every 2 minutes to document my progress.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUU6c7Z2kwc&w=560&h=315]

While I have enjoyed learning how to embroider, I’ve also discovered challenges.  Knowing which beginning resources to use, and how to bookmark them meaningfully for future reference was daunting.  Fortunately, I remembered that I had used Pinterest in the past to curate lesson plan ideas and created an Embroidery How-to board to keep track of resources.  Additionally, I found a community of embroiders on Pinterest, and have searched their pins to discover new tutorials and ideas.

My favorite tool for learning embroidery has been Mary Corbet’s NeedleNThread tutorial videos.  These videos are concise, with clear verbal explanation and visual demonstration.  Her tutorial series is extensive.  I also benefitted from the Kin Community videos on basics, stitches, and pattern transfer.  These beautiful videos demonstrated basic steps. My other pins link to other tutorials, and visual inspiration.

In addition to navigating and remembering in an overwhelming digital environment, I have been challenged by the somewhat isolated process of this project.  I have always learned in the context of a community, but for this project I had to chart the course of my learning and find resources I needed on my own, without the support of discussion partners or sewing circle friends.  Learning this way was not easy.  However, I was reminded of the interpersonal nature of online lifelong learning through my interaction with the crafty blogger.  She, and other teachers, were one click away.  Even if my stitches wavered, or my stem needed to be ripped out yet again, I could easily go back to the video lesson, review steps, and reach out to my online community.

Getting Things Done with Evernote


COO image by skeeze / Pixabay

“An elephant never forgets.”  Somedays I wish that an elephant followed me because, in addition to the cuteness factor, my myriad lists crowd out space for remembering.  Thankfully that elephant does exist on my computers and mobile devices in the form of Evernote.

In learning to improve workflow this week in CEP 810, I was challenged by David Allen’s Ted Talk in which he described the impact of psychological bandwidth on creativity.  I wanted to explore a tool to help me easily write down my thoughts.  Since Evernote is a web-based tool and mobile app, I was drawn to this tool’s accessibility.  I could keep the same lists at school, at home, on the go… Wow!

I easily signed up for a free account, and created notebooks and notes.  I added the Evernote capture button to my browser to organize web information.  This ability to import and annotate articles, websites, and screenshots is a powerful tool for keeping track of internet resources. I found the phone app to be easy to navigate, and even added pictures from my camera roll to notebooks.

Evernote’s robust nature can be overwhelming, though. Thankfully many tutorials exist online, including this great introduction by Steve Dotto.

Thoughts on Professional Learning Networks


This Poppet is a picture of my current Professional Learning Network.  In creating this infographic for CEP 810 demonstrating the sources to which I turn for professional insight and growth, I was both surprised and grateful.  I was surprised by how many digital channels of learning are available.  Learning tools are accessible whenever and wherever needed.  For example, I don’t need to attend a physical conference, though I do enjoy learning that way, but I can attend webinars from the comfort of my home, or from the convenience of my school library checkout desk.  Likewise, I can get together with other librarians in my school district at our monthly meetings in various schools, or I can hangout online with them, or with librarians in other states, to discuss lesson ideas or book recommendations.  I was also surprised by how much I rely on social media for learning.  Not only do I keep track of friends, interests, and decorating/cooking tips through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, but also I use these channels to curate lesson plans and keep track of current trends in education.

This exercise in mapping my PLN also filled me with gratitude.  Being an educator can be a lonely job.  Elementary teachers are often sequestered within the walls of their classroom.  School librarians can be isolated one step further in that we are often the only one in our building.  How amazing that I am not isolated in 2015.  I have a rich network of mentors and motivators, often in a variety of fields, spanning the globe with unfathomable depths of wisdom and resources.  What an exciting time in which we live!

Networked Learning Project: Blog Post #1

A few years ago, I attended a conference for creatives and received an issue of Uppercase in my goodie bag.  I loved paging through the issue, being inspired by the featured artists.  However, my favorite part of the magazine was a postcard subscription insert.  The front of the postcard contained a photograph of an exquisitely embroidered “Merci”.  I eventually moved the magazine to my bookshelf, but put the card on the bulletin board in my room.  I had intended to learn how to replicate the embroidery, but time and life got away from me.  However, whenever I’d look at my bulletin board, or even wander through Anthropologie and browse the colorfully embroidered tea towels in the kitchen section, I was reminded of my desire to learn how to stitch by hand.  Imagine my delight when asked to learn how to do something, using YouTube and Internet help forums, for CEP 810.  My homework would be to learn how to embroider, and blog about the learning adventure.  By the end of our learning experiment, I would like to have replicated the Merci embroidery, and have embroidered a tea towel using at least 3 different kinds of stitches.

In perusing the internet to find embroidery teaching sources and an affinity community, I discovered a renaissance of the hand arts. Embroidery is not just what Jane Austen heroines accomplished in drawing rooms, but it has been picked up by many people around the world.  By visiting Pinterest, I saw pages of pins where embroidery resources have been curated.  I was inspired to create my own Pinterest board to keep track resources I discover.

Currently, I have found an abundance of youtube videos, which demonstrate the various embroidery stitches.  Some of the videos can be found here and here.  Sublime Stitching, founded by Jenny Hart who created the Merci postcard design, has written tutorials on the various stitches, links for pattern ideas, and blog articles. Mary Corbett’s NeedleNThread website is an extensive stitching resource with video tutorials, and forum support.

As a true novice, I will learn which stitches I need to learn at Sublime Stitching, and then learn them through NeedleNThread, Youtube, and other sites that I discover.  I plan on learning a different stitch each week, and put them together for my final project, which will be a tea towel.  I’m looking forward to the adventure and the finished products!

CEP 810 Learning, Understanding and Conceptual Change Essay

For week one in CEP 810, my assignment was to compose an essay in which I reflected on Chapters 1-3 in Bransford, Brown & Cocking’s (2000) How People Learn.  Additionally, I was to explore how my understanding of learning had an impact on my view of this course, as well as in my teaching.  The full essay of 800 words can be found here.  To summarize, in my essay, I described how the study of expertise and use of specific teaching methodologies positively influence learning.  I hope you enjoy my reflection and I welcome your feedback.