Friday, January 29, 2016

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 1/29/16

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

I Wonder? – answers to interesting questions (L:G; SA:A)

Numberock – Youtube videos that make learning and teaching math more fun. (L:T; SA:M)

Puppet Pals HD – free iPad app; “Create your own unique shows with animation and audio in real time! (L:G; SA:A)

PicCollage – “Photo editor and collage maker with template effects  (L:G; SA:A)

Highbrow – “a free email subscription service that brings bite-sized courses straight to your inbox every morning.” (L:T; SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Teaching Knitting

Knitting is the process of making fabric from a strand of yarn.

People knit as early as the 11th century and both men and women knit.

In many countries, children learn to knit at a young age.  I think it is a shame that we don’t do this with children in the United States. By learning to knit, children improve muscle coordination, reading skills, math skills, and self-concept. Every time I finish a project, I feel really proud of myself for my accomplishment.

There are many YouTube videos that can teach you how to knit. That is what I used to teach myself to knit.

I would start off with a simple project that they can finish easily and feel proud of when they are done.  A dishcloth might be a fun project that they could give as a gift.  There are many free patterns for dishcloths on the Internet.

I would start off with big needles and offer a variety of cotton yarns. I want the students to have as much choice as possible.

First I would teach them how to cast on stitches using a cable cast-on. Many people cast on for the beginner and then start teaching the stitches. I think it is important to learn how to cast on in case they make a mistake and need to start over when I’m not with them.

After they cast on the right number of stitches, I would teach the knit stitch.

Here is the standard rhyme that many people were taught when they learned how to knit.

In through the front door,
Run around the back.
Down through the window
And off jumps Jack!

Then they learn how to follow the pattern.

If a purl stitch or knit 2 together stitch is introduced, I would teach it when it is needed.

When the pattern is finished, I would teach how to cast off the stitches.

I think it is important for students to know that the more experience they get, the better their finished products will look.

Do you knit? Have you taught someone else to knit? What process did you follow? Please share.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Spilly Jane Mittens – Book Review and Giveaway

Recently Cooperative Press sent me Spilly Jane Mittens by Jane Dupuis to review and I am not being paid to review this book. The book is available on Amazon for $26.95 and the eBook version on Ravelry for $16.95.

I have to start off by saying that I love this book and I couldn’t wait to review it! I love doing color work and I love mittens so what better combination than both in this book!

First of all, two different types of thumbs are discussed. One is called the peasant thumb (which I also think of as an “afterthought” thumb) and the gusset thumb. Different people have different preferences so I like how both are addressed. The author also tells you how to convert the pattern to a gusset thumb if the peasant thumb is in the design.

There are 13 wonderful patterns with unique designs. You can see the photos of the different patterns HERE. I also liked that the some designs are unisex. My husband is picky and would not wear anything that he thinks has a “girly” design on it.  Most of the mittens are offered in three different sizes, which make the patterns easy for different sized people.  I have to confess that I want to make every one of these mittens!

Throughout the book there are many tips and tricks, which are extremely helpful. There are also great tutorials with awesome photos that help make the instructions very clear. The patterns are also written for different skill levels so if someone was just starting to learn color work, there are some to start with. As the knitter’s experience level grows, more difficult patterns can be tried.

I would highly recommend this book and believe it would be a great asset to any knitting library!

If you like the book and want to enter to win a digital copy, please leave a comment below by February 9th along with your Ravelry name or email address.  I will draw a name on February 10 using a random number generator and the winner will get a digital copy of the book. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Update: The winner is #6 HeavensJoy! Congratulations! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Different Directions

In Left Turns from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

What kind of left turn have you experienced lately?”

When I decide that I’m going to knit a pair of socks, I get excited about the thought. I love knitting socks! In fact, this year, I’m hoping to knit 12 pairs of socks by the end of the year.

In January, I picked out the pattern that I wanted to follow and then chose the yarn that I had. This yarn was in my stash since last June. I love the colors and the feel of the yarn but I’ve been reluctant to use it in my knitting because it is so beautiful. But one of the knitting challenges I’m participating in is called Don’t Hoard The Precious means that I’m trying to use some yarn that I bought last year instead of just hoarding it.

I started on the foot and really loved knitting on my socks. I knit the pattern on the top of the foot but didn’t on the sole because I don’t like walking on the patterns. Once I added the heels, I started the pattern up the leg. When I finished the leg and was about to add the cuff, I stopped to try them on. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t fit over my foot! It was too small.

I ended up ripping out the socks all the way to the foot and reknitting the socks. I needed to make sure that I spread the yarn out more so they wouldn’t be so tight. I kept trying them on as I knit up the leg. They are still a little tight over the foot but I reused to rip out the socks yet again.

So, basically, I just about knit up 2 pairs of socks this month! I didn’t want to do this but I did it.

This reminded me of how many times I plan a lesson and it doesn’t go the way I had hoped. I’m usually more excited about before and sometimes disappointed afterward when the students aren’t as excited about the lesson as I was.

Sometimes a student hopes to learn how to do something faster than it actually happens. They get frustrated and lash out in anger.

It is important to explain to students that we all take different directions sometimes when we are learning. It is important to keep trying and not give up.  Sometimes when we find ourselves going in a different direction, we need to decide if we want to keep going that way or work our way back to the right road. It is also important that as a teacher I help them go in the direction that they need to go.

Have you ever ended up going in a different direction than what you intended? Please share.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Joyful Learning

In The Poisonous Mythology of Grittiness from The Tempered Radical, Bill Ferriter asks,

“What if we believed that ALL learning should be fundamentally joyful?”

I love learning! I can’t help myself but I love learning new things. Sometimes it is easy to learn and sometimes I struggle. Sometimes I learn that what I want to do just isn’t the right fit for me. But I think I’ve been lucky because my parents always encouraged me and always expected me to do my best. They expected me to succeed and I worked hard to meet their expectations. My parents always said that learning came easy to me but I think it is because I loved learning.

When I first started teaching, I was really surprised that not everyone loved learning like I did. I read about it and took classes on it but it didn’t seem real to me. How could anyone not love learning!

Then over time I learned that my students really struggled with learning. They wanted to learn as badly as I wanted to when I was their age but it seemed like they had obstacles thrown in their way at every turn. I watched this happen over and over again and I felt my heart break for my students.

Too many times I heard other teachers call them lazy or unmotivated. I even heard their parents say the same thing but not because they believed it but because the “experts” told them this about their children over and over again. Once the students were labeled this way, they had no desire to try. They had failed so many times that they were tired of being beaten down.

I decided that I needed to help them taste success. They needed to start seeing some positive things happen so that they could feel the joy too. I believed that once they started doing well, they would rush into learning new things! I couldn’t wait to make this happen.

But I was to be disappointed. Many of my students started to pass their tests and make better grades but they weren’t excited about it. Some of them were cautious and thought it was just luck. Others thought it wouldn’t last and was distrustful about their success. The only way to combat these feelings was to take time and continue to help them make forward steps. The more they succeeded, the more willing they were to take risks but it was a very slow process.

Hopefully by the end of the school year, their successes were giving them some joy. I hope it encouraged them to want to learn more. Isn’t that what a teacher should be doing?

How do you get your students to feel this joy? Please share.