Sharing as Teachers

As a teacher, I am always the first to say that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. I remember first hearing that saying during my internship from my co-operating teacher. I also remember being shocked that she would let me use her materials and feeling so grateful and lucky. Since then I have tried hard to stay true to that notion, why make things more complicating than we need to? Why not share what we have with others? That being said, I have not done a lot of sharing in my years as a teacher. Here are several reasons why I haven’t.


Now that being said, I think I kind of got into a bad habit in terms of sharing my resources. But I actually do love to talk about teaching and teaching approaches. I just don’t seem to find people I jive with super well. Also, the time thing is a big one for me. While collaboration is so nice, it is also very time consuming. I know you might be saying, well wouldn’t planning and sharing resources together save time in the long run? It might, but for day to day things, I don’t see how it could. It seems most of the time you end up discussing and talking it through (sometimes endlessly), when I feel I work best with a quick talk and done. Decided. However, now with my twitter account, I can see how online PLNs could curb this aspect of my sharing dilemma.

I know in his TED talk, Steven Johnson talks about how most eureka moments do not in fact happen while a person is by themselves, instead they occur in discussion with other people and through “stitching ideas together.” I do believe this, sometimes my best ideas happen after I’ve bounced ideas and chatted with someone. But I think the key word there is “after.” I am the type of person who needs to discuss and then definitely need time on my own to ruminate and let the ideas or discussions sit. I guess this is where Johnson’s idea of a “Slow Hunch” comes to mind. For my professional work, I don’t usually need years, but I find if I get an inkling of something, whether through discussions or on my own, I need a few days to think it over. And usually to do only that: think.  Any more over-thinkers out there?

Image courtesy of Giphy.

Now there are certainly benefits to sharing our professional content and I am sure the benefits largely outweigh the pitfalls.


From my current teaching perspective, I think our province’s education system is attempting to push for a more collaborative culture among teachers. As a teacher at one of our new builds, so much of the architecture points to collaborative sharing:

Teacher workroom, open learning space, garage door to have learning in different spots with different groups


I think it is great that they were attempting to create a more conducive environment through building design. That being said, I think that is only half of the battle. For several reasons, I do think all teachers (regardless of environment) need to be given time to collaborate.

-to get our feet planted and settled in a new environment with our new students first
-to get to know each other
-to get a sense of each other’s teaching styles
-to learn how we each “run” our school year
-to actually discuss and plan

Sharing our students’ work online has never been a strong point of mine. In fact, I don’t think I have ever done it. However, in that same vein, I have made a point of looking at other teachers’ blogs to get planning ideas. Has anyone else only used on side of the sharing? (oops) Before this year, I also never had a platform to share my ideas. I now use Seesaw in my classroom, have a twitter account and this blog. Whew!

In using Seesaw, I was only self-taught. For the first month, everything I knew about it, I learned on my own. This was working just fine for my purposes. Though after joining twitter and following @seesaw, I have learned a lot more!


I really had no plans to do further online viewing or reading to learn more about Seesaw as everything I figured out suited all I wanted to use it for. But as a visual person, seeing the pictures peeked my interest and made me realize just how many wonderful things Seesaw can do.

I might now be an online sharing fan!






Online Learning Fun

I must admit that I had never heard of online open education before this course. Once I started looking through the list Alec provided for us, I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed with choosing just one. I decided to start with TED Ed, I have viewed a few of their videos on YouTube and follow their Twitter account. I didn’t realize they also had lesson plans and a whole website dedicated to Education!

I think the website is very user friendly, here is just a snapshot of the homepage.

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As you can see the tabs at the top clearly outline what you might be looking for and separate the topics. For a newcomer to the website, I also liked how they had featured lessons and videos right there for you to see, I really had no idea what topics they would have available for you so it was neat to see that they had a huge variety.

After further exploration, I even learned they had lesson plans. I feel like that is a duh moment but I thought it was just videos, like the TED talks on YouTube. Most of the videos and lessons seem too high for my grade level (Grade One), but I think with some poking around, I could find some that would be a good fit for my students.


Courtesy of Giphy.

One video I found that could be applicable was “Why are sloths so slow?” And though much of the content is probably a bit too advanced, I think I would be able to adapt it for them. Like Tayler mentioned, students would like the visual and learning about sloths. In addition to the video, there are multiple choice and short answer questions. There is also a section called “Dig Deeper” with extra information. Perhaps the most valuable is the “Discuss” section, which is pretty self-explanatory but it encourages higher level thinking and some creativity. As I mentioned these sections would be too advanced for my level but still valuable nonetheless. And I think they also give teachers a starting point for planning.

Another section of TED Ed they have is a “Series” section. THERE ARE SO MANY. I was getting overstimulated just looking at the topics. There is no way I could view them all but I started looking at the one titled “Things they don’t teach in school (but should)” There are a lot of good videos and lessons listed.
Some of the titles include:
-How to be confident
-Is binge watching bad for you?
-How to be more empathetic

And although they don’t all necessarily tie into Saskatchewan outcomes directly, I think there would still be a lot of value in showing them to older students. They would be a great point to start a discussion with and would no doubt be applicable to their current lives.

Overall, I think TED Ed might be my new favourite website, out of any! So many good topics to learn about, for young people and adults. So glad to have heard about it!

The next open education resource I checked out was Khan Academy. I had at least heard of it in the past so I decided to see what it was about. I thought it was just for higher learning (like high school and above). I was pleasantly surprised! They have everything from Kindergarten and up.

One thing I liked was how it was separated by grade and also by subject, so you have the option of how you would like it filtered. I ended up looking mostly through the Kindergarten level (because it’s from the States, their K curriculum usually lines up with our Grade One).

Here are some things I liked about it:
-explanation videos
-practice questions (what I would consider a large selection)
-easy to navigate and manipulate the website
-offers it’s suggestions on progressing through various concepts (this is especially good for parents, as they don’t often know the progressions kids go through when learning)
-the starting quiz that students could do to see where they are at and the lesson recommendations

The one thing I didn’t like was how there was so much going on on the pages, I felt like I almost didn’t know where to look or what to do first. There are menus but I found it hard to decide which one to pick, the left hand side or continue scrolling down?

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Overall it seems like a great resource! Way better than I was predicting! I might use it teaching but it is definitely going to be something I send home to families to use if they would like.


Pocket those tips for later!

Pockets are a wonderful thing with any article of clothing so I was particularly pleased when this dress pattern included pockets. That being said, I was also a little flustered because any rectangle skirt I made I made without pockets because I just couldn’t figure out how you put them in. But alas, here I found myself: a dress with pockets. So I lined up the pockets on the dress and thought to myself, okay this can’t be that hard. Here is the seam I was going to make. Just one straight seam down the side.

But then good thing I thought about it a bit more because then I obviously would have sewn the pockets shut. I read the pattern a couple more times and tried to visualize it in my head, I was pretty sure I had everything lined up but I wanted to double check, so I visited this blog, it was AWESOME. Step by step and it reaffirmed what I thought I was supposed to do. I had to actually sew two seams down the front and back of the dress instead of just one down the side. Here is a GIF I made to try and show you what I mean.

Not sure if you can tell but I have the pockets pinned onto the other sides from where I am pointing my finger. I had to first sew the pockets down first and then sew the front and back together.



Here is the finished dress with the pockets sewn and pressed down. As you can see I also sewed the pocket halves together so they can actually hold something.




Now I have all of the parts assembled together. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I learned it is important to let rayon challis hang for at least 24 hours before hemming to let it adjust to the new shape.

Sharing, copying and being creative

Ze Frank’s TED Talk centers around the idea of sharing online. When Alec first explained the synopsis on our mini lecture, I really didn’t know what that would mean. In Frank’s talk, he gave many examples surrounding sharing online. What struck most with his talk and I think, part of the reason I was so engaged, was that all of the anecdotes and projects he shared had positive outcomes. As I have mentioned in previous posts, so much of what is online is negative or at least that is what is shown in the media. It was so nice and refreshing to see something positive come out of sharing online and of people stepping up to help out, even if it was for something simple and not-life-or-death such the song one father made for his daughter after her tough day. I also liked that his projects demanded creativity, and, what is somewhat astounding, is that people pulled through with creativity, so obviously putting in effort and giving of their time to fulfill the project. For example, the hotline project where people called in with their troubles, where deejays eventually remixed and made them into soundbites. With this particular project, what got me thinking was when Frank mentioned he gained permission from the callers to share their messages. Of course, it’s only natural that he needed permission, but so often I think the gut reaction for people in cases like that would be to say “no! never!” whereas if we as a society would be more willing to share, we might see more positive things happen.

In Michael Wesch’s lecture, he speaks of YouTube and the new things it has offered our society in terms of sharing and connecting with each other. When he introduces Gary Brolsma, the Numa Numa boy, he describes him as sharing his [Gary Brolsma] story, having the time of his life and not caring what anyone else thinks. This is poignant as so often society is all about looking cool, being smooth and acting according to norm (I think what is ironic is that we are also supposed to always be our own person too but that’s a whole other topic). As Wesch states all the recreators of Brolsma’s Numa Numa video weren’t mocking him, they were “venerating him.” After watching Wesch’s interpretation of this decade-old phenomenon, I now see it more as a way to have offered a connection between strangers, a fun music trend to participate in and it allowed people to copy, transform and combine the Numa Numa song into a creative piece of their own. Do you see this as I do?

The video series Everything is a Remix…. I thought it was just a well-accepted and known fact that every story is just a “remix” of another? I distinctly remember sitting in my Grade 12 English class with my teacher saying that all stories can be found in some way of another to be based off of Shakespeare. We were reading Hamlet at the time. And really, I now see the truth in this. I don’t think this means you can’t enjoy a movie or TV series, you just might know the direction it will take. An example of this that I always think of is Nicholas Sparks movies, they all follow the same plot line, give or take a few twists here or there. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch and instead I just make them up in my head, I thought one of the main reasons of watching TV or a movie was to suspend reality and enjoy it a bit.

giphy  giphy1

Courtesy of Giphy (1) (2)

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Screenshot from Everything is a Remix Part 3

In Part 3 of Everything is a Remix, they examine the creation of Apple’s desktop computer, giving a brief history of the Macintosh desktop, detailing where Apple got its ideas to Copy, Transform and Combine to make their own computer. It isn’t hard to see this sequence of events still play out in our tech world. With something as simple as cell phones, we see how one company will introduce one feature and then a few months or a year later, Android or Apple will have a very similar app on their device. I think that that is part of being creative, seeing one person’s idea and then altering it to make it your own. Does anyone agree with this point of view?

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Of course, there is the fine line of blatant copying instead of transforming or combining but I think we often teach students in this model of copying, transforming and combining, and in turn hopefully the difference between that and copying. But that being said, as they say in Part 3 “we need copying to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding.” A fine balance I guess! I certainly try and make this a part of my teaching. An obvious example is teaching them to write, I model the goal of the curricular outcome with a few sentences and then instruct them to do the same but with say, their own favourite animal or whatever topic we are working on. I think as teachers we often do this indirectly with teaching study skills, ways of thinking or moral ways of living (e.g. values). Does anyone else see this connection?

On a roll with my dress

I decided that while I was on a sewing roll I would keep going. I was still on the trickiest bit of sewing, but when I was reading the instructions, I was just so confused. This was a problem, I had no one to ask about reading a sewing pattern. Then I had the clever idea of looking different versions of the dress that people had made on instagram, so I searched #charliecaftan (the name of the dress).

This saved me, what I was thinking in my head was correct. Here are two pictures of what I was working on. Before and after.

IMG_3084.jpg    IMG_3085.jpg


What I was looking up on Instagram was what that middle panel was supposed to look like. As you can see, it was indeed supposed to be sewn in as a window.

However I tried once, and like we saw last time, the fabric is easily damaged so I altered it myself and just tried to do a really neat stitch to seal it down. The instructions from the pattern online said to be very careful to not let it pucker…I was so close! But I figure with the tulip fabric and flowiness of the dress, it will be okay.



Next I had to work on the neckline. I had to start with something called a staystitch. I was figuring it was just a stitch to kind of lay down the fabric, I was right. Here is the end result of the while neckline. I was SO. Proud. of my straight stitching, I am learning it really pays off to listen to what the online experts have to say in terms of ironing, pinning and letting the fabric sew smoothly and easily.


Here I go!

It was a big day for me today. I began sewing. It was a bit delayed as I didn’t realize I needed to use interfacing. But off I traipsed to fabricland, I had to ask for some help, but that’s okay! I learned another new thing- how to iron on fusible interfacing.

I was really trying to read the pattern carefully. In fact, I often read most steps two or three times then practiced it in my head. It was actually really good mindfulness training since I was concentrating so hard.



Like I mentioned I was going to go crazy pinning. At one point in the pattern it said use as many pins as you need, no problem. It also said that this point was the trickiest bit of sewing- at least I got to get it over with on the first day!


Nice, straight seam Marley.

As you can see from the picture the pattern wasn’t lying, even with my pinning, I didn’t get it straight. So I took a deep breath and carefully took out the seam. Fine. Did it again but then I realized, while I sewed it perfectly straight, it was way bigger than the recommended 5/8”.


[Brownie break taken at this point.]

After a delightful treat and some self-talk, I took out the seam a third time, re-reading the pattern instructions and explaining to myself what I was going to do, double checking the seams.





As you can see from the other side, I did a right-sized and also straight seam. BUT this was what I was a bit worried about, damaging the fabric. I am not going to fret about it though, perhaps with some wear and even a quick dry in the dryer might work them out. Also the aim of this project isn’t perfection so it will fine!

Next, I will keep going with the trickiest bit of sewing for this pattern.

If you happen to have any tips for erasing fabric nicks or sewing with rayon, I’d be happy to hear!


Do your research Marley

Now that I had all of my pattern cut and ready, it was time to start sewing! That being said, I was a bit apprehensive about sewing a non-cotton fabric, and the fabric I chose was rayon challis after all. I’ll admit, I never heard of that exact type before purchasing but how hard can it be? Anyway, I decided to do a bit of research in the hopes of finding some tips for handling and sewing this type of fabric.

This was the first website which happened to also be a blog. I started reading… “it tends to be a bit more difficult to sew with than a cotton voile…Rayon challis is a great fabric for the advanced beginner, intermediate, or advanced sewist.”

giphy5Courtesy of Giphy.

There were a few good tips, such as how to carry the fabric from sewing machine to iron while working with it. Since it is such a lightweight and flimsy fabric, it shifts quite easily.

I visited a second blog, and one of this bloggist’s tips was to make sure to wash the fabric twice. Now, growing up it was common knowledge to wash fabric twice to ensure any kinks or shrinking possibilities were out of the way before sewing. However, in the past couple of years, I have worked on some quilts, so have chatted with a few sewing experts in those fields, they say that is a myth, that washing it is unnecessary. Companies now pre-wash fabrics and it just adds an extra step to the sewing process. So I didn’t wash my rayon challis, and besides, it is a flowy, patterned-fabric dress, so should hide any shrinkage that happens. Another tip this same blogger gave was to use a smaller stitch- I even know how to do this on my machine. Woohoo!

The third blog I checked out actually answered one of the questions I had. It said to use a lot of pins when sewing the fabric. Since rayon challis is so flimsy and light, I wasn’t sure if pins would make permanent holes in the fabric or not, so I only used one or two for each pattern piece (thanks to my trusty chickpea weights). Now that I know I can pin away I will be using a lot. A.lot.

Lastly, all three blog posts stated these same tips:
-be very careful not to stretch or pull the fabric when stitching, let it flow naturally and sit flat
-after you finish the whole garment but BEFORE hemming, put it on a hanger and let it just hang for a few days, this will prevent a wonky hem. I guess the fabric then gets time to sit and adjust to all the seams.

I guess rayon challis really is delicate.

giphy6Image courtesy of Giphy.

One thing that was missing however were some inspirational quotes to encourage me to keep trying even when I inevitably get confused or have to rip out some stitches. I like things to go the way I have it planned in my head and when they don’t, with sewing anyway, I can get quite discouraged.

Go be awesome and make things happen! #motivation #triathete

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I guess this could apply to my sewing too?

I feel like I’m writing an online serial. On the next instalment, maybe I’ll actually use my trusty Brother.