Moving on to Bigger and Better Things

I am starting to realize that quilting is a very long, time consuming, and tedious process. Sewaholic explains quilting as: “you make a block, and then a bunch more, and then you sew them all together to make the quilt top”. Sounds simple right? That’s what I thought too but, let me tell you, it is a LOT harder then it sounds. All the little steps that go into making each block or sewing all the blocks together make each process a lot more work than I could have ever expected.

Finally!!! I never thought this day would come, but I am on to the step where I get to sew all the rows together to make one big quilt top. If you have read my blog 1 Square at a time you probably have a good idea of the process I am going to have to use to sew the rows together. The process is very similar to when I made each row, the only difference is that I will be working with more fabric and sewing longer seams.

Sewing longer seams brings its own set of challenges. With the seam being longer, there is more time for your seam allowance to get off. I was really worried about this because, as we all know, I am not an expert sewer. Quilty has a large online collection of online instructional videos. Episode 318 is entitled How to sew Long Seams. This video offered a lot of helpful tips and tricks:

  1. Take your time and stop often to check the underside.
  2. Don’t hold your fabric too tight. You want to just guide the fabric and let the machine do the rest of the work.
  3. Set the seam before you press it.
  4. Change what side is on top because then if one seam is a little off it will correct itself with the next seam being the other way.

After sewing my first and second row together, I noticed that a few of my blocks were not lining up. I thought this was just another side effect of the blocks not being square. I was kind of disappointed because I had worked so hard to pin the seams together of each block but it still managed to shift while sewing. However, the blog Craftsy did not let me down again and offered a solution to prevent this from happening again. The suggestion was that I sew each seam together and then sew the whole seam together. Most of the rest of the roles are pretty accurate.

The blocks that do not line up in the first two rows.

The blocks that do not line up in the first two rows.

When, I finally finished sewing all the rows together I discovered that my quilt was a little unsquare. It is suggested that if it is under ¼” off then it is okay. I measured corner to corner to see how much off mine was. Unfortunately, mine was of by just over an inch so I had to try and square it off. I did not have a square big enough so I folded the quilt into quarters so that it was small enough to use my square to square off the four sides. The closest I could get it was about 3/8” off so its not quit ¼” off but as close as I could get it so I am just going to run with that.

Please check out the My Quilting Journey Haiku Deck I made to illustrate the process of sewing the quilt top together. This is the first time I have made a Haiku Deck so it was some new technology to play around with.

Pensieve Resource Package

I had a blast working with Tessa Vibe, Breanne Hack, and Jennifer Clace to create our resource package for ECMP 355. We chose to focus our resource package on Pensieve because some of our group members had heard about Pensieve during internship and shared it with the rest of us. None of us had ever heard of Pensieve before internship or had used it or seen it implemented in the classroom. So we were curious what all the excitement was about. As well, I was excited to explore Pensieve more because during internship, I had the opportunity to experience guided reading with some elements of Daily 5. During our guided reading time, I would meet with two groups of students each day. While reading with the student, I would try to collect anecdotal records. However, I was never able to establish a good system for data collection. My method included having a book and dedicating a page for each student. However, that did not always seem like the best method. Some days I would just write my anecdotal records on sticky notes and then try to get them into my book after. On other days, I would write one sheet for all the students in the group and then sort through the notes on each student. On the days I was really organized, I would have my book there at the table with me so that I could write on each student’s page. In the end I was not overly fond of any of these methods and was still seeking a better method.

I think using Pensieve could be a better method for me. Pensieve is a program created by the two sisters to help teachers take better organized anecdotal records. Pensieve was originally designed for Daily 5 as the goals for comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and efficiency are already pre-loaded into the program for the teacher to choose from. However, a teacher could enter their own goals to customize it for any subject.

So what exactly is Pensieve you ask? The main features of Pensieve are that, as the teacher, you can enter each student in your class and their reading level. You then have a space for each student to set what goal they are going to be working on, the instructions you will give, record anecdotal rerecords, decide what the next step should be, and whether the student has met this goal. As well, you can group the students and then record the information based on the group. We created a smore with more information on Pensieve and screen casts on how to add your students and create groups. I would recommend any teacher curious about Pensieve or wanting to use it in there classroom to watch these videos. You will discover just how easy Pensieve is. Please check out our Pensieve smore!!

Enter your class on Pensieve

Enter your class on Pensieve

Space to manage each students information.

Space to manage each students information.

Another great thing about Pensieve is that is has bunch of really cool extra features. Our favorite feature is the ‘share’ feature. So if another teacher has Pensieve, you can send a student’s information to them. This would be really helpful if a student is moving part way though the year or at the end of the year. That way the new teacher has an idea of where to start. The video bellow will give a more detailed explanation of all the extra features. This video can also be found on our smore.

 

The final section of our smore and resource package is a collection of our favorite apps that can be integrated into the different areas of Daily 5.

Apps for Daily 5

Apps for Daily 5

 

 

Houston We Have A Problem

I was so excited to sew all my blocks together into strips. I got through the first four rows with no problems and then my progress came to an abrupt halt. When I went to sew the blocks together in the fifth row, I took the stack of material over to my sewing machine. I thought the stack looked funny: it looked a lot smaller then the last four. So when I counted the stack I was devastated to discover that I only had 5 blocks! Where is the sixth block?? It was officially missing in actions.

Missing a block.

Missing a block.

This was something I was worried about when I first started cutting out my blocks because I knew I was going to have a lot of small loose pieces. My organizational system was to stack the strips for each block and then stack the blocks for each row. However, this strategy did not work very well for me because I still lost pieces. The fact that my work area was a mess could have also played a role in the fact that I lost a piece.

What a mess!

What a mess!

A strategy that I should have implemented that would have been really helpful is if I would of kept all the pieces in little plastic bags. I gathered this information from a blog called Quick Stitch: Keeping Quilt Blocks. I really liked this blog post because it did not just tell me what to do. Rather, it outlines organizational problems that the author was facing and then explained what strategies she used to cover come these problems. I found it very helpful that she explained both the problem and the strategy to overcome the problem. That way, I was able to compare my struggle to hers and see if that solution would work for the problem I was facing. That way I did not have to waste my time trying things that may not be relevant to my problem. Rather then using little plastic bags, the following video shows how I could have used a bag that was originally designed for fishing to store all the pieces. I find that one of the great things about learning from online resources is that people have different ideas and perspectives. Therefore, you are going to get a wide variety of solutions for any problem and one of them is bound to work for you.

After looking and looking and looking, I mean I looked everywhere for that missing block but it was nowhere to be found. So I looked back at my blog post “Designing my Quilt” to figure out what color and patters should be in this block. That is one great thing about blogging about this project. It creates an organized space for date collection where I can store resources to refer back to latter when need be. I figured out that the outside strips in the block were suppose to be the pink diamond print and the inside strips are green and blue. Of course I did not have enough scrap of pink to cut the strips. So I made one more trip to Fabricland.

Geting fabric for hopefully the last time!!

Geting fabric for hopefully the last time!!

By Monday afternoon I had the new fabric strips cut, sewn into a new block and continued on sewing the last two rows. Now of course just after I finished making the new block I found the missing block. I was looking for the TV remote and for some reason under the couch cushions seems to be a common hiding place for the remote at my house. I did not find the remote under the cushion but I did find the missing block. When I was ironing all the blocks I had the ironing board right behind the couch. So I am guessing that while I was ironing the block fell off the ironing board and somehow made its way under the cushion.

Found you!

Found you!

So I know have finished sewing all six rows together. The next step will be to attach all the rows together to create the actual quilt top.

When The Squares Are Not Square….

For those of you that have been following my quilting journey, I want to share some of the challenges I encountered after I finished sewing my blocks and when I started sewing the strips together. If anyone else is a quilter and has encountered any of the same problems or has any idea on how to overcome them, I would love it if you would share your wisdom in the comments below! Thanks in advance.

The biggest problem that I found was when I went to square up some of my blocks, they were too short to actually cut to 11 inches by 11 inches. I was glad to find out that this is not a problem that only beginner quilters have. That gave me a lot of reassurance that I had not failed and there was still hope that my quilt would still turn out okay. Apparently to prevent the blocks form turning out to small I should have been measuring and ironing them along the way after each seam. One of the solutions that I found was to iron them again to try to get the seams even tighter and stretch the fabric out a little bit. Luckily that has worked so far. Some of the blocks were right at 11 inches so I did not have to cut anything off. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not because I found that when I could cut the edges of I was able to make sure the block edges were straight. Even when the edges of the blocks were not straight or a teeny tiny bit to small I was able to adjust the seam allowance when sewing the strips to make it work. Another cool solution I found was you can iron freezer paper onto the back of the block. This will give you a little bit of extra length in the seam allowance. Of course, you can’t add to much length using this method because you don’t want to see the freezer paper but you can use it to add a bit of length so you have more ‘fabric’ to create the seam. Luckily, I have not had to use this method yet because my blocks were not that far off. But, I have only squared off twelve blocks and sewn two strips so far. I will keep it in mind in case I encounter a real problem.

The other problem I encountered was once I had four or five blocks attached together, I had a tough time maneuvering the fabric. I found that if I let the other fabric hang over the edge of my sewing desk, it was easier then having all the fabric bunched up on the machine. I was better able to keep the seam straight because I could actually see what I was doing.

Adding the 6th block

Adding the 6th block

The final problem I encountered was when I was finished sewing six blocks together the bottom of the strip is not straight. Like I said in the above blog post, I am not sure if I am suppose to square off the strips or if I just adjust the seam allowance when sewing the strips together.

Can  you tell the edge is not straight?

Can you tell the edge is not straight?

 

Assistive Technology

Technology in the classroom is rapidly expanding including the assistive technology that is available to students. As a teacher, I feel that it is my job to create an environment where students are given the tools that they need to be successful. Allowing a child to use technology to complete academic tasks is not cheating or taking the easy way out. Rather it is creating an inclusive environment and providing the right tools so that students can perform to their full potential.

For children with disabilities, assistive technology can help them overcome hurdles and conquer barriers that may be present due to their disability. I think a strength of allowing students to use assistive technology is that it allows the teacher to assess the task at hand and helps to eliminate other aspects. For example, if you want to assess a student’s ability to construct a story with all the elements of a story you have been studying. But if you have a student the struggles with written expression, it will affect their ability to get a story down on paper. Therefore, to ask the student to hand write a story may not be an accurate picture of their understanding of the elements of a story. You want to assess their ability of being able to create a story that has all the elements of story not details such as their spelling. So I think allowing students to use assistive technology to orally scribe the story still gives an accurate picture of what you want to assess.

Assistive technology can gives students with disabilities the ability to fully participate in activities in the classroom. As well, it will build their independence and self esteem in the classroom. I think the following video perfectly illustrates the independence assistive technology can grant to students with disabilities.

I have personally seen the difference that assistive technology can make for a learner. Throughout high school I was supported by a few different means of assistive technology that led to my academic success and making school a less stressful environment for me.

There are many things that need to be considered when exploring assistive technology for students. However some of my favorite assistive technologies that I have experienced using are:

  • Dragon Dictate– Dragon Dictate is available as both an app and software for your computer. It is a voice recognition software that allows you to speak to the computer while your computer is typing what you say. The one thing I do not like about the Dragon Dictate software is you have to train it to listen to your voice. This can be time consuming. Check the above link for Dragon Dictate as it provides a great detailed explanation on how to get Dragon Dictate, what situations it will support you in, and what it is capable of.
  • Kurzweil– Kurzweil is software that offers the opposite service of Dragon Dictate. With Kurzweil, you are able to scan in any text document. Kurzweil will then read the text to the student. As the text is read to the student, each word is tracked by a colored bar. Kurzweil also has many features to go along with the text being read to the students. Check out the video on the home page of the Kurzweil site (found at the link above) for further explanation of additional features.
  • Livescribe Smartpen– I would say that the Smartpen is the best kept secret and most under used piece of assistive technology. With a Smartpen you are able to record audio along with any text that you write at the same time as the audio. You can then upload the audio and written notes onto your computer or tablet. Clicking on different places in the text will take you to that spot in the audio. To fully understand what a Smartpen is capable of, check out the pen casts at the above Livescribe Smartpen link.
Smartpen and Notebook

Smartpen and Notebook

  • Office 365- Many people may not consider Office 365 “assistive technology” however, the app has some great features. With the app on a smart phone you can use Word online and scribe any word processing document. Then because the document is on your Office 365 account, you can open the document on your computer to print or do any formatting that needs to be done. This is my new favorite tool. I learned about it at a Technology Lunch and Learn during internship. I then used it all the time during internship. I was AMAZED at how accurate the voice recognition is: I would almost say that it is perfect.
Office 365 app

Office 365 App

1 Square at a Time

After 2 spools of thread, winding the bobbin 4 times, 2 pieces of burnt fabric (don’t ask how I managed that!), 1 trip back to the fabric store, a few mistakes, 4 ripped out seams (thanks mom for showing me how to do that!), and 3 nights of sewing until the wee hours of the morning I am happy to say that I am officially done sewing all the blocks.

The next step in my journey of quilting is to sew the blocks into rows of six. My pattern  offered very little direction on how to do this, but luckily there are some great visuals that show what it should look like when the rows are all sewn together so I think I have figured it out. I have found visuals very helpful when learning things online. When you are learning how to do things online, you only have as many instructions as have been posted. You can’t ask for further explanation like you can when you are learning how to do something face-to-face with the teacher. However, I have found that if I am a little confused as to what the instructions are saying, if there is a picture as to what I am suppose to achieve I can usually figure it out.

 

Great visuals in the pattern to help when there is not enough instructions.

Great visuals in the pattern to help when there is not enough instructions.

All 36 blocks done a ready for the next step!

All 36 blocks done a ready for the next step!

Even though I was pretty sure I knew how I was suppose to sew the blocks together, I wanted to double check so I tried to find another resource to explain the process. However, I was not successful in finding anything. I am going to following a similar process as to when I sewed the strips together into blocks. I will start by putting the blocks right side together, then I will sew the blocks together using a 1/4” inch seem allowance. Then, once all the blocks are sewed together into a rom, I will take the row over the ironing board to press the seams flat. The one thing I do know from my pattern is that I need to press the seams in opposite directions in each row so that it will make sewing the rows together easier. One thing that I need to look into later is if I am suppose to square off the strips before sewing all the strips together. If anyone has an advice on this I would greatly appreciate it!

Right Side Together

Right Side Together

1/4 inch seam allowance.

1/4 inch seam allowance.

First finished row!! :)

First finished row!! 🙂

My First Attempt at Coding.

Yesterday in ECMP 355, we talked about coding. I heard the term “coding” before but I had no idea what it was or what it did. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I understand a code to be what is used to make websites, web programs, apps, or games. A code is like a set of instructions that allows a person to tell a computer what they want it to do. This sounded really complicated to me, and I thought I never used a code in what I do online. But Katia explained that when I click on the text editing mode and put a picture into my blog, the great big long line of letters and numbers I get is an html code. I know I did not make this code but thanks for boosting my confidence Katia for reassuring me that I do know what a code is. I was excited to try to code something of my own….until I actually tried. I was SOOOO frustrating!!! My main frustration stemmed from the fact that I had a vision of what I wanted to do but I could not figure out how to do it. In the beginning, I wanted to have the crab crawl across the bottom of the sea with a school of fish swimming above him and a frog jumping up and down on the bottom of the ocean. It took me close to two hours to get the crab to crawl across the bottom of the ocean. So, I ended up settling for just the crab and one fish. As well, I was frustrated by the fact that the instructions, I put in said ‘ten steps’ or turn ‘fifteen degrees’ but that’s not actually how much the animals moved. So to get the fish to turn in a full circle it was a lot of guess and checking to see how many ‘degrees’ I needed for him to go in a full circle because it was not 365 degrees like I thought it should be. And then the guess and test method took forever because I could not figure out how to reset the fish to the beginning if it did not end up where I wanted it to. So, I would delete the fish and start again. I am sure there is a much easier way to do this but I could not figure it out.

I think coding could be a valuable leaning experience for students because they would have to use their problem solving skills. In math, students often use guess and check when solving word problems. To effectively solve word problems using the guess and check method, they have to develop a system to follow. Having the students practice their problem solving skills in a visual manner will help some learners to then better implement them in math. As well, coding is a beneficial learning activity for students because they are asked to see the big picture (finished product) and then break it down to see each individual part.

However, I don’t think coding is valuable learning activity for all students. As teachers, I think we need to realize that some student would really enjoy and benefit from learning how to code and others would find it very frustrating, confusing, and/or stressful. If I was to have my students engage in a coding activity, I would also provide alternate activities that would have the same learning benefits so that students could chose as to what they did. For example, students could make a short video clip where their characters are made out of plasticine and they have to move the characters a little bit at a time to make a fluent motion in the video. Students would be developing the same skills but in a different manner that might not be as frustrating.

Check out my first coding project- Under the Sea!! Click on the green flag to see the animals play under the sea.

 

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