Going Gothic: Learning Project Week Five


Taken from http://6teen.wikia.com/wiki/The_Goths?file=Gothjude.jpg

From 6teen Wiki Fandom

No, I didn’t do an extreme makeover goth edition for my learning project this week (although that could be a sweet learning project).  I did, however, learn a new style of calligraphy and when I wrote my title this week I couldn’t help but think of Jude from 6teen (did anybody else love this show?)

This week for my learning project I made my first attempt at one of the oldest forms of hand lettering around. The style of lettering I tried is known as Gothic Calligraphy and it was a style of calligraphy that was common in medieval manuscripts. I am a little bit of a history nerd and found a great website that explains the history of the style of script that has been around for over 500 years and was championed by Charlemagne. The website also shows examples of beautiful examples of this style of calligraphy in the Gutenberg Bible.

While my attempt at Gothic or Blackletter calligraphy wasn’t as elaborate or beautiful as the examples you can see on the website I don’t think it turned out too bad.

Some points about this type of calligraphy:

  • It is a much slower process than some of the other forms of hand lettering and calligraphy I have tried so far. Where the brush lettering was a flowing and free form this type is far more finessed and takes much more focus.
  • In this type of calligraphy, you have to pay special attention to the way that you are holding your marker.
  • I would hate to be the poor monk in a monastery somewhere having to copy pages and pages of text in this intricate calligraphy form.

In order to learn this style of calligraphy, I had to find a different YouTube account to follow because the Julie Turrie Calligraphy account I used over the last week or two did not have a tutorial of the Gothic Style. I was nervous to try finding a new video because I liked the fact that in the ones I have used so far that there was no voice over, it was just relaxing acoustic guitar. The video I found does have a voice over but I actually enjoyed listening to it and hearing someone else affirm my feeling that calligraphy is actually quite hard. The other thing that I really liked about the video was that there was a level of honesty in the video that I haven’t encountered previously. Instead of cutting and splicing the video to hide the mistakes the guy made he left them in to show that it isn’t possible to create the perfect letter every time.

On a side note, I also looked into the possibility of using apps on my phone to supplement my learning project and I was hugely disappointed. I thought it would be really cool to find an app that had a variety of practice pages or even lists or examples of different lettering styles all in one place. If you are willing to pay for such things there is a fair amount of selection for apps you can choose. But as far as free apps there is barely anything. So if you are the type of person who is techy enough to design and launch an app my million dollar idea is that there should be a free app where calligraphy and lettering artists can share their work and then people can select from a variety of styles and use their phone or tablet to practice forming letters.

Next week I think I will try to experiment a bit more with incorporating images and writing in different shapes. I still struggle with spacing the letters and forming words so I think that will be a good next step to challenge the basic skills I have built so far.


Digital Citizenship and the Disconnection Dilemma

This week in class we talked about the importance of teaching our students Digital Citizenship as opposed to simply internet safety skills. As educators, it is our responsibility to provide students with the tools they need in order to be successful in the real world. With the world becoming increasingly digital and the normalization of younger and younger children accessing social media and other digital platforms, it is more important than ever for schools to respond proactively and teach students the skills they need to become an effective digital citizen. That being said I appreciated the perspectives of the articles we read this week but I do not necessarily agree 100% with the messages of the articles we read this week.

I enjoyed the practical nature of the article by Jason Ohler. The points he raised about the importance of teaching students through the “one life” perspective, where “educators to help students live one, integrated life, by inviting them to not only use their technology at school but also talk about it within the greater context of community and society”, were powerful (Ohler, 2011). We no longer live in an age where kids are not exposed to digital media. Our students live lives that are saturated by technology and as a result, it is important to use this to our advantage to make learning more authentic and engaging and to teach them the skills to handle it correctly.

That being said I didn’t agree completely with the immersion view of the article. I certainly believe that technology is an asset but in my opinion, kids should still be encouraged to be kids. It makes me mad when I see families out for supper and the kids are watching a movie on the iPad and the parents are texting or checking social media. I think that by encouraging an overconnected generation to become even more connected we are putting trusting, naive children at risk. The line that struck me the most from this article was near the end where Ohler stated: “our job is to help students not only use technology but also question it” (2011). It is our job as teachers to teach our students to be critical thinkers and I think this is especially paramount in terms of their engagement with the digital world.

I will proudly admit, even after reading “The IRL Fetish”, that I am a proud disconnection and IRL Fetishist. The article attempted to criticize those who choose to disconnect from the world of social media and technology claiming that the offline state they strive for is impossible to achieve.  I think it is a sad commentary on the human race when we believe that “the Web has everything to do with reality; it comprises real people with real bodies, histories, and politics” (Jurgenson, 2012). What people post online is not their real life, it is the highlight reel life that they want everyone to believe they are living. I absolutely love the idea of the Digital Sabbath Movement.   I think that it is important to find a balance between digital connection and disconnection. The importance of getting out in nature, of having face to face conversations, and having time alone with your own thoughts is becoming overlooked and that is to our detriment.

As I was reading these articles and thinking about digital citizenship I thought of this slam poem that I used in my internship. I think it is a great way to get students to think critically about their engagement as a digital citizen and I highly recommend it as a jumping off point for these sorts of discussions.

Creating Participatory Communities in the Classroom

We live in a world that is more connected than ever. Everyone is on social media. It’s become strange to meet someone who is not online and even those that are too young to use a cell-phone or a computer already have a digital footprint. In class, we looked at some staggering stats which stated things like “34% of children have a digital footprint before they are even born”. A digital identity is no longer a thing people choose, it is something we are born into.

This week we had the chance to watch the video “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube” which attempted to contextualize YouTube, the content on it, and the participatory community mentality of the website. I found this video extremely interesting to watch because I am a surface level YouTube user. I mostly use YouTube to watch The Tonight Show, music videos, and the occasional web series (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was pretty awesome!) and had no idea really that people used the platform to engage with a greater community.

The most interesting part of the video to me was the section where the presenter, Michael Wesch, broke down the idea of cultural inversion, emphasizing the tensions that exist between what we value as a society and what we express. I think that this trend can be seen in every form of social media. It is why people obsess over followers and likes. It’s why everyone posts every detail of their lives from the trips they take to the food they eat. And as much as the video seemed to romanticize the community that is created via media platforms such as YouTube I think that it is a sad commentary on the state of the world. We are so concerned with being digitally connected that we overlook the relationships we should be cultivating around us. We are too afraid to be vulnerable and authentic with the people around us and so we create these online personas and pretend to be people we aren’t in order to feel valued.

The portion of the video that discussed the lonelygirl15 debacle was extremely interesting but I found it completely ridiculous that people, as members of this participatory community, were so gullible and emotionally invested in a person that they didn’t really know. They were so desperate for the digital connection that they were deceived by this campaign. As future teachers in an increasingly digital age, it is our duty to teach students the skills to be critical consumers of digital content.

I also think that as teachers we can tap into the idea of the participatory community while providing students with a more authentic space and way to engage with each other and the world around them. In the video, there was a section that talked about the masks people put online as part of their digital identity and in our classrooms, we need to make sure that we are creating spaces where students feel the sense of acceptance without having to be masked. There is a clear desire in our students to be involved in something bigger than themselves and we need to be innovative as teachers and create ways for them to engage in that in the classroom. As I watched the video I couldn’t stop thinking about the craze of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and how many people I knew that participated in that phenomena. If we as educators can get our students engaging in a larger context (whether that is on a school, provincial, national, or even global scale) through their learning then students will buy into their learning much more and then more authentic learning will occur. It will be important to present classroom sand schools not as vacant buildings to be filled by the students but as rich learning communities that they can take part in as we move forward in the digital age of teaching.

If you are interested in checking out the video the link is listed below:

Whimsical Words: Learning Project Week Four

With Valentine’s Day coming up this week I decided I wanted to use my Learning Project to practice making a hand lettered Valentine’s card for my fiance. He doesn’t live in town and so I am always looking for fun things I can send him in the mail and I thought a hand made Valentines card would be perfect. I decided I would continue to use YouTube Videos this week to inspire my lettering. Another major part of hand lettering is not just the words but the accents you include around the words. So I started to experiment with the accent details this week. The first element I practiced was a simple dandelion.  My practice sheet for the card ended up looking like this:

I wanted a little more practice forming dramatic and sweeping words and I found a video that allowed me to do just that. This video is another one that was created by Julie Turrie. I really enjoy how she actually writes the letters out in the video because it makes it way easier to follow along.

My version actually looked pretty similar. The trickiest part about this word was that I attempted to write it out without the guidelines that appear in the video. Without the guidelines it made it difficult to judge how large to make each of the letters. It is also really difficult to create a fluid swirly detail under the “f”. The other accent detail that I wanted to work on this week was drawing feathers. Drawing a life-like feather takes a lot of patience and practice because there is so much detail in a feather. I chose a video where the form of the feather was more loose and less detailed simply because it is so difficult to draw a feather well. My finished product looked like this:

The feather looks way better on the picture than in my book.

So far in my project I have stuck to the fluid cursive hand lettering and brush lettering style but there are so many other fonts out there to play with. The other style of lettering I find really beautiful are the fonts that are geometric. I needed a break from the flowing cursive lettering and so I went on my Pinterest board and found some geometric fonts to try.

This is a list of the videos I used this week that you can check out if you want to give it a try:

Next week I think I am going to try the old Gothic style of calligraphy! Happy lettering!

People Do this for Fun?? My Thoughts on EdChats

This week we were asked to participate in an EdChat using TweetDeck. All week long I was dreading having to do this because I felt as though I had little to nothing to offer. I am a 4th year student who has had all of four months of full-time teaching experience and so I wondered what on earth I could possibly contribute to the conversation. But as much as I was dreading it at the start I was floored by the richness of knowledge the other people in the chat had to offer.

I participated in the #2ndaryELA  edchat this evening and I think there were about 12 participants in total. While that may sound small I was thankful that the group was so small because it meant that you could actually follow along with the conversation and read everyone’s responses to the questions. Earlier in the evening, I lurked on the main #edchat feed and I was so overwhelmed. I would read a tweet and by the time I came to the end of it 468 375 958 more tweets had already popped up and the topic of conversation had changed. Another thing I did not enjoy about the #edchat was that a lot of people seemed to just be tweeting random education-related stuff but there was no actual conversation going on. I would definitely recommend finding a smaller chat to partake in because then you can actually read what everyone is saying and you actually feel heard as well.

While it was a great experience, I am amazed that people schedule these things into their day for fun. There is value in hearing different perspectives though and the resource sharing was awesome. On a technical note, I wish that you could be more selective about who sees your responses to the chats as opposed to it being blanket tweets that everyone that follows you can see. It would be nice to be able to filter who sees your responses and who doesn’t. Or if your profile tweeted once to say “Sally is participating in an #edchat. Click here to see his/her contributions”.

I loved using the chat to gain some new resources and perspectives but I’m not sure it is something that I will engage with on a regular basis. But I definitely recommend trying it.

Graduating from Practice Sheets: Learning Project Week Three

Last week I started on my hand-lettering journey using the grade one style alphabet practice sheets. After doing the alphabet in both upper and lower case I got bored and decided that I was ready to graduate to free-hand practice. I felt fairly confident about my lettering ability and when I set my pen to paper I imagined creating something like this….


I know that this will come as a shock to all of you but my letters did not look anything like that. It turns out that free handing the letters is much more difficult than I had anticipated. My letters were shaky and somewhat misshapen. You almost have to retrain your brain how to form the letters. When you use the calligraphy markers and pens you have to be conscious of two things: how you are holding the pen and where you are creating your down-strokes. I don’t think about either of these things when I write normally so it was a bit of an adjustment.

One of the distinct aspects of calligraphy is the use of the wider down-stroke and thinner up -stroke. In order to create the thicker down-strokes the writing tool has to be held a certain way. I found that it was easier to create the calligraphy effect using the pen which had free flowing ink. The shape of the tip on the markers made it a bit more challenging.

My first attempt at letting free hand.

I fond that because I had to think about how I form my letters differently it was much easier to watch a video on YouTube and mimic their motions. I browsed a few videos before I found this one by Julie Turrie. I like this video because the style is simple yet elegant. Also the pen that is used in the video is similar to the one that I use and so it made it much easier to mimic the letters. I also enjoyed that I could go back and watch the process over and over if I couldn’t get it just right.

I also used another video this week called Learn to write ABC Calligraphy for Kids. Now I realize it says “for kids” but that is the skill level I am at right now and I actually really like how the letters turned out.

The last thing I did this week was I attempted my first word. After all the lettering searches I had done a video about creating basic calligraphy words popped up and I decided to do it. Again I watched the video and then duplicated it as best I could.

Then I experimented with the lettering styles from the practice sheets and created this:

Videos are definitely the way to go in terms of learning how to form the letters. I had so much fun this week, especially with mixing words and art. Next week I will continue to experiment with individual words.