That’s a Wrap People!! Learning Project Summary

 

Wow! I can’t believe that it is now the last week of the semester! It has passed in a bit of a blur but I am so excited about the new skills I have acquired through my learning project! When I was initially choosing what I wanted to work on for my learning project I knew that I wanted to do something creative. I am a fairly creative person but during the school year artistic activities, along with many other things I love doing, tend to take a back seat. When I started out I was so excited that I would have to have built-in time every week to sit down and embrace my inner hipster artist.

Did that actually happen, you ask? Did I get to break into artistic bliss every week? Did beautiful art just flow out of me when I put pen to paper? Well not exactly…

Looking back on my hand-lettering journey:

Today is Someday: Learning Project Week One

  • Introduction to my learning project- ultimate goal
  • Inspiration Board on Pinterest
  • Trip to Michael’s to buy fancy pens and a notebook to keep my masterpieces in

Brush Lettering Training Wheels: Learning Project Week Two

  • Testing the markers and my calligraphy pen/practice strokes
  • Brush lettering is one of many forms of hand-lettering
  • I used practice sheets to work my way through the alphabet

Graduating from Practice Sheets: Learning Project Week Three

  • Awesome YouTube calligraphy tutorials
  • Attempts at two different styles of calligraphy
  • Basic words
  • Experimenting and playing with mixing words and images

 Whimsical Words: Learning Project Week Four

  • Valentine’s Day inspired lettering
  • Adding accents- dandelions and feathers
  • Shifting to a different style of lettering with more geometric styles- 6 varieties

Going Gothic: Learning Project Week Five

  • I tried doing the traditional gothic style lettering and it was a slow and detailed process.
  • I also looked into the possibility of learning hand-lettering using a free app but there is only one and it is not useful for developing your actual skills at all and it doesn’t measure your progress in any way

Bringing It All Together: Learning Project Week Six

  • I collected three more complex sayings from Pinterest and then I attempted to duplicate them

Teach Me Your Ways! Moving Beyond YouTube: Learning Project Week Seven

  • This week I found a new way to learn hand-lettering online using a website called Lettering Studio. It is a free online class that takes you from the basics of lettering all the way to digitizing your lettering using photoshop. You get a different email each day with the next step and it’s a great way to learn what can be a difficult process.
  • Also created a few more lettering  images

Finding Inspiration to Fight the Slog: Learning Project Week Eight

  • I explored the various lettering communities that exist beyond Pinterest
  • My Top Five Lettering Artists on Instagram
  • Hand Lettering Tutorial Website has tons of awesome resources to learn to letter and best of all they have podcasts! Which is awesome because it finally allows you to get up from your computer in order to learn.

Going Digital with Photoshop: Learning Project Week Nine

  • This week I used Screencastify to demonstrate how you could take your hand-lettering and digitize it in Photoshop and how to place it on top of an image.
  • This was maybe my favourite part of my Learning Project

Bob Ross, I am Not: Learning Project Week Ten

  • For the last week of my learning project, I decided to try a different medium for creating my hand-lettering so I decided to paint
  • Two things I learned from painting my hand-lettering: #1 painting is hard! #2 there is a reason people use watercolours to do hand-lettering!

Throughout my learning project, I learned a number of things both about creating hand-lettered sayings and words and about learning a skill online with a limited budget.

On Lettering

When I started out on my learning project to basically re-teach myself how to write. The letters in the different fonts have specific ways that they need to be written in order to look as beautiful as they do online. I learned about downstrokes and upstrokes. And overall I not only learned a new creative skill but I it also changed my view of student writing. I never struggled with learning to write in school but when I tried hand-lettering my letters were shaky and misshapen most of the time. It has taught me a whole new level of empathy for students who have LDs in written expression. I also learned about the tools of the trade and the importance of having good tools. In some cases, it isn’t worth it to pay extra for a fancier thing because the less expensive thing works just as well but when it comes to calligraphy pens and markers it is totally worth it to shell out the extra cash to get the proper tools.

Another thing I learned about lettering is that the creativity it takes to come up with new things and ways to letter takes dedicated time and it takes being willing to try and have it turn out looking nothing like what you envisioned. Very rarely was I able to come up with brand new ideas for lettering out of my own mind, usually I drew inspiration from other artist’s works and images that came up on my Pinterest or on my favourite YouTube letterer’s feeds. Creativity takes time and commitment. You also need to make sure that when things don’t turn out looking the way you want to it is important not to give up. Lettering is a skill and just like any skill it needs to be honed and practised. No first draft is a work of art.

On Learning Online…

Generally, I fund that learning to hand-letter online was fairly easy. There are many different ways to connect with communities of lettering artists online through platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Pinterest was an especially valuable resource for finding inspiration for my creations. Another platform I found invaluable to my learning project was YouTube. It was so helpful as a novice letterer to be able to see someone else form the letters and then mimic it. It was also great to find YouTubers who had a variety of resources available from very basic alphabet examples to more extravagant words and images. Websites like Hand-Lettering Studio and Lettering Tutorial were also great because they offered challenges that went beyond simply writing out the lettering on paper. One of the parts of my journey that I was most proud of was the lettering that I created in PhotoShop. It felt really good to be guided through the process in detail and to produce such a beautiful final product.

One of the major drawbacks of learning to hand-letter online was that if you are on a budget some of the resources available online will be inaccessible to you. When I went in search of apps that could develop my skills further there was only one free application and it didn’t really do anything to develop my actual lettering skills or track my progress. The rest of the apps available cost a minimum of five dollars. This was also true for the online courses on websites like Hand Lettering Studio. There was one free course available to teach you the basics but if you wanted to go any more in depth you have to pay for the courses.

Overall Thoughts…

Hand-lettering was a fun skill to learn and develop over the last 13 weeks. I really appreciate all the support and encouragement I have received from my peers over throughout this process:

I highly recommend taking the time to learn to hand-letter. It was one of those skills that I have always wanted to develop but had never made time to practice. I found that by building time into my schedule each week to decompress and do something creative was really beneficial. It provided a much-needed break from the academic stresses of the semester. Through this project, I not only learned how to create beautiful hand-lettered words and sayings but I learned so much more too.

via GIPHY

 

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Final Networked Learning Post

“How have you contributed to the learning of others?”

One of the things I struggled with this semester was having to maintain a Twitter account. I didn’t have Twitter at all before the semester and I struggled to maintain the routine of Tweeting retweeting. But I also appreciated that I was pushed out of my comfort zone this semester. By having to maintain a Twitter account I had the chance to interact with my colleagues and my learning was enriched by them. It also made me take charge of my own learning as I had to read articles and watch videos to Tweet. Although I was quite opposed to Twitter, in the beginning, I have come to see that it is actually a useful platform for collaborating with and learning from others in the education community.

That being said, the biggest way that I contributed to the learning of others was through my presence on Twitter. I attempted to tweet twice a day this semester (some weeks went better than others). I tweeted and retweeted resources that I found using Feedly. And as I was selecting my resources I made a concerted effort to share resources that could actually have some practical application for my peers. Instead of scrolling through Feedly and simply posting the first article that had “Education” and “Technology” (or some variation of that) in the title and posting it, I combed through the articles on my feed and shared the ones that I thought my peers would find the most helpful. I also tried to share a variety of resources. Instead of just sharing articles all the time I also shared infographics and other visual aids that could be used in the classroom and I also shared a few Ted Talks that could be used in different classroom settings and for different purposes. I also tried to find articles from authors that I felt were worth following, Terry Heick and Brian Aspinall were two that I found and shared their work multiple times because they had valuable thoughts to share.

Another way that I contributed to my classmate’s learning this semester was through commenting on their blogs. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s blogs. I especially enjoyed getting to read people’s learning project posts because it was so fun to see their progress as the weeks went on. Their personalities really came through in these posts and I often found myself laughing out loud reading about their adventures. But I am going, to be honest, I was quite diligent about commenting at the start of the course but as the semester progressed and my life got increasingly busy my commenting trickled off until I wasn’t doing it anymore.  I missed reading about my colleagues’ blogs but it was just unsustainable in the hectic last few weeks of the semester.

The Google+ Community was a great resource to support us through the semester. I really appreciated reading others’ posts in the community and being able to access all the class materials in one space. While I appreciated the resource I didn’t contribute to it much. I was a bit of a Google+ lurker this semester. I mostly used it as a place to find the links to the course material and never had burning questions to put in the community. I did contribute once however because once this semester I was miraculously on the community at the same time that Losa posted a question and so I had the opportunity to respond.

Otherwise, I found that by the time I made my way to the community the questions that had been posted had been addressed already. Overall, I really appreciated other peoples discussions but I was more satisfied to lurk rather than post in it.

via GIPHY

I have truly appreciated participating in and learning from all of my amazing colleagues this semester. I wish you all the best of luck in your futures!

 

 

Just the Beginning: Summary of Learning

This class has been one of the most practical classes that I have taken at the university. Before entering this class my knowledge of the tools available to use in the classroom and how to approach topics of digital citizenship in the class was limited. There were aspects of the course that I struggled with but there were also skills I learned that will equip me for the future. Now that we have reached week 13 I feel like I have a whole new knowledge base that I can take into my future classroom to prepare my students and to enrich their learning through the use of technology in the classroom.

This course not only allowed me to develop my skills with implementing technology effectively in the classroom but it gave me an opportunity to develop a creative skill as well through my Learning Project. I chose to learn how to do hand-lettering as my learning project and it provided a great break from the stresses of the semester.

I teamed up with Kayci Henderson to create our Summary of Learning video artifact. In the video, we review the main takeaways from the course, discuss some of our struggles and successes, and make fools of ourselves. So sit back and enjoy!

I would like to take a moment to thank Katia Hildebrandt for all her help this semester. From the WordPress screencasts to the content of each class, I really appreciated your passion for the subject of technology in the classroom and your willingness to help us with any issues we came across this semester. I would also like to thank all of my colleagues in the class for their encouragement through blog comments and tweets. I appreciate all of the resources that were shared this year and I have learned so much from each and every one of you.

 

Bob Ross, I am Not: Learning Project Week 10

When I decided that I was going to take up hand-lettering as my learning project I was full of optimism. I was going to carve out a little bit of time every week to perfect some area of my new craft. It was going to give me an excuse to go to Michaels and buy fancy pens and ink. I pictured myself as a hipster artist with my hands covered in ink, creating priceless masterpieces.

My naive optimism.

via GIPHY

But then I put pen to paper and was shocked by how difficult it was to hand letter. I kind of expected I would pick up the pen and it would just flow out of me. So my initial goal, I set in my first learning post of creating a sign for my upcoming wedding became less and less appealing. It also didn’t help that I hit an amazing sale at Hobby Lobby over February break and bought a beautiful sign instead of having to make one.

I still felt like I needed to create something this week that challenged me in a new way and hopefully would become something I could frame to commemorate my progress and the fact that my university journey is nearly done. So I decided that I would paint my hand-lettering this week. Most of the time when you see hand lettering that has been created using paint you will see beautiful watercolour pieces like this. Watercolour is a nice medium for hand-lettering because of the fluid nature of the watercolours. It is also possible to buy brush pens that you fill with water which provide you with enough control to create beautiful lettering instead of simply using a brush. But the thing to know about using watercolours is that, like hand-lettering, it is a completely other skill that you have to teach yourself in order to do it effectively. And you also need to buy fancy paper and paints to make it work properly. So I chose to embrace my inner Bob Ross and broke out the acrylics and brushes and sat down to paint.

via GIPHY

Well, actually I don’t trust myself that much yet so what I actually did first was a pencil sketch in my notebook of what I wanted to letter and then I erased it so that just the faint lines were left behind as a guide for me.

Then I had to practice using the paint and paintbrushes to create the lettering. I experimented with about 6 different brushes of different sizes before deciding on these two.

This is what my practice sheet looked like:

It was tricky to figure out how much paint to use on the brushes. And the brushes I was using weren’t of the highest quality and so the edges of the letters were always a little it feathery. In order to get really crisp lines, I had to barely touch the paper with my brush and load the tip up with paint. It took a while to get the hang of it but it was also really fun.

After doing some practice I painted my hand-lettering and this is what the final product looks like:

It isn’t perfect by any stretch but I absolutely love it! I like that it is so imperfect. There are some sections that were especially difficult to do with the paintbrush, especially the swirly section under “journey”. I could have taken the time to clean it up by outlining it with one of my calligraphy markers but I made the conscious decision to leave it in its raw state because beauty can also be found in imperfection. It reinforces the idea of the quote that life really is an ongoing process and there will be things that happen in ways you can’t control or things that may not work out the way you expected. And that’s ok. There is beauty in the smudges. Beauty in going your own way. And beauty in learning.

 

 

An Ode to Code

Before this year I had no understanding of coding. I knew that programmers wrote code to make websites run and function properly but I didn’t understand the way it worked and I had no appreciation for the intricacies and complexity of coding. That all changed this year though.  My sister is studying Creative Technologies at the University and so I have got to watch her create all kinds of interesting things using code. It literally is like learning another language and there are lots of little rules to know. You can write lines and lines of code and if you have just one misplaced semicolon or space the entire thing fails to run. For one of her projects she created a record player that plays music when you click it, a clip of it can be found here.  The code she works with is long and makes little to no sense to me and so when I heard we had to code this week I was a little nervous.

I decided to try the One Hour of Code on Code.org because it seemed like the most fun, more like playing a game than actually doing programming. I decided to try doing the Classic Maze option because I loved doing mazes as a kid and figured it would be fun to try. I was expecting the coding to be incredibly easy but I was actually surprised by how much it made me think. It wasn’t necessarily difficult to build the code strands to make a little character navigate the maze but it forced me to think differently than I normally do.  I took a few videos of my attempts at coding, using Screencastify, to demonstrate how the program worked and to show my struggles with coding.

Classic Maze #4: Early attempt at coding.

Classic Maze #20: By the time you get to this point in the little game it gives you tips and tricks for simplifying the code. At this point, I was really glad that they had presented the code as blocks instead of just senseless lines of code because placing commands within other strings of codes would have been confusing.

While I found this to be a fun experience, when I was doing it I kept thinking “Yeah this is fun and good practice problem solving but what really is the value of teaching it in schools?” Unless students plan on pursuing a future in computer science or graphic design I didn’t really see the value in teaching it in schools, except to develop digital literacy. But of all the things teachers are asked to teach students is that really a high priority in comparison to getting them to read and write?

So after doing my hour of coding, I looked up articles about the value of coding in the classroom. I found this awesome article that broadened my understanding of why coding is important in classrooms. I especially appreciated the point it raised about coding creating inclusion for those students who may be gifted in areas that are not normally acknowledged by traditional schooling methods. The article talks about how programs that offer coding allow students with ASD to see themselves as successful in the classroom and the impact these classes can have on these students’ futures. By training in software development courses students with ASD are given the chance to hone skills that will open doors for future employment in an increasingly digital world.

I also follow Brian Aspinall on Twitter and he is a huge advocate for the use of coding in the classroom. He created this infographic about the benefits of coding in the classroom:

I think that coding can teach students valuable problem solving and thinking skills but we need to make sure that we don’t simply teach our students to apply these skills to work with computers. The focus needs to be less on learning the skills to code a computer and more on how those thinking skills can be applied to larger real world problems.

via Brian Aspinall’s Twitter