Update on Independent Learning Project!

I have been thinking really hard about what I want my website to look like, what kind of art I want to do, and which websites to use to do my independent learning project. I spent a large amount of time googling digital art and website making websites. I have found website after website that allows the user to create digital art. One of my favorite ones was, bomomo, it allows the user to create different patterns of paint across a while page. I spent about two hours trying out different paint strokes and making some cool abstract art. It was while looking at this website that I decided I do not want to narrow my learning experience down to only creating comics or having the website be about just one topic. Instead I would like to be able to make any form of art, including comics, abstract, portraits, and landscape. I believe I will simply call my website Marqui’s Art.

An awesome website that I have to share with my followers is, voice draw. This amazing website would be awesome for small children or for anyone who just wants to have some fun. This website allows the user to paint with their voice. The user simply states into their computer what they would like their picture to be like and the website creates it for them. Of course, from experience, I know that the website will not create exactly what you want unless you are very precise and detailed. However, I thought this could be a cool site to use in an elementary class to show students how their words can form pictures. I think this voice draw program is kind of what it is like to read a book and form images in your mind from other’s words. I may or may not be using this program for my independent learning project, but I just had to share it because of how cool it is! I hope you guys try it out!

I know for sure that I will be using a combination of websites to create my digital art, as well as perhaps just doing some photo editing. I also know for sure that the website I will be using to create my website is Wix.com. This website has templates for every type of user and every type of websites you need! They even have a creative art section of templates that will be perfect for displaying my digital art. I have been exploring and exploring websites and art, and I think I am about ready to begin creating! Thank you all for the words of encouragement on my last post. If anyone has any tips or anything they would like to see created, let me know!

Photo CC: Kevin Dooley


Creating, Engaging, and Renovating PLN’s

Chuck Frey’s article, How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network: Tips from Howard Rhiengold, taught me many things about creating and maintaining my personal learning network. The first tip is to explore. A person can learn a lot from exploring the internet. The internet is a web of knowledge. Each blog post we read, each word we look up, and every article we read off Facebook gives us a little bit more knowledge. It is good to look all over the internet, not only at our interests, but at things we would never expect to learn about. I plan to explore through my own personal learning network to learn more and more from experts.

The second tip is to understand search engines. Using more than one search engine can be beneficial when trying to learn about a topic. Different search engines can bring up different material about each topic that may not have easily easy to find on the previous search. I plan to use any resources possible to find the things I need on the internet.

The third tip is to ask yourself whether the people are your personal learning network are growing your knowledge. Following people on twitter or following blogs that only post useless nonsense is not a way to use your personal learning network to the highest quality possible. The people you want in your personal learning network are the people that make you ask questions or give you knowledge. Evaluation of the people in my personal learning network is a must!

The fourth tip is to continue adding more people to your personal learning network, while dropping those who are not adding anything to your network. There are millions of people from across the world that use social media sites and have blogs. More knowledge can be obtained with your personal learning network if a person continues to add more and more people to their network. I will keep adding people to my person learning network.

The fifth tip is to give the people in your personal learning network information (or articles, etc.) that would help broaden their knowledge or pique their interest. A personal learning network cannot work if people are not sharing thoughts and interests. In order to maintain a personal learning network, a person must contribute to the conversation that others are having. I plan to try and share knowledge that my personal learning network would find beneficial.

The sixth tip is kind of like the fifth tip; engage the people in your person learning network. Starting conversations, or even asking questions, can begin a conversation that can teach everyone in the personal learning network.

The seventh tip is to be sure to ask engaging question to your personal learning network. In order to learn anything, question must be asked. In my personal learning network there are many expert, or seasoned, teachers that can answer any question I have. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that?

The eighth tip is to respond to the people in your personal learning network that answer your questions. The biggest takeaway I got from this article is to be kind and thankful to your personal learning network. When someone answers a question for you, or shares an article you like, say thank you!

Photo credit: GotCredit


I was surprised to learn that a personal learning network can start, simply, with your friends, family, and colleagues. However, in this age, a personal learning network can include people from across the globe through digital communication. A personal learning network can be very important to have in the education community, because teaching is constantly changing, new things are being learned, and a teacher never stops learning. Good educators can never stop learning! Personal learning networks that incorporate social media networks like Twitter and Facebook make learning possible from around the world. An expert can be at his home in Switzerland and tweet information to a learner in America. When a group of experts come together, in the digital or literal world, great conversations can arise.

I have already started my personal learning network by adding all my classmates of my Literacy in the Digital Age class to my twitter and wordpress. I also have added been adding experts to my twitter page by finding them on their education blogs. I have also followed several educator’s blogs. A personal learning network can grow, and grow, as new people are met and new conversations arise. Every article I have read makes clear statements that several things are needed in order to create my personal learning network. I already have a twitter and a blog. I am creating a website for my independent learning project. I made my RSS feed. I am on my way to having a wide personal learning network!  My learning network would be educators, specifically English educators, so I will be setting out to find teaching experts!

Personal learning networks are great for creative teachers. Teachers can all come together on social media and discuss their lesson plans. Teachers can learn from one another by asking for tips on lesson plans or asking how to find certain school supplies.  Dr. Mark Wagner has an amazing blog post, Personal Learning Network, 10 tips, that delivers 10 tips to creating your own personal learning experience.  The most important Wagner has to offer is that in order for a personal learning network to work, we have to connect with other, contribute information to others, and ask questions of others. A network cannot work if the conversation is not flowing. I am hoping to learn a lot from the expert educators I am going to follow on twitter. I also hope that I am maybe able to contribute information to other’s personal learning networks.

Featured image by Alexander Baxevanis.

Passion based learning!

I found Ainissa Ramirez’s blog on Edutopia, “Passion-Based Learning,” the most interesting of any of the articles I viewed. This article should be read my any aspiring teacher. Ramirez states, “There are two ways to get a child passionate about something: 1.Find out what each child is innately passionate about. 2. Be an instructor that exudes passion for the topic, and infect your students with that excitement.” Teachers must be passionate about their subject, otherwise their student’s cannot possible be passionate about it. If a teacher is disinterested in the subject they are teaching, it will show through their lessons. However, if a teacher has a real love for their subject, their passion can infect their students. My high school English teacher was a passionate teacher. She made jokes with her students, recommended books to her students, and interacted with her students in every lesson. After reading Ramirez’s blog, I had to really think about whether I was truly passionate about teaching English, and I think this is something every future teacher needs to think about. I love reading, writing, and the English language in general. I hope to be a teacher that infects her student’s with my passion for the subject!

Featured image by Ken Whytock

I enjoyed George Couros’s blog, “School vs. Learning.” Couros made several incredible points about how the education system is failing to promote learners. The simple contrasts Couros uses between school and learning are very powerful. Couros says, “School promotes starting by looking for answers.  Learning promotes starting with questions. School is about consuming.  Learning is about creating. School is about finding information on something prescribed for you.  Learning is about exploring your passions and interests.” Couros’s blog made me think about whether schools are simply teaching kids how to do as they are told and repeat facts. Very interesting blog!

The third article I read is on how to incorporate passion based learning into a classroom. Tina Barseghian informs future teacher in her blog: “Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning.” The most powerful statement, in my opinion, of Barseghian’s blog is when she states, “We’re rewarding students who are best at obedience, memorization, regurgitation, and compliance. And those who do succeed in school often don’t know what to do when they get out. We need to prepare kids to be successful in the real world, not just while in school.” This made me think of Ken Robinson’s TED talk, “How Schools Kill Creativity,” when he states that our education system is perfectly laid out to produce professors. Does school do nothing but teach us how to be good at school? Barseghian brings up many good points in her blog, and sparks thoughts about the flaws of our education system.

Underwater TED Talk

The TED Talk that I chose to watch was Underwater astonishments by David Gallo. I chose this TED talk because I am really curious about the ocean. David Gallo says in this TED talk that we have only seen about 3% of the ocean. There is so much that humans can still learn from the ocean and it’s creatures. This TED talk starts the conversation, and curiosity, that we have not explored ninety-seven percent of this world. It’s hard not to be curious after watching this TED talks about what lies deep in the oceans crevasses. Gallo says,  in the 3 percent of the ocean we have explored, we have discovers the tallest mountains and the deepest valleys. What other amazing things live in the deep? What surprises will we find as technology advances and we explore the entirety of the ocean? Not only does this TED talk bring questions to the mind of it’s viewers, but it also sparks it’s viewer’s imagination!

David Gallo brought entertainment value into his TED talk with humor. I was interested immediately, because he made a joke. However, he also brought up many intriguing points about how vast the ocean in and how very little we know about it. This TED talk really made me feel small compared to this enormous planet and it’s variety of wildlife. The beginning of this TED talk showed videos of amazing ocean creatures that live deep in the pitch black water. The creatures were all luminescent and lit up the darkness of the deep. They are amazing. Then, David Gallo goes on to show advanced camouflage feats by shallow ocean creatures such as octopus and cuddle fish. The amount we do not know about the ocean peaks my curiosity.

As a future teacher, every TED talk that I watch makes me add the videos to my curriculum. TED talks not only entertain, but they also bring up relevant points, teach, and start conversations. The variety of TED talks that are available make me believe that any student could find a TED talk that is interesting to them. TED talks can be used as a starting point for many assignments. As an inspiring English teacher, I can think of many writing assignments that can be based off of TED talks. Such as the assignment I’m currently doing!

I really enjoyed watching this TED talk about the mysteries of the ocean, and I recommend it to all! https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/david_gallo_shows_underwater_astonishments.html

Featured image by Derek Keats.

Independent Learning Project

I was pretty excited when I read about the independent learning project in the syllabus. I like being able to form my own assignment and use my creativity. I also have always wanted to learn more about computers and how to operate them easily.

For my independent learning project, I am planning on creating my own website to display digital art. I will have to learn 1.) how to create a website and 2.) how to create art digitally. I am still working out the specifics at this time, such as my website name and what kind of digital art I want to do. I am really interested in digital comics, like the comics found on theoatmeal.com and Cyanide and Happiness. Warning: the cyanide and happiness comics are not the most appropriate, so do not click on that link if you are offended easily. However, my comics would be very appropriate and I was thinking I could make them about my dog. I have a huge yellow lab named Olaf who is clumsy and cute. I believe chronicles of his every day through comics, as well as a link to some cute videos of him as well as my two cats, would be an awesome website. I think I would call it the Olaf logs.

I have always been interested in making art digitally. I can paint and draw, but I have not learned how to create art digitally. As a child, I always thought that the coolest job ever would be to animate Disney movies, because…that would be awesome. I think, maybe, with this project I can work myself up to creating animations from my art work or cartoons. However, I will be starting simply by making digital art that does not move.

I believe the most important thing I will learn from this independent learning project is how to build a website. Building my own website can come in handy in business, teaching, and advertising. It is important to learn how to manipulate the internet to fit our every day needs. People have even build livelihoods out of entertainment websites with comics!

This independent learning project will be a challenge for me, because I will have to learn how to do things on my own, with my own abilities. I know that their are websites upon websites designed to teach people how to run technology, but I have to be able to find websites that will teach me everything I need to know while also letting me be creative with my website and with my art. I hope it all goes well! Wish me luck!!

Featured image

Photo taken from Flickr, original photo credit to Daniel Carvalho.


Wow, as an eighteen-year old girl newly entering adulthood, Logan LaPlante really spoke to me. I am currently trying to find a balance in my life between just making money and making myself happy. I completely agree that public schools assume children will be happy and healthy when they grow up. I also think that public high schools can contribute to the loss of childhood happiness, especially in big schools. Teenagers are bullied to the point of depression and self hate everyday in our high schools and society complains about standardized test scores. Why can’t we teach kids while also helping them to be happy as adults?

Hack schooling sounds like a dream to me. I cannot state how much I agree with Logan about the fact that students will learn faster and easier when they are intrigued with what they are learning. I spent my entire high school career waiting for my art class, because that class didn’t feel like learning to me; it felt like fun. Interactive learning will get students more engaged every day of the week than listening to a lecture will. I am discovering, however, that college is a lot like hack schooling. Professors, at least at Chadron State College, seem to promote creativity in projects that could be really tiresome. I believe that high school should be a lot more like college. Technology should be encouraged in every day school life. Creativity should be encouraged in every day school life. And, most of all, being able to think for yourself, live for yourself, and make yourself happy should be taught in high schools.

I remember thinking “when am I ever going to use this in life?” many times going about my school day in high school. Of course, I know the benefits of learning the core subjects: math, science, languages, and humanities. However, I found myself only being able to motivate myself to get up and go to school in the morning because I knew I would be able to work on my oil painting or finish my batik in art that day. The things students love to do are often overlooked in classrooms. Many high school teachers asked me to quit doodling in their class, many times. In my opinion, and I know it sounds harsh, schooling weans the creativity and happiness out of student’s childhood. We take away the things that make these kid’s happy and expect to replace it with homework and a short time after school to do “recreational activities.”

My high school chemistry teacher was good at this one particular thing, in my opinion, and that was putting down his students. As I type this, it sounds horrible, but I remember him calling my whole class pathetic. However, he taught me about the real world. The sad reality of the real world. He asked us what we wanted to do our first day of physical science freshman year of high school. I said I wanted to be an artist….and he told me I was going to be poor. He told me I would fail and that I should focus on the sciences. He said to us that the only way we would ever make money was to work in the sciences. I mean, he wasn’t lying, but I could feel myself die inside a little.

Of course, my high school chemistry teacher was one of a kind. My art and English teachers in high school encouraged their students to do whatever made them happy. The day I decided to be an English teacher was also the day I asked my English teacher if she ever regretted becoming a teacher. I asked her this question after a particularly rebellious day by her senior students. She simply said, “The few students that I really capture with my lesson plans make it all worth it. The few students that I can help with their life problems make it all worth it. I like helping you guys through this hard time in your life. Books got me through high school and I know that books will get some of you through high school.” I believe that teachers like these, who promote creativity and encourage students to do anything they dream of, can hack teaching to make their students interested in their lesson plans.

Featured image

Photo taken from Flickr, original photo credit to alamosbasement.