Saturday, November 28, 2020

What I am Learning about Knitting

November 2020. Project: Make a Florescent Orange Hat.

Pattern from Ravelry: Classic Cuffed Hat  by Purl Soho

Learned the Long Tail Tubular Cast On technique, video from Purl Soho.  Here is what it looks like so far.  The edge will have more stretch.
Long Tail Tubular Cast On



Monday, April 29, 2019

Puzzling over the Best Way to Make and Use Crossword Puzzles

Looking for a FREE application.


Tools for Educators   This is easy to create. If unable to generate a crossword with the words provided you will get an error message. I had to make 2 adjustments before my puzzle would generate. I was able to print an answer key and student handout. I plan to use this site to create crossword puzzles, at least for now.   
Student Handout and Answer Key. The image below is of just the student handout.
This link will take you to just the student handout.


Share a Puzzle costs $5 per puzzle or  $12.00 a year or $24 for three years. After your purchase you can do the following:  I decided to give this one a try.
This link will take you to the sample puzzle I created.
You can also complete the puzzle online and embed in a website.

  • Create PDF files that you can print, save locally, email, host online, etc. An answer sheet page is optional.
  • Export graphic files of your puzzles for use in other software. Can include or exclude backgroud pictures. Export solutions too. Formats include PNG, JPG, SVG, TIFF, & BMP.
  • Create an interactive crossword puzzle and share links that lets other people solve on their computers, tablets or phones.
  • Put your interactive crossword puzzle in your web pages.
  • If you purchase a subscription, do the above for any number of puzzles. Subscriptions do not renew automatically (no surprise charges). Your saved and interactive puzzles will remain available after your subscription expires and renewal of your subscription can restore the benefits listed above.


Crossword Hobbyist is not free though it looks very good.

Puzzle Maker has some free options but the better features come with a price

Hot Potato is free but the export feature is clunky.

The Teacher's Corner. I was able to make a free crossword puzzle and generate a pdf document and an image file. I was able to increase the size of the image file.  The pdf image was too small. The result is pretty plain but workable. There are various paid options though I am not sure the resulting image is bigger.  

WordMint. I like the way you can see the puzzle take shape as you add clues and words.  There is a rearrange feature which allows you to see other configuration options. I like the size of the puzzle and you have font size options. You are able to print an answer key but you need to pay a one-time $17.99 to print student handouts if you have more than 5 clues.   Link to a 5 question crossword puzzle and answer key from WordMint

I plan to use these puzzles as a way to summarize the key points at the end of the training session.  My colleague Suzy used the phrase "Exit Ticket."
This activity will also work at the start of a new session to review content from a previous session.
My colleague Kathy used the crossword puzzle at the start of a face to face advanced data coaching session.  She said it worked great and participants liked the activity. They worked together in groups. Kathy suggested having participants try to answer the questions without resources for the 1st 5 minutes and then consult resources in areas of question. Do debrief, Kathy asked the group which questions they were most puzzled by and used these and her insight from listening to their conversations as content to review. She said the activity took longer than she anticipated, about 25 minutes. Her other feedback is that the numbers on the crossword puzzle are too light.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Reflection in Teaching and Learning

On March 8, 2019, I shared some information about Reflection in Teaching and Learning during a TLT FridayLive event. My goal was to share one way reflection can be used in a 60-90 minute learning event. I started by asking people to jot down words that come to mind when they think of reflection. I then opened a Polleverywhere slide and asked them to post these ideas. A word cloud was then created with people's responses. I debriefed that activity. Reflection is a form of practice involving these cognitive activities related to reflection: retrieval, elaboration and generation.  This is from the book "Make It Stick." I then shared an activity I use at the start and at the end of a training event. I ended by asking participants to share some examples of how they use reflection in their teaching.

Examples shared by the TLT participants during the session.  This was done via chat.
  • I often ask about take-aways myself — three for example.
  •  I share a padlet with my group of learners where they can add their posts
  • I have used it to ask about today’s session/class in one word
  • At end of training session- what have we learned today
  • I use Socrative at the end of the session as an exit question to jot down what they learned from the session
  • I would use it to ask at the beginning what they expect to learn today?
  • Face-to-face: provide opportunities for reflection in writing that is then shared in small groups, with each group sharing at least one response (not necessarily read by the person that wrote it). In online, asking students to synthesize responses to readings/materials/previous discussion by posts to a discussion forum.
  • I have used pollen as a pre/post quiz
  • Does anyone use a shared Google Doc for shared reflection writing?
  • Asking what they know and then at the end what they now know
  • Introduce students to Bloom’s Taxonomy and learning strategies by using reflection activities. Require them to post how they will use this information for the class, and have each student respond to two or three posts.

Recommended Readings from Steve Gilbert

    Friday, July 13, 2018

    Reading List

    Online Teaching at Its Best, from Linda Nilson, director emerita of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness Innovation (OTEI) at Clemson University, and Ludwika Goodson, associate director of the Center for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at Purdue University Fort Wayne,
    Article about this books

    Reflection: Turning experience into learning – ‎Edited by David Boud, Rosemary Keogh, and David Walker; 

    Friday, June 22, 2018

    Questions: what are they good for?

    A recent experience has caused me to revisit the notion of questions. This lead to many questions, of course.
    • Is asking questions good or bad? 
    • Should questioning be encouraged or discouraged? 
    • When people ask if there are any questions, do they really want them? 
    • If you believe in the value of questions are there things you can do to encourage questions? 
    • Are there ways to discourage questions? Is there an art to asking questions?
    • What does questioning have to do with learning and the way the brain works?
    • What apps might you use to facilitate the asking of questions? In other words, can we make asking questions easier?
    Using questions is the basis of an active learning approach called inquiry-based learning.
    There is actually a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios. It's called Inquiry-based Learning. As per Wikipedia, this is done instead of simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge.

    Interesting resource from EdTechReview, "Check out How these Tools Embrace Inquiry-based Learning

    As a learning strategy it is student eccentric and is all about learners constructing their own understanding and knowledge through asking questions. Inquiry involves learners in the following ways:
    -- They tackle real-world questions, issues and controversies. 
    -- Helps in developing questioning, research and communication skills. 
    -- They eventually learn to solve problems or create solutions.
    -- They know what collaborating within and beyond the classroom is.  
    -- Developing deep understanding of content knowledge is routine for them.  
    -- Participating in the public creation and improvement of ideas and knowledge is another hobby they inherit.

    Essential Questions are part of an instructional design model called Backwards Design

    McTighe, J & Wiggins, G (2013) "Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding" ASCD, Alexandria, VA

    Grant Wiggins says "essential questions signal that we what inquiry, we want in depth not superficial answers. That there isn't one way to look at it. It's worth asking and reasking. Because that's how indepth learning and genuine understanding occurs. " video Essential Questions"

    On page 87 indicate that essential questions leads to further questions. "In a very real sense, then, the question is the teacher. Until and unless the essential question is seen as the "teacher" a culture of inquiry has not yet been established."

    "Socrates in Plato's "Dialogues" reminds us, to persist in asking the questions when others don't is the key to escaping the bounds of unthinking habit, belief and dogma. Once we have learned to question - really question - then we are immunized from falling victim to people who want us not to think too hard about what they say, be it politicians, advertisers, or bullying associates.

    The Use of Questions is part of a management approach to problem solving and exploring cause and effect relationships called 5 Whys.
    A series of questions are asked to help uncover the multiple root causes of what may seem at first to be a simple solution.  The focus is on looking for ways to improve the process not for blaming people. Below is a link to a video produced by the Harvard Business review, February 7, 2012. "The 5 Whys."

    Questions are powerful

    Interesting NPR piece "People Like People Who Ask Questions." A research study conducted at Harvard is studying the effect of asking questions in everyday conversations (Karen Huang, Franseca Gino and others) So far they have found that asking more questions increased how much the person liked them. Demonstrating that you are curious about another person was seen as positive.

    Asking Questions of Ourselves

    The Brain and Questions

    Want To Know What Your Brain Does When It Hears A Question?