Category Archives: learning project

aprender español – número uno (learning spanish – number one)

Hola amigos! Yo soy Kara y buenas noches!

(Hi friends! I’m Kara and good evening!)

I had a LOT to say about my first few weeks learning Español and didn’t want to have a novel of a blog post, so decided to try my first ever vlog – I even did it in one take! Feel free to watch it on double speed if you want to skim through – no hard feelings here! Or check out my TL;DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch) summary below.



  • Online language learning course (offers multiple languages, not just Spanish) where you take hour-long classes on Zoom with native Spanish speakers and others who are learning Spanish at the same level as you
  • I did a 7 day free trial, which offered 3 free classes (one hour each)
  • I took an Orientation class first, then a class called “Hola!” (Hello) where we learned to introduce ourselves and say hi, and the final one was “¿Cómo Estás?” (How Are You?) where we learned to say how we are feeling and ask others how they are doing
  • You can book classes at virtually any time of the day (various offerings of different classes at every time of day)
  • Slides for the classes are available ahead of time to preview and download with instructor annotations afterwards
  • Materials are 100% in Spanish and instructors speak mostly Spanish (unless you ask what something means in English), so you are fully immersed in the language
  • I’m hoping to try a Sprint (more intensive learning for a short period of time) in the fall – option to get 50% or 100% of your money back if you attend all of your classes
  • Pros: immersive experience, lots of speaking Spanish, helpful materials, easy-to-use website, lots of options for bookings,
  • Cons: pricey if you want the paid version, free trial only had 3 classes available


  • Popular language-learning app that is designed to feel like a game to keep users engaged
  • Get a ‘streak’ for consecutive days spent completing lessons
  • Free trial available for “Super Duolingo” (paid version of the app with unlimited hearts, no ads, additional features like previous mistakes you can review) – lasts 2 weeks
  • I finished the first Section called “Rookie” (level A1 of Spanish – very beginner) and am currently at a 15 day streak
  • Learned mostly basic sentences and words (I have, I want, foods, clothing, places, travel-related words, etc.)
  • Pros: engaging and fun, various kinds of challenges (writing, speaking, reading, listening, etc.), streak helps keep you motivated to keep at it, can follow friends who are also using Duolingo
  • Cons: can get repetitive, will be hard to get used to the regular version once my free trial runs out

I have, honestly, gone pretty hard the first two weeks of my project, so am feeling a bit lost of where to take my Spanish learning next. Here are my goals moving forward:

  • Keep my streak going on Duolingo for the duration of this project
  • Try out some other Spanish learning resources (websites, games, YouTube, podcasts, TikTok?)
  • Record a brief video of myself speaking Spanish at the end of this project (maybe see if my sister or someone else I know will do a basic conversation in Spanish with me?)

Muchos gracias por leer mi post!

(Thanks so much for reading my post!)

Until next time (Hasta luego),


“Nothing worth doing is ever easy”

Welp, I did it. I completed step one of my learning plan. That is, I retrieved the sewing machine from its home in the corner of the closet.

Sewing machine buried under a bunch of other random closet items. No, you can’t see it.

And then, I took it one step further – I took the machine out of the box.

That’s enough for one day. But seriously, just doing this helped me to solidify a better plan. Because until I opened the box, I really had no idea what I was working with. So, here is my plan!

  1. I will research online if I am able to find and purchase the materials/pieces I need to use the make and model of this machine. If not, I may have to take this learning project in a different direction, but fingers crossed it is possible.
  2. I will read the manual with the machine in front of me and order/collect any parts/materials I’ll need.
  3. I will search for video tutorials to help me get started with the basics. I anticipate that even after reading the instruction manual, I’ll need a video visual. The lingo will probably be way over my head. Bobbin? Spool?
  4. Practice different stitches on scrap pieces!

After I am comfortable at step 4, I will look for a simple pattern I can follow to sew… something more than just a square of fabric. I’ll also make sure to ask my g-ma for help along the way. I’m sure she’ll appreciate me involving her in the process. I think she’ll be pretty excited when she finds out that I’m giving this a go.

hola amigos

The skill I would like to develop as part of my EC&I 831 Learning Project is learning Spanish. I have been interested in taking up Spanish since last summer, when my sister and I visited my aunt and uncle at their vacation home in Costa Rica for 2 weeks.

My sister and I enjoying the stunning view at Vista de Olas in Mal País, Costa Rica.

Being busy with pursuing my Master’s, though, I put this desire on the back burner. It would seem that Spanish really did intrigue me though, as I have taken two other trips to Spanish-speaking countries since (Ecuador/the Galapagos and Mexico). Prior to starting this class, I had a solid plan to start learning Spanish this fall (after my Master’s degree was complete and I would have some more free time on my hands). I was so excited to see that the Learning Project was an option to pursue for this course, so I can dive in to some Spanish learning early.

Where I’m At Right Now:

Currently, I can say some basic words in Spanish that I picked up during my 3 trips in Spanish-speaking countries. This is mostly limited to names of foods (piña, pollo, queso, hamburguesa, naranja, etc.), basic words you’d see on road or shop signs (calle, salida, cerrada, zona escolar, baño, etc.), and some random words (gato, poquito, casa, etc.). Basically, I am starting out as a total beginner.

How I Plan to Develop This Skill:

I have a few ideas already of online-based Spanish learning tools that I would like to try out. Since returning from Costa Rica last summer, my sister has been learning Spanish on Duolingo, so I plan to give that a try. On my Mexico trip, I was talking to a member of my tour group who was an intermediate Spanish speaker, and he recommended Lingoda to me. I have done a bit of research into it, and think I will do a 7 day free trial of it and then jump in fully this fall with one of their 2 month “Sprints.” I’ve also heard that there are some helpful YouTube channels that teach basic Spanish skills, so I plan to do a bit of hunting around on that platform as well. I am a lurker on TikTok (I watch content periodically but don’t produce anything myself), and would be open to checking out Spanish content there as well. I am open to suggestions – if anyone knows of a great language-learning tool, please let me know!

Where I’d Like to Be in 6 Weeks:

At the outset of this project, I’d like to say I accomplished a few things:

  • tried out a variety of online language-learning tools
  • expanded my basic vocabulary to include some more categories of items beyond food and commonly-seen words
  • am able to put multiple words together into a sentence
  • explored various pillars of language – grammar, speaking, writing, listening
  • jump-started my Spanish learning journey so I can visit another Spanish-speaking country in the future and feel more confident in using this language

I look forward to getting this journey started and seeing how I progress over the next few weeks! I can’t wait to see what projects everyone else in the class is going to explore as well. As a teacher, I value lifelong learning and am ready to push myself to develop a new skill.

Do you speak more than one language?
How did you learn your additional language(s)?
Do you have any tips for me as I embark on this language-learning adventure?

Until next time,


I like soap and I cannot lye

If you don’t get it, lye is one of the main ingredients in my soap. Sodium hydroxide is the actual scientific name.

First off, I started with my aloe Vera plant that worked its roots off to grow and give me some high quality aloe to work with.

I am going to give an overview of my learning project as well as a reflection on what worked and what I still need to work on.

Soap 1: Three Ingredient Soap

My very first soap was bad news bears. Quite like most people learning new things, I just gave it a good shot. I did not measure even, I just eye balled it. What was I even thinking????

You can check out how that went here.

Soap 2: Oatmeal Soap (THE BEST ONE)

This soap went the BEST! I added a four ingredient (oatmeal ) in hopes to create a really gentle bar of soap. This one was both aesthetically pleasing and nice on the skin! This was my biggest win in my learning project! Here is the video that shows my best work!

Soap 3: Adding Essential Oils

This one did not go over well, which was slightly disappointing. I think this is a great reflection of the roller coaster of learning something new. My previous soap went so well, I thought that I had a lot of the process perfected. After a week of setting, the soap separated and did not work out. The coconut oil is at the bottom of the soap and the lye/aloe Vera is at the top. I am not sure what happened.


Okay, this is when I started to wonder, like what the heck is going on? The soap separated AGAIN! After doing some research, I thought that it had to do with how much mixing I was doing. Then, I wondered if the difference in temperature (iced aloe, mixed with lye, mixed with warmed up liquid coconut oil). I just did not know what happened.

Soap 5: Soap-prise, it did not work. AGAIN!

So, for this time I tried to use fresh aloe Vera with the lye. In previous posts, I saw that the lye was going to heat up the aloe, but I though that if the lye was heated, and the coconut oil was heated, they might be near the same temperature and they would be able to cool together as well. I also connected that the air was obviously getting warmer and warmer that the humidity might not be a positive contribution. I was wrong. Check out what my final soap looked like.

What worked?

Actually, not much worked, haha. First off, I got REALLY good at harvesting my aloe. After watching lots of TikToks and Instagram reels, I got my harvesting skills down pat. My first harvesting record video was over 14 minutes. My final harvesting took just under 3 minutes. Using a spoon to scoop long strips out of the leaves was a great lesson, but I was getting poked and prodded by my aloe Vera. I just cut off the edges and then the pokey parts were gone! Woohoo!

Something else that went well was the oatmeal soap. I am not sure what went SO well with my oatmeal soap, but it formed well, blended well and when I go back and watch the video, I see that after I added the coconut oil and poured the soap, it looks so thick! I am not sure what went so well, or if I just mixed it perfectly, or if the oatmeal was the awesome best part. It was just the best soap!

Also, I got really good at using iMovie. I learned more and more each week, and I was able to document my journey and I was able to do my editing on the go, or right before bed. It was pretty cool! I am sure that I will incorporate iMovie in my classroom in the future!

What I Still Need to Improve…

For four of my five soaps, I could not get the consistency correct. Personally, I believe this can be a downfall of asynchronous, online learning. We can watch videos over and over and over and over again, but immediate and constant feedback is missing key factor.

My soaps are not awful, and I learned a great deal, but going forward I think I am going to try and make some soap with OUT my aloe Vera. I believe that the pulp and the gel are sometimes hard to perfect. I am also wondering if I can find someone local to meet with over the summer to give me some pointers. Watching a video that says “mix for 3-5 minutes”, I am not sure when to tell to quit, besides mixing for the maximum 5 minutes.

As the weather got warmer, it also got harder to keep my soap and get it to harden. Having a little fridge for just my soaps might be in my future!

Final Thoughts

I am a fairly big advocate for the validity of learning online, but I really believe that there has to be value put into the idea of having synchronous portions. If I was able to just get some feedback from a soap-ster themselves, I think my learning would have been more valid and valuable.

This project has helped me understand the importance doing something I am passionate about in my spare time, and also solidified the idea of having genius hour in my classroom so that students can meet curricular outcomes while learning and documenting my journey. I have found some basic ways to incorporate genius hour or passion projects into my classroom through the use of ELA outcomes.

Final Soap Pour

AH! The end is here! I have poured my final soap of the semester. I am not going to lye (pun intended), the smell of aloe Vera is starting to make me want to vomit! Quite like a pre-assessment and a final assessment, this soap is exactly the same as the soap that I created for my very first attempt seven weeks ago. For my final post, I hope to have a side by side comparison of the visual aesthetics of the two soaps.

This soap is simple, well at least today it was! Now that I have a mojo going, this process does not take me an entire evening anymore! After doing some reading on a Facebook group I joined, I started to realize the “chunks” in my soap are not bad things! Whew! That was something that I was really irritated about, that it seemed like I could never mix the aloe enough to turn it into a smooth gel. This is what they are calling pulp. The irony is that I hate orange juice with pulp so I subconsciously realized why I was so angry about the pulp in my soap!

Check out my process here, and stay tuned for my final reflection post about my soap-tastic adventure!

Full of Soap-prises

Well, it was the up and up and then it was the down and down. This week I had a serious separation problem, and I do not know why.

Here it is, in all its glory. (or lack there of)

So, I will try again. After doing some research on Tik Tok and Instagram, I have come to the conclusion that I did not mix them enough. Some great accounts that I found were @cuddleswithnature on Instagram, @peaceonpo on Instagram and then I followed @spicymoustache on Instagram and Tik Tok, because he had this video showing how to make soap using aloe and a soap base. That is what I will try for my FINAL project next week, but for this week I am trying my same recipe as last week again. I really feel like it was a fail of a soap, and I believe that I did not mix my ingredients enough before pouring it. I recorded only a few portions of the process because I was a little rushed #teacherlife, but you can check out my post from last week here, and the video on the process below!

I Smell a Comeback — Four Ingredient Aloe Vera Soap

The Four Ingredient Soap from last week

Here we go folks, the comeback soap. My four ingredient Aloe Vera soap went fairly well. I was realizing besides appearance, I had no idea how to actually test my soap. After doing some research, the suggestion is to wait about 3-4 weeks, especially with the aloe being one of the main ingredients. I did some even further research to see what I should do to make sure that it is safe for your skin. I found that testing the pH is the best way. I am going to purchase this pH testing kit, and next week I should be able to test my first soap. Here is where I learned how to test the pH!

My soap should (hopefully) have a pH of around 9-10.

My only disappointment again this week is that even when I mixed the exact measurement and weight of lye solution to the aloe, it still turned red. I was wondering if I was not stirring enough, but when I watched the next video, they even let the two sit together and allow the lye to melt the aloe. One of the first suggestions that I found in my research was that you must freeze the aloe so the lye does not burn the aloe. I feel like this is still somehow happening, even though I am freezing it!

Youtube videos have been the only thing that I have really been able to actually learn the soap making process with. I found another video, which gives me most of the same information this week as the ones from previous weeks. I am hoping that I can add some essential oils to my batch of soap. I am adding a peppermint/cedar smell as suggested in the video. Here is the video I am learning from this week. Unfortunately, she has restrictions on where her video can be posted, so I have to link it for you!

Here is my video of how it is made. I am RUNNING OUT OF ALOE VERA! My poor plant is not producing enough aloe for my project and I want to reserve some of the final stems I have for a few weeks down the road. I might have to buy some aloe Vera next week!

Using Inshot For Video Editing

I am a big fan of iMovie, and I have used iMovie time and time again in the classroom. I felt quite uncomfortable trying something new. I mean, this is exactly what happens in education. Students, teachers and schools all love following status quo! Evidently, Katia is challenging my thinking!

I did some research, and browsed the Apple app store to find a new app that would work well with what I was doing. I also wanted to be sure that a free version of the app was worthwhile and I did not have spend money to learn something new. Another teacher pet peeve I have is when someone tells me about something awesome, and then makes me huck over my own money!

First and foremost, you need to record your video clips for your video that you are creating. Once you have downloaded the app, you can select video, allow access to photos and videos on your device, and select the videos!

Step 1: Choose Video
Step 2: Choose Videos
Step 3: Videos are Uploaded

After you have your videos uploaded, they will be uploaded in the order that you choose from your library. I personally like to crop and clip my videos my actual photos/videos on my phone, but you can also clip and crop in the app. Here, below I have an incredibly long clip of harvesting my aloe and cleaning the table afterwards. It is too long for my choice, so as you can see there are a variety of options to edit this specific clip. I can pre-cut, split, delete, change the volume, add a voice effect, denoise the clip, adjust the speed. Using the split option, you can choose what portion of the video you want to keep. Click and drag the bottom white bar to adjust as seen on the second picture below. The second feature that I like to use is the speed feature, as it shows the same amount of video footage in twice the time! The third picture below is showing the speed option. I like to use double time and this is the max that I can use on iMovie, but Inshot seems to have even more speed options!

Step 4: Splitting the Clips
Step 5: Changing the Speed

I also love to add a little bit of mood setting music to my videos. Very frequently, I am making banging noises, or my husband and dog are making noise while I am filming. So, to do this, I need to silence the videos that I have uploaded, and then add music. Step 6 shows where we can silence our video, using the volume button, and then Step 7 shows how we can choose a new sound for our video. For the final step, I love to add some text to explain what is going on in each clip. Step 8 shows what it looks like to add text to each video, or just once if you prefer!

Step 6: Turning down the volume
Step 7: Adding Music
Step 8: Add text

Be sure to check out how my video turned out on my blog post this week! You can find it here!

Now that you have read through my tutorial, here is a tutorial that I used for my first go around as well!

Oatmeal Aloe Vera For my Wounds

Well, it really is only up from here. Last week, my three ingredient aloe vera soap. You can find that blog post here. Here is nice picture of my not-so awesome three ingredient soap!

Three Ingredient Aloe Vera Soap

It did not go as planned, for probably mannnnny reasons. First off, I did not measure a dang thing. Of course, then I realized that I probably should not even try to use the soap. Secondly, it took me 25 minutes to harvest my aloe Vera, and after re-watching the video I posted in the post, I realized everything I did not do. I found a list of troubleshooting ideas about soap making on this link! Another slightly alarming part of this process was the danger and protection needed against the lye ingredient. Simba has always wanted to be an active member of this process. I am wondering if he needs a hazmat suit. Glasses and gloves don’t work for his active lifestyle. My soap is chunky, discoloured and I did not make even close to enough of a recipe. HELLLLLLO ingredients and measuring!

I really enjoyed the creator for my first attempt. It was simple, effective and I even realized that there was a list in the description and how much of each ingredient you should use. Wow, that is a great idea. So this time I am sure that I will measure appropriately!

I felt right from the

beginning that I

was on a better

track than last week.

– Me this week

Even though my three ingredient soap did not go as planned, I thought adding a small and basic fourth ingredient is a step up, but not a steep step. I purchased a small kitchen scale to measure my ingredients. I got it at my local home hardware, but here is a link for a kitchen scale on trusty old Amazon!

I am using the same resource for this soap. I think the issues last week were more of a ME problem and less of the educational resources I was using. Plus, the YouTube author is named “The Aloe Vera Garden”, who could know better than that? Here is the instructional video that I found!

You can check out my process below. I did not show the process of making the aloe vera ice cubes as I showed that last week, but I followed the same process. The harvesting of the aloe was much easier this week with the spoon technique (yes, exactly how the video showed). I felt right from the beginning that I was on a better track than last week. Reading directions and watching videos as I work is the KEY to success! I also added some fun subtitles in my video!

Next week I will update you with my success (or fail) of oatmeal soap. Now, off to find a new recipe to try next week!