Category Archives: eci831

Final Learning Project Summary

It all started with a book, a book I read this summer, a book that became more than just a book. This book became a learning project for EC&I 831 and evolved into something quite special. This book is called “Fish out of Water” by Joanne Levy.

“Fish out of Water” is about a boy named Fishel who needs to come up with a bar Mitzvah project that “gives of himself” back to the community. Fishel or Fish as his family and friends call him has always loved the green, pink, and purple socks his grandmother has knit him. He described them as a loving hug from his Bubby even when she was not there. For his Mitzvah project he decided he would like to learn how to knit and then knit socks for children who were living in shelters or in care to let them know that someone in the world was thinking of them.

Fishel is met with resistance by his Bubby who believes that knitting is for old women, and his friends who think that knitting is for girls. For a long time he didn’t want to tell anyone about his project because he didn’t understand why so many people didn’t think he should do it. When he finally told his teacher, then his Rabbi, and then his mother they showed him that knitting is for whoever wants to do it, even his grandfather – Zaida – thought it was a great idea. In fact #boyscanknit!

When Professor Alec Couros introduced this learning project to our class, it didn’t take me long to decide that I was going to learn how to knit. I already knew that I was going to read this book to my classes, but I didn’t know that I would be able to show them in reality that #boyscanknit. I was super excited to get started!

In my first blog post I showed how I started by exploring different tutorial websites and YouTube videos. I ended up settling on Sheep and Stich with Devina because of the high quality videos that didn’t have much advertising. I really liked her videos because they got straight to the point, and the high quality videos were easy to focus on while also trying out what I was learning at the same time.

My learning started to take off. I learned pretty quickly how to cast on – getting the yarn ready on the needle to start knitting. It is the first step, and then the basic knit stich. I was pretty slow at first (and lets face it I still am pretty slow, but much faster than I was), but soon enough I had completed a dish cloth. As I showed in my second blog post I had a lot of difficulty figuring out how to cast off. Casting off is necessary to complete your work so it doesn’t all unravel. It was difficult to tell in the video just how to do it properly, and I thought I was messing it up. A few of my loops ended up coming off the needle and I had no idea how to recover from that. I ended up with:


I decided that I couldn’t wait a long time before getting another chance to cast off, so I decided to quickly knit a swatch and then attempt it again. This second time was a success. I did it! In my video at the 2:50 mark you can see what I was able to accomplish.

Once I figured out how to cast off the next thing I wanted to learn was how to knit faster, and how to add a different colour into a project. Ohh boy! I didn’t quite realize what I was getting myself into. Hours, and hours, and hours later I finally finished a spool of yarn and was ready to add another. My sister in law was super helpful here. It just happened to be Thanksgiving so her family was in town and she is a knitter. She also happens to be a great teacher (so thank-you very much Amanda Thompson).

Once I started it took another very long stretch of time to finish something. Knitting is a perfect example of needing to practice the art of patience because when you are first starting up it is a slow and steady art form. However, after a lot of time and patience I finished something that I am very proud of. You can watch the big reveal in my third blog update video or just see the pic below.

After knitting the above shawl I attempted to knit a toque by using circular needles. I was able to figure out how to use them, however as I demonstrated in the video from my forth blog post what I was hoping would be a toque ended up for a giant head, so my attempt was a failure, but the lessons I learned were valuable. I learned that patterns are available for a reason and I should try to use one the next time I am going to attempt a toque, and based on how curly my finished product ended up I needed to learn how to do a different stich.

Since my last post I learned how to purl with the following video:

I’m still working on it as it is another one that takes a long time. It is basically like reverse knitting so you have to unlearn everything you thought you knew and start all over again. In my first attempt I have no idea what happened but I started with 25 stiches and ended up with over 30. You’ll notice that in one part of the project it gets wider and that is exactly where I ended up with more stiches. The one part I found difficult was once I had finished a row of purl stich, I had to do the next row regular knit stich and I had a hard time figuring out where to start. Perhaps that is why it ended up with extra loops???

You can tell the purl stich by looking at how the pattern changes.

The project I am currently working on is a scarf. I started with a regular knit stich followed by 1 row of purl 3 regular then another row of purl stich. I plan on finishing the scarf with the same pattern. Below is what I have so far.

I have really enjoyed doing this project because of the interesting conversations I have had with others, such as one parent who ended up sending me a book to peruse through.

I haven’t had an opportunity to really look through it yet but the few pages I looked at were super confusing. I am definitely a learner who has so see something being done and then have the opportunity to do it myself. The images and explanations in this book are daunting to me however I may give a pattern a try over the Christmas break.

I think the most significant thing to come from this learning project has been the conversations I have had with my students. Because we are reading the book “Fish out of Water” in class and I have shown students my own knitting projects, I have found that opening up about myself in the classroom, students have opened up about themselves a little bit more. We have had some really deep conversations and have been able to connect at a completely different level. Many more students have told me about the stereotypes that affect them, and how they don’t fit into societies mold of how boys and girls should be and the things they should do. Another thing I have noticed is the number of students who have felt comfortable talking to me about their sexuality, or about being transgender. They have told me many times that there are more than two genders and we have all decided that we need to be careful about using the words boys and girls.

The lesson in “Fish out of Water” is to trust yourself and to do the things that make you happy. The main character Fish doesn’t like typical boy things and as he challenges gender stereotypes be breaks down barriers and show to the reader how harmful these stereotypes can be and the value of being true to yourself. I won’t give away the ending but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t cry a little (out of happiness for Fish) because #BoysCanCry and they certainly can #knit. #BoysCanKnit

Major Learning Project – Summary

Again, wow! I can’t believe we are already at the end of this course, and thus the end of my major project. It has been a very busy semester filled with dough and icing. My fiancé has appreciated all the baking popping up every weekend, but I am not sure if my waistline agrees withContinue reading "Major Learning Project – Summary"

Major Learning Project – Week 9

The time has finally come – my last week of cookie decorating (for this class anyways). This week I decided to try and tie everything together and create a variety of Christmas cookies with the royal icing. I knew right away that I wanted to do a candy cane and a Christmas tree. I thoughtContinue reading "Major Learning Project – Week 9"

You’ve Got a Way to Keep Me On Your Side, You Give Me Cause for OER That I Can’t Hide…

A Deeper Look Into OER Commons First Thoughts on OER Commons Similar to a lot of my course peers, I too researched more into the OER Commons (OER means Open Educational Resources). Why did I choose this one you ask? Well, for starters Alec showed it to us in class[Read more]

OER – Open Learn

First off I’d like to say thank-you to Dalton for posting about Merlot. I was thinking of exploring that website, however after Dalton’s evaluation of the website I decided my time would be better spent on another one. I wanted to explore a website that I had never used before, so a few of them were out – OER Commons, TED Ed, Khan Academy, and Wiki Educator, but it still left me with a pretty extensive list to go from. I settle on Open Learn because I really liked the look of the website.

Snapshot of website

The look of the website is what really drew me in. The set up is super easy to navigate and the colourful, vibrant pictures make it very visually stimulating. So I decided to sign up for an account and start exploring to see what I could find.

First off all it is extremely user friendly. If the navigation bar doesn’t help you to find what you want then you can scroll down the page to the “Get Inspired” section of the home page and do exactly as it says Get Inspired!

Get Inspired course topics

I really like how every course has the number of hours it will take to complete the course as well as a level. Within the open education courses there are three levels. 1 – Beginner, 2 – Intermediate, and 3 – advanced. In the frequently asked questions section say that the levels indicate how much of the information is accessible to you given your educational background. The website creators recommend starting with courses rated level 1 if you have no background in the subject matter. In addition to the courses they also have links to articles, videos, and activities in multiple subject areas. So, if you don’t have 24 hours to complete a course you can search for one of these time saver options.

Open Education has over 1000 courses, videos, and content that you can access with your free account and starting is very easy. You can either type in your search at the top of the site, or scroll down the home page and choose a subject area. All easy to navigate and user friendly.

Topics on

Are the resources high quality? Yes I would definitely say they are – most videos are user generated so they don’t have all the bells and whistles of a studio, however the sound quality is good and the information being presented is pretty good. The only thing I would mention is that the website is based out of England and Wales so some of the content is related to the UK so that is important to keep in mind. However, most of the subjects offered have universal benefits and can be used by anyone.

I looked up subjects in a few different areas and the content is really well organized and pretty easy to follow. For example if you want to know about earthquakes there are several options that come up.

Just searching Earthquakes I received 784 results. When I opened up a course that I really found interesting it took me to a page that laid out the course for me.

And gave me options to download the course content. I think it is great that users have four different options for downloading course content.

One other course that I evaluated was a Beginner French course, and for this course I would have to give it a failing grade. The course was supposed to teach me how to order food at a restaurant. Full disclosure: I know a little French so I was able to work through the course, however the actual course is not beginner and there is not much teaching. The first activity had me pair French foods to their English counterparts. If I didn’t know what they were I wouldn’t have been able to match them let alone pronounce them. How would I order anything at a restaurant if I didn’t learn how to say the words. So user beware, most of the courses are great, however there will definitely be some on the site that may not meet the users needs.

Lastly, would this website be a valuable tool to the educators that I work with? 100%, because we are asked to present information every day to our students. The thing I love about being an educator is the ability to engage in life long learning. Before I teach any lesson I always educate myself first. Sadly, in the past, this sometimes looked like reading ahead in a textbook. With there are several courses that can give teachers the background knowledge that they need to work through course content. In addition they may also come across a video or pictures that may be of interest to their class as they work through the content of the course. The user can use open learn to do a variety of different things as seen in the graphic below. The one thing that I didn’t explore and will definitely look at in the future is the sister site OpenLearn Create.

Overall I think this website is a valuable resource that I will be recommending it to colleagues.

Improving the speed and quality of research via shared algorithm implementations
“Improving the speed and quality of research via shared algorithm implementations” by opensourceway is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0