Category Archives: learning project

Scrunchie? DONE-chie.

I can hardly believe it.

Well actually, that’s a bit dramatic. After figuring out the ins and outs of the machine, I knew I’d be able to figure out this relatively simple project in the sewing world. Here’s a time lapse of the whole process!

Here’s the breakdown of how it went:

  • First, I bought a pack of fabric. It came with 5 different floral styles. I also bought knit elastic, which I ended up having to cut in half to meet the 1/4 inch requirement from the instructions. To be safe, I went with about 1/2 inch wide elastic to give me (and the needle) some wiggle room for errors.
  • I let my daughter choose the fabric she wanted as the scrunchie would be for her. Naturally, the first fabric she chose was claimed as a blanket for her baby, so we went with option 2 (toddlers, am I right?)
  • I cut the fabric according to the specifications by Damjana at AppleGreen Cottage (here’s the link to the video I mostly followed)
  • I sewed the narrow end of the fabric to close that seam
  • I then folded the fabric in half lengthwise and sewed that seam shut. This is where I ran into issues
    • everything started fine, but eventually, the needle just kept going through the same point in the fabric and the fabric wasn’t rolling along under the presser foot as it had been before. So, I stopped, pulled the fabric away, cut and tied the loose ends, and tried again. I did this probably 5 different times. Eventually, as nothing appeared to be wrong with the bobbin thread, I figured that maybe it was an issue with thread tension and adjusted that. This seemed to do the trick and I was able to finish that long seam.
  • Then I turned the fabric right side out
  • Time for the elastic. The video I was watching didn’t specify the length of the elastic, so I had to look to Treasurie on YouTube to help me out with this. This tutorial video was a bit more detailed than the other one, and came in very handy.
  • I cut the elastic slightly less than the 9 inch suggestion from Treasurie, as the fabric I cut based on Damjana’s measurements was smaller than Treasurie’s. I went with 7.5 inches. As mentioned before, I had to cut that elastic in half lengthwise so it wasn’t so thick.
  • I then pinned the ends of the elastic together and was instructed to sew those together. I was about to go and find a needle and do this by hand, but I figured what the heck and let ol’ Singer give it a whirl. It worked fine!
  • After that was done, I removed the pins and tucked the raw edge of the fabric inside the edge with the seam. It was then time to sew the ends of the fabric together (the last step). Honestly, I kind of figured this was not the correct way to do this step. I used the machine, which sewed the elastic to the fabric, stopping it from being able to move around within the loop of fabric. I checked out some of my other scrunchies, and all of the elastics inside of them were able to move freely around inside the fabric. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this without also sewing the elastic, unless I did it by hand. From the videos, there was no mention of doing this step by hand, so I decided to just do a row of stitches right through the fabric and elastic. I figured once it was done, the material is all scrunched up anyway, so it wouldn’t matter terribly, especially for my first try. My harshest critic would be myself and my 3 year old, so I wasn’t all that worried.
  • Did that, tied up the loose ends, and admired my creation.
  • I ran upstairs and showed my daughter. She graciously modeled it for me:

Thinking back over the last 6 weeks, it’s hard for me to believe that I went from having no idea where to even begin to creating something that will truly be useful for me. I think that’s what motivated me to want to choose this as my learning project-the practicality. I want to be able to sew the odd hole my daughter (and likely future daughter) inevitably get in their clothes, or even sew them something fun like a costume in the future! The scrunchie thing is cool because I could create a scrunchie that matches another fabric that can be worn, like a shirt or a dress or something like that. Finishing this has me thinking about what else I can create. I’m envisioning little drawstring bags for the kids’ tiny toys. I haven’t delved into this world all that much. I’ve explored TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, and I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface of what is out there in this category.

I also have some final reflections on the learning process itself; ideas that I want to remember and apply to student learning when I get back into the classroom:

  1. Learning something new is hard, BUT when taken one step at a time, it is way less frightening and overwhelming. Throughout this process, as evident in my previous posts, there were definitely some challenges. At the beginning, when I thought about where I wanted to get to, I almost wanted to give up before I started because it seemed impossible. However, when I actually sat down to start, and just took it one step at a time, it wasn’t daunting. There seemed to be a solution for every problem, even if it extended the time it took to complete that step. I need to remember that for students, they’re learning a whole bunch of new things, every day, all the time. They must feel overwhelmed at times too. As their teacher, I should be reminding them to gently refocus on the first step in whatever it is they are trying to accomplish and not look too far ahead.
  2. Learning something new is rewarding and provides a feeling of accomplishment. Were there times I wanted to do anything else but sit down and learn to sew? Yes. Did I want to quit? Yes, a few times. Am I happy I didn’t? Definitely. I feel a sense of pride in what I was able to achieve, no matter how small it may seem. I think about how scary it was to take this machine out of the box and set it all up, but I did it, and I’m proud of that! I want to provide more opportunities for students to think about how learning new things makes them feel. I think this will involve slowing down a little and encouraging them to pay more attention to the effects of learning on confidence, self-esteem, and motivation to continue learning.
  3. It doesn’t always have to go as planned to be a valuable experience. My initial end goal was a bucket hat. Yeah…maybe one day. But with the challenged I faced in this project that slowed down my process a bit, I realized that that project was something to strive for down the road. While it’s important to set goals and have them be as specific as possible, I think there’s something to be said for allowing a bit of room for change and the things that happen that are out of our control. We probably shouldn’t be so rigid with our learning goals and plans that it prevents us from learning something unplanned that is perhaps just as meaningful. Open-ended learning projects like this are tricky in the classroom setting for two reasons: one, they are difficult to assess, and two: kids can get lazy and get away with it. However, the pros still outweigh the cons in my opinion as there is a lot of value and significance in independent learning.

I want to thank anyone who has followed this journey and taken the time to read about it. I know we are all very busy at this time of year as educators and I appreciate the time you’ve taken to get this far if you’ve gotten this far. I hope your experiences were meaningful to you and successful in whatever way that might mean.

Thank you Katia and thank you classmates; congratulations to those of you who are finished your Masters and best of luck to those continuing your educational journeys. Have a wonderful, well-deserved summer everyone!


learning project – studying spanish – final evidence of learning

Este es mi post final por mi Proyecto de Aprender, donde yo estudio español. En mi videos, yo hablo con Rebeca. Nos conocimos en 2019 en un viaje de India y Nepal. ¡Muchas gracias por tu ayuda, Rebeca!

(This is my final post for my Learning Project, where I study Spanish. In my videos, I talk with Rebeca. We met in 2019 on a trip to India and Nepal. Thank you very much for your help, Rebeca!)

Donde Yo Soy / Where I Am

In my first update post for this project, I mentioned that I wanted to demonstrate my final learning by recording myself speaking Spanish with someone. I tossed around a few ideas of who I could talk to, but nothing seemed quite right. I thought about conversing with:

  • my sister (she had been learning Spanish on Duolingo, but has since dropped off doing the app, and I didn’t think two beginner learners would be able to have a very good conversation)
  • my uncle (he knows sufficient Spanish to get around in Costa Rica, where he has a vacation home, but he isn’t a native speaker)
  • a user on Tandem (I tried asking someone I had been chatting with for a while if they’d be open to my recording a session of us chatting, but I think they were a bit freaked out by this – reasonably so! haha)

Just as I was beginning to give up hope on my idea of speaking Spanish with someone, Rebeca answered my prayers and, seemingly, fell into my lap! When she followed me on Duolingo, a lightbulb instantly went off – I knew a native Spanish speaker from my previous travels! I asked Rebeca if she would be interested in having a conversation with me on Zoom and she graciously agreed. Last Thursday (day 37 of learning Spanish for me), we sat down for a Zoom conversation and spoke almost entirely (I’d say 95%) in Spanish for about 20 minutes!

I’m sure many people won’t want to listen to a 20 minute conversation in another language, so I have created two different videos that you are welcome to check out below.

This video is a shortened version with some of the ‘highlights’ of our conversation.

If for some reason, you want to check out the ‘full meal deal,’ this is the video for you.

There are chapter titles in the video so viewers can tell what topic we are discussing in each section. I wanted to include the full conversation to have an authentic artifact that captures my progress at this juncture.

Rebeca was an amazing conversational partner, who understood my stilted and hesitant sentences, offered clarifications on things I didn’t know, and provided lots of complimentary feedback! Being able to have a conversation in Spanish with a native speaker was an invaluable experience – I was very nervous, but also left our Zoom conversation buzzing with pride and excitement. Thank you again to Rebeca for being so generous with her time and agreeing to speak with me and be recorded for this project – I literally could not have done it without you!

¿Que Proxima? What Next?

I fully intend to continue learning Spanish, and am hoping to jump into a more intensive language Sprint on Lingoda in the fall. I’d love to learn more vocabulary and increase my knowledge of verbs/conjugations, as that is a weak spot for me right now. In addition, I’d like to expand my ability to speak in present or future tense, as I am currently limited to speaking in present tense. I can’t wait to visit another Spanish speaking country and continue to practice my Spanish!

Thanks everyone for joining me on this journey! It has been an absolute blast and I am left feeling so satisfied with how my Learning Project turned out! I am eternally grateful for the opportunity this course gave me to kick-start my Spanish learning and I will definitely continue with this as a personal goal moving forward.


Until next time,


escuchando español (listening to spanish)

This week was the first time that I felt I faltered a little bit with my Learning Project. I still continued doing daily lessons on Duolingo and Drops (I’m at a 38 and 22 day streak, respectively), but often it was just the bare minimum needed to keep my streak going. I also engaged with users on Tandem a few times.

I believe my Duolingo stats for this week are the lowest they’ve been since I started

As for my goal of doing more listening and speaking this week, I did check out some Spanish TikTok videos and one podcast, but my Spanish learning took a bit of a back burner this week. Here are some brief details about both of these platforms:


Scroll through the images above to see some recommendations of helpful accounts I came across.

Trying out some different search terms in TikTok helped me to see an array of content. With minimal effort, I came across several interesting accounts. A few of them offered everyday tips for how to sound more conversational or avoid making common mistakes when speaking. A couple were bite-sized lessons that had text on the screen to teach conjugations, vocabulary, etc. Overall, I found TikTok to be an additional platform that has lots of learning content, but you would have to diligently write down the terms you want to practice and keep reviewing them in order to retain any information (or re-watch videos multiple times over a longer span of time than a usual TikTok scroll entails).


Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to listening to as many podcasts as I had planned. I have several that I’d like to try out, but only managed to squeeze in the time to listen to one this week. It actually happened to be by News In Slow Spanish, a website I tried out earlier (and talked about in a previous post). Turns out the ‘podcast style’ lessons that I referred to are actually podcasts! I listened to the next episode from where I had left off (now that my free trial with that website has ended). It was good to know that they offer their content as a podcast for free, so I can continue with these later on if I want to. These lessons are great – and offer a mixture of English and Spanish, so you are able to follow along fairly easily.

I think the reason I had difficulty finding time to engage with podcasts is because it still requires a lot of my focus and attention when I listen to them, so it is not a podcast you can put on in the background while you’re doing something else. At this juncture, I still need to think hard to translate in my head, so I had to focus solely on listening to the podcast and couldn’t multitask. That being said, I do think it’s a good way to learn if you want to develop your listening skills, so it is something I am interested in exploring more in the future as I continue my Spanish learning journey!

Unexpected Learning

Before I began formally learning Spanish for this class, I enjoyed Spanish music and have a playlist of Spanish music on my phone. As I was driving home yesterday, some of these songs came on and I found myself recognizing some words being sung in the songs. I also realized that I could get a general idea of what the songs titles meant because some of the words were familiar.

For example, with the song in the images below, I recognized “Olvídate” as “forget” and knew “El” meant “he or him,” so was able to guess that the song meant something like “Forget About Him” (see reveal of the translation by moving the divider line between the pictures to either side).

This happened again in another song that came up. I knew that pueder/puedes/puedo were conjugations for the verb meaning “can.” Verbs ended in ‘o’ (puedo) are in first person (so = I can). In “Enamorarte,” I saw the stem ‘amor’ and guessed that it meant something about love. See the full translation and song title in the images below.

Also, I recommend you check out these two songs – they are great!

Final Evidence of Learning

In a week that felt like a bit of a fail, my biggest win was demonstrating/documenting where my Spanish skills are currently at for my final evidence of learning. More details to come next week in my last post, but I will tease it by saying I’m super proud of what I did and where I’m at!

Until next time,


aprender español – número dos (learning spanish – number two)

¡Hola todo el mundo! Es Kara con un actualización de español.

(Hi everyone! It’s Kara with a Spanish update.)

In my previous blog post, I shared that I wanted to practice listening to and speaking more Spanish. Enter Tandem, the language exchange app that I decided to try out this week.

I had a lot to say about this app and the other online resources I tested out this week, so I decided to do my update vlog-style again. My video ended up being a bit longer than I anticipated, so no hard feelings if you don’t want to watch all of it. Feel free to scroll down to my written highlights below.

TL; DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch) Summary

Tandem – a language exchange app where you can chat with native speakers from around the world in a variety of different languages. You get the opportunity to practice the language you want to learn, while also helping out others who want to learn your native language.


  • the app offers both written and audio messaging functions, so you can read, write, listen, and speak in your language of choice
  • the app also offers live video calling (I did not try this function, as I did not feel comfortable)
  • ‘translate’ and ‘comment’ options are embedded right into the messaging platform, so you can translate what someone has said into English if you don’t understand or offer corrections on how to say things properly
  • the app has clearly-defined community guidelines, and you have to be accepted into the community after putting some basic information into your profile
  • there is always someone on the app ready to chat with you
  • way to practice basic get-to-know-you phrases and topics of conversation
  • the app will flag messages that are sketchy or suspicious
  • free version is more than sufficient; don’t need to have the paid version IMO


  • the number of messages and requests to chat can be overwhelming
  • not great if you are only at a beginner level, as you are limited in what you can say and understand (I had Google Translate open while using this app, so I could try to talk about new things and figure out how to say things I didn’t know yet)
  • can be a big time suck (once I got into a conversation with a few people, I would be on the app for over an hour)

Overall, I think Tandem can be an interesting language-learning tool if you are willing to overlook some of its annoying ‘cons.’

News In Slow Spanish – a website that offers short news stories that are 100% written and read aloud in basic Spanish. The website also has podcast-like lessons on a variety of grammar and vocabulary topics that you can listen to (but also read at the same time, as they have included scripts to accompany them).


  • allows you to read about current topics in Spanish and learn new words in an authentic context
  • news articles are read at a slow pace, and you can change the speed to be slower or faster
  • offers pop-up icons with English translations of phrases or words the reader might not know
  • variety of other resources on the website
  • offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of news articles


  • you need a subscription to access full news articles and resources (free trial for one week)

In summary, I really like this platform, but don’t anticipate I will pay $23 US each month to keep this service after my free trial ends.

¿Ahora Que? (What Now?)

  • continue with Duolingo, Drops, and Tandem
  • listen to some Spanish-learning podcasts
  • check out some Spanish content on TikTok

¡Gracias por leer mi publicación! (Thanks for reading my post!)

Hasta la proxima vez (Until next time),


All the things you learn while trying to learn something else

An update on my “learn to sew” project:

Spoiler alert, we haven’t gotten to the sewing. Yet.

I do have some exciting (well, at least to me) progress to share though! To start off, I searched the internet high and low, manual by my side, and found these videos/people to be the most helpful in my first task, which was threading the machine.

First, I found this video by MrEdSnapshot on YouTube. It was one of the only ones I could find that gave a detailed overview of the machine I was using (probably because it is quite old). This one didn’t show me how to thread the machine or actually sew, but it did give some helpful close-ups of all of the places I would eventually need to become familiar with, such as all the nooks and crannies that the thread winds through, as well as the inside of the bobbin case. This was extremely helpful as the video I chose to primarily help me thread the machine was on a different machine that looked a little different from mine!

The next video helped me to properly thread the machine. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know it was done correctly, but follow up with my mother in law confirmed that I indeed did it right. Massive shout out to Hailey Stitches on YouTube for this absolute gem of a tutorial. The whole not having the same machine as her thing was a non-issue as I followed along her simple, clear explanations.

Then this happened:

The bobbin. It was actually winding. I followed Hailey’s lovely instructions up to this point, and with great hesitancy, slowly pushed my foot down on the pedal. It was magical.

So I kept on going, until I reached the last step before I heard those words I’d been waiting for – “Now, you’re ready to sew”.

I ran upstairs and grabbed some paper towel. Why? TikTok videos I’ve been following use paper towel sheets to practice stitches on, and I figured that was my safest bet! I got it all set up to push through the machine. I pressed down the pedal. The needle started moving up and down, and the piece of paper towel was feeding its way under the presser foot. I was so excited and thrilled…until I reached the end of the paper towel, and… nothing. There was no thread, no stitches. I thought maybe I had threaded the bobbin part wrong, so I took that out and watched the video again and redid it. Then I tried again. I got maybe half a stitch, and it got all tangled. NOOOOOOOO I was so so close!

I tried one more time to rethread the spool thread and the bobbin thread to no avail. I quickly Googled why a correctly threaded sewing machine might not be making stitches in fabric, and it gave me a few suggestions to do with thread tension and fabric thickness. I thought, then, that maybe the paper towel was just too thin and the thread wasn’t “catching”. So then I did what any normal person would do. I ran upstairs, gabbed an old pair of shorts and cut a piece out of them.

Alas, the fabric wasn’t the problem. Or the tension. After all that hope, I felt a little defeated. I kind of just sat there for a while, contemplating what to do next.

I thought about calling grandma, but it was likely she was already asleep, and this was likely to be a longer conversation. So I decided that the following morning, I would ask my mother in law, who also sews, if she could take a look at the machine and see if she could figure anything out. She reported back later the next morning, saying she couldn’t get it to work either! But, she did say the machine was threaded correctly, so that felt good at least. She suggested I try a sharper, newer needle, as this had been a solution for her with a past project (which was actually her hemming a dress of mine). Quick shout out to my MIL here, the real MVP. She takes care of our kid during the week and saves us from all sorts of disasters, including derailed learning projects.

So, with confirmation that I have done everything right up until now, my next step will be trying a new needle. If that doesn’t work, I may have to switch up my learning project a little. This is not to say that I haven’t learned anything from trying to learn how to sew! In fact, here’s a few things this journey has me reflecting on so far:

  1. Getting started on something new really is the hardest part. I was extremely intimidated by this endeavor, and as I followed my way through the manual and instructional videos, one step at a time, I realized that it really wasn’t all that bad, and that I was perfectly capable of completing the task. Our brains tell us all sorts of lies about what we can and can’t do.
  2. Learning is frustrating. What an important reminder of how it feels to be stuck! We see this with our students all the time, and it’s easy to become impatient when all of your different attempts to help are fruitless. This process has me thinking of my students in their times of frustration and have more empathy.
  3. Asking for help can be hard, but so helpful. I’m definitely a more “figure it out on my own” type of person. I’d rather try a handful of different things before asking for someone else’s assistance. Which, sometimes, is really just a dumb waste of time. I’m a bit stubborn and wanted to be able to learn how to sew all on my own, if possible. But asking my MIL for help, and having her clear up some of my questions and suggest a new solution, was huge! It transformed what would have been a dead end to one more path I could follow.

As I look ahead to next week, I will plan simply to get a new needle and try again. If that doesn’t work, I have a few options I’m considering. A, I could borrow someone’s sewing machine that actually works. B, I could attempt sewing by hand, and learn a more proper way to do this besides the way I taught myself, or C, I could change lanes altogether and focus on learning something new, even in the short amount of time we have left in class.

We’ll see how the week unfolds! Until next time.

“drops” in the bucket – testing out another language-learning app

Hi everyone! I’m back with another update on my Learning Project of taking up Spanish. It continues to be ‘muy divertido y interesante’ (very fun and interesting).

I am still keeping up with Duolingo, and am up to a 23 day streak! I continue to enjoy this app. Check out my previous blog post for my review of Duolingo.


This week, I have also been focusing on another app: Drops. This app was suggested to me by Mike A. in a comment on my blog – thanks so much for the recommendation, Mike! Here are a few details about Drops and my thoughts:

  • a language-learning app (acquired by the famous Kahoot! educational platform) with different vocabulary topics you can explore – ex. Counting, Train Trip, Pronouns, Shapes, Food
  • you play on the app for intervals of 5 minutes with a visual timer counting down in the corner, which I like
  • there are a few different screens that pop up during the 5 minute learning intervals; they can get a bit repetitive and a particular one (picture below) where you have to maze your way through spelling the word feels a bit more like a word game than a useful language learning activity to me
  • the app incorporates multiple modes of learning: when it introduces a new word that “drops” in, it will show the written word, play audio of someone saying it, and have a visual picture to represent that term
  • Drops has a daily streak, as well as displaying other stats, such as how many new words you’ve learned, your total accuracy percentage, and accuracy on individual words
  • this app is great if you’d like to expand your vocabulary on specific topics; however, it only involves spelling words, listening to/reading words and then matching them to the correct visual
  • as far as I can tell, there is no speaking element to the app and it only deals with singular words or short phrases, not full sentences
  • there is a paid version called “Premium” that offers some additional perks (like unlimited learning time each day); I signed up for a free trial that lasts for 2 weeks

In conclusion, I will continue to use Drops to keep expanding my topic-specific vocabulary, but I don’t like this app as much as some of the other online tools I’ve tried because of its lack of speaking opportunities and full sentences.

Writing in Spanish – Three Weeks In

One exercise I tried out was writing as much as I could about myself in Spanish without the use of any tools. I did this in a few small chunks of sentences and then inputted my writing into Google Translate as a way to self-check. I had a few small errors and one verb I didn’t know yet (see images below), but overall, I was very impressed with how much I could write after only 3 weeks of wholeheartedly diving into Spanish.

Moving Forward

After completing the writing exercise above, I felt that my writing ability and vocabulary in Spanish were coming along nicely. However, I would also consider these to be the easier skills in a new language, whereas understanding spoken conversations and speaking yourself are more complex and difficult, as they are happening much faster. With that in mind, I’d like to focus specifically on more listening and speaking activities in the weeks ahead.


For listening, I mentioned previously that I could try out some Spanish language-learning podcasts. I have yet to delve into this and would still like to give this a shot. I could also try to watch a show with Spanish subtitles or dubbing, but feel this might be a big jump in difficulty for my current level of understanding. There are also some listening comprehension activities I found here that I could explore further.


In regards to speaking, this is the aspect of Spanish learning that I am most struggling with where to go next. Lingoda was an awesome tool to promote both listening and speaking, but my free trial has ended and I don’t want to dive into the paid version at this time. This is an area that I will have to do some more research into moving forward. If anyone has any suggestions of tools to try, or knows someone who would want to speak a bit of Spanish with me, please let me know!

Hasta luego,


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.