Personal Learning Network

A PLN is a personal learning network. That network is focused on social media which could be twitter, blogs, facebook, instagram. I’m sure there are more that could be added to the list as social media apps seem to become popular quickly. I like how Ronnie Burt from the Blog Edublogs Teacher Challenges breaks it down for us. First, Burt explains Personal as “..Having a PLN is about making connections and building personal relationships with teachers, school administrators, university professors, and experts around the world”. He continues with learning as “Having a PLN is about sharing ideas and resources, collaboration, and learning.” Burt finishes with explaining that the network is “The defining feature of the PLN is that it is a global learning network, enabling people to tap into and share diverse, global perspectives on teaching strategies, educational issues, and technologies”. Basically, PLN connects us with other professional and can be a tool of outreach to expand our knowledge.

For my PLN, I decided to use Twitter and blogspot as my media. Even doing a simple search of Occupational Therapy drums up many finds. I found specialized groups depending on the setting of OT as well as many OT/R and OTAs. I’m not following an OT/R that is known in the OT world because he also has autism. He also recently gave a TED TALK, if anyone wants to look that up. He frequents media like twitter and FB.

Although, the OT world is a small profession. Really three degrees of separation it feels like. The OT world on social media is very active. As someone that works in the school setting, even smaller sub OT world, I can find OTs to relate with. There is one group that is based on facebook that I often use. We share questions, ask for advice and post our latest fun activities for treatments. The biggest challenge so far is that the social media is often filled with more OTR than OTAs. Even so, I have still been able to find what I am looking for. I would like to find more OTA’s to be able to share in my experiences and learn from theirs as well. I find that it’s really important to do that in the field. It gives us a chance to be able to relate with each other as we are on the same level and share the same education.

Inside the passion project: Crazy world of Tula

I wanted to explain the world of Tula a little bit more. Mostly cause it’s fascinating to me cause it’s a baby product that seem to elicit many emotions. If you don’t know what a Tula is, let me explain. Tula is a soft structured baby carrier. Think in the lines of a baby bjorn, it has straps and clips. You don’t have to tie or wrap anything, which is a huge plus. Tula is unique because it comes it in many-many different prints. A certain number of prints are released each week, often prints are retired and never made again. This makes certain popular very desirable. Here is a picture of the latest prints on the official tula website: photo 1

To make it even more confusing, there are exclusive prints, and wrap conversions. Exclusive prints are prints only released to a certain baby store or boutique. To buy an exclusive print you have to go the store’s website and enter a raffle to get an RTB which is an “Right to buy”. You have to hope to win the raffle, to be able to buy the Tula. Often there is a very small number of RTB’s given and over 10,000 people entering the raffle. It’s crazy, I’ve entered over 50+ and I’ve never often an right to buy. Anyways the wrap conversation are on the tula website and are popular because they are made from a wrap, which is a softer materiel. They are almost twice the price of the regular Tulas. If you want to buy a conversation you better have the fastest fingers, they are stocked once a week and are sold out after about 30 seconds of hitting the site. I’m not joking, literally 30 seconds. For a baby carrier.

The culture of the Tula is very interesting. Like I said before, some prints are hard to find or a limited number are stocked before they retire the print. This makes them highly sought after. These is good news for Tula owners. Tula hold their retail value or more. Much-Much more. You know that when it comes time sell it, you will make 100% of your money back. It’s a good investment because baby products resale value is often low. Now, if your own of those moms that are in love with a certain print or it’s your DISO (Desperately in Search Of), this can be bad news. It means that when people sell it, they can jack the prices up. They know someone will buy it. I’ve seen exclusive and conversations listed for $2000. And the craziest part is, women will that price just to have the print.

The Tula world is like it’s own special club. On Facebook, I’m in more than 10 facebook groups most notably: Tula Love, Tula Aloha 2.0, Tula Buy/Sell/Trade, Tula in the Know, Military Tula Love, Tula Market Value Questions, Traveling Tula for the Military Family. And add one boutiques facebook pages to keep in the know for the “right to buy”. These pages are a place to talk about your love for Tula, show off your Tula, ask questions about the product, complain about prices and the number of releases, sell your tula, compare prices across the stores on tula and so on. If your looking for something off the internet, many states have Tula clubs that have meet ups each month. They have a very active one here on Oahu.

Oh and if your looking for finishing touches for you tula, swing on over to ETSY, where you can find hoods, suck pads, reach straps, a chew necklaces. You’ll be looking to spend 50+ on these. More if the crafter is a popular one in the Tula world.

See someone in public with a Tula? Well that is what the Tula world calls “Tula in the Wild!”. Proper Tula etiquette says you must call out loudly to the person “TULA IN THE WILD!” and they must respond with the bird call of “CAW CAW!”. For extra measure, it would be good if the person flaps their arms like wings while doing the the bird call.

Is this crazy Tula world any different from people that like certain cars, or sports, or any other object? I don’t think so. It’s becomes it own hobby, something to have fun with, something to enjoy with your mommy peers. It’s a little bit of distraction from the everyday norm..

And it keeps our babies close to us and allows us to love on them and enjoy that moment in time.

Passion Project

I dusted off my singer sewing machine and brought it downstairs. It’s now proudly on display at the end of my kitchen table. My daughter is not old enough to sit there, so luckily I have a spot to work on my sewing, or in this case learn how to really sew.

Today I went to Walmart to purchase a few things to begin. We don’t have any craft stores on the island that are like Joann’s Fabric or Michael’s, so my craft options are very limited. Ah, the joys of living on a island in the middle of the pacific. Limited resources of everything! I purchased one yard of green fabric, which will be the outside of the suck pad (the part you see) and pink fleece-like material for the inside of the suck pad. As well as measuring tape (mine seems to have been replaced from our last military move) and some green thread. I was looking for some class 15 spools, but they had no spools in stock there. This is where I’m extra glad that I have Amazon prime!

photo 1Right now, I’m trying to teach myself how to simply thread the sewing machine right. I’ve been using the manual but I’ve been running into issues. It looks like it’s done right, but when I turn it on and try to practice a line on scraps, the bottom needle starts to jam. I’m starting to think it could be because I have the wrong spool size on the bottom needle. I don’t know the spool size it currently has but it has not been touched in over two years. I’m hoping the new spool will correct the issue.

photo 2After I get the basic of threading the machine down and researching what thread tension means for my project, I will be purchasing a pattern for the suck pads. Since it’s not something that is typical to be sewing, I could not buy a pattern in the store. There are a few free patterns that I found with google, but they were not a match for Tula, they were made for the ergo and adapted to fit a Tula later. I really wanted something that was spot on for the Tula so I didn’t mess up and waste my fabric. I found this pattern on esty and I’m seriously considering purchasing it. Up to now my expense has been $5 on fabric, $2 on the thread and tape, and 3.99 on the pattern. $10.99. I’m guessing in total it will add up to 16-20 for the complete project. I’m still deciding on Velcro Vs. Snaps. Snaps are more expensive, but longer lasting and better looking.

Passion Project

So I’ve been trying to figure out what I would like to learn for my passion project. It was hard because I was trying to decide what project would both be useful to me and also a project I could devote my time. Not an easy thing with an baby that wants to take all naps in my arms. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with babywearing, but it is something I have gotten into with my second child. It’s amazing for mothers (and fathers) that want to continue with attached parenting. Babywearing comes in all forms of products. There are slings, wraps, and soft structured carriers. What worked best for us is soft structured carriers. It gives her enough support but I don’t have to worry about learning all the techniques with the fabric. After a bit of research, I decided that the Tula brand was the one we would use. It has amazing prints, so you can match your and your baby’s personality. Since we are stationed in Hawaii, I selected the Jubilee for myself. It’s so pretty with the mermaid print.    I inserted a picture of us using the Jubilee Tula below. My Husband also has his own and it’s mint colored print with navy straps. I find it best if each has their own so they don’t have to keep on readjusting the straps.

photoNow if you look in the picture, you can see that her mouth is perfectly aligned to touch both the corners and the straps. That makes it a prime spot for baby to suck on and get damp with her drool. To prevent the areas from getting damp and musty, many craft people sell suck pads on Etsy. You can get it customized to your tula. Now these are pretty pricey for a piece of fabric. A simple search reveals that prices can range 50+ dollars up. Now I have an sewing machine that has been collecting dust and minimal at best sewing skills. What better project than to learn how to make my own?

Passion Based Learning

“We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control….”

What was most striking to me was the statement: School is about finding answers. Learning is about asking questions. When I think back about my own learning experience, I would say that George Couros’s blog post was accurate. We are given school work with a list of question and passed a textbook to look up the answers. If we studied a subject and were allowed to generate our own questions, wouldn’t we learn more? We would certainly discuss the points we didn’t understand or wanted to explore further. Again, this is brought up frequently, but it is the reason I believe that schools have become about answers and not questions: standardized testing. We are given the answers so we do not make mistakes there.

Perhaps the Montessori style of education has something going for it. It promotes a more independent style of learning, that is child lead. The child selects what it would like to learn about and they focus on that subject. Sounds like the students are selecting their passions. While the blog post “21st Century Educating” does not speak on the style of education, it does share the sentiment when the following quote is expressed “Passion in education is not just an engagement ploy, it is about modeling for students.  It is about knowing our students’ interests–or helping them discover a passion–and then using that to engage them in the learning process.” If we let the students take the lead, they will find their passion, they will find things that give them the passion to want to learn. When it comes to children and learning, we all know if they don’t want to learn it, they will retain nothing.

I also loved the theory that “Passion Based Learning for the 21st Century” had. The blog post tells us it’s time to rethink the word teacher and what a teacher really is. There is less room for the teacher that stands in front of the classroom and rattles off the answers. We need teachers that inspire the students to ask questions and seek to find their own answers.

“…All in all you’re just another brick in the wall”

TED Talk and the power of the internet

I selected a TED Talk video from the category of Teen talks. It was called the Virtual Human Right: Jack Andraka. I was drawn to the video because it focused on a topic that is something that affect a majority of us: cancer. It featured the teen giving his background with cancer and how it moved him to use the internet as a tool to help prevent the cancer. He had a close relative die of pancreatic cancer and it deeply affected him. If anyone knows about this cancer, they would know the survival rate is not very high. It is often not noticed until it has reached terminal stages so testing for it does not happen till very late. This is what inspired him to seek out ways that could help. He didn’t know much about bio-medicine but he did know how to use the internet and so his research begun. He was able to utilize his tools like the internet to help develop a method of early testing. This TED brings up important points that extend further beyond the testing tools he developed. This was a teenager that was not educated in medicine, but educated in the ways to use the internet. More and more teenagers and younger are becoming masters at using the internet. From a young age, they are taught or even self taught how to use a computer and how to use the internet. If as parents and educators, we have them focus deeper on their stills, to fully utilize search engines, educational and university’s website, the products could be amazing. I think this teenage is a testament to this.  Testament to the skills and the testament to the knowledge available on the internet. All the information is there, we just have to know how to use it.

Lens and Hackschooling Response

In Bud Turner’s blog post “Centering on Essential Lenses“, I really enjoyed his analogies with the three lenses being our tools of learning. He explained the three lenses as making, hacking and playing. With these three lenses, we learn. I do wonder if as learners, we use one lens more than others. In the definition, Bud Turner explains the making lens as “Learning happens when we make things.  We make sense of new situations.  We make knowledge by processing our experiences.  We make tools to help us do things we might not yet be able to do.  Making matters.” Isn’t that the start of learning? Our first and initial lens so to speak? Before we can start learning we have to process it, we have to decide if we are going to learn it, we need to make decisions to continue to the next lens. We can stop and end here before we continue on to the next lens, hacking and the next, playing. I see the first lens as being important in digital literacy, a place that we have an overload of information that we must process and make sense of.

In the Ted Video “Hackschooling” I think the big message was the way we teach in schools. The rigid curriculum, the fear to deviate from the familiar. He makes a great point about how he used to dislike writing, it wasn’t that he really disliked writing, it was because he had no passion in what the teachers decided that he would write. When he was allowed to pick his topic, he enjoyed writing and it was something that he did well. In my own experience, I never liked school. I disliked high school classes and it was not because I did not understand the information, it was because I did not enjoy it. I had little interest in what teachers decided I would learn. College opened a door for me and gave me a second chance at loving learning. I was majoring in something I enjoyed and I could select classes that peeked my interest. Now, it’s hard to imagine that my college days will come to an end, I’m enjoying learning! Now, while I work in education, I am not a teacher, so I don’t teach in the traditional sense. I’m in the field of occupational therapy, so you could say I am teaching skills or adaptions of skills. One thing I learned fast was that when the child selected their activity and had interest in it, they suddenly became much-much more willing and made progress towards their goals at a faster rate. I have no doubt that this method is something teachers use with success in their classroom.


Turner, B. (2012, May 24). Centering on Essential Lenses | Bud the Teacher. Retrieved from

College girl in a digital world! What’s Digital Literacy?”

After exploring, with many google searches, I found both the factual and creative definitions of what “digital literacy” is. One of the first searches that popped up was Cornell University’s Digital Literacy Resource page. Their definition of the term was “Digital literacy is the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet (Cornell University,2009)”. If your seeking out a reputable place to seek more knowledge on the subject, this is the site to go. The site is called Cornell University Digital Literacy Resouce. If you look right of the screen you will find search features to further help you on your digital journey. Those include Research Guide for Students, Academic Integrity, Privacy and the Internet, Technology Trends, Digital Literacy FAQ and Additonal Resources. Basically all your whats, hows and why can all be found on one site! Makes it easy peasy for the student, I think.

Digital literacy has a big place in the lives of students, even more so for students such as myself that are considered “non-traditional”. My learning is done 100% online. My resources while can be found in textbooks are more than often found using the digital library or the world wide web. Understanding how to use the information I find on the internet is vital to my education. While I think I am well versed in digital literacy as part of the digital generation, I can imagine that there is even more that I can learn. I hope to further my knowledge on how to utilize digital literature to better my school work.


Cornell University – Digital Literacy Resource. (2009). Retrieved from

Teacher: Why I don’t want to assign Shakespeare anymore

By Dana Dusbiber

I am a high school English teacher. I am not supposed to dislike Shakespeare. But I do. And not only do I dislike Shakespeare because of my own personal disinterest in reading stories written in an early form of the English language that I cannot always easily navigate, but also because there is a WORLD of really exciting literature out there that better speaks to the needs of my very ethnically-diverse and wonderfully curious modern-day students.

I do not believe that I am “cheating” my students because we do not read Shakespeare. I do not believe that a long-dead, British guy is the only writer who can teach my students about the human condition. I do not believe that not viewing “Romeo and Juliet” or any other modern adaptation of a Shakespeare play will make my students less able to go out into the world and understand language or human behavior. Mostly, I do not believe I should do something in the classroom just because it has “always been done that way.”

I am sad that so many of my colleagues teach a canon that some white people decided upon so long ago and do it without question. I am sad that we don’t believe enough in ourselves as professionals to challenge the way that it has “always been done.” I am sad that we don’t reach beyond our own often narrow beliefs about how young people become literate to incorporate new research on how teenagers learn, and a belief that our students should be excited about what they read — and that may often mean that we need to find the time to let them choose their own literature.

I was an English major. I am a voracious reader. I have enjoyed reading some of the classics. And while I appreciate that many people enjoy re-reading texts that they have read multiple times, I enjoy reading a wide range of literature written by a wide range of ethnically-diverse writers who tell stories about the human experience as it is experienced today. Shakespeare lived in a pretty small world. It might now be appropriate for us to acknowledge him as chronicler of life as he saw it 450 years ago and leave it at that.

What I worry about is that as long as we continue to cling to ONE (white) MAN’S view of life as he lived it so long ago, we (perhaps unwittingly) promote the notion that other cultural perspectives are less important. In the 25 years that I have been a secondary teacher, I have heard countless times, from respected teachers (mostly white), that they will ALWAYS teach Shakespeare, because our students need Shakespeare and his teachings on the human condition.

So I ask, why not teach the oral tradition out of Africa, which includes an equally relevant commentary on human behavior? Why not teach translations of early writings or oral storytelling from Latin America or Southeast Asia other parts of the world? Many, many of our students come from these languages and traditions. Why do our students not deserve to study these “other” literatures with equal time and value? And if time is the issue in our classrooms, perhaps we no longer have the time to study the Western canon that so many of us know and hold dear.

Here then, is my argument: If we only teach students of color, as I have been fortunate to do my entire career, then it is far past the time for us to dispense with our Eurocentric presentation of the literary world. Conversely, if we only teach white students, it is our imperative duty to open them up to a world of diversity through literature that they may never encounter anywhere else in their lives. I admit that this proposal, that we leave Shakespeare out of the English curriculum entirely, will offend many.

But if now isn’t the time to break some school rules and think about how to bring literature of color to our student’s lives, when will that time be?

Let’s let Shakespeare rest in peace, and start a new discussion about middle and high school right-of-passage reading and literature study.

Credits: Dana and The Washington Post

A Learning Journey

1) Failing was another lesson in learning. I did not fail in grades, I actually did quite good in my first attempt in going to college. My failing was in being able to continue on with my college education. Failing to secure an loan was both devastating and life altering. It raised the questions, What do I do now? Do I try again or do I move on?

2) The decision to go back to school was the most potent moment as my life as an learner. It was making that HUGE leap as a stay at home mother to accomplish something that was for myself but also for the benefit of my family. It was moment that I was making the choice to put in the hard work and accept the struggles that would come along with it. Just knowing that failure was NOT an option made me a learner that pushed past the hard moments in education.

3) Making school a priority was something that helped shaped me into the type of learner. If I was going to do this (college), I wanted to do it well. I had to learn to prioritize everything in my life to make room for one of the top ones, school work. I learned this one day by waiting to the last minute to check an assignment and surprise, five page paper due the next day!

4) discovering that learning can be something fun and enjoyable was a key moment. College enables you to select classes that interest you. I have taken classes that I like and wanted to continue learning about far after the class was over.

5) Learning will continue far longer than Chadron College. Grad School!