Networked Learning Project: Complete!

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_MG_3474Do you remember the question I asked about a month ago?  Did YOU come up with an answer to, “What do I WANT to learn?”  I sure did!  I decided I wanted to learn how to create a piece of wood wall art for a blank space in my home and I used Pinterest as my inspiration.  I previously blogged about my process and I have now finished this project.  I’m sure you can’t wait to see the results and I am just as eager to share them with you.

One of the reasons I took on this project was because it was part of my MAET courses.  But frankly, I’ve really always wanted to make a wood sign.  It was just, like most people, I never had the “time”.  

The purpose of the project was to learn how to do something.  Of course, there was a catch.  The stipulations were that in order to learn how to do this “thing”, you could only use YouTube and online tutorials.  No other help of any kind.  While that was intimidating, I dove head first into finding videos and blogs to help guide me.   

My Project’s Progression

In my previous post about this endeavor, I took you through my adventure at Home Depot, my crisis with the wood glue, and my decision (because of help from a YouTube video) to skip the glue and just nail the boards together.  After putting the boards together, I began the staining process.  This was my first experience working with stain and I was a bit apprehensive.  I found an excellent YouTube resource that was quick and straightforward.  After watching it, I was excited and ready to begin.  

Tip from YouTube: stir the stain
Tip from YouTube: stir the stain

I had learned from the video that I needed to make sure to stir the stain before beginning and every so often through the process.  I had one piece of scrap wood leftover that I used to practice on.  This made me feel way more confident to tackle the giant sign.  I began, and there was no turning back.  I learned that you have to work quickly with stain.  I would brush some on a board, and then quickly wipe it off with a rag.  The longer you let it penetrate, the deeper the color you will get.  I had already chosen a rather dark color so I knew I didn’t want it to sit on the boards for too long.  Once, I got the hang of it, the staining went pretty smoothly.

The next step was to create my stencils for the word, LOVE.  Shanty-2-Chic recommended using a silhouette machine or printing your own letters and using a craft knife to cut out the stencils.

Stencils cut and laid on the board
Stencils cut and laid on the board

 I didn’t have a printer that would print large enough letters.  So instead, I found some big letters at Hobby Lobby, traced them, and then cut out around them so I was left with a stencil.  This worked out fabulously!  Once I had the stencils cut, I taped them to the board using regular masking tape. Then I took white craft paint and painted the “L”, “V”, and “E”.  The example on Shanty-2-Chic uses a red heart in place of the “O”.  I loved the heart idea but the red color not so much.  I decided to use a muted yellow color because it would go much better in my home.  

Once the paint was dry, I removed the stencils and beamed with delight.  I absolutely LOVE my finished product (no pun intended)!  

_MG_3571I have to admit that the second part of this process went a lot smoother than the first half.  One thing I would do differently next time is cut out the stencils on contact paper.  Shanty-2-chic did recommend this but others did not.  By using plain paper, some of the paint “bled” a little and so the letters are not as crisp around the outside.  However, I still think it looks fantastic and it just adds to the shabby chicness.

Networked Learning Approach

I knew that the purpose here was not just to learn how to make wall art.  There was a deeper concept our instructors were trying to teach us.  They wanted us to experience first hand, the idea of networked learning.  By experiencing it ourselves as educators, we can gain a valuable “student perspective” and potentially integrate this type of learning in our classrooms.  After engaging in networked learning, I can definitely see adding this as a tool in my tool kit of teaching strategies.  

I realized that this is probably a way many of my students learn on their own already.  They Google everything.  Ok, maybe not everything, but a lot of things.  Therefore, I think many would enjoy a learning assignment like the one I took part in.  Of course, I would tailor it to my specific content.  For example, I could ask students to create a science experiment showing Newton’s first law of motion.  I am positive YouTube videos and online forums could aide in their design process.  I could take it a step farther and have them video their own experiment and post it so as to help others.  Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) would be heavily integrated in this type of lesson.

Students may live in a digital world, but as Danah Boyd said in her book, It’s Complicated, “Educators have an important role to play in helping youth navigate networked publics and the information-rich environments that the internet supports. Familiarity with the latest gadgets or services is often less important than possessing the critical knowledge to engage productively with networked situations…” (2014, p.180).  As a teacher, it’s important for me to remember that although many of my students have grown up with this technology, they still need to be taught how to critically engage in and evaluate these learning networks.  As well as learning the content material, I want to help them build effective internet navigation skills.  With rapid advances in technology, these types of skills are becoming essential for twenty-first century citizens.

Conclusion

One thing I really found out about myself during this process is that I am very much, a visual learner.  Often times, when I am stuck on a problem with technology, I Google my question.  Almost always, a few YouTube videos pop up in my search as well as a list of web resources.  Nine times out of ten, I go to the videos first.  I find the explanation with a visual much easier to understand.  

Upon completion of this project, I reflected on the sources I used and their ability in helping me succeed.  Since I am very much a visual learner, I tended to gravitate toward the blogs that had lots of pictures or easy to follow videos.  Shanty-2-Chic was excellent to follow and although I strayed a few times from the suggestions, I followed it relatively precisely.  Craig Hurst’s video really helped me over the wood glue hurdle, and the video by howtopaintinfo made me feel much more confident in my staining ability (in fact, I googled “how to stain wood”, and that video was the one that came up in my list of results).  As previously stated, I tend to go straight to the videos!  I ended up not referencing the blog, Storypiece, very often because I found the video of the staining process more helpful than the written blog.  

I have really enjoyed my networked learning experience and I would not shy away from learning something again using only YouTube and online help.  Perhaps I will even try my hand at another Pinterest project.  Yes, there were times when it would have been easier to just ask someone in person.  However, I have to say I feel even more successful in the end because I didn’t.  I am quite proud of my piece of wood wall art and can’t wait to hang it in my home!  Check out my video below to see my progression from start to finish!

Resources:

http://www.shanty-2-chic.com/2012/03/wood-love-sign.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaV-84VaoZg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUW3QVHgIDg

http://www.storypiece.net/2012/10/23/vintage-signage-aging-boards/

References:

Boyd, D. (2014). It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens. New Haven + London: Yale University Press.

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