CEP 810: A Quick Thought About my Professional Learning Network (PLN)

Wow! I am finally a twit! (That’s the nickname I called people if they used twitter.) After After creating and posting my PLN using Popplet I explored twitter and Feedly some more. These are sites that I have never used and didn’t include as part of my network. I enjoyed all the educational things I could find on both sites but I still found it rather difficult to filter through it all and follow someone who could consistently provide me with useful information on a daily basis. I know that I will have to play around with it more to find my niche and continue to expand the people/topics to follow.

When I shared with my family that I had to tweet and blog for my course, they mostly rolled their eyes at the fact I was using social networking to learn. I explained to them that, surprising as it may be, using these sites is actually beneficial. It’s interesting how something can start as a simple way of keeping in contact with people and morph into creating opportunities for learning and research.

This all makes me wonder, what is the next up and coming media?


CEP 810: My Professional Learning Network (PLN)

Today I explored and created a Popplet. Popplet is a website where you can create a virtual mindmap. I have used a similar program before (Bubbl) but Popplet is much more user friendly. This program is very useful because you are also able to add videos and pictures to each popple. I have already shared the site with my first grade team and we plan on using it for the upcoming non-fiction unit in writing workshop. My students have to brainstorm information about an animal that could be written into chapters. This program will be a fun and easy way for them to not only brainstorm the chapters but record the information they research as well. Below you can find an example of a Popplet, which happens to be my Professional Learning Network (PLN). A Professional Learning Network is anyone or anything that helps someone grow professionally and personally. When I started mindmapping I thought I had very few but, in fact, I have a whole bunch. I bet if I sat down for a while longer I could add even more. Good thing Popplets are editable! 🙂 Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 7.05.41 PM If the Popplet is too hard to see you can also click the link here. –> My PLN Popplet

CEP 810: My Networked Learning Project – Growing an Urban Vegetable Garden

For my CEP 810 course at MSU we were asked to learn something new using only YouTube and Help Forums. At first this project had me stumped. I thought about playing the guitar, but then I remembered that I live in Dubai and buying a guitar would be quite expensive. Then I thought about learning to crochet, but my aunt told me if I knew how to knit it should be easy to pick it up. So then I started thinking about what I have tried to do over the years that I was never very good at. The first thing that popped into my mind was gardening. So now I get to learn how to grow a vegetable garden using just Youtube and online help forums. 🙂 Hooray for online learning projects!

Okay, I know what you are thinking. A vegetable garden, really? Let me explain my reasons:

  1. I live in Dubai, UAE which is in the desert. Obviously it is extremely hot and humid (also next to the ocean). Beautiful? Yes. Made for gardening? Not so much. You will see flowers next to the highway, but they aren’t even planted in the ground. They are placed in little plastic holders and are changed out almost weekly.
  2. I live in an apartment (which luckily has 3 balconies).
  3. I have an indoor cat who has destroyed any plant life that has been in the apartment before.
  4. Growing up I killed every plant I ever took care of, even my mother’s plants. It’s not that i tried to kill them, I have never really had the green thumb that the my sisters and mother have.
  5. My husband and I eat Paleo and our meals have a ton of vegetables in them everyday. The cost of buying vegetables is outrageously high and I want to cut down on our monthly grocery bill.

As I began the search for videos about gardening, I stumbled across a few that were teaching the basics of how to pot plants and what materials to use. It may seem like a no brainer but, if I have failed at it before, I might as well start from the beginning. I was also considering what soils to use and if I could use sand as part of the potting process.

Then I searched about urban gardens and how to maintain them on balconies using recycled materials as containers. I also found that some containers are not safe to grow in because the plastic can seep toxins into the plants. Apparently you have to grow the plant first and then transfer it over to the bottles after.


Lastly, and probably most importantly, I searched for how to maintain a garden in the desert as it reaches over 100 degrees starting at the end of June. As I was reading a forum that discussed another middle eastern country, and some of the replies gave me some really good ideas about location and how I need to maintain the garden.

Desert Gardening Forum

Now to gather the materials, buy some seeds and dive into this project! Wish me luck!

CEP 810: Understanding Learning

The way students explore and understand new topics and how teachers choose to engage their students is in a constant state of change and reevaluation. As teachers, we are no longer bound to giving tests based on facts but we encourage our students to explore, compare, evaluate, and connect concepts they have learned every day, week and over the years. For this reason, the way students learn has changed. Teachers are encouraged, and sometimes required, to incorporate inquiry-based lessons using technology that allow students to explore what they know and change or enhance their prior knowledge based on what they learn. So the question remains, how can we help our students learn so they have a greater understanding of topics instead of memorizing facts?

Want to read more? Click here!