Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Last spring Rebecca participated in a local contest sponsored by a reuse sewing shop to create something out of recycled materials. The creation had to include denim. What started as a creative endeavor grew into an opportunity for many new authentic experiences.

The Original Design Project

The original project, called Denim Plus, required participants to refashion old denim into something new. Rebecca took the challenge head on and came up with a dress which was nearly entirely made from reused or recycled materials.

  • Eco-Fashion Design Project – This is the story behind the making of the dress. There are layers upon layers of tulle in a skirt attached to a denim bodice. Cyndi Lauper would have paid for this garment!
  • Eco-Fashion Runway Show – The story of how the designer got to be a model in the fashion show which featured the finished pieces from the Denim Plus contest along with the results of the contest. The show featured how to have a nominal number of clothing items in your closet to pair and wear over and over. The emphasis was on less is better and letting go of “throw away” fashion we’ve all become accustomed to.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based LearningThe Invitation to a Curated Exhibit

At the end of the runway show, the director of the show told us that a local gallery curator was interested in having her dress for an upcoming show last summer. We worked with the curator to prepare the curated display of Rebecca’s dress.

  • The show was called, The Common Thread: To Sew or Not to Sew, and was a collection of garments and fabrics which highlight change in the fashion industry.
  • Rebecca’s dress was chosen to represent the reuse and refashion of many materials into one garment.
  • The show was all about change in the fashion world, moving from one-at-a-time garments made with scissors, needles and thread, to unlimited quantities produced by industries that cut with laser beams and held together with seamless seams.
  • The question for us is: do they have anything in common?
  • Rebecca brought the dress in and helped to set up her exhibit.
  • Her dress was in a great spot between the adult & children’s sections of the library within the gallery and had great traffic potential!
  • The documentation she provided for the fashion contest was included in the exhibit.
  • She was the youngest exhibitor, chosen to be among well known local designers and Cornell Fiber Science & Apparel Design students.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning


Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning


Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Going More In Depth with Project Based Learning

Lots of homeschoolers talk about project based learning, but what does it really mean? To me, it means involving our students in authentic learning experiences that go beyond traditional schooling activities. Part of this is moving past the superficial parts of learning a topic or skill and going to the next layer and the next so that a student uncovers new meaning and applies new knowledge in a meaningful way. What does that look like?

  • Share Work with Others- Find ways for your student to engage others with his or her work. It could be as simple as showing off for neighbors and friends to setting up a community gathering.
  • Help Your Student to Set Goals- The project belongs to the student. The best ones have the student in the driver’s seat on the leading edge of where to go next.
  • Make Plans- Have your student make plans to reach his or her goals.
  • Compile Resources- Can your student identify what he or she will need to meet these goals?
  • Make Decisions- Along the way there will be decisions to make. Help your student to get past any bumps in the road while leaving them to be the one in charge on the project.
  • Take Time to Discuss the Work- Find out how it’s going. Check in on progress. If something seems stalled remind your student of his goals.
  • Make Time for Project Work- This is essential to being successful. Often as our children get older, we think their time is better spent doing more traditional academic work. Fight the urge to regard project time as less important! Large amount of uninterrupted time for doing project work is necessary for going deeper into projects.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

High School Credit with Project Based Learning

As our homeschooled students approach high school many of us who have always done unit studies & other, more relaxed forms of learning begin to think it’s time to “get serious” about academic work and we believe that “nose to the grindstone” is more appropriate. How can a student obtain high school credit for project based learning? I think this topic deserves a whole post, but here are a few thoughts for now.

  • Determine the Course- Based on your student’s area of interest.
  • Discuss Goals- Meet with your student and talk about the skills & concepts they would like to cover during the class.
  • Remember Skills & Concepts- Which will be necessary to learn in order to achieve the goal. Make a list of the areas your student will need to cover.
  • Consider Resources- What resources do you have available to begin working toward the goals the student has set for himself?
  • Start Making Plans- Where does the student want to start?
  • Time- Once again, large quantities of time to explore are best for moving toward an authentic & independent learning experience.
  • Record Keeping- Students will want to keep track of goals met and different avenues traveled based on decisions made. Remember that a 1 credit high school course is roughly three hours of work per week.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Lessons Learned with the Eco-Fashion Project

In the end, what lessons did Rebecca learn doing the Eco-Fashion Project? The dress took her about 8 weeks from just a thought in her head all the way to the finished dress (considering she did work on other school work during this time). The process was invaluable.

  • Design Work- Especially design for the human form rather than a doll
  • Construction- Sewing new fabrics together like denim with tulle. She had to push through some obstacles to complete her vision.
  • Sharing- Through the contest judging, the fashion show, and the curated exhibit. Sharing also happened in mentoring moments when she needed to discuss her work along the way.
  • New Experiences- Like fashion show culture & being an artist featured in an exhibit
  • Preparing Work for Exhibition- It’s not always about what you like or who you make the garment for. There are other factors and criteria. This was true for both the contest and exhibit.
  • Exhibition- When the time came for the opening night of the gallery, she was on hand to talk with visitors and answer questions about her work.

One of the things Rebecca enjoyed the most about the curated exhibit at the library was the chance to talk with others about her work. They were interested in hearing about her design and the process. She spoke with an art reviewer (see review here) from the local paper for about 20 minutes and she loved every minute of talking with another artist and learning about his work.

As a homeschool teacher, this project took a lot of her time but it was worth every moment to see her solve problems on her own and come up with a design that was whimsical and met all the requirements. Rebecca loved the chance to have her work displayed alongside well known local designers and Cornell Fiber Science & Apparel Design students. Would she do it again? Absolutely! This project experience was a win in every way!

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

Portraits of Our Students 2014-2015

Blog, She Wrote: Portraits of Our Students 2014-2015August is rolling right along and as you read this, we are off to our big summer camping trip- a last hurrah for the summer season. You can see our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2014-2015 to see what each of our students will be up to academically in the coming year. Read on below to see how each one is suited for the studies which they’ve helped to choose.

Portrait of an Eleventh Grader

portrait 1-1

Ethan is entering 11th grade- the big junior year. How are things shaping up for this college bound young man?

  • Still passionate about Star Wars & LEGOS- He’s still making custom LEGO minifigs. Mainly clones from the Clone Wars and they are really good! He designs the decals and adheres them to custom minifig parts.
  • He’s a writer- I mean he loves to write and spends at least an hour a day creating story worlds and adding to his novel and other works. He’s working on a novel and some pieces for an anthology at present.
  • Loves Literature & Book Discussion- In any form and with anyone. Right now he’s reading The Screwtape Letters to me.
  • Adores His Online Community at One Year Adventure Novel- He’s got a lot of buds over there and they talk books and other worlds.
  • He’s a computation king- Able to count back change like no other and is poised to begin Calculus. Calculus!
  • Has as part time job- In April, Ethan got a job at the local grocery store in order to earn money for his trip to the One Year Adventure Novel summer workshop. He met his goal and has started saving for next summer. The job is going strong and means changes to his routine.
  • Blogs at Of Bows and Arrows, Swords and Spears, Briksmith Customs, and Geography Crusades- He’s on again off again, but he’ll be trying to add to these spaces in the coming year. I saw him with a post in his draft on BrikSmith which he had pretty much abandoned!
  • Loves to Play Video Games- What 15yo boy does not?
  • Has a Knack for Languages- But really does not enjoy studying them. Too bad!
  • Started Looking at Colleges- Other than Virginia Tech, his dad’s alma mater and the only place to go because he wants to go to a football game!

Portrait of a Ninth Grader

portrait 4-1

Some days I can hardly believe I have two high schoolers! How did Rebecca get to be in 9th grade? She is the kindest teenage girl I’ve ever known and I can hardly wait to see what this year brings.

  • Creative Pursuits- Are her passion and she spends a great deal of time creating.
  • Loves to Play- This girl still knows how to have just plain fun. No time for angst for her! She remains young at heart. Which makes her especially good at engaging younger kids.
  • Sweet Soul- She is growing up so gracefully and most of the time has a kind word no matter what.
  • Always Carries Yarn- She never goes anywhere without her yarn and a crochet hook. She crochets during sermons (and remembers it better than anyone) and any time there is listening time or down time.
  • Designs & Makes Her Own Patterns- She loves to draft patterns on her own and create from them. Have you seen her Steampunk gown? It’s been invited to the NY State Fair!
  • Keeps a Portfolio Online- But her creative soul doesn’t really enjoy keeping it up to date. Now that she is in high school, the plan is to step it up on posting and blog design.
  • Has the Best Spatial Skills- They are to be envied. She can follow any instruction any time and everything goes together just right.
  • Reptile Lover- Ever the eclectic, she’s owned four snakes over the past year. Right now she is down to one wild caught garter with a great temperament. Next up is a gecko.

Portrait of a Seventh Grader

portrait 2-1

Isaac is in the thick of middle school and is one of the sweetest middle school boys I’ve ever known- and as a former middle school science teacher, I’ve known many.

  • An Expert on Planes- If you ever need to know anything about flight, he’s your man.
  • Loves to Fly- His radio controlled airplane and he’s in hot pursuit of his own larger scale model. For now he flies two electric models- a yellow Champ and a WWII Spitfire.
  • Keeps Track of the Weather- Better than anyone because he is always on the look out for good flying weather.
  • Rocketeer- He loves model rockets too and is considering a career in rocket science. The real kind! He’s read front and back and over again several times The Handbook of Model Rocketry.
  • Still a Reader- He reads both fiction and nonfiction, but always has something going.
  • Boy Adventurer- But always the cautious kind. I never have to worry he will get into anything he should not. Adventure on!

Portrait of a Fourth Grader

portrait 5-1

Our youngest, Joshua, is now in 4th grade. Just one last student in elementary school! Wow. From the day he was born this boy has been busy. Let’s see how things are going for him.

  • Fiercely Independent- He wears this characteristic proudly. Probably too much so, but apples don’t fall far from the tree friends. I love to steer him in a direction that uses his skills for good!
  • Engineering- This still sums him up. He likes to take a look at something and see how it works and announce that he can do better. That is the definition of an engineer. There’s less talk of the triple threat- chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering and more talk of computer engineering.
  • Loves the Periodic Table- Who among us does not? So, I’m holding out hope for a double threat- chemical and computer engineering! Either that or he’ll have a home lab like Tom Edison.
  • Entomologist- Still pinning away and having the best time at Friday night entomology lectures. You can see the results of his toil here.
  • Loves All Things Science- All of it.
  • Independent Learner- Bucking all the paths his siblings have chosen he presents a challenge daily. He could learn anything on his own. This is the most fun and the most vexing at the same time!
  • Computer Programming- He’s taught himself C++ and the basics of Java. He is making his own minecraft mods and loves to pour through programming manuals.

As I wrote this, I enjoyed looking back at last year’s portraits. Yes, our children are growing and being molded into the young adults God wants them to be, but they are staying true to their interests and refining them. Very exciting to watch and we are looking forward to a new homeschool year!

Other iHN bloggers are sharing their student portraits today. Have a look!


facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

Creating Other Worlds- Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction

Blog, She Wrote: Creating Other Worlds- Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction

Ethan, our 11th grader, is a writer. He loves to create worlds and activity within them. When he was younger, his stories told a tale, but they often didn’t end concisely. Or they simply ended. A bit too concisely. Now that he is half way through high school, we’ve been honing in on his interests and his course work reflects this. Enter novel writing courses. For the past two years, he has immersed himself in the many worlds of his novel settings. Do you have a student who loves to write science fiction and fantasy?

Creating Other Worlds- Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing

If you are unfamiliar with the genres, suffice it to say the world in which the story takes place helps to set these stories apart from just any adventure tale. In some way, the author of a fantasy and science fiction novel will build a world. Sometimes the author creates a whole new fantastical world and sometimes it is a world within our world.

The basic story structure is carried over into “other worlds”. In both fantasy & sci fi literature one main thing is the game changer.

  • Science Fiction- You’ll find one main scientific breakthrough or advance which changes how the story will play out or it can be a single change in history that gives the story its twist.
  • Fantasy- There will be something else magical about the world. For example, in Narnia the animals talk.

Resources for World Building

Does your student like to write and immerse himself in new worlds? Here are a few links from the website Go Teen Writers to help students think about their world building.

Worldbuilding is a lot of work! That’s why learning to write an adventure first is a good idea because it takes place in our world and you can concentrate on the story itself rather than building a world at the same time. If you have a student working on writing herself a world, these posts will be very insightful.

Blog, She Wrote: Creating Other Worlds- Writing Fantasy & Science FictionUsing Other Worlds Curriculum to Teach Fantasy & Science Fiction Writing

Other Worlds is the science fiction and fantasy expansion module from One Year Adventure Novel by Daniel Schwabauer. Ethan, our 11th grader, has been working with the curriculum for a year. I asked him for his take on the program and here’s what he said:

  • One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN)- has to be completed first. The Other Worlds curriculum is based on the original OYAN and referencing the original lessons is helpful as you go along.
  • The Tools Are There to Be a Finisher- You still need to bang out twelve chapters, but the OYAN model is helpful in finishing your storytelling.
  • There’s a Basic Story Structure- Which is carried over from OYAN. Three acts with four defining scenes. The outlining of the events in your novel is important for the story.
  • History of the Genres- You’ll learn how science fiction and fantasy got their start and who the major players were.
  • What Makes Science Fiction & Fantasy?- There are 10 to 12 lessons devoted to what defines these genres.
  • Collision Course Anthology- Is a collection of stories and excerpts from fantasy and science fiction which help to illustrate Daniel’s lessons.
  • Community Forum- For students of OYAN & Other Worlds. This is a community of writers where you can get advice on developing characters, general writing tips, get help with story ideas, engage in novel critiques, contribute to a collective novel, etc.
  • Summer Workshops- Every summer OYAN students gather from all over to listen to seminars and work in critique groups to improve their writing and learn writer’s craft.

As the teacher and a mom I’ll add a few more tidibits I like about the curriculum:

  • Video Lessons- They are thorough and so well done. I enjoyed watching them with my student and I’m looking forward to seeing them again with Rebecca this year.
  • Great Talking Points- As you progress through the curriculum, there will be a lot of opportunity for discussion. This has been invaluable in our homeschool. We’ve talked about books- classics and modern and read even more. It’s been fun to talk about books and about life with our teens based on the lessons.
  • Engagement- Whether it’s the online community of teens or the regularly scheduled evening webinars and summer workshops, the author and his wife interact with and encourage your student as do the other students.

Science Fiction Writing Sample

Blog, She Wrote: Creating Other Worlds- Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction

Having completed the outline over the last school year as an elective, Ethan has been working on the novel. I’m not sure it has a name yet, but the first chapter is complete. He said I could share it with you all as long as I let you know it’s a work in progress! This is the first three paragraphs of the first chapter. Currently, he’s working on a prologue.

I woke with a start at the crack of lightning overhead, drowning the room in a flash of light. The whole house shook when the thunder came a moment later. The rain pelted down, making little ‘ting’ sounds as it hit the roof and gutters. A dull roar built up in my head; each raindrop seemed to increase the pressure inside. With a sigh I pulled the blankets up a little farther up and rolled over. A moment later I pushed them back down and rolled the other way. Another crack lit up the sky.

I looked at the clock. 11:43. It was still early. And the storms were as bad as they ever had been. There were no good explanations. No explanations at all, in fact. Except one.… Whispers, rumors moving through the populace. Tales of a people who- No, I thought. But there was no doubt that the storms were getting worse. And there was nothing the government could do this time.

I slipped my feet from underneath the covers and onto the hard wood floor. The old boards creaked as I put my weight on them. I tip-toed down the hall to the old study. My exhaustion vanished in there, I was able to sleep. Why can I sleep in here? But I didn’t really care why, I just came to rest. I closed the heavy door behind me and sat in my father’s armchair to wait out the night.

His writing has really matured over the last few years since he initially started OYAN in 8th grade. It’s been enjoyable to watch the process. These days he writes (even in the summer) about an hour a day on average, but he said it should be more. I’m excited to see how his writing schedule takes shape this fall as he enters into a variety of writing courses.

Other Resources for Teaching Science Fiction & Fantasy Genres

Given that Ethan has such a profound interest in writing and literature, we’ve been taking advantage of opportunities as they come along.

  • Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop- At our local library. A local author is teaching “other world” writing through twice weekly gatherings for teens. At the end, their writing will be included in an anthology which is published.
  • Dystopian Literature Class- As part of our two hour, ten week co-op, Ethan is taking a dystopian literature class in which they will read and compare Fahrenheit 451 with The Hunger Games- a classic sci fi novel with a modern tale.
  • World of Imagination: Fantasy & Science Fiction Literature- Taught through The Potter’s School, these are two one semester courses. They will make the bulk of his English course for the year.

Do you have a student who loves to write stories? Do you have a big fantasy and science fiction fan in your home? Enjoy the journey with your student and engage in their world with them!

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather