The Bat Cave: A Frame for Success

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

It has been just over a month since I set my goal of completing the framing and insulation of my Bat Cave for the Network Learning project in EDUC 7714. I am happy to say that I have successfully achieved both goals, and am now ready for the next phase in the completion of the Bat Cave, which is hanging sheet rock.

I have learned so much throughout the course of this project that I would never have been able to do if I did not dive in and use my Personal Learning Network (PLN) as my best resource. The two main contributors from my PLN to my success and learning in this project were my good friend Tim Goff (General Manager of Goff’s Equipment Services in Litchfield, CT) and YouTube. Using my PLN as my best resources helped me learn how a room is built, and the elbow grease that goes into completing a project such as this. With the help of my PLN, I learned such things as:

  1. Measuring the necessary lengths for a frame
  2. Use heavy duty equipment such as a nail gun, miter saw, and a DuoFast high powered nail gun
  3. Build and hang a frame
  4. Box around ductwork and electrical work
  5. Build shelving for a closet
  6. Insulate a ceiling

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I also applied my knowledge of TPACK in this project whenever something did not go as planned. One occurrence of using TPACK to adjust and alter a plan was when I came up short on insulation a couple times. I made an adjustment, rather than just ripping the whole roll of insulation out, I improvised and filled the empty space with extra insulation so that there were no empty spots where sound can get through. I compare this to our Cooking with TPACK project when we had to adjust to the tools we were provided for the dinner we chose to make out of a hat. We alter our instruction in education based on the tools and resources we have, and this project was no different.

Finally, I feel that blogging about each update on the project reinforced what I was learning and served as motivation for me to complete goals I set for myself in each post, making adjustments to my practices when necessary. I feel that this will be a good tool to implement as part of my pedagogy this year in school, having students blog about things that they are learning and class and how they can apply this new knowledge to their lives.

The framing of a room can be compared to the technology in a classroom, as both serve as the infrastructure and main support for each. The framing holds up the walls of a room, just as the technology of an assignment or instruction holds and engages a student’s attention. I am very happy to have participated in this project, and will continue to use my new learning in every aspect of my life. I put together a video compiling all the pictures and video I took while completing this project and embedded it below.

Let the sheet rocking begin. Thanks for reading!

-John V

The BatCave: How to Insulate a Basement Ceiling

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

In this NLP update I decided to show what I am learning through a video tutorial on how to insulate a basement ceiling. In this video I provide step-by-step instructions on how to properly insulate a basement ceiling. I was able to complete all the insulation for the BatCave, achieving a goal I set for myself earlier this week. I will provide more photos in my final NLP post.

In the video you will see that I make a quick adjustment to a small mistake I made. This is to be compared with our “Cooking with TPACK” video, as we had to make adjustments based on the tools we were provided in making our chosen dish. We adjust how we teach given the circumstances, whether it is the Internet being down or students not coming prepared to class for the lesson. My experience teaching and the skills gained throughout this project have prepared me to alter how I attack every step in this process given any obstacle that may arise while completing this project.

I would like to give credit to JB Bartkowiak for his video on how to insulate a basement ceiling; this resource was extremely helpful and provided a good visual on how to insulate the right way.

I hope you enjoy the video!

-John V

BatCave Update: Insulating the Basement Ceiling

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

In my last BatCave post I made it a goal to tidy up any framing that was not flush and any other miscellaneous work that might need to be done. The other goal was to finish the insulation by this post. After attempting to do so, I learned that that goal was a little too much to handle.

I decided to flip that goal and turn it into two. I will hold off on tidying things up until I am done with the ceiling insulation. My current goal is to finish the insulation some time this week.

I currently have half of the insulation completed in the basement ceiling, and look to finish the rest tomorrow. I installed all the shorter pieces first, which were primarily near the exterior wall. The reason for insulating my basement ceiling is so that it keeps the noise level from traveling to and from the basement to the living room upstairs. I am not going to insulate the walls since there is a steady temperature in the room already.

Half of the ceiling insulation  complete
Half of the ceiling insulation complete

The room is 275 sq/ft, so I bought five batts (48.96 sq./ft. each) of rf-19 insulation to do the job. This was a good level of insulation as the thicker you get, the more sound proof the room will be. I used a video posted by JB Bartkowiak on Youtube on how to measure and cut the pieces of insulation. I measured from the exterior wall to the edge of the floor frame, allowing the insulation to sit snug into the ceiling. One side note, insulation is made of fiberglass, so it is imperative that you wear gloves and long sleeves if you do not want to run the risk of cutting yourself or getting itchy skin.

Once I had my measurement for each ceiling frame, I measured the insulation accordingly for each frame and cut these measurements using a utility knife. When cutting the insulation, use a scrap piece from your 2x4s to hold down the insulation where you are making your cut. That was very helpful in making for an easy cut. I then pushed each piece of insulation into the ceiling frames, pulling each as tight as it could go to maximize the sound proofing of the ceiling. Once I had each piece in place, I unfolded the flaps on each side of the insulation and stapled them, using a staple gun, to the wood frames in the ceiling. I like to staple every four to five inches to ensure the insulation stays in place.

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Insulating the first half of the ceiling was not as challenging as the framing was, but the next half of the insulation process will be much more difficult as there are several ceiling frames that go directly from exterior to side wall, with no pipes or other barriers in between. I envision it to be difficult insulating around the lights and junction box as well. The next half might call for a two-person job. I hope to have a video clip for you on the next update as I look to achieve my next goal of insulating the BatCave ceiling.

-John V

Personal Learning Networks

3D people and computers networking around the world - isolated over white
3D people and computers networking around the world – isolated over white

Education in 2015 looks a lot different than it did even just five years ago. Today, schools are implementing blended learning into their school’s learning infrastructure, with more districts going 1:1 for students and devices. With this change comes the challenge for educators to find new ways to engage their students with so many distractions available to them; social media, streaming video services, tablets and smart phones, etc.

A frequent question I hear from educators that I associate with is how can they adapt to this change in education with limited professional development opportunities? The answer is as simple as taking out your smart phone or tablet, or opening your laptop and taking to your personal learning network (PLN).

A personal learning network is the combination of all the communities you follow and the contacts you associate within those platforms, with its origins stemming from George Siemens’ connectivism theory, which focuses on social context and altering foundations. The Personal Learning Network group on Pinterest provides several resources for educators on various topics. Teachers can take to social media and search for specific answers to questions they might have, or Tweet out a particular question and most likely get instant feedback from their followers. The Internet serves as our best resource for searching and sifting through content. Teachers can connect with other teachers all around the world within seconds, fostering a global collaborative working environment for educators.

unnamedDr. Mark Wagner discusses in his article, Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips, that Educators should not only connect with others, but also contribute to their PLNs by posting information for others to see. We do this now in our IT&DML classes through blogging and sharing our blog within our Google+ community. If the information is valuable to you, then chances are it might be valuable to someone else. He also explains that educators should converse with the people they connect with on the web and request information through your network rather than searching online, fostering positive relationships that could end up in faster results when seeking help on the web in the future.

In his video on Personal Learning Networks, Will Richardson talks about how teachers need to show students how to effectively search for information using the PLNs that they already have. If teachers create a Google+ community for their class, students can have a forum for communication with their classmates. This can be very helpful, especially if students have questions on assignments or particular topics from class. Students can post their question in the designated space within the community and get feedback from their peers, which is personal learning networking at its best.

This year I will make it an objective of mine to show students how to take full advantage of their personal learning networks, becoming solid contributors in our global network as they continue to develop their digital identity. Please check out my own personal learning network below. I created this mindmap using popplet, a free mindmapping tool for learning. You can click here or on the image for a full size view of the image.

My Personal Learning Network

-John V

BatCave Update: Framing the Exterior Wall

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

In my previous BatCave post, I made it a goal to complete the framing of the exterior wall for this week. I am happy to say that the exterior wall is framed and looks amazing! This was no easy task to complete, as we had to frame around the electrical box and the chimney access panel (this is where having Tim comes in handy!) I tried looking for videos on how to do this on Youtube, but did not find any that were suitable for what I was trying to do. I did find some images posted on blogs and Pinterest from others doing similar work that were very helpful in providing a visual on how the frame was supposed to look.

The framing of the actual exterior wall was rather easy, since I have had enough experience framing both the side and back walls. The exterior wall was cut into three frames, with each stud being 16’ on center. For this we simply nailed each stud into the frame created, with the pressure treated stud serving as the base. Remember, you always want the floor piece of the frame to be pressure treated because they will absorb moisture from the floor to prevent rotting.

Completed exterior wall
Completed exterior wall

The tricky parts were framing around the electrical box and the chimney access panel. These were tricky because we had to measure around the box and cut away at the frame we just built.

IMG_0038_2For the electrical box, we measured the distance from stud to stud and cut a piece that sits under the box; this will serve as a nailer for the sheetrock to be nailed onto. The electrical box is mounted on a wood platform, as seen in the picture, and caused for us to cut at the platform to make the studs around the box flush, or leveled. We kept cutting away at the wood platform, checking the level each time, until we finally got it right.

IMG_0037_2
Main electrical

Next, we had to cut at the chimney access panel. This was not as time consuming as the electrical box, as all we had to do was cut away at the exterior wall stud that covered the panel. We cut away the piece that covered the panel, and cut two pieces that were placed above and below the panel. We also cut two more small nailers to hold those two bigger pieces in place. The end result is a sturdy frame around the chimney access door.

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Chimney access panel

I can’t believe that the first phase of the BatCave is almost complete. This has been such a learning process and has taught me how things are built and the tools needed in order to be successful. My two goals for the next update is to tidy up and check that all framing, walls and ductwork, are flush so that the sheetrock can be hung evenly. The second goal will be more time consuming, where I will install all the insulation for the ceiling of the room. I am not going to insulate the walls because the room stays at a steady temperature already. I will take to Youtube for this since I have never installed insulation before, and will film a couple video clips to go along with my post.

Thanks for reading!

-John V

Cooking With TPACK

Cooking with TPACK reinforced that in education we are constantly altering our instruction given the resources available to us. In this scenario we had minimal resources available, such as a bowl, plate, and a meat mallet. I would have rather used a knife with a cutting board to cut the vegatables, but as we have learned we might not always have this available.

The most frustrating part was not smashing an onion, but editing the video in post production with limited software available. This was a good learning experience for me that I can pass on to my students the next time they need a reminder on not having enough information or resources. I hope you enjoyed the video!

-John V

BatCave Update: Shelving the Closet

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

This week I did not get as much done as I would have liked in the BatCave. I was away in Virginia from Tuesday to Friday visiting Michelle’s sister and family. My original goal was to find time to finish the nailers on the ductwork and at least half of the exterior wall. Unfortunately, I did not get the exterior wall done. I did get the nailers done, and made an adjustment to my schedule so that I did not fall behind.

Since I did not have much time this week to work on the BatCave’s exterior walls, I decided to change my approach and build the closet shelves, which does not take a lot of time. I have never built shelves before, and took to Youtube to find some resources that could be of help. I came across HackaweekTV’s video on building closet shelves, which gave me a good idea on how to start the process of putting shelves in the basement closet.

I wanted to put 3 levels in the closet for storage of our paint cans, air conditioners, and other miscellaneous items around the house. In order to do so, I measured four inches from the back wall to the front for the top level, and cut the brackets thirty-four inches long so that they would be sturdy enough to hold a good amount of paint cans. Once I had the correct measurements and cut the two brackets to size, Tim took his DuoFast nailer (high powered nail gun) while I held them leveled in place, and shot three nails into each bracket.

Next, we needed to install the second set of brackets that would serve as the second and third set of shelves. These brackets would need to be longer since they will be holding heavy air conditioners during the winter season. I decided to measure this set of brackets a foot longer (forty six inches) than the previous bracket. Once the brackets were cut to size, we took the DuoFast nail gun and nailed the brackets into place.

IMG_0014
3 level closet with crawl space access

Lastly, we needed to install the actual shelves. This step was rather easy, as all I had to do was measure the distance between the two walls, and the distance from the side wall to the front of the closet. For the top shelf I cut the shelf thirty-eight inches long, and for the second shelf I cut that fifty-one inches long. The distance from the side wall to the front of the closet was about five feet, so I wanted to leave enough room to eventually install a bi-fold door. I cut these two pieces to size and placed them on top of the brackets we made earlier. The final result was a nice, sturdy shelving unit consisting of three shelves. There is also a crawl space underneath for light items we rarely need.

By applying the skills learned from using resources available on the Internet (Youtube), it is really helping me understand how things work when framing and putting things in place. The knowledge learned in previous updates were vital in helping me understand where the brackets needed to be and the tools needed to get the job done. Even though I did not meet my initial goal for this update, I made an adjustment to still get something done so that I do not get too far behind.

Now that the closet is out of the way, I can focus solely on getting the entire exterior wall framed for my next update. This will not be as easy as the interior wall, as I have to frame around the electrical box and the chimney access panel. With the resources available online, I am up for the challenge!

-John V