Final Post for EDTC300

Well, I can hardly believe that this is my final blog post for EDTC300! The spring semester just flew by! I am so happy that I decided to take this class because I have learned so much about tech in the classroom and my skills have improved immensely! I know that I still have to work on and maintain the skills that I’ve gained but I have already come so far.

Thanks to all of my peers for supporting me this semester and also to Katia for teaching the class! Have a great summer!

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Contributing to the learning of others and my PLN

Before taking EDTC300, I was not a fan of Twitter and I definitely did not have a PLN. I had peers and colleagues that I could turn to, but nothing close to what I feel I have now as my PLN. Also, I feel like I am just getting the hang of building this online relationship and I’m excited to take forward.

I started my Twitter account back in 2014 and by this April of 2018 I had a grand total of 18 tweets. I was not a huge tweeter, I think this is because back in 2014 I was just following a few celebrities and I didn’t think that I was getting anything meaningful out of it. Fast forward to today and since this May of 2018,  my total tweets have grown to 103!

I have worked really hard at creating and maintaining my Twitter presence and I see that there has been a huge improvement! This makes me excited to see this growth because before this class Twitter wasn’t even on my radar. My presence to contributing to Twitter has been consistent with tweeting original content, re-tweeting, liking and commenting on other people in my PLN’s tweets. See some evidence below:

 

Recent interactions on Twitter

 

 

Something that I am really happy with is the Twitter chat that Cody Biever and I had regarding the use of Twitter in the classroom. Even though this chat was in response to an assignment, it  was a valuable lesson for me because I used the Tweetdeck app to track the hashtag #Twitterintheclassroom and we went over some really good key points about why using Twitter in this was is beneficial. Additionally, our Twitter chat was  a good source for others to learn from and participate in.

Screenshot of our Twitter chat!

 

Another way that I contributed to the learning of others was to tweet out original content. Here are some articles and resources that I found off of my Feedly account which I thought were useful in sharing:

Here are just a few examples of contributions to my PLN

 

 

Another way that I contributed to the learning of others was through my WordPress website. I created my WordPress website in my second year of university and to date I have 53 blog posts! After posting my own assigned and learning project posts it was fun to see what everyone else was up to.  I encouraged others by commenting regularly on their learning project blogs. I enjoyed following along to the progress that my colleagues made in their learning projects and found the growth and personal development to be quite fascinating! Also, seeing how creative and talented these people are is an amazing experience! Please see below some of my interactions with my peers.

 

In terms of my own blog posts that I have written I always try to stay clear and concise and to the point. I try to make it interesting by posting pictures or inserting links to places where the reader might find valuable or interesting.  I enjoy blogging but I know that I can get a little overwhelmed but for the most part my blogs I think portray me in a professional manner.

In conclusion, I had a great experience becoming part of a PLN by using Twitter and my WordPress account. It has been so great to learn new things and to have a group of positive people who are working towards the same goals. It is my plan to stay connected in this professional way by blogging and tweeting and to grow my Professional Learning Network!

The final learning project post!

This week I made my final cake for my learning project. After looking back on what I have previously made I feel like I’m not going out with a bang…even writing this last post is tough, but I managed to make it through! This week I decided to make a no-bake cheesecake. I chose this cake partially because some of my peers commented on my blog from last weeks’ cake which was a homemade New York style cheesecake that they have only ever made the no bake variety, partially because this particular cake kept showing up in my Facebook feed and partially because I am short on time. This no-bake cheesecake has a graham crumbs crust, cream cheese and whip topping center and is topped with blueberry pie filling. It is super simple to prepare, the longest part was waiting for it to set up in the fridge.

It was pretty good, but it wasn’t as good as my mile-high New York Cheesecake.

When I look back over the semester I am super impressed by the first cake that I made which was a layered chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache icing. It was an amazing cake to start off with! Making this cake took a long time to but it was absolutely delicious! For this cake the instructions were super clear and the blogger had actually posted videos of her putting everything together which helped me quite a bit because it was a fairly ambitious undertaking. This website was really great and I think that I could have perhaps changed courses and just stuck with this one website for all of my cakes, but at the time I thought that having a variety of sources would be better.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

 

Another really great cake that I made was the homemade angel food cake. This is a very labour-intensive cake and I couldn’t help but think of how hard it would have been to make this cake 100 years ago. To think of all the technology available at my finger tips is quite astonishing! From finding the recipe online, to watching a how-to video to learn how to make the cake and finally to be able to use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites (which is a tedious task in itself) is quite amazing to me! When I was making this cake, I was constantly reminded of movie called Julie and Julia where a young woman sets out to work her way through Julia Childs cookbook called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. In the movie, there is a scene where Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) makes whipped cream by using just a hand-whisk! That would have been so much work! If you have a chance, check out the movie, it is pretty good!

One of my cakes that went awry was my upside-down peach cake that leaked all over the inside of my oven. Ugh… not so much fun having to clean up that mess, but that is life I guess. I think this annoyance could have been avoided by having explicit instructions because I was unsure how much parchment paper to use and it ended up that I didn’t use quite enough.

You can see the cake batter smoldering away on the bottom of my oven

I’ve noticed that as the semester progressed I began to make more straight-forward cakes like my banana pudding icebox cake and I didn’t realize at the time that I had gotten away from making “professional looking cakes” as I mentioned I would in my very first learning project blog post. In hind-sight, I should have revisited my first blog post each week to make sure that I was sticking with my original plan. I think one of the reasons that I got side-tracked was because there are just too many options and a lot of information to sift through on the internet. Another tricky part of online learning is when you are only accountable to yourself, it is tempting to take the easy way out.

 

The overall process of online learning can be hugely beneficial and I can see why so many people take to the internet to learn skills such as how to build a deck, play the ukulele or paint portraits just to name a few. For most people, the internet and google searches are pretty accessible since the only other way to learn independently would be by purchasing a “how-to” book. Another benefit to online learning is the fact that it can be done on your own time. As I stated earlier, this can be a bit troublesome too, but for the most part if an individual is committed to actually learning something, they will see it through to the end. There are some disadvantages though, like poor instructions and sometimes it is hard to tell if you are learning from an expert or from someone who thinks they are an expert. Either way, it is a good idea to gather information from multiple sources.
Photo Credit: femiolaleye Flickr via Compfight cc

It is always a good idea to check your sources!

My experience with my learning project has been both positive and negative.  I really enjoyed making my first cake, but after that I was kind of ready to move on. I think that I could have challenged myself more instead of becoming complacent and it would have been a better experience. I found that I was rushing to finish the cakes and I should have just slowed down to enjoy the process more. What I have learned this semester in terms of my baking skill level is that I am a pretty good baker! In the past I have always used box-mix cakes and so I think I will use the homemade version going forward since it is way tastier! I did find reading a printed recipe is way easier than reading it off of my phone since the font on my phone is so small. Overall, it was a great experience with some highs and lows along the way!

Here is a picture of Cole with his “cake” creations!

 

 

 

The struggle is real when it comes to coding…

So last night after EDTC300 class, I took my first stab at coding on the Hour of Coding website. Well, I’m not sure if it was because I was brained-out for the day or what, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. After about fifteen minutes of not making any progress I decided to call it a night. This morning I thought that I better get back into coding because I have so much to do and so little time to do it in. That’s the thing with the spring/summer semester – there really isn’t time to procrastinate because it is a race to the finish line.

Spring semester is like a race to the finish line!

Anyways, back to coding… I decided that I would go with the Star Wars theme since that is the one that we used last night in class as an example. The first couple of rounds were fairly simple but by round seven I got a bit stuck. I finally figured out that a pop-up screen had came on and blocked some of the options for moving the Star Wars figure. After a few attempts I finally began to get the hang of it and then coasted through the rest of the module.

Even though coding is not something I enjoy, I can see how this would be valuable for students to learn. As mentioned in class, there are so many jobs available in the computer science field and that area is only going to grow as we move forward in the age of technology. Also, this is way to get children (mine specifically) to use the internet as a way to learn about something rather than just consuming something like a game or watching silly cat videos on YouTube. Using websites like Hour of Code is a good way to teach students about using the internet responsibly and for something that is positive, which will pave the way to teaching digital citizenship!

If you want to check out my hour of code here it is! I even uploaded it to YouTube!

New York Style Cheesecake

For my learning project this week I thought that I would try to make a traditional New York style cheesecake. I have never tried to make a cheesecake before and so I thought that this would be a good opportunity to try something new!
Photo Credit: ashwaters77 Flickr via Compfight cc

As I was searching around on the internet I found this recipe on Pinterest. The blogger website is called bakerbynature.com. One of the reasons that I chose to use this recipe is because the steps were super clear and laid out in a well-organized fashion. The website is really nice with many pictures and videos. In fact, there are so many good recipes on here I think I may bookmark the website and come back for some more inspiration for my final post. Also, I’m pretty sure that I have used this website before with good results and so I thought that I had very little to lose.

As it happens, I had a little helper with me to make the cheesecake so things took a bit longer to put together, but it wasn’t really a huge deal because he made it that much more fun!

My little helper

 

The first thing that we had to do was prepare the graham crumb crust. That was easy enough to do, just combine the graham crumbs, sugar and butter and press down into the springform pan.

Next cream together the cream cheese and sour cream. Add in the sugar and eggs and mix until creamy and smooth. This part works the best if all ingredients are at room temperature.

Once it is all combined, pour the batter carefully on top of the crust and bake in a water bath in the oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes. You may recall the debacle I had last week using my springform pan and so I was extra, extra careful to make sure that the springform pan was sealed. And, since I was immersing the pan in a water bath, I wrapped a few extra layers of tinfoil around the pan for good measure.

The cheesecake had a few cracks in the top but I think that it turned out pretty well I would say!

The next morning, I prepared the strawberry topping and whipped cream. The recipe for the strawberries called for a ¼ cup of sugar but I always find that way too sweet, so I cut the sugar back by half.

Once it was all ready to go I took it with me to class. I don’t need to be eating a whole cheesecake by myself and I think the rest of the students appreciate a treat once in a while!

#TwitterInTheClassroom

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to incorporate technology in the classroom in a meaningful way. Yesterday, I reached out to my middle-years colleague Cody Biever to talk about the possibilities of using twitter in the classroom and the positives and negatives that a classroom teacher would possibly have to contend with. We had a twitter chat using the hashtag #twitterintheclassroom. We discussed how using twitter could potentially be a way to teach students positive digital citizenship and how it could be used as a tool to communicate with students and parents. Overall, I think that using twitter in the classroom could be hugely beneficial to students, parents and teachers. If you would like to see our whole conversation please see the screen shot below.  Just keep in mind that when you are reading the twitter conversation to read it from the bottom up!

our twitter chat

Teaching Digital Citizenship

I often think about how permanent the internet is and sometimes I cringe over things that I’ve posted in the past. Some pictures and videos from my teens and early twenties are definitely not representative of who I am today. Thankfully, I was well into my twenties when social media became popular and so I do not have my teenage, angst-filled years up on the internet to haunt me! But, I know that this is the reality for some individuals and I can’t imagine what it would be like for my less-proud moments to be google-able. I am sure that it would be a mortifying experience!

My heart breaks for Monica Lewinsky’s after watching her TedTalk where she discusses the fallout of her affair with President Clinton. I never thought of her as a victim before I watched her TedTalk and I cannot imagine what her life must have been like during that time. I’m sure it would have been so humiliating for her. And, to think that some of her closest friends betrayed her is just awful.  As she states in her talk, “humiliation is a more intensely felt emotion than either happiness or anger.” I too have had times in my life where I felt humiliated and so I know that the feeling of humiliation can stay with us longer than a feeling of happiness. In Lewinsky’s suggests that we have to put a stop to the “blood sport of public shaming”. I totally agree.

Recently, I came across a Global News article where a mother tried to curb her nine-year-old daughter’s bad behaviour by creating a “Mommy’s juvenile detention” where she changed her room into a prison-like cell and took away all creature-comforts. The mother then posted a picture of her daughter’s bedroom on social media, along with a long tirade about how she had enough. This is troubling to me because I’m not sure why the mother felt the need to post to social media at all? Fine, give your child a consequence for the bad behavior, but don’t public shame her on social media. Another thing that I found bothersome was the fact that most comments posted were commending what a good job the mother was doing! Not many people blinked an eye to the fact that she was public shaming her nine-year old daughter!

We need to teach students how to be positive digital citizens. We have to teach our students to be empathetic and compassionate to their peers and others in their lives. We have got to teach them that public shaming is wrong!  We have to show students the non-example and ask them to think about it in a critical way. We have to teach students how to be respectful on the internet and how to create and maintain a positive digital identity. This can be accomplished by using technology in a responsible way in the classroom and modelling what the expectations are in terms of using social media and other online platforms.

Peach Upside-down Cake

For this week’s Learning Project, I decided to try to make an upside-down cake. I checked out a few different websites and looked around on Pinterest but nothing really caught my eye until I came across this Peach Upside Down Cake recipe on the Food Network website. I’ve never before made this type of cake and so it was a chance to try something new. And, my kids really love peaches, nectarines, plums… basically any type of fruit that has a pit and so I thought that they should enjoy this cake, which works for me because I definitely don’t want to be eating a cake a week by myself!

One of the best parts about making this cake is it doesn’t require a whole bunch of expensive ingredients. In fact, the only ingredient on my shopping list was a can of whole peaches in light syrup that I picked up at Walmart for only a few bucks.

Ingredients

 

I found that the instructions for this cake were minimal. There weren’t any pictures other than the end result and there wasn’t much for step-by-step instructions. I can see how for some, making this cake, using this recipe and instructions could be a struggle.

Although some upside-down cake recipes involve using a molded pan the instructions for this recipe require that it is baked in a spring-form pan. The first step is to cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle the same diameter as the spring form pan is and placed it on the bottom – keeping in mind that this will be the top in the end! Then melt a quarter-cup of butter to line the parchment paper. Next, sprinkle a half-cup of brown sugar over the butter. This will make a carmel-y sauce once it is cooked. Then slice the peaches and place over the brown sugar in a concentric pattern. Again, keeping in mind that this will be the top of the cake once it is cooked and so I had to take the time to make a nice, symmetrical pattern.

The rest of the recipe comes together fairly easily.  Beat the butter and sugar and then add the eggs. Cream together until smooth and well combined. Then I sifted and the dry ingredients and then combined them with the wet ingredients. Easy-peasy!

Then I carefully poured the batter over top of the peaches and placed it in the oven.

Here is where things went sideways… I was just about to head over to my neighbor’s house for a quick visit while the cake was baking and just as I was walking out the door I started to smell something burning. Then, the fire-alarm went off (which is super sensitive by the way, I can barely make toast and it goes off)! My husband has trained our children well, because they all yell up from the family room saying “Mom’s cooking!!”. Turns out, I hadn’t sealed the spring form pan well enough and the cake batter was steadily dripping out of the pan and burning to the bottom of the oven!

You can see the cake batter smoldering away on the bottom of the oven

UGH! I had to think quick and realized I didn’t have very many options and I definitely did not want to chuck it out and start from scratch. So, I just wrapped tinfoil around the outside of the spring-form pan tightly enough to seal up the leak, cleaned up the bottom of the oven and walked out the door.

 

I came back thirty minutes later to a perfectly baked cake! Later, that evening the famjam and I went down to the neighbor’s for a visit and share up the cake. It was delicious!

The finished product

 

 

 

Super Cybersleuthing Myself!

For this week’s post I decided that I would cybersleuth myself to see what kind of online presence I am putting out into the world. Funny thing – the word cybersleuth reminds me of the words super sleuth and I was wondering why that term felt so familiar to me. So I googled super sleuth to see what comes up. Turns out, the term is from a “My Friends Tigger and Pooh” cartoon that my kids watched years ago! Here is a clip, just in case your wondering!

You can thank me later for that super-cute clip!

Anyways, getting back to the original assignment of cybersleuthing myself, I thought that the best way to do that would be to Google myself in “incognito mode” so that my laptop wouldn’t automatically know the sites that I visit. The  google that I searched up was “Amanda Ewert Regina”. The first thing that came up was my wordpress account. This was totally my intent when I made my website, so that folks who searched me up could see what I have been up to the last few years. As it stands, my website is looking pretty good I would say, but I think that I could tweak it a bit more so that my pages make a little more sense. I also went through all of my posts and I plan on scrapping the ones that I no longer feel are relevant.

The second thing that came up was my Twitter account. YAY! This makes me really happy because I’ve been working so hard on tweeting and growing my online PLN. To date, I have only 61 tweets, but everyday I make sure that I tweet out some new content from my Feedly account and either like or re-tweet something that is educational. I also started following more people in hopes that they follow me back! I think that by looking at my twitter account it is pretty clear that I’m student from the University of Regina and a soon to be teacher.

Nothing comes up from my other social media accounts like Facebook or Instagram. I have Facebook locked down pretty tight because I feel that it is more of a personal space and students or parents of students don’t need to be searching me up through that account. Not that I have anything to hide, I just feel like it is more of a personal family and friends platform rather than a professional platform. I do have an Instagram account, but I rarely use it. The only reason why I still have it around is so that I can keep an eye on what my daughter posts to her account!

A seemingly random picture but, my flower garden is coming along nicely!

A few  things came up that I thought were a bit funny too. An old ECS210 final reflection YouTube video that is a screencast of a Prezi slideshow. I think this is funny because I have totally forgotten about it and I don’t remember making it or ever creating a screencast! It must have been really late at night or something! Pictures of Danny came up in the google image search and a wordpress post of Kim Thue’s that he tagged me in!

I’m not totally surprised by what I found when I cybersleuthed myself. However, I’m super impressed that my blog and Twitter are the top two things that come up. I have realized though, that I need to go and clean up a few things that I have forgotten about. Overall, I’m not that interesting!! LOL!

Homemade Angel Food Cake – It takes patience…

For my learning project this week I decided to try something that I have never attempted to do before – make an angel food cake from scratch! Just about every grocery store had strawberries on sale and nothing is better than angel food cake, fresh strawberries and whip cream! And, as it happens I was invited back to where I used to work for a potluck lunch and so I figured that I would have some people to share the cake with!
Photo Credit: mripp Flickr via Compfight cc

mmm… strawberries

The first thing I did was I started to research homemade angel food cakes on Pinterest. Quite a few recipes came up and I was thinking about making a coconut angel food or even layering the cake. But, then I figured that since I was sharing it at the potluck lunch I should just stick with the old-fashioned strawberries and whip cream recipe because it always goes over well!

The recipe I used was an adapted from the Food Network by a blogger that I found on Pinterest. The recipe required a dozen egg whites at room temperature. I separated the eggs and then saved the yolks for another recipe. Once the egg whites had come to the proper temperature I began to assemble the rest of the ingredients. First, I placed the required amount of sugar into the food processor for about two minutes to grind it down to be a bit finer and then I began to put together the flour mixture.

making the sugar fine by using a food processor

The recipe called for cake flour, which I did not have on hand and so I quickly googled how to make my own. Turns out that you can make cake flour by measuring out one cup of flour, removing 2 tablespoons of flour and then adding two tablespoons of corn starch. Easy enough! Then you need to sift the flour, salt and sugar together.

Sifting the sugar, flour and salt

Most baking recipes ask you to sift the ingredients together and I always skip this step! But, today I thought that I should probably follow the recipe since I’ve never made it before and I wanted the cake texture to be light and fluffy

The most difficult part of making this cake is using patience! This is not a cake that can be whipped up in a couple of minutes! It takes time because you have to whip the egg whites together until stiff peaks form. Then, you have to add the dry ingredients to whipped egg whites about a tablespoon at a time. So, patience is necessary when making an angel food cake from scratch!

Egg whites are beaten until stiff peaks form

As I watched my KitchenAid mixer do all the work for me I was thinking about how labor intensive making an angel food cake would have been a hundred years ago without electricity! Oh, how far we have come with technology! Which got me to thinking… when was electricity invented?

Here is the cake in the meeting room

Anyways, the angel food cake turned out perfectly. A nice golden-brown on the outside and light and fluffy in the center. Topped off with homemade whipping cream and fresh strawberries with a bit of sugar. It was a hit at the potluck lunch!

Golden brown on the outside, with a light fluffy center

Angel food cake with strawberries and whip cream