Mrs. Chelsey Croft

Future teacher, life long learner

A New Type of Digital Citizen — June 22, 2017

A New Type of Digital Citizen

For this blog we (Ecmp355) were asked to think about some really tough concepts.  Can online social activism be meaningful?  Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?  There is no black and white answer he for me, but instead many shades of gray!

In one of her blog posts, my professor states that “I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than jusy my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act.” In another post, she states that we need to move ‘digital citizenship‘ away from simply being about’cyber safety‘ and more towards becoming a justice-oriented citizen via social media (and hopefully in ‘real’ life too!).

Although I think it is important to use privilege as a way to communicate these injustices, I do not think it is my responsibility to do so.  My reasons for this are selfish.  Time.  When you are a single mother of two young children you MUST prioritze your time, and almost every single time my kids win that time.  No regrets with that decision ever.  However, this also causes me to think about kids all over the world that are not near as fortunate as mine.  Ones who struggle to live every single day.  This kills me inside, which usually prompts me to post a couple of the easiest found articles onto my facebook, in the hopes that someone will rad it and do some REAL about it.

This brings me into that first question.  Can online social activism be meaningful?  I think it can be meaningful but only if someone eventuall does some REAL.  As in not simply re-port something, but take real action.  Donate REAL money, or REAL time, or write REAL letters to their leaders.  In other words, I think by re-posting an issue you may indirectly be causing meaningful change or justice, but you are not really doing it.  To me that is like telling someone to donate blood and then they do it.  Yes, sure I did my part by making that person aware that they can donate blood, but they did the real work in actually donating it.  Weird comparison I know! But I think it needs to be said that although simply reposting something on social media might make a meanigful difference, actually doing something about it definitely makes a meaningful difference.

Now onto the second question.   Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?  I think this one is definitely possible, given the right group of people in teh conversation.  Growing up and currently living in a very small, conservative town, I have had the Facebook confrontations with people who simply will not change on their views no matter what I post, or say, or facts I give.  In these instances I know I will not have a productive conversation about anything, let alone something about social justice.  However, I think it is definitely possible.  And I think it is things conversations that spark real actions, and possibly even real change for the better.  The hard part is simply being brave enough to stand up for something you believe in.

Tasties and Technology — June 20, 2017

Tasties and Technology

This week in my baking adventure I attempted to bake the perfect Creme Brulee.  It is a seeminly simple.  Only four ingredients – eggs, sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla. Should be impossible to mess up right?  WRONG!  In order to fully succeed at creme brulee, one must be very precise and exercise some technical baking skills.  Not for the faint of heart that’s for sure.

So what made me think I could tackle this difficult classic French dessert?  I wish I had a cool answer for this, but the truth is I just love the way it tastes and would love to be able to make it whenever I wanted it!  So once again, I turned to good ol’ Pinterest for my recipe. One immediate change I knew I would have to make is using vanilla extract instead of an actual vanilla bean.  Regardless, I was ready to channel my inner Julia Child and this dessert a try.

The lack of vanilla bean was just a minor inconvenience more than anything.  However, me not having a cooking torch could possibly result in teh sessert being ruined.  I mean, I was trying to make a creme brulee….the brulee part is pretty important!  Luckily, this particular recipe described a second technique that could give that ‘brulee’ effect.  In order to do this I simply set the oven to broil and kept the door open.  I then just kept a close eye on my desserts to ensure the sugar topping would not burn.  In the end, I think I was too worried about burning it and took it out a bit too early. Although it still formeda nice ‘crust’, it wasstill slightly grainy as a result of the sugar not being heatedlong enough.  Next time I will bite the bullet and use the actual torch I have.  I will just be sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand!

Baking the creme brulee was not my biggest challenge this week though.  Creating one single video depicting the whole baking process was.  In order to do this I took 12 different videos of my baking process.  I then downloaded a program called Movavi onto my computer.  This tool allowedme to merge these 12 videos into one, while cutting out parts I did not think I needed.  Because it was my first time using this software I messed up on one of my cuts, and took out a bit too much.  To make matters worse, whenI went to uploadthe video to YouTube I was informed that if I did buy the complete version of the software there would be a ‘stamp’ on my video and no audio! Oy vey!  I published it anyway, and am making it my goal to find a FREE editing tool for my next video!

Even if the dessert and the video did not work out perfectly, I was quite pleased with how I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned some new techniques with baking and new techniques with technology!  Until next time….

If You Have an Itch to Code, Just Sratch It! — June 18, 2017

If You Have an Itch to Code, Just Sratch It!

Coding.  It is literally like learning another language.  At least for me anyway.  It is just not my forte to say the least!

Before trying to learn this new language of coding, I visited an ‘Hour to Code‘ site, as well as a site called ‘Scratch‘.  Both of these sites are meant for students (yes, students!) to get an introduction into how to code.  After briefly looking over both sites, I decided on Scratch because you actually got to create your own program versus playing agame that mimics a program.  From first glance, I would say that ‘Hour to Code’ would be best for beginners (elementary students) and that Scratch would be better once you have a bit more coding knowledge (which I do not!).

My adventure with Scratch had be jumping in head first into the deep end thinking I could swim because a took a unviersity class about coding 6 years ago.  WRONG! It was much mroe difficult than I thought it would be and it took a lot of trial and error to produce the simplest programs/tasks.  I actually looked up a “helpfulp” tutorial, but became even more frustrated when I realized the person who made it, made it using scratch!  Like who was this genius!  They created a whole “how to” video using a program that I could barely complete the simplest tasks on.  Needless to say my pride got the best of me and I exited out of the tutorial and was determined to figure it out on my own! In hindsight it probably was not my best decision, but i stuck with it!

some things I quickly learned on Scratch was that I could create my own background with a ‘paint-like’ tool and that there was a full library full of many different sounds.  I had way too much fun just making funky backgrounds (that I didn’t use) and listening to all of the cool sounds (which I also didn’t use).  It is obvious that I can become sidetracked quite easily, especially if the thing i am being sidetracked from in CODING!

But in all seriousness, I think this is a great program.  I think it does a great job mimicing how one would create a ‘real’ code, with ‘if, then, else statements’ and ‘forever loops’, as well as a bunch of other things I am not quite sure how to use.  In addition to that, creating this type of code would be a great tool for inquiry based learning.  You could simply show students this site, maybe give them a brief example (as Katia did) and then let them loose on it.  I think some students would create amazing things with it, and others would struggle like I did.  No matter what the skill level, I think this type of activity would definitely help all students with their problem solving skills, plus it is something they could work on at home and see real results regarding their progress.  Coding in the classroom definitely gets two thumbs up from me!

Now for my not so amazing coidng video:

 

Dark Ages Parent — June 15, 2017

Dark Ages Parent

This past Tuesday’s ECMP355 class was an eye opening one for me.  You see, I was born in 1986 and did not have access to ‘home’ internet until I was about 14.  And even then it was dial up, and I think we only had so many hours of it a month before it cut out.  By today’s standards, I was living in the dark ages.

However, with those ‘dark ages’ came a sense of simplicity that will likely never again be experienced in the developed world.  My mother did not have to teach me about digital identity or that the wrong picture could literally cost me my life.  One word to sum up my feelings toward all of this new information I obtained in class is SICK.  As a parent to a 3 year old girl, it makes me sick that I will have to somehow educate her on a world I know really nothing about.  This non-understanding is almost a form of ignorance I could

In an earlier talk by Monica Lewinsky she describes her experience of being publicly shamed and ridiculed.  “A punch to the face” seemed to sum it up in a way that most people could likely understand, but hopefully will never have to.  In her TED talk, ‘The Price of Shame‘, Monica Lewinsky seems stronger and more like a survivor of something horrible.  The part that got me was when she said her mother would make her shower with the door open because she feared her daughter would do the unthinkable (suicide).  I could not imagine feeling so helpless.

In the case of Amanda Todd it does not end with such a story.  She ended her life because of a mistake she made.  You see, Monica was 22 when her mistake occurred.  Still young, but had at least been a part of the adult world for some time.  Amanda Todd was only 15! 15!  She made a mistake at 15 that cost her her life.  That is hard to even fathom, and I think I only can becuase something like this has never happened to someone close to me.

As shocked as I was with the above two videos, ‘Sext Up Kids‘ brought that too a whole new, scary level!  This documentary was truly a learning experience for me, as I had no clue ‘sexting‘ was such a trend, especially among such a young age group of girls.  It almost seem like it is the new norm in flirtation.  In fact, when I typed  ‘sexting’ into google, it primarily gave ideas on how to do it.  In other words, not only are young girls sexting, they are being encouraged to do it!

Whether it be sexting or any other form of public shaming, I truly do not know how I will bring up the topic with my future students, and even more worrisome, I have no clue how to bring it up with my children. Luckily, I have access to good ol’ Google, and was able to find some really helpful articles:

Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4, Aritcle 5

These articles vary from being written by a child psychologist to a pamphlet handed out by a school board to parents to simple blog-type opinions and stories.  All have very good points and ideas about how to deal with such a challenging subject.  My personal opinion would be to start these types of talks young and promote honestly and integrity.  It is easier said than done, and I will let you all know in about 10 years how my talk with my girl went! (wish me luck, I’m already dreading it!)

 

Te(a)chnology — June 12, 2017

Te(a)chnology

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat.  These are some of the social media platforms that students share their livs with.  I am sure there are many more social media sites I have never even heard of or know anything about.  We are in the age of te(a)chnology, so it is important that we incorporate these online tools and apps into all aspects of our school days.

I will start with the ‘basics‘ – a what’s what for online usage ranging from digital access to digital overall wellness.  In addition to these basics, there are many online resources, training material, and supplemental information that help teachers (espeically non-tech savy ones like me) begin to teach about this stuff and integrate into their classrooms.

I think once myself and my students are on the same ‘page’ regarding what everything means, the easier it will be to go over the cause and effects of their digital actions.  Like what is wrong to do online, from copyright issues to online bullying.  A ‘classroom’ contract might be a great start to this type of thing.

From here, and this is where it gets really hard, I believe that this digital attitude or lifestyle, should be a part of every day teaching.  That it should be integrated into daily lessons across all subject areas. Right now it seems that it is taught as a stand alone subject area that does not really contribute to other subjects, other than to act as a medium for research.  I am guilty for thinking this way, but have since changed my tune.  I think the most difficult part of this tansition would be where to start.

Luckily, there are many online resourses to get the average, not so techy, teacher started:

Edutopia – This article tells which online resources are the best for single or multi computer classrooms, and what they can be used for.

TeachHub – This article describes specific ways in which you can use technology in the classroom.

50Ways – This article give 50 specific websites that students can use in all subject areas.

Education World – Gives specific ideas and links with how to integrate technology into everyday classroom tasks.

It looks as though te(a)chnoloy will be here to stay, so I am going to try and embrace it as much as I can!

 

 

 

 

— June 9, 2017

This week I am doing something a little bit different with my learning project.  Instead of baking (more like attempting it) something super yummy, I have made it my goal to find some online sources that can help me, or anyone out when it comes to baking.  Although it won’t have the yumminess of my previous weeks, I think it will be super beneficial in the long run.

My first goal was to try to find an online source where I could ‘store’ all of my baking recipes.  I know, I know, doesn’t Pinterest do this for me?  Yes it does.  But I find it is always time consuming to go through the many pins I have under ‘Desserts’ just to find one specific recipe.  Plus, you cannot make adjustments to these recipes on the site, which is not ideal becaise recipes often need little personal touches to make them better for you.

After doing a little web browsing, I cam across a great article from the LA Times.  This article gives a list of the best sites to collect recipes on. Perfect!  After going through their list, I decided that my favorite option was MacGourmet.  The main reason fro this was because not only can you import recipes/pictures from the internet (like Pinterest), you can also add in your own personal recipes and pictures.  This would make my life much more organized than the ‘recipe box’ I currently use to keep track of everything.  This site has one big con though.  It is only compatible for Mac. The good news is you can download an app on your iPhone or iPad.

My next challenge was to simply learn some common baking mistakes and how to fix them.  I cam across a great website for this.  Some of these tips I have learned by baking desserts for this learning project, including the fact that the temperature of ingredients makes a big difference!  Something I did not know was that ingredients like baking soda and yeast have a very short shelf life and that you should not use them if they are ‘expired.’  Pretty sure the yeast I used for my cinnmon buns in a couple years old…ooops!  I really wish I would have looked up these tips at the START of my learning project.

Reluctantly I also wanted to find a way to make desserts taste good but still being somewhat healthy.  Okay healthy might be stretching it.  But I still wanted to find desserts that are less fattening, I got baby weight to lose!  Plus I have a sister who is a vegan so I thought it would be nice to bake something she can actually eat!  This blog is amazing! She has tons of ‘healthy’ dessert recipes (and some mains too) and breaks them down into really easy to find categories.  Although I have not tried any recipes from her blog, I am hoping that I will get a chance to during this learning project.

Now to get back to the unhealthy, yummy, fatty desserts.  The way desserts were meant to be.  I found a wicked blog that has countless recipes for nearly every dessert you can think of.  My mouth was watering a I read some of her entries and recipes.  After I make a healthy dessert, I think I will come back to this blog and make a yummy, ‘bad’ dessert!  Again, this site is set up in such a way you can look at delicious pictures, and easily find the type of dessert you are looking for (ie. cookies, cupcakes, bars, etc).

I think all of this info will help my baking game, from the technical details I know nothing about, to new and exciting recipes!

A day in the life of a creeper…. — June 8, 2017

A day in the life of a creeper….

I know the term more commonly used is ‘cybersleuth‘, but let’s be honest, creeper is a much more fitting word.  I say that because that is exactly what I felt like when I was given the task, with permission, to creep Tanya Weller.

Creeping on Tanya and creeping in our last ECMP 355 class was an eye opening experience to say the least.  I never realized just HOW easy it was to look up information about people, anyone, on the interent.  This information can vary from the seemingly harmless, like birthdays, to the very creepy and “private” like home addresses.  The whole thing was unsettling because if I can look up that type of information, then someone can most definitely look up information on me, and even more scarey my kids!

When it comes to this experience I think I am very torn with how I feel about it.  I feel my thoughts hold a big double standard.  For example, as a future I do not feel I should be possibly punished for posting pictures of me with a drink in my hand, but if I was posting racist jokes i think I should be punished.

I guess when it comes to the internet police there will always be ahuge gray area regarding what is acceptable and what is not, and those guidelines will change from person to person.  I think the bottomline is, that as individuals we just need to be smart about what we post.

For some reason the whole idea of creeping people on the internet had this song playing in my head:

 

Lava Cake Blow Up! — June 5, 2017

Lava Cake Blow Up!

This week’s baking challenge was a tricky one to say the least.  After searching Pinterest for what seemed like forever, I was finally able to find a delicious looking, chocately masterpiece.  Otherwise known as Lava Brownies.  It sounds dangerous because it is!  The dangerous part is somehow baking them long enough to ensure the outside is fully cooked with a nice crunchy edge, all the while the inside is still a liquid river of gooey chocolately goodness.  Definitely not for the faint of heart, and probably not the best choice for me, a sub skilled baker.

I also tried ‘upping’ technology game by creating a time lapse video.  This presented me with a whole new set of challenges I did not anticipate.

The above time lapse video shows me making the ‘lava’ part of the dessert, which had to be prepared ahead of time as it had to be frozen and then formed into chocolate balls (I bet you smiled reading that).  When reading up on how to create a good time lapse video it often came up that one should use a tripod or at least have the camera situation somewhere where it would not move.  However, with this task I felt I needed an overhead shot in order to fully show what I was doing.  In order to achieve this I had to recruit a helper, which resulted int he video to be shakey.  Overall, although time lapse videos look super cool, I do not think they are great for baking, unless you have a very tall tripod.  Lesson learned.  TO make me feel even more inadequate about using ‘new’ technology, I spent a good half hour looking for a good time lapse app 9I went with an Instagram one), only to realize the iPhone camera has one built in!  So note too self:  always check your current technology first!

Now back to the lava cake.  The recipe called for a bake time of 25 minutes. Errrrr WRONG!  After 25 minutes I took out my dishes, and well, this happened:

This whole thing kind of just flopped out of the baking dish.  CLwarly not even close to being fully baked. Does not look very appetizing.  It is a good thing I made six!  Long story short, it took over double that time before I thought they were ready.  I was so scared to cut open my cake, but that is the only way I could be sure if it was ready.  You can tell by the ‘normal’ video below that my second attempt tunred out much better.  However, I must admit, in the video I state that it is perfect, but it was not.  In my opinion, it was overbaked slightly as the middle chocolate lava seemed to be very slightly ‘scorched’. This just means it was a bit thicker, and more gooey than it should have been.  Luckily it still tasted amazing, espeically with a scoop of ice cream!

Next week I will be doing something a little bit different.  Instead of bakinga ‘tricky’ dessert, I will attempt to find some online sources and\or apps that can help with aspects of baking.  I am still not sure exactly what this means, but I am hoping to provide some baking tips for common mistakes to help out beginner bakers like myself.  In hindsight, I probably should have started with there! Hahaha. Until next week….

The Human Factor — May 29, 2017

The Human Factor

When searching facebook or twitter or a news outlet, I often find myself reading a story/article of some sort, but that is not what really grabs my interest.  What really gets my attention is the ‘comment’ section attached to each article or video.  I guess I should mention these articles/videos are rarely your ‘happy go lucky’ variety that make everyone laugh and smile and want to live happily ever after.  No.  I read the controversial ones, the political ones, the ones that make you question humanity at times.  And then I read the comments.  They are brutal!  It is truly shocking what people will ‘say’ to one another when they are protected by their computer screen.  I think these comment sections replace the ‘human side’ of people and replace them with some mean, hating creature that wants to disagree and fight just for the sake of disagreeing and fighting.

However, both both Alec and Michael talk about the ‘good human side’ of technology.  About how amazing people can truly be when connecting with complete strangers from all over the world.  The pictures Alec shared about random people helping a man make his final picture of him and his mom together just perfect had me tearing up.  And the video he shared about senior citizens from the USA helping young teens Brazil learn English was one of the best uses I have ever seen of the internet.  Both of these help resotre some of my lost faith in humanity.  These people were being good, just to be good.  No reward was given, no money received.  They were just helping each other out because they now had the technology to do so.  Michael’s fun and happy discussion about how the original ‘Zuma Zuma’ video resulted in a chain reaction of people from all of the world having a genuinely fun time.  This single man from Jersey caused millions of people to smile if just for a few minutes.  And this was all possible because of a littel thing called YouTube.

This is how I would love to integrate this new ‘tech culture’ into my classroom.  I want to use technology to tap into the ‘human factor’.  It almost feels like a paradox to type that.  How can being alone in a room with a computer actually make us closer? Weird to think about, but the above examples prove it to be true.  I want to take my future students on field trips without leaving the school.  I want them to learn about other cultures not from a textbook but from students across the world.  I want them to put their concerns out into the world, and know that they world can actually hear them.  A “simple” device can now make that all possible.

I will also teach students in the new ‘tech culture’ about digital literacy.  Not just the ‘catfishing‘ that Alec talked about, but about what they, themselves are putting out there.  Do they want to simply be one of those meanies in the comment section, or do they want to be a kid from Jersey bringing smiles to people’s faces?  I will stress the important of the internet, and how once it is out there, it can never be taken back.  For me I think a good rule of thumb is, “if you would not say it to someone’s face, don’t type it either!”

In general, this tech culture has endless potential to connect schools and students from all over the world.  To learn things that would have been impossible in past generations.  I truly beleive this is now the best tool for any school or teacher to utilize, and to not teach our students how they can benefit from it would be a disservice for everyoen involved.  But I think there still has to be that ‘human factor’.  The thing that lets people connect and truly learn from one another.  In this day and age, I think the human connection is more important than ever.

Mmm Mmm Pie! — May 28, 2017

Mmm Mmm Pie!

The title says it all! My applie pie was not only beautiful to look at, but it tasted delicious too!  Of course I had to ‘a la mode’ mine, because, well, I love ice cream!

I wish I had good enough camera video skills to create a one shot, step by step process of what I am doing, but I do not.  Plus, with two young kids, I usually am switching off between baking, playing with, feeding, or cleanign up after the kids.  With that in mind, I created 5 short videos that explain how to go about making the perfect, flaky pie crust, which pie had!

I was quite skeptical of my crust when I was finished making it, although I am not quite sure why as I did not really know what ‘good’ pie crust dough was supposed to look like.  I did, however, know what I wanted my pie to look like, and it was the fancy lattice pie top.  In roderto getthis right, I use this steo by steo YourTube video to show me how.  It was actually quite simple and easy to create, and makes your pie look super fancy.

Just as I did with my cheesecake, I followed the Apple Pie recipe perfectly.  Okay, so not perfectly, I had to make two minor changes:

  1. I used lime juiceinstead of lemon because I forget to buy lemon juice and I already hadlime juice in the house.
  2.  The recipe called for 8 cups of apples, which I prepared.  However, the pie dish I used was only able to hold about 6 cups. (Luckily I also had some extra dough too and created what I called a big apple perogy!)
    Ready to be baked

    Fresh out of the over