Learning Project

Feeling Blue

Research

When looking for a scone recipe I decided on blueberry because that is something convenient that I happened to already have groceries for. After browsing through a few recipes I found a lot of the dough mixtures to be dry and hard to incorporate the flour into. Last week my pretzel dough had that same consistency and I wanted something that was less difficult. I ended up choosing Jo Cooks lemon blueberry scone recipe because it had very similar ingredients to most recipes and the dough was a better consistency to work with. I really liked this site because it first laid out all the ingredients, explained the process of making scones with multiple step by step pictures, and provided further information on how you can store scones and whether or not you can freeze them. Although having a lot of information like this on a website can be easy to get lost in and hard to see the whole recipe in one frame, this is solved when you scroll to the bottom of the page where it has the recipe neatly organized and gives you an easy option to print it out. This site also has a quick video to show the process which I liked much better than the video I had previously been watching as it seemed to drag on too long.

I realized last week how helpful it was to read comments and reviews before making the recipe and decided to do the same thing this time around. Another great thing about this website was that the “Jo Cooks Team” replied to comments that asked questions. In particular, the question was asked if frozen blueberries were being used if they needed to be thawed and the team replied that it would work best if they were fully frozen. This was very helpful for me because I was planning on using frozen blueberries. Another user asked if the recipe still worked if it was cut in half and they replied yes. I had initially decided I only wanted to make half of the recipe (which made 8 instead of 16) just so there wouldn’t be any waste and I would still learn the scone making process. This confirmation that it would work was comforting.

Next, to be sure before baking I researched tips and tricks for making scones. This led me to find a site called Making Scones: Tips and Troubleshooting Problems. This site had lots of tips organized into different sections making it easy to follow. A few great tips I learned are to use cold butter instead of room temperature to help keep the dough cold which helps the scones rise better in the end. I also read that it is best to use a pastry cutter instead of a food processer to avoid overmixing the dough, and again it reminded me not to thaw frozen fruit which also helps keep the dough colder. Once I felt comfortable with the amount of research I had done, it was time to begin.

Process

Following the recipe first I mixed together the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and sugar) in one bowl and then the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder) in another bowl. The next step was new to me as I had to cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter. To do this I cut the butter into chunks, added it to the dry mixture, and sliced into it multiple times until it was fully incorporated. Then I lightly coated the blueberries in flour so they wouldn’t sink to the bottom of the mixture.

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Next, I went ahead and added the blueberries to the dry mixture and then added the wet mixture without reading that I was supposed to incorporate the wet to the dry AND THEN add the blueberries. This caused the mixture to be very purple.

Then I dumped the mixture onto the floured counter and carefully incorporated the rest of the flour. The blueberries thaw very quickly making this a difficult task and exploded blueberries are not the most appetizing. Next, instead of rolling them I flattened the dough with my hands while shaping it into a circle, cut them into 8 wedges, placed them on the pan, and put them in the oven. Then I quickly took them back out of the oven because I forgot to brush them with egg whites. After that step they went back in the oven for 20 minutes.

To make the glaze I combined powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. After I drizzled this on top and they were ready.

IMG_4590On a side note: This was a very easy recipe to cut in half as there were easy dividable measurements.

Adjustments

Although a few of the techniques used were new to me, this recipe was fairly easy to follow. I made a few mistakes This was a very finicky mixture to work with, I did not fold it on the counter as much as the recipe said to.  Although they came out fine, if I would have worked the dough more they would have been flakier (pastry-like), easier to handle, and would have kept their shape better. I would also not add the blueberries as soon to avoid dying the whole mixture purple, and I would pay closer attention to each step to avoid backtracking.

Overall

In the end it was a good learning experience, they tasted good and I am eager to try this recipe again to improve.

 

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Embracing Twitter

As beneficial, entertaining, and somewhat time-wasting as social media platforms can be, there are times I can feel lost in an overwhelming mix of content. It is also something that has previously only been for personal use so I tend to be hesitant when sharing, as I prefer to be more of a private person.

Using social media previously I have seen education-related content but I often found that it wasn’t local or relevant to where I currently am in my education. Although I find these posts interesting, I did not realize all the great resources and content I had access to through Twitter.

In creating my Twitter account I’ve been able to dedicate it as a place to develop my professional growth as a place to connect with educators. I have also been able to find an abundance of teaching resources, tips, and great articles that discuss aspects in the field and provides another point of view on certain topics. Most things Twitter related are new to me, but something I was most surprised with was the live Twitter chat. I found this interesting as it was never something I would have thought of participating in before. I was surprised by the number of people that joined which allowed us to connect with educators all throughout Saskatchewan. I even saw one of my previous co-operating teachers on the chat which was really cool.

What I have noticed is that teachers as professionals are collaborators with one another always working for the benefits of students. This is something I’ve done often throughout my education regarding assignments and is something I will continue to do throughout my career. Although it can be done face-to-face with others, this expands my communities and the ways I am able to collaborate with others.

I appreciate this class as it not only guides me in entering the Twitter world as a professional, but it also allows me to connect with others in the faculty who are at a similar place to I am in my education. Especially at a time where we are required to distance ourselves from those around, this allows me to communicate with like-minded individuals that share the same passion of teaching. Another key element I’ve realized is that without building on an online professional presence I would not often have a chance to look at a topic from multiple perspectives. As this class allows us to build an online community to share thoughts through blog posts and resources through Twitter, this automatically provides a variety of perspectives that show up throughout my feed. I have really enjoyed this aspect of the Twitter platform.

I am still very new to Twitter and am sure there is so much more I will learn, however, I am excited to see the ways I can grow professionally and as an educator in this way. I look forward to when I can use Twitter and a platform to share the day to day events in my own classroom.

Learning Project

Week One – Rising to the Challenge

For the first week of my learning project, I decided to make soft pretzels which is something that I’ve seen people make often but never took the time to try it myself. When looking for a recipe for soft pretzels I browsed a few websites to compare recipes. As they were all relatively similar, I chose Tasty’s Homemade Soft Pretzels as it was easy to follow and had a short video that covered the entire process.

Before attempting the recipe, I browsed through the comment section to get other perspectives on people who had attempted the recipe. I ended up finding a few very helpful comments that I used to adapt the recipe.

I began by combining all the ingredients to make the dough. I first had to adapt when the recipe called for one package of active dry yeast and my yeast was not the packaged kind. After a quick Google search, I learned that one package contains about 2 and ¼ teaspoons of yeast.  After that new learning, I combined the warm water and sugar together then sprinkled the yeast on top and let sit. The instructions said to also add the salt to that mixture, and although that probably would have been fine I read in a comment to not include the salt in that step and I decided to add it in later with the flour and the oil. A mistake I will admit to making was adding too much oil. The recipe said 3 tablespoons divided and I decided to just add three tablespoons to the dough disregarding the “divided” instruction which meant to add two to the dough and set one tablespoon aside to grease the bowl.  Although it didn’t seem to greatly affect the final product, I would be curious to try this again and follow that instruction.

Another suggestion was to only use four cups of flour instead of 4 and a half. I am glad I decided to do this as it took some work and time to incorporate all the flour into the dough (maybe the extra oil was helpful). I found it easiest to take to tough out of the ball and kneed it on the counter. I then put it back into the bowl, saran wrapped the top and decided to place it in the oven with only the light on as a warm place for the dough to rise. This was another helpful suggestion I read and as you can see the dough rose a lot!

It was interesting before the dough already smelled like pretzels at this point.

To form the pretzels I ended up looking for an additional

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video on how to shape pretzels. This was helpful cause it narrated the process. Before I began I decided to roll all of the pieces of dough first to make them as even as I could, then I shaped them all.

The next step was to boil a large pot of water with 2/3 cup of baking soda to boil the formed pretzels in for 30 seconds on each side. However, it was suggested to only use 1/3 of a cup to avoid a metallic taste. This was an optional step but I decided to do it because it seemed really interesting to me and I wasn’t sure how it would change the end result. After boiling a pretzel it was clear that this step really helped solidify the form of the pretzel and gave it what I would call a “classic pretzel taste”.

IMG_4543After baking them they did somewhat stick to the pan so next time I would grease it before baking.  Throughout the process I made adaptions and there was a mistake but I feel as though I learned from this opportunity and am pleased with my final project. If I were to do it again I would want to skip the baking soda bath to see how it affected the taste. Overall I would say this was a success.

 

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Teaching From Now On

During this time of unknown I have held onto hope that by the fall we would be back in the classroom and able to engage with students the way we know best. Regarding recent events and the statement the University of Regina made regarding the fall semester, this may not be as likely as I hoped. I am beginning to realize even as we move forward, things will most likely not go back to how they were.

In our breakout room, we discussed many options to make it possible to return to some aspects of face-to-face teaching. This includes having half the students come every other day or giving families the option to either send their students or to continue home-based learning. As this is a step moving forward, it also creates more obstacles. The biggest problem I can foresee happening is issues surrounding consistency. Something we strive for in the classroom is creating a consistent environment that allows students to thrive. As teachers prepare we also rely on consistent factors regarding numbers, as it just makes life more simple. Giving parents the option to either keep their children at home or send them to school, creates many unknowns on a day to day basis which would greatly affect planning and the learning environment.

I am a person who thrives on having a separate learning environment to be productive regarding school. With social distancing protocols, my house has become my classroom which is now filled with many distractions that prevent me from being productive most days. I am also the only student in my family and am missing the community of educators I was once surrounded by. I feel as though others are having a hard time adjusting to this style of learning as well. I really hope we are able to learn interactively again instead of this entire new learning style which can be lonely.

Another topic of discussion was about the regulations that could be put in place throughout schools regarding social distancing. This includes spacing desks, hand washing policies, wearing masks, and always being 6 feet apart. Although it follows health protocols I am hesitant about whether it will be effective in a classroom setting or even possible to monitor. As much as I would like and answer about where society will become fall 2020, for now, it seems that all we can do it wait and do our part to keep safe.

As for the question “what will teaching and learning look like in 5 years?”, to me the possibilities seem endless. It is likely that because of the advances in using technology in the classroom have been made due to new home-based learning practices, these same aspects could continue to be present in the classroom and at home. Having families become familiar with the technology and be further involved in their child’s education could be further practiced which could be a great thing. I think if anything will be different, it will be our outlook on teaching and our appreciation to be able to teach face-to-face. I am hopeful to be a part of it and thankful to be working towards a career that is able to have an impact.

Learning Project

Whisk’ing It!

When I was thinking about my learning project I wanted to choose something that I would enjoy as well as something that will be excited to do each week. Baking has always been a hobby of mine but not something I often make time for or something I experiment with, as it can be intimidating trying new things. As a result of this, when I do bake I tend to stay in my comfort zone by using tried and true recipes. Although I don’t think this is a bad thing, with the learning project I have a chance to expand my baking knowledge as well as try recipes that I have always wanted to make but avoided trying because of my fear of failure. I am excited to challenge myself with this project and discover new things to make.

Each week I want to make one new recipe of something I have never tried before. To support my learning I will be finding all the recipes online, as well as videos on Youtube that demonstrate how to make a recipe and different baking strategy/techniques. During this project, I want to choose a variety of recipes that entail different aspects of baking such as using yeast, deep frying, working with egg whites, possibly decorating and other ideas that I will be researching. I intend to share recipes and photos of what I have baked from time to time on my twitter account, @april_hild.

As collaboration is a helpful aid in learning as a teacher and an educator I hope to share this experience with my family whether it’s having my sister learn alongside me, teach them what I have learned afterward, or just sharing the final product with them.

I learn best by doing, making mistakes, and trying again, as a lot of people do. It is my hope that jumping in feet first, leaving behind my fear of failure will motivate me to have this perspective in other areas of my life.

I appreciate the support in my learning journey!

 

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A Bit About Me

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Hi! My name is April Hildebrandt. I am from a farm south of Swift Current. I have just finished my third year of elementary education, and am hoping to complete my internship in the fall.

During this time at home I have found a new love for puzzles, have been playing countless rounds of Bananagrams, spending time with the new kittens on the farm, and finally gave in and started watching The Office.

I have loved working with kids my whole life and decided I wanted to teach when I was a grade one student inspired by my remarkable teacher. I have always dreamed of working with the younger grades from K-2 but I believe every grade has a different aspect that makes them all enjoyable.

I am familiar with educational technology from a university student perspective and am hesitant in how to bring it into the classroom as an educator. I believe technology can add many opportunities in the classroom that can make learning fun and engage students in a new way. I am excited to expand my knowledge in this area and be able to use it to create opportunities in the future.

Blogging is not something that comes naturally to me as I have am not a person who can easily express themselves through words. However, I love the concept of blogging as a way of creating a community of educators who can share thoughts and ideas on similar topics. When I think of the possibilities this entails I become overwhelmed and hesitant on how to continue. As this class introduces and explains how to get started I am excited to become more active with educational technology with the support of others one step at a time.

I love social media as a way to stay connected and continue personal and professional learning. I look forward to using my twitter account to connect to others in education and share my progress in learning. Feel free to follow along at @april_hild!