Author Archives: maplebaxter

We’ve Had Some Good Times

Hi everyone,

I had a really hard time writing this post because I did not keep up with documenting when I commented or had conversations throughout this course… However I think that I did a pretty darn good job of communicating on Twitter, WordPress, and through our Google Community. I’m adding a screencast video I made to talk to you about how I communicated throughout the course:

Something I didn’t mention in the above screencast (if that’s even possible) is that I spent a lot of time “liking” Tweets on Twitter. I liked 215 posts to be exact, during the time of our course…. That’s a lot of Twitter time! Some notable Twitter conversations that I’d like to share from this course are shown below:

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I found that on Twitter it was easy to communicate with the course participants and I grew relationships with them strictly through the internet! Through the Sask Education Chat’s that I participated in, I was able to ask in depth questions and get more answers than I expected. This created a lot of really great conversation!

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The above photos are notable conversations that I had on WordPress. I found that by asking a question in my comment, asking a question in my blog post, and by quoting the writer, I could get conversations going. I stuck with commenting on three people’s blogs every week, and I found I really enjoyed doing it! I basically just played blog-roulette every week and picked at random, this allowed for me to see what lots of people were up to!

Lastly, I’m going to share with you this Google Document that I’ve made with links to “notable” conversations I’ve had throughout this course. Thank you to everyone who has contributed with me, I’m excited to be colleagues in the future!

How did I do on this post, did I represent my conversations well?


Learning to Code

Yesterday I did my first session of Hour of Code with the non-profit organization, would like every student in every school to have the opportunity to learn computer science just like they do other subjects like biology and math. This would in turn create more interest in coding and programming, and students would be more likely to pursue this as a career in the future. I think this is a great initiative because computer science is extremely valuable to our society, and people in developing countries are able to contribute to  these technologies without needing many resources or much infrastructure.

 The above image explains my first interaction with coding. The program I chose was Star Wars themed, and the avatar at the top would give me jobs to get done for points. I completed them by using the tools in the middle of the screen and dragging them to the white area. Then I’d press “run” and my droid would move as it was instructed to. If the droid does what it was supposed to, you move onto the next level.

I liked how intuitive the game was, and I liked that it challenged your critical thinking at the same time. I’m not the kind of person who reads instructions a lot, and I found that I was able to figure out how to complete my task without trouble. It also took less than an hour to do all the levels for me, more like 45 minutes. I liked this, too, because it felt like an award on its own. The challenges started to get harder, but I noticed that we used the skills learnt in the previous level to understand the next. Here’s a screencast video I made with Screen-O-Matic, it’s of me working through a problem I didn’t quite understand.

I think I got through it pretty well, and honestly I felt like the program was enjoyable. I’d play it again, and I would definitely have my students try it. I signed up for an account so that I can use it in the future, and I think it would be great for any school-aged child. We would just have to ensure that they’re using the best program for them!

Above is my certificate of completion. Overall I loved the program and I liked exploring the website for other options. I think that it would be neat to work through a full 120 hour coding course, however the hour of code sessions are maybe more practical. What did you think of coding, have you ever tried?

Progress Post: I Failed Last Week….

Last week was my hardest run week yet. I was on week 9 of my plan through the Nike Run App  and I was expected to run sprints, a long run, and a “tempo” run (a short recovery run). My body was hurting from the week before but I was determined to at least try to make my goals, as I haven’t yet missed a mile marker.

As you can see in my last post, I use a lot of resources to help me run. Yoga and meditation are two things that I try to be systematic and diligent with, but last week I started to slip up with my routine. That being said, I was off my game a bit when I started the week.

I used the “edit schedule” option and moved my sprints to the middle of the week, and then moved my other two runs to the weekend. In my mind this gave me more time to recover before the big run, 9.5 kilometres. However when I got to the day of the long run, I was not looking forward to getting out on the track. The temperature hardly dropped all day and it was a blazing 27 degrees. I took so many breaks during that run, and I started to walk home after 7 kilometres.

The app still logged my run and I in no way lost “points” or progress. I was disappointed, but I knew I had to listen to my body. Mostly I was worried that this week’s runs would be even harder since I didn’t make last week’s markers. After giving my body some rest and relaxation, I attempted this week’s challenge of sprints and and a whopping 10.5km run…. And I did them in record time.

To me this shows that by listening to your body and getting back to the “basics” rather than pushing yourself, you will see progress and you will accomplish what you thought you couldn’t before. Yesterday’s 10.5km run was my longest run ever, and I’m so proud of myself. After the run my whole body was tired, my feet were sore, and my lungs were raw. But I don’t feel like last week’s fall back kept me away from accomplishing these markers whatsoever. Going into next week I’m going to focus more on my running resources like yoga and meditation in order to stay strong and balanced. Below are my stats from yesterday’s long run!

IMG_8014           IMG_8013              IMG_8012

Last but not least, I’d like to quickly talk about my running shoes. I bought my shoes two years ago from the great people at the Regina Running Room. The most important thing to know about looking for running shoes is that you can not just buy a trendy or pretty shoe, to my dismay. Every foot and body is different, so you need to get a shoe that fits you right or you can hurt your whole body. At the Running Room the employees will test your feet and your run before giving you options of shoes to choose from.

Mine are the ASICS Women’s GT 1000 waterproof running shoes, and I love them so much. I wear them in the Winter to stay dry, and in the Summer they keep me comfortable and cool. I definitely recommend investing some time and money into good running shoes if you plan on taking on this activity. This resource on how to find a good running shoe is extremely helpful and worth the read if you can’t get to a store like the Running Room.

How did you guys like seeing my progress from week 9 of running to week 10? Let me know in the comments!


Three Things To Help You Move Faster

My learning project’s focus has been running, and it’s been going pretty great if I do say so myself. If you scroll through my previous posts you’ll notice that I use the Nike Running App, and I love it, but today we’re going to be talking about three things I do to help with my running progress that isn’t… well… running. We’re going to be looking at the Headspace App, the My Fitness Pal App, and yoga.

My experience with both the apps is explained in the following screen cast video I made with Screencast-O-Matic:

Basically, I use the Headspace app for meditation, and it’s helped me learn to focus. This has allowed me to be at ease when I run rather than focusing on when I should stop, if I should stop, and where I should stop. I’ve found that meditating also has made me a calmer and more positive person. In small instances I notice that I’m less jumpy and more at ease… It’s taken a long time to get here (about 890 minutes…) but it’s definitely worth it.

Being a vegetarian, I find it’s hard to regulate my nutrition while I’m being active. So while I’ve been running I’ve been using My Fitness Pal to record my food intake and calories burned to stay on top of my meals. It’s a great app because it allows you to scan barcodes of food rather than typing them in every time, which makes it so much faster. It also would allow a person to track their food in order to gain or lose weight, if that’s something they need. My favourite part of this app is the breakdown of major nutritional goals. It allows me to say where I need to be better, and where I’m meeting my nutritional needs.

The next thing I want to blog about is my new relationship with yoga. I’ve gone to many yoga classes “in my time” and I always have wanted to do more. After going through a bit of a tough winter mentally, my friends suggested that I work on focusing my energy into finding a balanced and positive morning routine to start my days on a good note and get me on my way to work or school. Immediately I started doing yoga in the mornings, on my own, with some music, and I haven’t looked back.

My progress isn’t very substantial since I started. I only do about 10-15 minutes everyday, and I make up the routine as I go. I know there are apps that show people routines to use, but I wanted to move my body to benefit my muscles specifically for running. My small background in yoga has allowed me to choose moves that work well with my tired and sore muscles from running. The time-lapse video above, made with my iPhone, shows you what I’ve come up with. Try out my routine and let me know what you think!

Thank you for reading my blog about the tools I use to be a better runner. This week I did my longest run, 10.5 kilometres! Next week I will be doing an even longer one, so stay tuned for my next post on how I’m doing since cranking things up a notch. Did you like the resources I shared with you in this post? Let me know in the comments!



Face to Face with Facebook

This week, Anthea and I collaborated together to learn more about the pros and cons of using Facebook in the classroom and in the school. As you’ll see from this Google Document, we wrote on behalf of a teacher and a principal. The teacher is interested in being progressive, as she is a new teacher, and she wants to try to teach digital citizenship through using Facebook to connect with students and parents. She feels that her personal Facebook is professional, and she’d like to create a page to add students and parents to in order to keep up to date.

The principal seems reserved about the idea of social media in general, and offers many compelling arguments against using Facebook as the new teacher’s primary way of contacting parents and students. The principal is mostly concerned with privacy and sharing, as she should be. As well, the principal is aware of the community that is involved with the school already and she feels that the newsletters and email system is much more familiar for the school’s culture.

The compromise that they end up deciding on is to continue using the school newsletter and email system, BUT also allowing the parents and students to connect with the teacher on Twitter. Twitter is where the teacher keeps her professional information and she states in her conversation that she’d like to put reminders and due dates on her page to keep everyone up to date. This pleases both parties, and it’s a great way to ease the community into educational uses for technology and social media. Lastly, it’s also a great way to teach digital citizenship to the students.

Please read our dialogue at the Google Documents link above!

Until Death Do Us Part

Maple Baxter, a student of Educational Technology 300 at the University of Regina (shown right), interviews herself on the issue of digital identity and social media in schools. 

Q:What are the implications of our students when it comes to the permanence of digital identity?

A: Our students need to understand that what they post is completely permanent, and that nothing is ever private. This means that students need to be sure about what they are uploading, and sure of why they are uploading it. This is for the safety of themselves, but also for the safety of those around them like their friends and colleagues. I think that by showing students (that are of the right age) resources on the seriousness of uploading content to the Internet, we can help them make good choices in the future about what they post.

Just like Monica Lewinsky said in her Ted Talk, we also need to be supporters of the under-represented on the Internet. We need to teach our students that there are two sides to every story, regardless of the popular opinion. Lewinsky preaches that we need to be “upstanders”, rather than “bystanders”, by reporting online bullying or posting a positive/compassionate post for the victim of an Internet news story. Students need to understand that the Internet can ruin lives very quickly, and that’s the cost of public shaming that we can all so easily contribute to.

Q: How is digital identity dealt with in schools?

A: In my experience as a student in elementary and high school, I believe the slogan was something like, “No posting, no problems!”… But in University I found that more and more groups encouraged positive social media presences. These days almost every business or organization has a social account that they attempt to keep active in order to represent them well. By not representing at all on the Internet, we assume that the business or individual is incapable of doing so. It’s become an issue of trust now, and we trust the businesses that have strong social media and online identities.

Schools that I’ve worked in have adopted the same mentality and almost all have an active Twitter and website. Many encourage students to do the same, while also educating on the permanence of their posts. It’s a great way to get practical experience working online. Students are also occasionally encouraged to find news and articles online, which can good for educating on the legitimacy of the news. As Lewinsky said in her Ted Talk mentioned above, the news can spread like wildfire these days with the help of social media, and it’s important to know how to check for accuracy. From this article on social media in schools we can see that there are many benefits going forward of adding social media into our lessons:

1. Going paperless
2. Giving students connections and experiences around the world from the comfort of your living room
3. Showing the world your student’s assignments and work, they feel pride
4. Connecting with parents more easily
5. Finding resources from the source! Students can use social media to find information from the people they are researching through platforms like Twitter

Q: What role should teachers/schools play in preparing students for a world that never forgets?

A: Teachers need to communicate the importance of being a conscious participant online. After watching Lewinsky’s Ted Talk, I believe we need to be aware of our own digital identity, and allow for students to create positive ones for themselves that outweigh any posts about them that are out of their control. Teachers also need to teach the power of our words to students, even online and through social media. The words we type have lasting and harmful affects, and they shouldn’t be typed if they’d never be spoken.

Lewinsky also believes that we, as a society, are becoming numb to the idea that there are human lives behind the screens. As teachers we need our students to know how to show empathy online. We all make mistakes in life and we should be thankful that most of them aren’t posted online for the world to see. Lastly, teaching online compassion will save lives and create educated and progressive online users.

Q: How do we balance the need to protect students with the need to help them develop positive online footprints?

A: No matter who you are, it’s important to have an idea of how to manage a social demeanour, and how to handle online resources. I believe that keeping student’s lives private is important, but I would teach my classes that if you’ve taken the picture digitally, it’s already posted. In Nathan Jurgenson’s article, The IRL Fetish, he talks about the irreversible changes we’ve made in response to social media.

Jurgenson argues that there is no “turning off” when it comes to social media these days. Even when we are offline, we are living our life thinking about what and how we will post later. I can personally contest to this, and I know that even when I’ve taken a break from social media I’ve done so thinking about the post that I’ll make later, explaining the break. Jurgenson says, “While eating, defecating, or resting in our beds, we are rubbing on our glowing rectangles, seemingly lost within the infostream”.

I think the big problem with this is when we miss out on real life moments because we are looking at other people’s. It’s nice to catch up, but we need to be present for our lives. Today at the farmer’s market I heard and saw a man shout at his son about listening better. I though to myself that maybe the man was trying to teach the child about being more present. However, when I walked by later the boy was sitting by a cooler, empty handed, selling soda. He was watching people go by and thinking. The father was sitting three feet behind in the shade, texting on his phone.

Q: What might it look like to teach about digital identity in your subject area?

A: For middle years education, I think that teaching about social media is very practical because most of my students would be using it in some way. Using platforms like Twitter would be a great resource in my classroom for learning about people and making connections. I think that I’d also try to find digital classrooms that my students could take part in to gain more experience about things they might be interested in on an individual level.

Other ways I can use social media in the classroom are:

– A Facebook Classroom Page (keeps parents up to date)
– Twitter Classroom Account (allows for reminders for parents and students)
– Pinterest Classroom Account (pin student’s work and classroom projects)
– Classroom Blog

I found these ideas and more at this link, writer by Best Masters in Education. 

How would you handle digital citizenship in your classroom?



The Running App

Hi Everyone!

Thanks to everyone who has been following along with my Learning Project journey! As I discussed in my last post, I’ve started to take on running as my learning project to be more focused with it. Yesterday I took advantage of the late night heat and ran eleven 200 meter sprints as part of my running plan. Today I’m going to walk you through how the Nike Running App works:

Nine weeks ago I put into the Nike Run App that my goal was to run a 21km race on September 9th. It calculated a plan for me, and basically I run, on schedule, two or three times a week. Depending on how my run goes, it adapts my plan for the future and eventually we work up to 21km. The longest run I’ve done so far is 9km, but tomorrow I’m heading up to the booming 9.5km! It’s a long time coming, but I can’t wait to get to race day already (3 months to go!).

The app is incredibly easy to use (and not to mention, free), basically all you do is press “start” and you are on your way. Once you’re running, the app will play music, talk to you, and track your time, distance, and speed. Depending on the run of the day, you could be running sprints, timed runs, or distance runs. The distances continually go up as the weeks go on, but the app also schedules cool down runs and rest days. What really keeps me going are the playlists that the Nike Run Club offers through iTunes. They’re uplifting, fun, and very unique… Worth a shot if you haven’t already.

After you run, you can look at your pace, distance, and root second by second. It’s actually amazing seeing your progress pick up as the weeks go on. One thing that I’d love the app to do is allow the user to draw their route and document their start and stop times. That would allow for the user to still put in runs but also unplug from time to time. Above you can see the statistics I got from my last run, as well as the pace screen that that you can scroll through to see how your run went from the computer’s point of view.

The next thing I’ll talk about are the additional options that the application offers you. One option you can jump on is the “quick run” function where you can run and see your progress without a pre-established goal. This is great for casual runners and for people who might use the app for walking or hiking. There are also guided runs that people can use for an encouraging experience. Celebrities and companies will guide a timed run  for the listener and encourage them to do better, go faster, and run stronger.

If you miss a run, or forget to assign your run to the challenge that you were trying to achieve, you miss out on a checkmark at the end of the week. This little green checkmark is oddly encouraging and it really keeps me going. I missed one on week 4 and it’s still all I think about when I scroll my own feed (shudder). However, something I learnt is that you can edit your schedule before the day passes so that you don’t miss your goal. You just have to make sure to finish the allotted runs in the week assigned.

Next post I’ll be exploring two other applications that help my running process: Headspace, and My Fitness Pal. 

Let me know: would you like to read a post about how my life has changed since I started running, or would you rather read about how I chose my running shoes?