Category Archives: Learning Project

Learning Project Summary: The Last Shebang

What a whirlwind we’ve been on! I remember trying to decide what I wanted to do for my learning project. It was a stressful time because I wanted to pick something that would be useful to me in the future… My top ideas were 1) Learn to macramé, 2) Learn to play guitar, or 3) Learn to take better photos. My decision was to learn to play guitar, and off I went!

Post #1: Baseline 
In my first post (link above), I discussed where I was starting out with guitar, and what I wanted to accomplish in the next seven weeks. Essentially I decided that I wanted to expand my skills by learning to finger pick, and I discussed how I planned to do so. I knew already that YouTube would be a great resource for me, since it’s known to have “how to” videos, frequently.

Post #2: Week 2 Guitar Post
My second was a bit deeper. I showed a YouTube videos of where I was with guitar before learning to finger pick, and a video of me learning to finger pick. Both videos I uploaded to YouTube, and I sourced the song I was learning, “Hey Mama Wolf” by Devendra Banhart. I also explained in this post that I was learning to read “tabs” which is how someone learns to pick along to a song. This was new to me but it got better with practice!

Post #3: How To Read Tabs
Things began to pick up and I added two audio files of my finger picking to the song mentioned above.

The audio files took me for a loop, and I explained how I eventually overcame this hardship in my post… To me this was a huge learning opportunity and I even ended up asking for help in our class’s Google Community. Lastly, I shared a YouTube resource I found on a classmate’s blog. The video was about reading and playing tabs for guitar, perfect for me!

Post #4: The Switch Up
This is where things get a bit wishy washy… It’s now mid semester and I’ve began to feel like learning guitar on the daily is a chore. I decided to switch my learning project to something that I’m already doing on the regular (and working on) to save myself some time and stress. I decided to switch to running. In this post I explain my reasoning for switching. I really liked learning from YouTube because I can pause and play the video whenever I want. However, the time it took to get results from guitar playing was hard on my schedule.

My new plan was to showcase my learning journey with running through documenting my progress with the Nike Run App. This worked a lot better with my schedule since the app schedules the runs for you. I had already been working with the app for a couple weeks when I started documenting and my goal was to run a half marathon by September.

Post #5: The Running App
In this post I go over what I love and what I’d improve about the Nike Running App that I’m using to train with. I also go over some of my stats, and how to generally use the app. Every week the app has the user push themselves in either distance, time, or speed… Sometimes a mix of a few!

Post #6: Three Things to Help You Move Faster
In this post I talk about three habits I’ve developed that I believe have helped me be a better runner. The three things are: yoga, meditation, and nutrition. In this post I explain how I got involved with yoga and how it’s become part of my morning routine on the daily. This helps me be a better runner because not only am I relaxed physically, I have time to notice if my body is hurting.
I also go over two applications I use to help with running: Headspace, a meditation app, and My Fitness Pal, an app for nutrition. I have a subscription to the Headspace app and I try to use it regularly. This helps me stay calm and focused during runs, and the Headspace team will even guided runs through the Nike Run App. My fitness pal is a great resource for staying healthy while active, as I’ve reviewed in the above blog. The only thing I’d change about the app is it’s tendency to applaud weight loss and gain… I’d rather an app that simply records data and makes recommendation for better health.

The resources I’d used for this blog post were websites, screen shots, hyperlinks, and a time-lapse video of me doing yoga!

Post #7: Progress Post – I Failed Last Week
This was my last post on my learning project. I made a progress post to explain how I attempted a long run and didn’t complete the goal… However, I bounced right back the week after and I was stronger than ever! For this post I used screen shots/screen casts from the Nike Run App to show my progress, as well as hyperlinks to the resources I’m referencing. At the very end I added a blurb about how I chose my running shoes and included many resources on how others could pick theres!

How Far I’ve Come…

I do not regret switching from guitar to running. I’ll remember this moment when I have students do inquiry based learning/independent study with me in the future… You need to be interested in what you’re learning about! I think that’s the biggest reason why I had a hard time making space for guitar in my life, I was already very focused on running.

I’m sad that I’m not required to write blogs anymore, since last week was my official mid-training week! 11 weeks down, 11 weeks to go until race day!
It’s been going by really fast, and I don’t think I’ve ever committed to an app like this so well before! However, it’s mostly uphill from now on — the runs are getting longer, and the app is expecting more speed. I’m up for the challenge! 

I’ve learnt a lot about how to use resources in blogs like videos, YouTube, pictures, screen shots, screen casts, links, and audio recordings. It’s been pretty fun exploring these methods of documenting and sharing! If I were to write a few more blog posts, my posts would be about: The history of women running marathons, what I eat on a regular basis being a non-meat eating runner, and a progress report since the half-way point! I also would have liked to join a Twitter chat on running before ending this project, Twitter chats are a great way to broaden a person’s PLN. 

Thanks for following along with my learning project, I hope that you learnt something, too!

-Maple

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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!

 

 

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?

Week 4: The Switch Up

After the week off, I found myself sending a rather rabbled e-mail to our professor, Katia Hildebrant, explaining my disconnect with my learning project. I really like guitar, and if you sneak through my learning project I think that you’d find that I’ve engaged with it quite well. But as the weeks have gone on, learning to finger pick turned into a burden, and I felt like it might be a smart choice to switch my focus for the remainder of the semester.

I want to be clear that I enjoyed learning from YouTube for my learning project, and if you are looking to learn some easy finger picking I actually found this video very helpful because the song is familiar and the chords are easy to memorize. Plus it’s not so horrible to hum along to 🙂

 

So what can we guess my new learning project will be on? At the beginning of this course I fiddled with the idea of learning to macramé. However, I don’t think this would solve the problem I had with my learning project. When I get down to the core of the issue, I think that I was trying to learn the guitar for the wrong reasons.

As a few of us have discussed on twitter, our learning project is mysteriously structured like an inquiry-based learning project. We start with a skill we want to learn about, and then we learn about it in chosen way (online), and then report on it. We are doing a similar style of project right now in my classroom at Kitchener School.

The first part of the inquiry-based project is to identify pre-existing interests, and go from there. Though I’d say that guitar was a pre-existing interest, there are many other things ahead of it in my wheelhouse of passions. One of those things, in fact, is running. I’ve been a casual runner for my whole adult life, and I’ve enjoyed it as both a source of fitness/meditation and as a source of fresh air.

With the beautiful weather having come in April and May, I signed up for a half marathon taking place in Regina, the Queen City Annual Marathon.  I’ve been training with an application on my phone, and being extremely dedicated about it. Recently, the app has started to increase it’s expectation of me, and I’ve had to alter my other life patterns around it. Last week I even ran a total of 20km between five days!

The application I use is called the Nike Running App, and it’s been my best friend three days a week. The app tracks your location while you run, and records your kilometres, speed, and elevation as you go. They even have signature playlists with iTunes to keep you going harder and stronger! I’ve noticed many changes in my running patterns, and this activity has taken up a lot of my time so I’m very excited to share more about it with you! Next week I’ll be showing the application’s logistics, as well as including resources I’ve used to keep on top of my nutrition.

What do you guys think, was this a good change or should I have stuck with my original commitment?

Week 3: How to Read Tabs

Hello Followers!

This week I felt like I wanted to get a better grasp on how to actually read guitar tabs. I started looking on Feedly for resources on how to read tabs, but I wasn’t getting anywhere too quickly. Later, I looked at Aurora’s Learning Project, and found she was learning the guitar too (hallelujah)!! Aurora suggested the Youtube resource, Guitareo to learn guitar through videos. I took a peak and here is what I found:

This post was perfect for me because I’m not looking to relearn guitar altogether, but instead I’m looking to learn to finger pick. I found that there aren’t as many videos for this as there are for learning chords, but this resource proved to be valuable!

As promised, I’m working on the song, Hey Mama Wolf by Devendra Banhart. The picking is definitely getting better, and next week I think I’ll be able to strum it together and speed it up a bit! The hard part that I wasn’t expecting is changing chords for finger picking, it takes much more concentration than strumming along.

Here are some audio files that I put together of the two chords I’m learning to finger pick:

C Chord
D Chord

Resources:

  • I uploaded my audio files using Clyp, an audio sharing website that allows you to create links for your audio files. It’s a public site, so I wouldn’t use it for everything, but for this project I thought it might make sense especially since it’s free and easy to use.
  • I had trouble converting my audio file to an mP3 on iTunes, and if you have the same issue I used this article and found it very helpful. Now I know how to convert them in the future, without using a website!
  • A great application I’ve found to tune my guitar is Guitar Tuna. It’s extremely accurate, easy to use, and free! I use it every time I play, I find this helps get into the routine of practicing my learning project, too.

Week 2 Guitar Post

Aloha! This week I decided to start finger picking with guitar tabs to the song “Hey Mama Wolf” by Devendra Banhart. A great song with a great rhythm! It’s a little fast for a first song, but I figured I might as well start somewhere. By clicking on the link above, you can see the tabs I used, but this is basically all you need to know: 
I started the “session” by filming a song that I knew already so that you, the reader, can get an idea of what I can do already. You can also see my “baseline” post here!
As I say in the video, the song I decided to play for you is “Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie. If you’d like to strum along to this song too, these chords are easy to follow and accurate! My apologies for the sound being low in the video, apparently the microphone on my iPhone is better than my computer.

After playing a “warm up” song, asked my expert-guitar playing boyfriend, Matt, to help me with learning to read tabs. I took a video of this short lesson, and then two more videos of me learning to finger pick on my own. I’m going to repeat this process for the rest of the week with this song and hopefully next week’s introduction video will be me picking these tabs in perfect rhythm!

What I found was the hardest about this session was being patient with myself. I remember learning chords in a day, and then being able to switch, sing, and strum easily! But finger picking is hard for me, and even these two chords are going to take longer to learn than I initially thought. However, I think that once I get a basis for picking and reading tabs, I’ll be able to pick up others easily. My apologies for the boring videos, but I think that this “evidence” will be pretty cool to see at the end of this project when things have (hopefully) gotten faster and smoother!

That’s all for now! If you’d like to hear the song I’m trying to strum along to you can find it here.

Maple