Birthday Week 2 – Cake

Team, team, team, TEAM! I had my birthday! It was my birthday, I am the best.

I get a little bit too excited when it is wonderful birthday time. I maaaay have reminded my family it was my birthday more than ten times.

So I made my birthday cake, but I didn’t use an online resource for this week’s baking project, because this week I learned from a real live human resource – my  Mother.

How special, me and Samantha cooking a whole two cakes together. And we didn’t even fight!

The cake we made is called a “push cake” according to my Mom, which I guess basically means that you poke holes in a cake and fill them and there’s whipped cream and chocolate-y caramel-y goodness.

I did most of the actually baking, my Mom just directed me in the steps. Her first bit of advice came when I was making the cake. Cake from a box again, next time, I am going to bake some form of thing from scratch because I want to learn how to separate an egg, as this is mysterious goal #1.

She adds 1/2 a cup of milk and 1/4 cup of half and half cream to the recipe instead of the water the recipe asks for because it is more creamy and less healthy, so clearly it is much better.

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I mixed the cake. I actually used a timer this time instead of just counting in my head, so it was probably mixed better than my cupcakes. Of which I still have some. So many cupcakes, why did I do this? I made a mistake. A pretty delicious mistake, but now I have cake, too. This baking project is helping me learn my own ability to estimate how much food I need.

I also got to have the batter off the beaters, which is bad for you, don’t do it!

 

…but I totally did, it was great.

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The cakes went in the oven for about 20 minutes before we took them out, poked a ton of holes in them, and stuck em back in. This point taught me an interesting lesson. Remember with the brownies, where I was like, not sure how long to bake them and they weren’t baking and I was distressed?

One of the cakes, which was smaller, baked quite quickly. The other was hardly baked when we pulled them out to poke them with holes. The one was a little over 1/2 the size of the other, so  it was interesting to see how much the size of the cake affects how quickly it will bake. The larger cake baked for 15 minutes longer than the smaller cake, that’s a huge difference, in my opinion.

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The holes we poked were filled with dulce de leche which sounded so fancy, I was impressed. It was caramel flavoured. Which they don’t usually have, Sarah, so this is very exciting, it will taste so good.

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The cakes were put back in the oven after the dulce de leche moment.

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After they’ve been pulled out, we had to wait for them to cool, which takes so long, let me tell you. I think the worst part of baking is the waiting, I am not a fan. 0/10, would not recommend. Unless you want cupcakes and/or cake, then I guess it’s worth it.

After it was cooled, we covered the top of the cakes with cool whip, caramel sauce, and chocolate chips. And there we go! We did it!

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If anyone wants an actual recipe, I can post it as well with my best attempts at describing all the steps and ingredients!

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The cake was great, I am fond of birthday cake, and I sure sang to myself as I ate the whole thing. Cause I am great.

There is a picture of the cake, but it looks extremely ugly, so I’m not going to post it, I was not the best photographer at that moment.

 

For the math lesson I went with the inquiry approach again. I am surprised I am finding so much opportunity to bring in inquiry , I thought I would mostly include face-value, very basic word problems. But I think they are little more in-depth than that, things that I could legit see myself using, so that’s exciting.

My question would be regarding surface area and volume. Asking students the question “how does poking the holes in the cake affect both the volume and the surface area?” and then letting the students use whatever methods they’d want to measure surface ares and figure out how they could find the volume of the irregular shape. I found two outcomes directed toward surface area and volume, and both also involve units of measurement.

I think it would be cool to see what students could come up with in measuring the cake, what tools to use, what units to use, decimals, or fractions, things like that.

I’d imagine the easiest way to do both the volume and surface area would be measuring the tools used to make the holes in the cake rather than the cake itself. But we’d see if students would come up with that idea.

That’s the idea I have, I think it would help students learn to add and subtract shapes from each other, to break down irregular shapes into shapes they do understand, and to work with estimations and exacts with tangible volumes.

Outcome: WA10.5

Demonstrate using concrete and pictorial models, and symbolic representations, understanding of area of 2-D shapes and surface area of 3-D objects including units in SI and Imperial systems of measurement.

Outcome: WA20.3

Extend and apply understanding of surface area, volume, and capacity using concrete and pictorial models and symbolic representations (SI or imperial units of measurement)

 

Let me know what you think of the math, and if you’d like me to put out a recipe, I am totally down to write out an awful version of what I did to make a cake.

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Birthday Week 1 – Cupcakes

So my birthday is in two days and anyone who knows me is aware that I like to celebrate my birthday for the entire week before and after the day because then I can boss my sister around and make her do stuff for me because “it’s my birthday”. It totally doesn’t work, for the record, but we’ll pretend it does.

I had my birthday party this year in Yorkton, as you do when you’re from Yorkton and it is the best place in the world, and you are totally not 22 so of course you need to have a birthday party where all you do is play Jackbox Games and Overcooked and horror D&D (which is not really D&D and my best friend gets mad at me when I call it that, but most people wouldn’t know what I was talking about if I said ‘we played Dread’).

Of course, when one is hosting a birthday party they must include food for said guests, including pumpernickel bread and that’s about it because I love pumpernickel bread more than my life. But I also decided I would try my hand at baking some goods for the party. Usually I just get an ice cream cake and call it that (I did that, too, but I also baked) but, seeing as I am learning to bake, I figured I may as well make some cupcakes.

So, on the day before the party, I sent my loyal minions, sister and friend who plays video game with us and totally cheats, to the store to buy me ingredients for cupcakes. I thought I would continue the trend I had and work on honing a single skill before moving on to more complex baking, so I asked for boxes of cake mix again. Vanilla and chocolate, as I decided I would learn to fill my cupcakes and have those “filled cupcake” things (turns out, spoiler alert, you don’t bake the cupcakes with the filling inside, so I kind of failed at honing my baking fillings thing, but I did learn a ton about baking, as you will soon see). They came back and said “so we bought three packages of cake mix. Because did you want vanilla or rainbow sprinkle batter, Sarah, we didn’t know so we bought both even though we know you LOVE rainbows so clearly there is a winner here”.

So I made 60 cupcakes.

I still have cupcakes and I made them on Saturday. So many cupcakes. I still have like, at least 15, if not 20. There were only 13 people at my house, what was I thinking, 60 cupcakes????

But that is neither here nor there. The point is, I made the cupcake batter, which was pretty easy. I did learn a bit about how to bake better cupcakes from The Food Network, which is also where I found my filling recipe. I didn’t use all of the tips, but I did learn about how the time you spend mixing is important, because you need to spend enough time to let air in and make the cake light and fluffy, but not too much or else it becomes tough.

I didn’t take any photos of the cupcake batter because that was the easy part. None of that caused me any issue, so I am a pro at box cake and brownies now!

Then came the fillings. I used the Food Network website to find my recipe, as I said, and I chose to make three different fillings that looked yummy and exciting – cookies and cream, cookie dough, and banana. This is where things go bad, worse, and then better.

So I followed the instructions on all three, the cookie dough, banana, and the cookies and cream. The cookie dough looked okay, but the banana was not doing the “make stiff peaks” thing that was in the instructions, and instead was just a sad, goopey mess.

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And the cookies and cream just looked awful.

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And I was like, I am not serving this to my people, they will laugh at me and I will be fired. FIRED.

And then I was like, time to quit, Sarah we are throwing in the towel, have a good day, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

But as the mountains of cupcakes on my counter slowly got bigger and bigger, I was like wow, I have way too many cupcakes. But also, I was like I have so much free time, no one is getting here until five and it is 3:00. And then I was like Sarah, you can do this, be the Little Engine that Could and think you can….

So I tasted the fillings to see what was wrong with them.

The cookies and cream one tasted like butter cookies. I knew I needed more sugar. So, I added more confectioner’s sugar, but it’s a kind of short and sweet sweetness to that sugar, where it doesn’t feel like it permeates the baking so much as a flash in the pan it’s done sort of thing. So I also added some brown sugar because it was there, so why not?

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It tasted way better after that. And looked better, although I don’t think you can quite tell in my photos I took.Then to the banana which just tasted like sour sadness. And I thought, what kind of dessert do I like that has banana in it? Maybe I can make it taste something like that? And  you know what I like? Banana cream pie. I added more banana to overpower some of that sour taste, and I looked around my house for some kind of graham pie crust. And I looked all around my house and found corn flakes. And I was like, “Can’t get any worse”, so I crushed some of those up and added them in. And threw in more sugar for good measure.

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That looks like a thing you’d kinda want to eat, maybe! Trust me, it had a much better flavour, so I was pleased.

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Now, to wrap this up, I’ve been talking far too long, I made the cupcakes, decorated mine (everyone could decorate as they wanted) and the one I took a photo of had the cookie dough in it.

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It was real good, so I count that as a success!

Next on the list for me is to make myself my birthday cake! I think I’m going to use a family recipe, so I will learn some baking tips from my family!

As for the math lesson, I am really very pleased that so far all of my learnings and failures in the project have coincided nicely with some mathematical thing I could see it being applicable for. With this project, I thought of how I had to adjust the quantities of things in the recipes, and sometimes add my own strange ingredients in order to make it taste just right. So I thought about linear inequalities with two variables.

Outcome: P20.9 Expand and demonstrate understanding of inequalities including:

  • one-variable quadratic inequalities
  • two-variable linear and quadratic inequalities.

And how, if I were to adjust a recipe to make sure it tasted the best, I need to make sure that I am still keeping it within the bounds of proper taste and structure (so you can’t just not have any banana in a banana recipe. What if you were to make a formula that included the base instructions for the ingredients you’d want to adjust (2 tbs of sugar=2s, 1tbs of salt=t)  and you’d want to make sure your recipe stayed under however many tablespoons or something altogether. So like, you don’t want to have more than 20 tablespoons of either (2s+t ≤ 20).

Now, let’s be perfectly clear here. I don’t think students are going to learn much from this lesson. I don’t think this is the sure-fire way to help students understand inequalities with two variables. But I do think that this is somewhat of an extension of the first lesson I thought of, with adjusting ratios of one ingredient, now we’d be working with changing multiple ingredients, and completely messing up any ratios. I think at the end of the day, it’d teach students more about baking than math. But I think the lesson I’d want them to take away is that math also involves trial and error. Not all attempts are going to succeed, but we can try new things and keep throwing out suggestions, and maybe, even if we don’t come to the perfect answer, we’ll come up with something that leaves us more satisfied than when we started with a goopey mess.

Cheesecake Brownies

I decided to up the game this week for my learning project by continuing on with a skill I think that I struggle with in baking. I think if I isolate the problems that I have, I can improve in those areas and make baking easier for me. So, I think I’m going to take a few more baking projects in the theme of “adding some sort of filling to a basic food stuffs to make it more of an exciting foodstuffs” before I move onto the real learning, where I try some more advanced baking techniques, like separating eggs, and googling other complex baking strategies.

So this week I made brownies. And I decided the filling I was going to add was cheesecake. So I made cheesecake brownies. I looked through three blogs, and I decided on the blog I used for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to isolate the filling problem, so I wasn’t quite ready to also make brownies from scratch, so I used a recipe that called for brownie mix.
  2. The photos and comments on the blog were helpful in seeing what I needed it to look like, and also gave me the advice to add chocolate chips.

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This is the mix I used, it, as well as the cream cheese I bought, was on sale in groups of two, so I doubled the recipe and saved me some money.

The first thing I decided to do was get kind of funky and add some chocolate chips. Because who doesn’t love chocolate chips?

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The recipe said to stir without a mixer, so I was like “but what do I use? A spoon?” and then I decided to be daring and use a whisk because my mind was like “whisks do the mixing thing”. And let me tell you, that was my first mistake of the day. Word of advice to people attempting to use my wonderful blog to make brownies – if you use a whisk, it is too feeble to get through the thick dough so you’ll be scared it’s going to just break into a million tiny pieces in the batter and it’ll be a very stressful experience overall because you are too stubborn to change your mind so you just power through it.  The whisk didn’t break. I suspect it was a close thing.

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Then I had to take a break because my dog wanted to go outside and then she came in with her little nose covered in snow and it was just too cute. So I took a photo of it for everyone to share. She, unfortunately, spent most of the cooking sitting next to me all nicely, and was not even rewarded with some baking because chocolate is not good for dogs and I am a good dog owner.

The actual putting the two bowls of batter together was relatively simple. Except for the whisk part. But we won’t talk about that. The batter was delicious by the way, I give it a 10/10 in deliciousness.

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My second big issue came when it was time to bake the batter. Here is a photo of it all in the pan. It looks super ugly, do not judge me.

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Look at that goop-y mess. This is where I ran into difficulty. The recipe said I should put the brownies in for 35-40 minutes and so I did that. But they were not cooked. So I put them in again, five more minutes. They were not cooked.

It was a real struggle  because I would worry that I was burning the brownies, so I’d pull them out, but they weren’t cooked so I’d put them back in. ‘Twas a vicious cycle. I think I cooked the brownies for about an hour before I was okay with the amount of cooked they were.

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Look at those awful brownies. They look so gross, Sarah.

In the end, the brownies were a little overcooked along the edges, but it was perfect in the center, and they tasted great! I think I ate way too much. Coincidentally, the brownies were cooked right before Valentine’s Day, which is awesome. I used to make (aka, make my Mom make) brownies on Valentine’s Day and I would give them to my single friends. Singles Brownies on Valentine’s Day because we all deserve chocolate on Valentine’s Day, so let’s remove the negative stigma of being single (#singlelife) because sometimes people don’t want to be in a relationship but they also want brownies.

So I will probably give brownies to some people. Not necessarily single people. Seems like too much of an effort to go searching for single people. Also seems a little aggressive.

For the lesson plan part of the learning, I chose to look at Math 9.

I thought, because I struggle with figuring out how long something takes to cook, we could use graphing of linear relations to find out how long it would take to heat the entirety of the brownie.

Outcome: P9.1

Demonstrate understanding of linear relations including:

  • graphing
  • analyzing
  • interpolating and extrapolating
  • solving situational questions

 

I think it could be pretty inquiry based, seeing as there is no real correct answer, as there are outside factors that affect it, and it won’t really be a completely straight line. But students could either make their own assumptions based on cook times in recipe books, do small scale tests and extrapolate the data, figure out what it means to be “fully cooked”. I think it could be fun, and maybe it would solve my problems with baking times.

I think it would also create some interesting discussions – what data in real life is actually linear? Do we ever have instances where we assume as such and are proved wrong? What do you think factors in to how fast the food cooks? Do you think all factors can be accounted for? What are some ways to account for outside factors? Can we eliminate some factors?

I always like questioning. I did a lot of questioning with my students because it was fun to hear what they had to say.

Do you also stress about baking times, because boy, let me tell you…

Have a great day, don’t feed your dogs chocolate, but pet them or something.

Thermodynamics

For our blog this week, we need to choose to either use a creation tool or learn something. I chose to learn something. Specifically, I chose to see if I could learn anything about the question I proposed in my last learning project post. I wanted to see if anyone could teach me anything related to heat and melting points of different things and how that affects objects. To see if there’s a scientific reason I can find for why my caramel hates me so and is impeding my ability to food properly.

So I went to Khan Academy first, because, while I have heard of it many a time and I know of many people who use it, I have never done so myself. Also, it seemed, from my limited knowledge, to be a place where I could find videos on specific topics more curricular related as opposed to searching on a person’s YouTube channel. Let’s see if I’m correct.

Well, so first things first, the main page is super well laid out. Every subject offered labelled and separated into topics within that strand.

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Okay, but now my problem lies in what exactly I should click on cause I’m not sure what I’m looking for. Chemistry? The one thing I want to mention before I continue chronicling my struggles is that I am kind of disappointed to the hierarchy of the subject list. I’m guessing the reasoning is that, as mentioned in class, the whole thing was derived from making math explanation videos, so it does make sense, but now that Khan Academy has expanded into such a huge thing, you’d think that they would have the time and resources to not just have MATH and SCIENCE and then everything else just put into Art and Humanities.

Also US History and then just World History. Very inclusive (I know US History is a class and a thing you study for the SATs, but c’mon). It does genuinely upset me to see how White Washed this is. I will say that there was some diversity found in the World History tab because I found myself definitely having trouble focusing on the ONE THING I needed. So I will give them a tiny thumbs up of you tried (sort of)!

Anyway, so I perused the science section looking for something to do with heat and melting or cookies or something.

And I found, in the chemistry section, a topic on Thermodynamics, which is the study of heat. Now, there was also another on the states of matter, which involved a little decision making on my part (I am terrible at decision-making, really, this was a mistake from the start). But I went with thermodynamics because I feel that it’s a little more directed and I’ll probably learn more focusing on that instead of just learning about solids, liquids, and gasses.

Now, I just started the first video, so I want to share my initial thoughts, I’ll do a little catch up in the middle of my learning, and then I will put down my final thoughts.

Initial Thoughts

First thought I have is that the videos are extremely accessible. They were super easy to find, the language describing the modules was simple, there were pictures and simple page designs, and that’s all before the video itself.

The video has visuals as well as talking and there is also a transcript available, which means the video has accurate subtitles, which is awesome both for note taking and recording, but also for students who are deaf, or have any difficultly with spoken language, whether it be as an EAL learner or one who is hard of hearing.

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The video is also 720p, which didn’t seem to be a thing to me when I was a kid, but let me tell you, as I have gotten older, and video quality has gotten better, I sure can tell when it is not. The first video is also a little under ten minutes in length, which is totally doable. I mean, I am totally equipped to watch a ten minute video, I have ten more hours until my game is downloaded, so let’s do this thing!

So first impressions are pretty positive. The video and website are accessible, they are shorter in length, seem to be pretty great introductions. My negatives so far come from the fact that the content is not very diverse, but let’s put that on hold for now, and see what I am taught in this lesson. And I will give the condition that it is a science lesson, and while that is not really an excuse, it should be noted that math and science seem to be the subjects that most struggle with overcoming that eurocentric hump. And this is being presented in a very traditional way with the lecture and the notes, so there’s not much here in the way of  decolonizing education (#DecolonizeEducation). But maybe I’m being too harsh. And maybe I’ve just fallen down the rabbit hole of decolonization, so don’t mind me.

Final Thoughts

Okay, I’m going to be real, the original plan flew right out the window.

One minute I was here:

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Finishing up my first video. Then I was here:

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And ooh, I had a message on Skype, very exciting (still didn’t win my spider solitaire game, though). And then I spent some time reading articles and watching videos on decolonizing mathematics, and by that point, I realized that an hour had passed. Literally. I started this blog an hour ago. So I am going to give my final thoughts, but I do admit I did not learn as much as I could have.

I did not learn about thermodynamics that much. I did like the way he talked and that the video was very informal. He had to erase things and go over points and he was light-hearted. I do like that most of the info was presented on just one page, it was all about elaboration on those points, which made the video more simplistic and to the point. I like that that elaboration took place on the screen as he wrote down thoughts. And I like the video format because then I can pause or go back in the video if I need to. I like that the comments section is not called “comments”, it is “questions” and then “tips & thanks”because it encourages students to ask for clarification and also to answer anyone else’s questions. If I was braver about the internet, maybe I’d post there with my cookie question.

But really, what I learned didn’t have that much to do with thermodynamics. What I learned all had to do with the structure and rules we put in place in our math classroom, our science classroom, and how we present these undeniable truths and facts, when, in fact, other cultures do not always have the same rules and facts, or the same ways of looking at these things. So, instead of spending my time in the world of chemistry, I turned to other sources to find videos and articles all about ways of knowing and how to incorporate that into a classroom. Which is something I am still learning and still exploring. But maybe, even if my exploration of Khan Academy wasn’t my most shining moment, it did bring me to what it is that I am interested in learning. How can we teach in different ways? And how can we teach and decolonize the way we teach? I’m going off to go learn about that now, bye!

Salted Caramel Cookies – 2.0

So I did the thing. The thing I was talking about in my last post where I needed to fix my cookies because the caramel was not a thing in the cookies I made? So they were more salted cookies than salted caramel cookies?

Well, I am not one to just give up on something. And if the purpose of this learning project is to, well, learn something, then I should actually improve upon my mistakes and then move forward.

So what I did was went and bought some soft caramels instead of caramel-filled chocolates and I made two more batches with the soft caramels. In the first batch I squished the caramels until they were flat, hoping that that would spread the caramel out. The second batch I made without squishing the caramel.

This is how the cookies turned out:

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I should really invest in taking less vertical photos. But it’s with my phone so…maybe I should crop them?

Anyway, the cookie is not shown from the inside because, lo and behold, the caramel sort of escaped from the sides. That’s that little bit of browny-orange in the top left corner, and the rest perhaps fused into the cookie?

Either way, they tasted way better, so I count that as a success, and an improvement on my baking skills, which I am pleased about. See, I’m already learning! But I am still not an expert on how you put fillings into baking, so I think I’m going to have to try and make more stuff-filled baking in the future, to up that skill I lack. Because even though they tasted good, they did not look like the cookies on Sally’s Baking Addiction, no sirree.

I do not have a lesson plan attached to this update mostly because I want to throw it to anyone who may have a science background – is there anything here that can be done with heat and the melting point of caramel to find out why the caramel dissolves in the cookie???? Is that a thing? Why does my caramel hate me so? Teach me something, anything, I would like to know! And if there is, can you think of some sort of lesson, or curricular tie in with this magical caramel that disappears?

Have a great day, I really got nothing to go here to inspire you. Except this photo of a dog I got from search for “cute dog” on Creative Commons

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                 LuAnn Snawder Photography

 

Learning Project – Salted Caramel Cookies

Last weekend, I started up my baking project by going onto the internet with the express intent of going to a website to find out how to make reverse chocolate chip cookies. I quickly found two blogs that had instructions on how to make the cookies I was looking to make. I found that the first blog, The Pioneer Woman, was a little more enjoyable a blog, I found her descriptions humourous. But the second blog seemed to be more drawn out and detailed. So I was planning on using the second blog.

But then, like the clouds parting and the sun shining through, or however that simile works, I saw a link on the second blog. This is how most of my internet escapades go. And this is why I have seventeen tabs open perpetually on my computer. The link on the blog was to salted caramel dark chocolate cookies and I was like “Oh man” and so I clicked on it.

And so, in actuality, this is the blog I used, and the recipe I followed.

First things first, I had to buy ingredients, so I went on a magical journey to the Superstore in Yorkton (because they have a self-checkout so I can avoid any and all human interaction), bought my ingredients, got waylaid by a rouge bag of sour cream and onion chips because the bag was so full of air.

I mean look at these chips. You can't really tell, but the bag is so full of air, it was such a wild ride.

I mean look at these chips. You can’t really tell, but the bag is so full of air, it was such a wild ride.

Well, after that adventure, it was time to bake.

The first thing I learned from the blog was that, in baking, one of her tricks is to make sure the butter is room temperature, the eggs are room temperature, and the dough is chilled. So the baking actually took a lot longer than I anticipated.

It went mostly easy. I made one error, I put some of the dry ingredients in the wrong bowl, so it was a sad moment. I took a picture to commemorate my mistake.

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Which was unfortunate, but I don’t think it really affected things all that much. I accept the mistake, and the rest went off without a hitch. The dough was actually quite thick – at one point, I had to like, mix it with my literal, actual, real-life hand.

Then, I put them in the oven and there we go!

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So, after I tried them, I determined one quite glaring failure.

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As evidenced in this photo, there is no caramel in the salted caramel cookies. I think this is because the recipe called for rolos to be the caramel filling. But I don’t think the rolos had enough caramel in them for the cookies. I still have some dough, so I’m thinking I’m going to try again with actual caramels. But all in all, I found it was not the worst failure.

For the second part of my learning project, I found the caramel fiasco to be particularly interesting and inspiring for my lesson creation.

In Grade Eight there is an outcome in math dealing with ratios. In the school I was at, the way we were asked to mark the outcome was actually just to have students solve problems with ratios.

“Outcome N8.3 – Demonstrate understanding of rates, ratios, and proportional reasoning concretely, pictorially, and symbolically.”

I was thinking about the caramel, and how I didn’t have enough, and then it also made me think of a picture I’ve seen online before. I cannot find it, which is the most distressing, so if anyone knows what I’m describing, maybe they can tell me where to find it? It is a photo of a line of cookies, and each cookie is shown with a description underneath. Each description is showing what a cookie looks like with too much flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, etc.

So I think it would be interesting to have students be assigned a single, simple recipe. Perhaps like chocolate chip cookies, and, in groups, be assigned an ingredient. Then, they will have to explore what happens to the recipe when you adjust the amount of only that ingredient and report on their findings. Through this, students would learn about why ratios are important, why it is important to keep ratios the same, and what happens when you don’t respect the balance of a ratio.

Now, obviously, some students may not have the time or finances to make cookies, or multiple batches of cookies. But I think you could get around some of this in a few ways. One is for the teacher to buy the ingredients to share amongst the students. The teacher can also give them recipes that only make 10 or so cookies, so the batches are much smaller. It also brings about the opportunity for cross-curricular lessons. In Grade Eight in Yorkton, our students have one day every six days that they get to go to another school or the High School to go do other classes, like woodshop or home ec. to do those classes. If you wanted, you could work with the the home ec. teacher to help students make their baking, and that way you are not expecting students to do baking in their own time.

This is all I have for you today, I hope you enjoy, and I hope the basic lesson idea is interesting to some people!

GoogleClassroom Thoughts

I am quite unimpressed with myself with the title of the post. I feel I could have done better but ah, such is life.

The Learning Management System (LMS) I want to examine is Google Classroom. Not only did I use it in my internship in my Grade Eight classroom, but I am also quite familiar with Google’s online repertoire of  document creators and the like on Google Drive. When I worked at the Yorkton Film Festival (no big deal, only the longest running film festival in North America, yes, that is a shameless plug for the greatness of my hometown) a lot of my work was done over Google Drive because the sheets and documents were easily shared to multiple people who could see my edits live.

But anyway, I will try to stay on topic and give a brief overview of what I like and dislike about Google Classroom, and if I would use it in my own someday.

Likes

I honestly have a lot I like about Google Classroom, if you didn’t know already. I will try and do this in bullet points, to make it organized.

  • I like that I can mark my students’ assignments right there so they can look at their marks online, see my comments and also choose to fix work if they so desire.
  • It was helpful because I could look at work that was handed in, or work that wasn’t handed in, and let students know if they were on the right track or not.
  • I can also change the amount each assignment is out of, which I didn’t know at first. It was an interesting time trying to explain to students that they didn’t get 3/100, I just couldn’t figure out how to get it out of four. Which is not entirely accurate to the 4-level marking system, but it was the best I could get it.
  • I can edit their document and have it so that the students can choose if they keep my suggestions or not.
  • I can also view a submission to an assignment before it’s due or if they didn’t hand it in to see how much work they have finished. I had many instances of students being less than productive (Fridays) and I could see actual evidence of how much work was done by a student during a work period.
  • It’s also nice because the documents can be open on more than one computer, and we had ChromeBooks in our room, so it was always connected to their accounts. This meant that students could be in a group and be working in a document together.
  • I like that I can see exactly when students hand something in, I can see if it was late or on-time. I can see, if they are late, if they did some work or just completely dropped the ball.
  • The thing that was also really helpful to me, was that Google saves the past revision of a document. I had one instance of a student who handed in an assignment and, when I opened it, let’s just say it was not what I was expecting and leave it at that. But I could look at the previous revisions and see that the student had indeed gotten the entire assignment done, quite well, and I found it strange that they would choose to undo all the work they did and hand in the work I got instead. So, I had a talk with the student and we determined that someone had used the account after and had made that revision. It was good to know about the previous saves or else I would have had no way of seeing the work that was done previously.
  • You can allow students to comment on posts, or you can silence them. Which is good because then they can ask questions, but you can also make so that they cannot comment when they are being Grade Eights.

Dislikes

  • Our school sometimes had spotty internet, and, with the nature of Google Classroom, I couldn’t get students to do any work on their assignments if there was no internet, because the Chrome Books wouldn’t work, they couldn’t save their work, and for the most part, we didn’t even have any alternate document software. So, that was annoying. But it wasn’t that frequent.
  • Obviously, one of the problems with Google Classroom is that it is not definite you will end up in a school with access to it. So you may not even have the option of working with it.
  • One thing I’ve found, and I don’t know how prominent it is, it’s just my opinion, is that Google technologies don’t have as good of a grammar and spell check as Microsoft does. I find that often it won’t highlight misspelled words and it’s not great with grammar. Which can be frustrating when I’m trying to mark assignments from students.
  • The other thing that’s a technology thing with docs is that I don’t like the way they work with putting images in to the document, it doesn’t seem to move in a way you want.
  • Those last two are kind of dislikes of Google Drive in general, but they did affect the work that was turned in to me, and I think it is important that while students can attach outside links, our computers were mostly only equipped with Google technologies so it was hard to find something else. So the difficulties of Google Docs and Slides were apparent.

I think I would, in the end use this in my classroom if my school had access to it. Obviously, as you can tell from my lists of pros and cons, I didn’t have much trouble with it. I’m sure there are other tools that might work better, or people might prefer, but I feel pretty comfortable using it, and I never had any major issues with it.

 

That was my blog, stay tuned later in the week for the beginning of my baking adventures. I did not add an exclamation mark there, because I feel it was not that exciting or monumentous an announcement. Just so we are all on the same page. I also can’t tell if that’s spelled right, so if you want to correct me in the comments, I accept it. I am too lazy to check right now and the spell check doesn’t recognize it so yeah.