Digital Identity: Exploring My Digital Footprint

In class on Tuesday, we talked about digital identities and what they consist of. To be completely honest, I had never given much thought to my digital identity prior to this class. I knew that a digital identity is formed based on what you share online, but I never really understood the extent of which it can influence who you are and how you are perceived by others. After doing a quick YouTube search, I found a short animation by Teaching and Learning Innovation that outlines how our digital identities are created and their importance.

When reading this week’s assignment, I was given the option to cyber sleuth one of my classmates or myself! Considering how I have very little experience with Googling people, I decided that I would start with myself! This may sound crazy, but I have never actually Googled myself before! I didn’t even realize that most people have done on a regular basis! I had always thought of it as being slightly narcissistic and creepy.. What I hadn’t realized was that searching oneself online can help us to understand where we stand in the eyes of others! With this in mind, I decided to dive right in and cyber sleuth myself!

What I Found:

When I typed my name into the Google search engine, several Twitter, LinkEd In, and Facebook pages popped up, none of which were actually mine. Realizing that I wasn’t the only Lauren Sauser out there, I added a location behind my name. The new search results consisted of the following:

Facebook: The very first result that popped up was my Facebook page. This made sense to me because it is the form of social media that I have had the longest and been the most active on. Here you can find my age, birthday, home town, where I went to high school, and where I currently live and go to University! You also will have access to a number of posts and photos that I have shared over the years! Seeing what all could be accessed so quickly, I contemplated making my Facebook Page private and that is something I will consider for the future!

Twitter: The next results that came up were both of my Twitter accounts! My professional Twitter account popped up first, which I was happy to see because it is such a new account and I don’t have a huge following yet! It pleases me to see that I can be easily found by anyone who may be looking for me professionally! My personal Twitter account also came up, but since my account is private, none of my tweets were shown unless you were already following me! I don’t share anything inappropriate on my personal twitter page, but the posts I make aren’t very relevant to my future career and are more for my friends! This reminded me of  an article on Engadget by Nicole Lee! This article, which can be found here, addresses how having multiple online identities is a norm in today’s society. It doesn’t mean that you are trying to hide things from certain people, but it’s more about knowing your audience and what parts of your life they want/need to see.

My rather private personal Twitter account

My more advanced and welcoming education Twitter account

WordPress Education Blog: The next result I was able to find was my education blog! (Yay!) I was really concerned that my blog would be lost in the many search results that would pop up because it is so new and not very well known! I was happy so see it show up as one of the top options and am hoping that it remains high in the search results so others can see what I share and interact with me!

In addition to these results that I was expecting to see, I was surprised to find articles about scholarships I had be awarded and provincial sports I had qualified for in high school! Some of these articles date back to 2013 so it was interesting to be reminded of things I had completely forgotten about!

Just when I thought my sleuthing was done, I began to think about how we had discussed Google algorithms in class and how they are used to only show you what Google “thinks” you want to see. I  had no idea that this was even a thing so I decided to do a little more research into it. I found this great video Tidyrank‘s Youtube page with a brief explanation of how Google algorithms work!

So I then decided to follow the link provided in class to DuckDuckGo, which is a search engine that shows you all results without any algorithm. Although this tool seemed very interesting to me, the search results were the same as Google so I didn’t find anything new! Although I didn’t notice any different results, I will be keeping this search engine in my back pocket for future use!

I am happy to report that after doing some serious cyber sleuthing, I didn’t find anything negative that contributes to my digital identity. I grew up with a mother who was a teacher and always encouraged me to be cautious with what I shared online! I am a rather shy individual and prefer to live in the moment rather than sharing EVERYTHING online. With this in mind, I do think that my online identity would benefit from an increase in activity. I plan on building my professional online identity even further by adding to my Twitter page, website, and joining other forms of social media that I am unfamiliar with! If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments below!

So Why Should We Care About Our Digital Identities?

Now many of you may be thinking “so what?”. Why should I care what other people think about me? Why should I be selective in what I share online? These are fair questions that many people have, yet I feel that after this week’s discussions and readings, I have answers to provide!

Focusing specifically on teachers, it is important to ensure that we are creating positive online identities for so many reasons! Some of the main points I would like to highlight include:

  1. With an increase in technology, everyone can now be searched, found, and investigated in a matter of seconds.
  2. Digital identity searching is becoming a common tool for people hiring educators. Inappropriate or unprofessional posts, comments, or images can directly determine your future career opportunities.
  3. The things you post, share, like, and tag others in will NEVER truly disappear, even if you delete it! This is something most people don’t realize and it ends up hurting them in the future.
  4. Students will be creating their own digital identities and it’s important to lead by example! Before we can teach students about creating a positive digital identity, we must understand and have one of our own!

I would like to close by saying that we cannot always control what comes up when our name is searched online. Maybe someone else has the same name as you, maybe someone is using your name or image as a scam, the possibilities are endless. The one thing we can control is what we put out there. As described in a post by Paul Gordon Brown titled Digital Identity Isn’t A Separate Identity At All, our digital identity is part of our greater whole identity. While it may only seem like a small part of who we are, it directly impacts and is impacted by everything else in our lives.

I for one want to ensure that my digital identity truly represents who I am as a person and my goals as a future educator. Technology is only going to develop further from here and I am planning on doing everything I can to maintain a positive online presence and will do so by staying true to my personal beliefs, learning from others, and being open to new ideas!

This activity was an extremely eye-opening experience and I will definitely continue checking in on myself periodically through Google and other online searches! Now I hope you are all encouraged to check out and improve upon your own digital identities!

-Lauren

 

 

 

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Oreo Drip Cake

Hey Everybody!

Welcome back to my sweet journey to becoming the next Cake Boss (I wish)! Last week’s cake was a success so I thought that I would build on that momentum by diving head first into another new and challenging creation this week! As I was scrolling through Pinterest, my little sister caught a glance of a cake and her eyes just about popped out of her head. She told me that I just HAD to make that cake for my next learning project post and I enthusiastically agreed because I also thought the cake looked too good to be real! So this week’s creation will be a…Oreo Drip Cake! I found the recipe on a baking blog called Jane’s Patisserie. Here is an image of what the cake will (hopefully) turn out like:

Just look at this thing! If you’re telling me that this picture isn’t making you drool, you’re a liar! Chocolate and Oreo cookies are 2 favourites in my household so naturally this cake seemed like a match made in heaven! My first thought was that this cake looks super professional and that I couldn’t pull it off, but learning new things is about stepping outside you your comfort zone so I chose to give it a shot! Anyways, enough talking. Let’s get baking!

Baking The Cake:

1) This week I decided to do something a little different for my cake base. Rather than using someone else’s recipe, I decided to use a family recipe and take you through how I usually make a standard chocolate cake! (If you would rather follow the recipe on the website, that’s fine too!) As usual, I began by reading over my recipe and gathering my ingredients!

My Recipe calls for:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups boiling water

 

2) I started by combining my sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in my stand mixer and beat it with my paddle attachment for about 3-5 minutes until it became light and fluffy! While this was mixing, I combined my dry ingredients in a separate bowl and turned on my kettle to boil some water.

         

3) Once my sugar and egg mixture was finished mixing, I alternately added my dry ingredients and boiling water, beating well after each addition. I made sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and turn the mixer on one last time to ensure all the ingredients were incorporated.

              

4) I then lined my 8 inch round pans with non-stick cooking spray and parchment paper before filling them with the cake batter. I made 3 x 8″ round layers and baked them at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.

*Note: cook time may differ depending on the oven. I would recommend checking your cakes at 18 minutes to be safe!


Making The Buttercream:

5) Now it was time to mix up my buttercream frosting. I collected my icing sugar, butter, Oreo cookies, vanilla extract, and milk!

The buttercream frosting recipe I used can be found on the website Two Sisters Crafting and calls for:

  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup of butter (room temperature)
  • 2-3 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp. milk

 

I placed my room temperature butter in the mixer and beat it until it was light and fluffy. I then began adding my icing sugar slowly until it was well combined.

                          

While my butter and icing sugar was mixing, i placed my Oreo cookies in the blender and ground them to a powdery consistency before adding them to the buttercream mixture. (The recipe said to use a food processor but I didn’t have one so I think the blender worked well in place of it!) I then added the milk in order to create a smooth and creamy texture.

 


Making The Chocolate Drizzle:

6) In order to make the chocolate drizzle, I melted my chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals until completely melted. I slowly added my oil to the melted chocolate until it became slightly thinner and the perfect consistency for dripping!

       


Assembling The Cake:

7) It was now time to assemble the cake! I started by collecting my supplies, which included a cake turntable, offset spatulas, and bread knife! (You don’t have to have these specific tools but they sure do help! I would recommend them for anyone who does a lot of baking and decorating! Check out this link for common decorating tools!)

I then cut the tops off of each cake layer to make sure they were flat for stacking and I was ready to decorate!

   

8) Check out this video tutorial that I created to walk you through the process of assembling and decorating this cake!


Final Thoughts & Comments:

This cake was a lot of fun to make! Deciding to put aside my nerves and self-doubt was a really smart decision because it allowed for me to attempt a cake I wouldn’t have otherwise!

The cake itself was super moist as usual for this recipe, which is why I like it so much! (*Tip: it’s good to try new things, but if you find a recipe for a classic that is good, save it!*)

The buttercream frosting was light and fluffy with a very distinct Oreo cookie flavour that was sweet but not too overpowering.

The chocolate drizzle could not have been easier to make! I microwaved it and stirred in a teaspoon of oil (super simple, right?)! Also, I had no idea that oil could be used to thin out chocolate. It allowed for me to create the perfect consistency for creating drips. I think if you added too much oil you would wind up with a chocolate mess so I recommend to add the oil slowly! I have attached another video that I used for reference when creating my drips! It is super helpful so if you’re slightly hesitant (like I was) i would totally recommend watching this video a few times before you start! I found it on the YouTube channel Cake by Courtney and she has a lot of amazing videos that I will definitely be following!

Overall, the cake wasn’t as difficult to make as it looks! While the process was time consuming, I spread out the work throughout the day so it wasn’t all done at once. The chocolate drip part of the cake was probably the hardest to accomplish because you couldn’t really go back and make changes once you started. It helped to keep a constant motion and not go too fast or too slow.

*Tip: If you’re still nervous about the drip step, you can practice your technique by using the rim of a cup in place of the cake! This is something I came up with myself because you can practice without wasting a cake!*

Things I Would Do Differently
  1. Make the drips longer: I think it would have looked better to make the drips go a little further down the cake. I like how some are longer than others but if a few of the drips would have gone 3/4 of the way down the cake it would have filled up the space better!
  2. Use less Oreo crumbs on top: I got a little carried away when it came to the Oreo topping! If you’re a huge Oreo cookie fan then I think I used a good amount but I would personally use a few less!
  3. Use Oreo halves instead of whole Oreos: I think that the full Oreo cookies around the outside of the cake was a little too much! Next time I would probably try cutting each Oreo in half.
  4. Keep the cake at room temperature before serving: While it was necessary to chill the cake between layers of icing, I think that it should be left out before serving or the buttercream frosting is a little too thick!

Difficulty Rating: 5/10 (Medium)

Would I Make It Again: Yes, especially for people with a huge sweet tooth! 

Once again, here is a picture of the final product! And more importantly, a picture of my taste-tester who says that it’s a “10/10”! Another cake in the books!

          

Thanks for following! Check back next week to see what cake creation I will be attempting! If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below! Have a wonderful week and stay sweet!

-Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Cake!

Hey Everybody!

For those of you who read my blog last week, you know that I made my first cupcakes and they were actually a huge success! (Who knew??) After striking a high note, I thought that I would raise the bar this week and attempt my very first cake!  My mind has been racing with what kind of cake I wanted to make. There are so many to choose from and I found it hard to narrow things down! As I scrolled through Pinterest (which is an amazing source for recipes by the way!), I finally set my sights on the perfect cake to try! I had decided to create an ombre rosette cake! Now if that name totally confuses you, don’t worry! It will all become clear as you read this post!

The first step in creating this cake was to decide on a flavour. I was very tempted to stick with plain old chocolate or vanilla, but then I thought twice and decided to try something new! As I sat outside in the sun and  fed my pet rabbit a handful of carrots, the idea to make a carrot cake popped into my head! (Thanks for the inspiration Charlie!) I didn’t have a carrot cake recipe so I took to Google to find the perfect one! I scrolled through about 8 different recipes before deciding on one that I found on GimmeSomeOven.com! The recipe was titled “The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe” and the reviews were great so I thought I might as well give it a shot!

Baking the Cake:

1. I began by reading over the recipe and gathering all my ingredients!

                              

2. I then followed the recipe by combining the wet and dry ingredients separately and then adding the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. I then folded in the grated carrots!            

3. I then took my 8 inch round cake pans, sprayed them with non-stick cooking spray, and lined them with parchment paper! I was making 3 cakes but only had 2 pans so I had to cook the third cake separately.

     

Making the Icing:

4. I then read over the icing recipe and gathered my ingredients. It was very simple to make because it only required 1 bowl to combine all the ingredients!

        

Assembling the Cake:

5. Now here comes the moment you’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to assemble the cake! I started by watching this video on how to create a Rosette cake:

The design is so beautiful and the ombre effect really makes it modern and eye-catching to look at! I was so nervous about re-creating this cake that I watch the tutorial video 5 different times before I even picked up a piping bag!

6. Before I started to assemble the cake, I knew that I needed to cut the dome tops off of each individual cake layers so that they would stack evenly. I used a bread knife to cut the cakes.

7. It was now time to stack the cake! I was nervous to do so because I wasn’t sure how sturdy the cake would be because I had only ever made a double layer cake. I decided to watch another  video on how to stack and crumb coat a cake! I found a great tutorial on Martha Stuarts website!

Note: To crumb coat means to do a think layer of icing around the outside of the cake in order to trap any crumbs before applying your second layer of icing or even fondant! This is such a smart trick because nobody likes to see specks of cake through the icing!

                   

I then left the cake in the fridge for a few hours to harden the crumb coat.

8. My next step was to tint my icing different shades. I chose to do reds and oranges to match the carrot cake flavour!

9. Now, it’s show time! I started at the bottom using my darkest colour and worked my way up the cake! Check out my decorating process in the video below:

10. And here we have the final product!

 

Final Thoughts & Comments:

The cake was actually not as scary as I had originally thought it would be! For starters, the carrot cake was delicious and super moist! I would totally recommend it to anyone wanting a simple, yet flavourful cake! I had thought the the amount of carrots was too much when I was mixing the batter but it turned out to be the perfect amount! (It is a CARROT cake after all!) The icing was also the perfect balance of cream cheese and sweetness! If you’re a cream cheese fan, this is a cake for you!

In terms of decorating, I found that my icing was pretty thick and that actually benefitted the rosette structure as I piped them. I think that if you have icing that is too thin it would fall off the cake and smear. I also found that it was very important to keep a consistent speed and pressure when squeezing the piping bag or your rosettes wouldn’t look as smooth.

 

Things I Would Do Differently:
  1. Pipe rosettes closer together: I had a few open spaces where I had to go back and add a dollop of icing to fill in. I think if I overlapped the rosettes a little more then I wouldn’t have had this issue!
  2. Leave the cake overnight to set the crumb coat: I found that the cake could have used with a little more chilling time to make sure it was sturdy before adding the second layer.

Difficulty Level: 4/10 (Easy/Medium)

Would I Make It Again? Definitely!

I am happy to report that my first cake was another successful attempt! I am so happy with the way it turned out and I can’t wait to try a different technique next week! Make sure you continue to follow my sweet journey! Talk soon!

-Lauren Sauser

 

Education, Technology, & A Changing World

This week has been extremely eye-opening in terms of technology, the internet, and the ways in which they have changed over the years! I had never really given much thought as to how the internet has become what it is today, nor did I understand the extent of which the internet impacts and shapes our identities and relationships! Following class on Thursday, I took the time to watch the video “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” by Michael Wesch.

YouTube was created in April 2005 by 3 men. From this point on, everyone had officially been given the opportunity and platform to share videos with the rest of the world with the simple click of a button. Anyone with a webcam could now become an internet sensation without having to spend a dime!

Wesch goes on to describe the importance of recognizing the entire mediascape, not just YouTube itself. Social media platforms are all connected and therefor allow for videos, posts, etc. to spread easily. When a video is posted on YouTube, it circulates through other platforms such as review websites, bloggers, Facebook, Twitter, and the list goes on! People who live in different cities, provinces, and even countries can connect without having to leave the comfort of their own homes. Developments like these have changed the way we form and maintain relationships, proving to be extremely influential to the world as we know it.

Our EDTC 300 class was lucky enough to have Dr. Alec Couros join us in our Zoom chat and deliver his presentation on “Educating the Selfie Generation”. He was able to cover so much ground in such a short period of time and really made me think! Listening to the many substantial ways in which the internet has changed over the years was very interesting and I would even go as far as saying unsettling. Dr. Couros used personal examples to show us how the internet has become such a huge part of children’s lives today and how children now a days can access the internet so easily. Dr. Cuoros also went on to identify that this internet craze has both positive and negative aspects to it.

With access to the internet, children can now learn and share almost anything! Whether is makeup tutorials, guitar lessons, cooking, or even speaking different languages, everything can now be found on the internet. My own personal learning project journey, in which I am learning how to decorate cakes, can even be taught through the magic of YouTube videos! I recently found an article that goes deeper into the benefits of including YouTube into your learning! The link can be found here!

Social media has taken over and most people can’t go an hour without checking what’s new on the web! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and so many more. Contrary to popular belief, in many ways, social media has actually made us more social! Children and adults are constantly sharing, tagging, and messaging each other using social media, therefor cultivating and maintaining relationships that they may otherwise not have had.

Photo Credit: mikemacmarketing Flickr via Compfight cc

While the internet does have many positive impacts on life today, there is a dark side to it that cannot be ignored. Dr. Couros shared the following statistic:

  • Kids today spend twice as much time staring at a screen in comparison to kids in 1995. 

This is very worrisome when you think about it. While technology has its benefits, the importance of maintaining a healthy balanced life is impacted by an over-reliance and addiction to technology itself. Not only is technology and social media addicting, but it can also be a tool for negative behaviour. Once something is shared online, it never truly disappears and many children do not understand this. Just because you delete something, that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever.

To quote Dr. Couros, “we are never truly offline“.

Throughout Dr. Couros’s and Michael Wesch’s presentations, one of the biggest things I heard was that the internet and privacy are two things that cannot co-exist. Having an online presence of any sort means that you are putting yourself out there for the world to see and in doing so, you may be losing some of the privacy you once possessed.

So what does all this mean for the classroom and the future of education itself? 
  • Technology is not going anywhere and the sooner teachers jump on board and embrace technology as a tool for education, the more success they will have.
  • Teachers don’t have to be experts on technology, the internet, and social media, but they should at least have a basic understanding of how it works.
  • Teachers also should be aware of the question “If it can be Googled, should it be taught?” (Note: this is not saying that if something is on the internet it doesn’t need to be taught, but with the world changing, we may need to decide what is necessary to teach and what isn’t)
  • Teachers need to understand and be aware of the “dark web”. The internet can be used for bullying, sexting, scamming, and so much more! We must monitor this and ensure that technology is being used responsibly.
  • There are so many amazing website out there for teachers to utilize! Some of my favourites include: GoNoodle, Kahoot, and Cool Math. All these sources are both educational and enjoyable for students!
  • Lastly, technology should be seen as a tool that can aid a student’s education if used appropriately. It’s all about finding the best uses of the internet and technology to support your students! We as educators must not me afraid to try new things, step out of our comfort zones, and do what can benefit our students and their education.

Here is a quick video addressing some of the pros and cons of technology in the classroom! I love how both the teachers and the students provide their input!

I would like to conclude by addressing another quote by Dr. Couros. At the end of his presentation, he said:

A single post can define us, good or bad.”

This is something that really stuck with me and I played in over in my head for days. To think that one picture, one sentence, or even one word can define how others see us is insane to me. I have never been a frequent social media contributor, but to look back and think about how the posts I have made in the past impact how the rest of the world sees me is somewhat scary. We all want to be perceived a certain way and what and how we post online can directly impact this. As a future educator, I feel honoured to have gotten to opportunity to hear from a speaker like Dr. Couros, who has so much knowledge and experience. If this week has taught me anything, it’s that the world is changing and if we want to keep up, we must be willing to change with it!

Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already done so, please follow me on Twitter here!

-Lauren Sauser

 

 

Kahoot: Bringing Together Education & Play

This week we were encouraged to do some research on an app that we were unfamiliar with. As soon as we began discussing some options, an idea immediately popped into my head! I decided that I wanted to take a closer look at the app/website called Kahoot! I have some experience playing Kahoot games in both high school and university classes, yet I don’t have a extensive understanding of how the app actually works or what it is capable of in terms of education.

I did a google search in order to find the Kahoot.com website and then visited their “What is Kahoot” page.  It was here that I found out that the purpose of Kahoot is to allow educators (or anyone who pleases) to be able to create learning games that allow students to interact via technology. Whether creating quizzes that test course content or simply surveying a group of students, Kahoot has multiple educational uses.

How to Use Kahoot:

  • Signing Up: Before creating or searching for a Kahoot, you must first sign up as either a teacher, student, socially, or at work. You then choose how you want to sign up (google, microsoft, or email).

 

 

 

 

 

You will then be prompted to create a username and fill in other basic information. The process is very simple and easy to follow so you shouldn’t have any trouble setting up an account.

  • Creating & Searching for Kahoots:

Below I have attached a video that I created using Screencastify with step-by-step instructions on how to make your own Kahoot, as well as how to  search for Kahoots made by others.

You can find a more extensive description of all the different ways to play Kahoot by following this link here.

Important Notes:

  • Kahoot.com is used for making and searching for Kahoots, while Kahoot.it is used for players to type in the game PIN and participate.
  • While Kahoot is a great tool for teachers, anyone can use it!
  • Kahoot is FREE!

App Review

Strengths:

  • Very easy to use/create (step-by-step instruction)
  • Increases student engagement (fast-paced, exciting)
  • Exposes children to friendly competition
  • Incorporates visual, sound, and textual components
  • Allows for the use of technology in the classroom
  • Encourages students to share ideas and communicate with each other
  • Teachers can track student engagement and progress
  • Can be used to combat test anxiety (less stressful)
  • Students can create their own Kahoots to show their knowledge
  • Connecting students and teachers around the world

This is a video I found on YouTube that shows how students of all ages and from all around the world can participate and enjoy Kahoot in the classroom!

Weaknesses:

  • Some schools/students may not have the devices needed to participate
  • Some students may get distracted while using electronic devices
  • The wifi connections must be strong in order to have many students participate at one time

Kahoot In The Classroom:

As you can see from my lists above, Kahoot’s strengths greatly outnumber it’s weaknesses. Kahoot can be an amazing tool for teachers because it is a whole new way to educate students in a way that they both enjoy and benefit from. No matter what subject is being taught, Kahoot can be used to assist all teachers. Kahoot’s flexibility means that it can be used for classes of all ages. People who are 6 years old can enjoy the app just as much as those who are 16 or even 60! When it comes to Kahoot, the sky really is the limit.

In relation to the SAMR Model, which is used to assist teachers in incorporating technology into the classroom, I believe that Kahoot would fit under the Augmentation category! The app/website replaces basic paper and pencil work and relies on the use of technology to be more efficient and approachable by both students and educators alike.

Final Thoughts:

I am now a huge fan of Kahoot! Having had the opportunity to play, create, and search for different Kahoots, I can say with confidence that this is one tool that all teachers should try out! It’s simple to use and the students absolutely love it! I think that it is rare to be able to find methods of educating students that are equally enjoyable and productive! With this in mind, I believe that programs like Kahoot are too good not to utilize.

**NOTE: If you have any trouble with Kahoot, I encourage you to check out their frequently asked question page here! Any question that I had was already answered by reading what others shared!

I would love to hear what everyone else has to say about Kahoot! Don’t be afraid to leave your thoughts in the comments!

-Happy Kahooting!

My First Cupcake Creation!

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my learning project and started searching the internet for different baking and decorating ideas! Pinterest has been my go-to website because there are so many amazing ideas and creations! I especially love how people are able to post comments and picture reviews about the recipes and decorating techniques they have tried! These comments allow for the reader to see how successful others were in following the recipes and whether or not different modifications need to be made in order to achieve the best results! The comments also allow for people to share tips and tricks, something I find to be very helpful!

After pinning a handful of ideas, I found a link to a website called The Scran Line. When I visited this website, my jaw dropped! The website features different cake and cupcake tutorials with step-by-step videos and recipes! While this is something many baking websites do, I can assure you that this is no ordinary website! The cakes and cupcakes are beyond amazing! The flavour combinations and extravagant decorations are enough to make anyone drool! The only problem I had now was deciding which recipe to try first…!

Considering how it was my mom’s birthday on the weekend, I decided that I would let her pick what kind of cupcakes I would be making! Her decision was easily made as soon as she saw the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes!

These cupcakes consist of a chocolate cake base, peanut butter chips, a fluffy peanut butter buttercream frosting, a chocolate filling, and topped with chopped peanuts and peanut butter cups! The description alone is enough to make your mouth water!

Okay enough chatting, let’s get started!

Step 1: Making the Cupcakes

The first step in creating these cupcakes was to gather my ingredients for the chocolate cupcake base! The recipe calls for:

 

 

 

 

I used a food scale to measure my ingredients out but if you don’t have one, you can click here and it will take you to a website that allows you to convert the measurements so they are easier to use! Using measuring cups is what i prefer but I also know that using a scale is a lot more accurate when it comes to baking measurements!

I started by mixing my dry ingredients in my stand mixer. Once the ingredients were combined, I added the softened butter. Finally, I added the wet ingredients and mixed until well combined! I made sure to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides to ensure all the ingredients were incorporated well.

 

I then used an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way. The ice cream scoop is a great tool because it ensures that all of the cupcakes are filled to the same level and will therefore all bake evenly! The recipe calls for sprinkling peanut butter chips on top of the cupcakes before baking but I didn’t have any so I went without them in hopes of the frosting to bring enough peanut butter flavour! I then placed the cupcakes in the oven at 350 degrees and let them bake for about 18 minutes.

*Note: the recipe calls for the cupcakes to bake for 20-25 minutes but my oven gets really hot so they didn’t take that long. I recommend watching the baking process closely to make sure they don’t burn!

Chocolate Heaven!

I baked the cupcakes the night before I decorated them so they had time to cool. If you plan on doing everything in one day make sure you let the cupcakes cool or the frosting will melt and you’ll have a big mess!

Step 2: Preparing the Frosting, Filling, and Toppings

  • After beating the butter for a few minutes, I slowly added the icing sugar and vanilla. I allowed the icing to mix for 4-5 minutes until it became light and fluffy! I then stirred in 3 (generous) tablespoons of peanut butter and voila! We now have fluffy peanut butter buttercream frosting!

 

  • Chocolate Filling: I then made my chocolate filling, which was super easy! I combined my chocolate, cream, brown sugar, and vanilla and microwaved it! Simple, yet delicious!

 

 

  • Toppings: The toppings were very easy to make! I just chopped a handful of peanuts and 8 mini peanut butter cups!

Step 3: Assembling the Cupcakes!

Now that I have prepared all my components, it’s time to assemble my cupcakes. I cleared off a large space on the counter and set up my supplies. The video below is a walkthrough of my decorating process!

Final Thoughts & Comments:

Thanks for following my first cupcakes decorating adventure! I am quite pleased with the way things turned out and think that this was the perfect choice for a first attempt!

Things I would do differently:

  1. Use a different piping tip: although I used the piping tip that the recipe recommends, I would use a different tip in order to create more of a design! This wouldn’t actually change the cupcake that much but I think they would look fancier!
  2. Make the hole for the filling shallower: I think i made the hole too deep in the cupcake because the filling went all the way to the bottom of the cupcake when it was supposed to stop in the middle
  3. Remember the peanut butter chips: I thought that the peanut butter frosting would make up for the missing peanut butter chips but I would recommend using the chips because the chocolate flavour is almost overpowering the peanut butter flavour without them.

Difficulty level: 3/10 (easy)

Would I make again: YES!

All in all, this cupcake attempt was a huge success! My mom loved them and so did everyone else who tried them! They are super sweet so if you aren’t into sweet things these aren’t the cupcakes for you! I loved The Scran Line website and will be using it again in the future! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next baking adventure!

-Lauren Sauser

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter: A Tool for Teachers!

This week in my EDTC 300 class I was encouraged to explore a form of social media called Twitter. I have a personal Twitter account and have used it for the past few years. I quite enjoy using Twitter because I like the idea of being able to share things with my friends (followers) so quickly and easily. Although I am pretty familiar with the basics of Twitter (hashtags, favourites, etc.), I never considered how it could be used in the classroom or as a tool for professional development. I have always thought of Twitter as another form of social media, such as facebook, that allows people to share different aspects of their life with their friends. However, this opinion of mine has changed greatly after being introduced to the educational opportunities that Twitter offers.

A Place For Twitter In The Classroom:

After doing some research and participating in discussions with others, I have come to understand that Twitter can be an extremely useful tool in the classroom. Teachers are always looking for new ways to approach education and Twitter is a great place for people to learn with and from each other. By using Twitter in the classroom, teachers can connect and share ideas with others and by doing so, create new relationships. Not only does Twitter allow for teachers to connect with each other, but also with parents! Announcements, important dates, assignments, and even student’s work can be shared with parents with the simple click of  a button! Communicating with others online is the quickest and simplest way to stay connected once you get the hang of it!

Technology has become extremely dominant in today’s society and education has been greatly impacted by this. While opinions may vary, there is no denying that the use of technology in the classroom opens up a whole new world of opportunities and Twitter is just one of the many examples of technology bringing people together to enrich education.

My First #SaskEdChat:

This past Thursday, I participated in my first ever #SaskEdChat on Twitter! To be completely honest, I had never heard of #SaskEdChat before and I had no idea what to expect or how to approach it! Thankfully, I was not alone! My EDTC 300 class all gathered on Twitter and joined the large chat that was open to anyone wanting to provide their input and share their ideas with others!

The topic of this particular #SaskEdChat was about the paperless classroom. As the questions were posted, I got to share my opinions on how technology may or may not be able to replace paper in the classroom. The questions asked throughout the chat were very interesting and some of them required a little thinking!

Although I was initially nervous to take part in the chat, I am extremely happy that I did! The chat was very fast paced and tweets were popping up faster than I could monitor but I was able to remain calm and stick with it! I loved having the chance to read other people’s opinions and converse with them! Some comments that were made really opened my eyes to things that I had never considered before. I also appreciated when others commented on my tweets because it showed that they valued my opinions and were interested in deepening the discussion. Even though I did not agree with what everyone else had to say at all times, and I am sure others did not always agree with me, I felt like this was a safe place to share my thoughts with others and it allowed for me to grow as a future educator. I can say with great certainty that I will definitely be joining more #SaskEdChats in the future!

My Final Thoughts On Twitter:

With all things considered, I would have to say that i am on board with the idea of using Twitter in the classroom! I know that there are a lot of people out there who are against the use of Twitter or other forms of social media in the classroom and I completely respect their stance. There are definitely some negatives about the use of social media and technology and although I do believe that there will always be a place for pen and paper in the classroom,  I also cannot ignore the many ways in which the world as we know it is changing! Technology is everywhere and having an understanding of how and when to use it can be extremely important to a child’s education and future. This does not mean that we all have to jump on the Twitter train right away, but I think it smart to be open to the idea!

I for one will be using Twitter in my classroom in the future and I encourage others to give in a chance as well! I have created a professional twitter account and you can follow me here!

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Happy Tweeting!