Project Final Writeup

Coming Up with the Project Proposal Idea

I love following blogs where they try new things and post about their adventures (Love TazaLoverlygrey or The bucket list family). I have always envied those people and their blogs and thought that would be something I would love to do. While coming up with my project idea, I had the feeling that I wanted to do some kind of lifestyle blog, but I had a few things stacked against me. The first thing about these bloggers is that they had money before their blogs became so successful. Yes, they do make money blogging, but they had a safety net. The Bucket List Family dad sold his app for millions of dollars, so if they ever run out of money, their “safety net” is pretty big! Besides the money aspect, they had pretty exciting lives. I don’t know about you, but raising three littles in NYC or swimming with sharks in Bali isn’t something in my normal day. I was at a loss for choosing something I could blog about that people would actually take interest in. The main reason I struggled to find a topic though, past all of these other essential components to making a blog successful, was FEAR. I hate the feeling of not being good at some things and ultimately “failing”. I was terrified to even take this class. Before the semester started, I was constantly emailing my professor to let him know my concerns regarding technology and not being able “to get it”. Thank God he calmed me down and encouraged me “to at least try it”. Those words got me through not only the class, but also when it came to choosing my project. I thought “I’m not a good cook, but five weeks ago, I wasn’t a blogger and here I am writing a blog. Just try the cooking blog idea.”

Blogs not Wikis

Like I mentioned in my project proposal, I wanted my project to be more of a personal preference, and not so much a collaboration piece. I wanted my blog to feel open enough where people could comment on my posts and share feedback, but I wanted to be the sole contributor. I’m still not as comfortable with wiki as a thing yet. I am way better since learning about them, but I still don’t know if I’m totally on board with the collaboration piece on something I write. I know there were many guidelines and procedures to prevent chaos on wikis, but I still feel like it takes more of me letting go than I’m used to (or ready for).

My Cooking Blog

Blogs can be so neat and organized, but the process isn’t so clean cut. It isn’t always a perfect package tied up with a pink candy floss bow. Sometimes there were times where my posts just didn’t seem to come together the way I wanted them to. It took me DAYS to figure out how to create pull down menus into weeks for my blog so it wasn’t just one long blog. Every step in the blogging process involved me learning a new skill set. Even after weeks of working on this project, I’m still learning new tricks and skills to add to my blog. I also noticed that my blog took on a life of its own. I knew from the beginning I was going to organize my cooking blog into weeks, and a theme of the week, but unintentionally, the day to day work started to follow a schedule. I would give a quick post about what my theme was for the week, then I would have a post on the history/facts about the meal. I would continue with a step-by-step recipe and lastly, I would post a review on the recipe. I don’t think I recognized the pattern until about week 3. By then, I thought it had a good flow, so that’s the pattern I followed.

Things I Changed from the Proposal:

Nutritional Facts:

I said in my blog, I would give nutritional facts. I didn’t exactly keep up with this aspect of the blog. I did share facts about the ingredients I chose to use in the reviews of the recipe. I also gave a comparison of turkey burgers vs hamburgers, and gave facts about types of eggs you can buy, but I didn’t really break the meal down into nutritional facts. Many of the blogs I follow don’t do this, but there are tons of sites that do. I don’t know if I would have done this part differently. I wanted to make the blog more about the meal as a whole, and I think finding those facts out would have maybe bored the reader or bummed me out (I don’t think I ever want to know how many calories are in my Bufffalo Chicken Dip. There is literally a whole bottle of Ranch dressing in it :/)

Spotlight section:

This is one thing I noticed I didn’t do, and I’m actually bummed that I didn’t do it. I said in my project proposal, I wanted to create a “spotlight” post about something I wanted my audience to check out (blog, podcast, cookbook, video). In my review, I would talk about the recipe as a whole and where it was from, and I linked to everything I used, but I didn’t go into detail about the source itself. I wish in my weekly recipe reviews, I made a heading about the actual site (was it easy to use, did it have good reviews, what else did it include, how was it set up for the audience). My blog was more about cooking and giving recipes, but I wish I put more work into sharing where I got them.

Going from one recipe to two:

In the beginning of the blog, I was only making one meal a week (Pasta Week, Turkey Burgers). That was the original plan, but the crock pot week changed that for me. The plan for the blog was to create meals, but by week three I started getting followers, and I got way too excited not to share my famous Buffalo Chicken Dip with them. I didn’t want to incorporate a recipe without any sources besides saying it was my friend’s recipe, so it turned into a two recipe week. Some of the recipes were not from a cookbook or website (brownies, egg bake), so I made sure that at least one recipe per week had real sources I could reference to.

Blog roll:

I thought I would keep my blog roll for all the places I got my recipes, but I realized something: not all websites are created equal. Even though I used other websites for my recipes, there were some websites that I ended up not being a big fan of. I wanted my blog roll to show the blogs or recipe sites that I would actually use on a daily basis. I wanted it to be a true tool that I would use past this project.

What I’ve learned/ What’s next:

I feel like every week in my reflections I sound like such a cliché, but I have LOVED this project and this writing process. I will be the first to admit I was dreading the project since the day I read the syllabus in the beginning of the semester. However, I have experienced nothing but happiness at my own personal achievements. I’m sure there are many people who would look at what I created and not see what all the fuss is about, but what I created is a BIG DEAL to me. I have learned so much about cooking, researching, and using a new kind of writing format. I felt like this class, especially this project, was designed to make us take responsibility for our learning. Our professor was there to help and gave us SO many helpful tools, but it was our job to use the tools to figure it out on our own. Nothing was just handed to me; I had to work through some of the issues that came up. It made me feel like when I am teaching a new concept to my class. I get the deer in the headlights look from some of my students, but the more we are talking and working on it, I will see a “light bulb” go off in a kid’s eyes. I know before I even look at their work that they know what they are doing. It’s that overwhelming pride in my work that made me want to do my best on this project. After the first two weeks, I have not really felt like this was an assignment. I found joy in cooking but also in the researching part of it too. I have learned so much not only about the process of cooking, but about the food itself. I catch myself bringing up facts about what I’ve learned into conversations with friends and family. I also realized I love blogging, and plan to keep up with it. I want to get more themes on the blog, but also add to the existing themes. I have found it therapeutic to write about an idea and share a piece of me with the world, even if “the world” I’m writing for is my 7 followers. I feel like I am connected and a part of something and I really like that feeling. I can’t answer what will happen in the future with my blog, but I don’t think I will give up on something that has made me feel empowered to share my writing. I keep thinking about the saying, “What if I fail? Oh but darling, what if you fly?” I think this sums up my experience perfectly. I was so scared to fail, but when I let go of my fear, I learned that I could accomplish things I only dreamt about doing. (SUPER CHEESY, I KNOW, BUT THAT’S HOW I FEEL).

Studio Tours

Tour #1

JKaufenberg: Interactive Middle School Novel Studies: Creating communication link between parents, teachers, and students

She says at the school she teaches at, all the students have ipads, access to internet and course materials online, so her project was testing the effectiveness of using social media in the classroom.

She used several media platforms for her project. She used twitter to share facts about and articles that dealt with different aspects of the reading. She also tweeted and linked her #interactivenovelstudy to twitter so teachers, parents and students could have several ways to get to her blog.

For safety concerns both by parents and schools, She used kidblog.org to create a blog for her students to use for their novel study. From the website, the teacher can create a private blog by using a class code that only her students and their parent can access to provide a safe space for students to work and connect. She also created a remind account where teachers can connect with both parents and students from anywhere where she can post reminders and things for her students to do and communicate faster. It keeps numbers hidden, so it is safe for students to use.

She had to teach her students, not only how to do the assignments but also how to use the new social media. She planned lessons within her unit, to just teach and give students practice using these new social media tools. Many of her reflection posts for the class, explain in depth how her unit got started. She explains what an interactive novel study  is for anyone which is helpful to know what it is before trying to understand how to use one.

She has one post about setting up her interactive novel studies where she goes in depth about how to set up the novel studies using the new blog and twitter media. She also screenshot pictures of the steps to make it easy to create one. She also explains what students will be doing, from daily reading responses, to reading the chapters online, to having a free space where students can comment on what they are thinking while reading.

Things came up and she wasn’t able to follow her project proposal exactly how she had in mind, but things happen, and she had to be flexible in making it work  for her own classroom as well as for the project. She also created categories and tags so you could find either a certain post, or a certain grade novel guide. She had both 7th grade and 8th grade novel guides she created. Since these were real novel guides that she is using, she had all of the information blocked from visitors who are not in the class. I would have liked to see how these were playing out in real time, but I understand for student safety not to let strangers see what the kids are doing.

Tour #2

Tony Lien: Infinite Headphones

His blog is about finding and talking about forgotten music. He creates a more relaxed approach to researching different artists and music. The blog wasn’t created into forcing any type of music on anyone. It was created to let others know what he is into and to show another path into finding “new” or “different” artists and music.

His blog is very simple to use. He has his main home page, his about page, where he explains what his blog is about, contact information, and then he has his blog entries of different kinds of music and artists. For each blog post, he chooses an artist to give information about and includes what the genre of music is. You can click on his music entries to see all of them at once, or he has created a down arrow where you can see just the name of the artist and the genre to just look at one at a time. He has a wide range of genres that he chose for this project (experimental /improvisation/contemporary classical, Canterbury scene/psychedelic/progressive rockcinematic drone)

Each blog post gives some background on the artist and on the genre of music while also adding his personal comments about what he thinks of the artist/genre. He also gives an interesting fact. In his project proposal, he states that he wants to share not only the music, but share a little bit of the life of the artist with others. He then has a recommended listening section where he names the song from the artist. At the end of each post, he also uploaded a Youtube video of the recommended song. This is nice for visitors who can just listen to the song right on the blog without having to open another tab. You can also read through his post on the said artist while listening to it.

I noticed that the links he included were the same color as the rest of the text, so you have to really be looking close to see that they are bolder than the rest of the text. At first glance, it doesn’t look like he has any links, but he does. They range from articleslistening stationreviews to a documentary.

He also included a blog roll that has a few sites to check out that become a place to search for music. One site is a blog created entirely to release cassettes and talk about what kind of music it is. Another cool site he added on his blog roll is Music Map. It is a site where you can type in an artist you like and find other artists who are similar in music you might like.

Tour #3

Blake Jackson: Fitness Tracker

His blog project was connected to his class blog. His project proposal did say that he would have a fitness tracker category on the bottom of his blog, which he does. His blog posts were like diary entries counting the days since he started the project. Each post is labeled what day of the journey he is on since he started. The last entry was day 34, but he doesn’t have 34 entries. Some days he doesn’t post about his fitness day but still keeps track of the days. His blog posts are informal entries where he track his daily nutrition and his fitness plan and lets others know how his journey is going. On Day 1, he started an 8 Week 5K Training Plan which breaks down the weeks into what and how fast you need to run.

He has a previous and next button on his blog posts, so you can read his blog posts in order starting at day one. You don’t have to keep going back to the main page to find the next post so it is nice and easy to follow.

In his daily posts, he shares what he is eating and adding how many calories each meal consists of. Each week, he recaps how the week overall went for him. I think these weekly reflections are good to include because day to day can vary for a lot of reasons, so its’ he’s showing a bigger picture. He breaks the weekly summaries into workouts, runs, diet, and groceries to discuss them separately and how they worked for him. On day 9, he decided to start posting about his day the next morning to give himself more time to reflect on the day before. He also shared his new stretching routine from Youtube and said Youtube could be a helpful resource to find fitness and health related videos.

He shared links to different kinds of foods he was eating as well as a few articles. One thing I was noticing was he talks about his calories he was eating and making sure to try to hit his caloric goal. I thought maybe he could link his resources on how he found what his caloric goal is and how others can find their goal to match their own fitness and health needs.

He stays honest on his fitness journey, which is nice to see. When things don’t go the way he planned, he write about that and explains how he plans to fix it. He also gives himself a cheat meal every so often. He’s being real with his fitness goals and journey.

 

 

 

 

Thought of the day 

Since I was young, I always wanted my future husband to be able to cook. I have never been good As for my fiancé, he is always in the kitchen. He loves to cook and try new things, and he says cooking is one of his hobbies. We now cook together (I mostly sit on the counter and drink a glass of wine while looking up recipes on Pinterest, but I have been known to mince the garlic a time or two for him). Tonight as I was sitting down for dinner with him, I was again reminded how happy I am that I can check “good cook” off my list. Dinner tonight: Homemade Pesto Chicken Penne     

P.S. Did anyone else know pesto was made with pine nuts? I also didn’t know we owned a food processor 🙂 

Weekly Reflection #2 (week 3)

So let me just start with saying I am so much more confident in my blogging abilities than I thought I would be. Since setting it up last week, I now know there are many places to look to get help if I have questions online. Google has become my best friend.

I’ve also learned some new tools on WordPress. I like the option that you can respond to others within the notification tab (the bell icon at the right top of the blog page). I used to go back and forth between blogs to respond to comments. I like that I can comment on the notification tab without having to switch and have four or five tabs open at a time of all different blogs. I’m still trying to find the same function on the app on my phone. I like the phone app for being able to post things whenever, but the format isn’t as easy to use for me like the computer.

I also learned how to make links in the comments of other people’s blogs. This HTML code is now saved on my computer for easy access for the next time I want to link in a classmate’s comment section. If anyone has been able to find an easier way than this, I would love to know.

This week has been all about blogs. I think everyone has heard the word blog or blogging. I knew the basic idea of what it was, but I was just at the surface of what a blog can be and what bloggers do.

Things I’ve learned about blogging:

  • I’ve been blogging for years without knowing it. (I use my Instagram as my blog)
  • In my Rettberg and Blood Readings post, I learned about the three main categories of blogs: Diary, topic-driven, and filter.
  • After doing my own research to find more info on blogging, I was faced with the scary side of blogging. Be cautious about what you post. Be aware of what you share.
  • In my final comments about blogging, I found that blogs can be a learning opportunity, especially for teachers. I can use blogs to teach students how to be critical readers and writers of what is out there.
  • Bloggers show you only what they want to show you. You might be only getting one side of things. An example is a blog I follow Love Taza. She writes and shares moments about her life and family, but going through these posts, you don’t see the (toddler tantrums, fights with husband, things that make us human). You only see a snapshot of her life, dictated by her. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but it’s good to be aware that what we see/read might not be the whole picture.

This past week has been crazy with the new semester starting at school. I have been trying to survive posting last minute grades, getting used to a new class schedule (gaining a new class), and working with new students. I noticed my personal posts come across as more of a quick little anecdote for the day. Sometimes, I think that is ok not having to read/write a big long post, and just having a blurb into my day.

Other posts for this week included:

Just a little moment in my day (I’m still laughing at this)

Thought for the Day

Is it weird that at the end of these posts, I want to sign my name or do something to let my reader know it is finished? This coming week, I’ll look at other blogs to see how they finish their posts for some inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what is a blog?

So after a week of research, reading articles, reading classmates’ posts, and looking at several blogs themselves (some I already read, and some I just started following a few days ago), I think I was looking at trying to find an answer the wrong way. I started out being so formal about the whole thing. I wanted to find ONE definition/answer of what a blog is and have all by questions to be able to be checked off and answered. How long do post need to be? How many pictures do you need? What is considered content of blogs? I realized that blogs are an ever-evolving thing and the minute you try to put blogs into a closed box/category, something changes so it bounces right out.

From Jill Rettberg, I learned that there can be categories of blogs: “filter, diary, and topic-driven blogging”. For me, I liked that you can organize what a blog is by its content, but it still wasn’t a definitive answer for what a blog IS.

To Travel the Great Beyond found a very interesting source by Jeff Jarvis that said “blogs are whatever they want to be”. There aren’t limits and boundaries to what can be considered a blog. The only limits created are created by you, which doesn’t mean those same rules apply to others.

I touched on this in my original post about blogging that blogs are their own entity. They can be whatever I want for my own purpose. The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” rings true for blogs. What I consider to be “blog content” might look different to someone else. Perspective is huge in this matter.

While trying to answer the question “what is a blog?”, I took a new angle on my search which was “why do people blog?”

Madelyn Haasken found a good article summarizing why people blog. It shows the positives of blogging and could incentivize more people to become bloggers.

Rebecca Blood said,”I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from ‘audience’ to ‘public’ and from ‘consumer’ to ‘creator’.” She saw blogging as a way for people to go from passively watching/reading to being able to participate.

From everything I read, common trends I noticed about blogs and bloggers were people want to feel connected/included, and people wanted to feel important. As humans, I think we all crave that feeling of being wanted and heard. People blog because they want to understand the world and they want to be understood. It’s a way for people to connect even if other barriers stand in the way (distance, language, etc.). Blogs are a personal platform where your thoughts can be turned into information for mass consumption. It can be a no pressure/judgment place to share anything you deem important to share.

 

Just a little moment in my day

I ran some errands with my mom today after work. She needed to stop at the ATM, so I pulled up for her. After getting her money and receipt, I was driving away, my mother scolded, “Jeanna!! You didn’t even say thank you!” I burst out laughing and said, “Mom, it’s a machine” and she huffed and replied “It’s still rude.” 😂😂

Donkey Basketball

If you ever need a fundraising idea, I have two words for you: DONKEY BASKETBALL!! Our seniors are going on a trip this spring and to raise money, they hired a company from WI, Dairyland Donkey Ball, that brings these donkeys to you to ride and try and play basketball. Some of the teachers and faculty from FHS created a team, and I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard!!! The donkeys have a mind of their own and kept bucking people off of them!! Our superintendent has a bruised hip from his shift in the game! It was hysterical to watch, and our students raised over $12000, so it was a success!!


P.S. In the background, you can see our principal in the light purple suit (our colors are purple and gold). He was a part of the sanitation crew who were in charge of clean-up if the donkey had an accident during the game! 

Icebox of the Nation?

This time last year it was -30° and today it was 36°!! I know for people who aren’t from MN,  36° is freezing, but for fellow Minnesotans, it felt like a heatwave! Today I went ice fishing with my fiancé and his family, and we didn’t have to set up our pop-up fish houses. We just sat on chairs and buckets outside on the ice.  The only downside was the massive amount of snow that had melted from it being above freezing and turned into five inches of water on top of the ice. By the end of the day, we left with a small pond around us, and cold feet from slushing in water. I couldn’t get over how warm the weather was for the end of January!! With my hometown’s annual Icebox Days coming to a close this weekend, which celebrates us being named one of the  coldest cities in America, it made me question could this really be The Icebox of the Nation?


This photo was in the beginning of the day before the water took over. We took home thirteen keepers