My Blogging Experience

March 27, 2010

Food Companies making you an Addict (and you don’t even know it)

Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , , , , , , — debyj @ 11:43 am

My mom sent me this in an email a couple days ago and I decided to blog about it because I think it is very important for people to be aware of this issue.  The article is from a blog and is titled Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. I strongly encourage that you read it.  There was recently a recall announced on a significant number of products containing HVP.  The current list includes 160 items!

Something that really shocked me in doing research on HVP is that it contains MSG (monosodium glutamate).  MSG is something I have been trying to avoid completely because it is very dangerous for our bodies and it causes us to crave more food even when we are full.   I search ingredient labels for it each time I consider a new food product.  I am not the only one doing this.  Recently, the effects of MSG has been largely publicized so companies have had to find a new way to use it or suffer from loss of sales.  HVP contains MSG and is a way that companies are avoiding having to put MSG on the food labels.  HVP is something that I personally was not familiar with until this recall and am very disappointed that I now have to search for that in my ingredients too.  I feel the I have been deceived and am concerned that the food producers care much more about getting me addicted to their foods than helping me live a happy, healthy life.

I am reading a book by Michael Pollan right now called Food Rules (2009).  It is a fantastic book and I am very excited that someone out there is standing up for consumers.  In his book, he mentions the obvious problems with the Western Diet and explains that there is no help from food manufacturers, nutritional research centers, or governments because there is a lot of money in the food industry and the health sector (which is treating illnesses and developing drugs for the problems the Western Diet is causing).  The more companies process a food, the cheaper it is to make and the greater the profits for all involved, except of course the consumers.

With companies constantly producing new additives and chemicals to get us addicted to their foods and lower their production costs, I do not feel like I can trust processed foods whatsoever anymore.  The only way you can really avoid this problem is to eat as much naturally created food as possible and even that can be a challenge! (but that is a whole other blog post in its own)

I am very concerned for the children of the current generation.  They are growing up eating these processed foods and as a result their bodies are not getting the proper nutrients and their immune systems are suffering.  How is this influencing their health in the future, how is it influencing their moods from day to day, their attitudes towards life??  I hope we as a society can start to take this issue more seriously and try to fight against processed foods and force our manufacturers to go back to natural foods that are good for us.


March 19, 2010

A visual world, but visual schools??

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , , , — debyj @ 5:58 pm

I just viewed an Elluminate presentation given by Dean on the topic “Let’s Get Visual”. I remember watching a couple videos on this particular topic in ECMP 355 and being inspired to change the way I create and use PowerPoints. This is something that I believe all teachers (including professors) need to be aware of and take into consideration. Too many people create PowerPoints for the wrong reasons. I think they need to help tell a story and communicate ideas rather than list everything you would like to say. They also should be used to engage learners and add to a presentation. You are ultimately the presentation, NOT your PowerPoint.

Flickr CC-bdieu

If you want to find some excellent resources for creating great Visual Presentations:


Dan Meyer using images in the Math classroom.



-Your personal CAMERA

– Creative Commons Powerpoint (great powerpoint and an educational topic)

I got to teach a photography unit in CPT 10 during my internship. I knew a bit about photography, but I did have to do some research of my own in order to create the unit. I am really glad that I did some practice on my own and actually used my own pictures to create a PowerPoint for the students. It was really interesting for me discovering how challenging the students found this unit. With digital cameras today, we will take 300 pictures in a day and 50 of those pictures will be of the same thing. We do not think much about how we compose our photos because we assume one of the 50 photos will be good enough. I think we should think more about the pictures we are taking and do our best to make them a great visual representation of a story/situation. There are so many photos available online now for use and I think we should be careful when selecting them for visual presentations. Do not just pick a random photo you think looks nice. Pick one that is going to be not only a good example to students of good photography but one that also portrays the message you are trying to get across.

March 15, 2010


Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , , — debyj @ 10:40 am

Opening the lines of communication…does a note like this one look familiar to anyone that has ever had a roommate?

I have decided that after many months of conflict, drama, and argument after argument, I am going to have to blog about my roommates and seek advice from my cyberfriends.

In my four years of renting, I have had more than TEN different roommates and next month I am getting new ones to add to the count.  I could probably write an entire book on the experiences that I have had with my many roommates.   Some have been great and others not so good.

The roommates I have now are absolutely, hands down, the worst I have ever had!  I sooo cannot wait until the end of this month when they move out.  The main problem I have with them is COMMUNICATION! In fact, I would have to say that has been the root of most of the conflicts I have ever had with roommates.  The problem with these two is that I am not sure they understand the word communication at all. They have been living here for about sixth months now.  I can count about 100 times they have called my landlord to complain about something we were doing or picked up our stuff and moved it somewhere without our permission and I cannot count ONE time when they came to us to tell us they had a problem.  We have approached them everytime they have upset us by not communicating and told them to please speak with us if they have a problem.  We really are not hard to get along with!  TV is too loud?? Well, ask, I can probably turn it down!  My laundry is done and I forgot about it? knock on the door, i will happily move it!  But….no matter how many times we ask them to PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE communicate, they will not.  It has become an endless battle and now…my landlord is very very mad.

Here is a retelling of the phone call I got at 9:00 this morning:

Landlord: “are you playing the piano?” (it is a digital piano, i had it on med-low volume)

Me: “yes”

Landlord: “well I am having a very busy day and dont have time for this but the guys downstairs are calling me complaining about you playing the piano so could you stop playing.  I know you shouldn’t have to but I don’t have time to come over there and tell them to stop the crap”

Me: “thats funny, they never said anything to me. I could have turned it down if they would have just asked. It is not the middle of the night or anything.  I can turn it down but I am not about to stop playing.  Why should I have to be silent for them?”

Landlord: “well, I am just tired of dealing with them. Could you just help me out and wait it out

with me? They are only going to be here for a couple more weeks”

me: “i guess so”

I get along with my landlord really well and I know he is doing his best in this situation, but I am really tempted to just tell him to deal with it.  Why should I have to tiptoe around my house during the day?  I am paying rent too!  It is not like I am blaring the stereo and shaking the house or partying until three am (which the roommates do frequently).  At the same time, it is obvious that my roommates are irrational and refuse to deal with problems in mature ways.  That makes me a little afraid right now.  What if the start thinking “o, well this is my last month here, so I am just going to do whatever I feel like?”  We share storage space. They could easily steal or damage something of mine or they could easily come into my suite and do something terrible.  Who knows really…. So now I have to decide if I am going to fight the fight or lay low until they leave!  Decisions, decisions.

On the plus side, if you ever want to improve your communication and conflict-management skills, get a roommate.  You will learn a lot!

Cellphones for learning?

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , — debyj @ 10:07 am

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an Elluminate session with Liz Kolb on the topic of cellphones.  Throughout the presentation I was madly Diigoing all the of the resources she was sharing.  I also downloaded a copy of her powerpoint in case I missed anything!  I honestly did not expect to find this presentation so resourceful. I had no idea that there are SO MANY ways that you can use cellphones for learning.

If I went around a school and asked all of the teachers what they thought of allowing the use of cellphones in classrooms, the majority would disagree with the notion.  Before I saw this presentation, I would have disagreed as well.  I did not see the educational benefits that could come with using cellphones for learning.  Now that Liz has educated me in this area, I do not see it as such a bad idea.  In addition to using cellphones for learning, having them in the classrooms would also be a great opportunity to teach students about cellphone etiquette!  Right now, I believe that students are not being educated enough in that area and part of that reason is that we are not allowing them in classrooms and some schools are not allowing them at all in the building.

More and more students have their own cellphones everyday.  I would say almost all of my students in my internship had cellphones.  As this trend continues to grow, I can absolutely see cellphones becoming a great tool for students to use to enhance their learning experiences!

March 6, 2010

Collaborative Project

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , — debyj @ 11:10 am

I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Seymour (Connecticut) Music Department during the past month and will be spending some more time working with them during the remainder of the semester.

The Music Department has a ning and that is where I have been participating in class activities. So far, here is what I have done:

– posted a blog about myself to serve as an introduction where students responded by introducing themselves

– posted a video that taught them how to count to ten in French (they requested this because I am Canadian and they do not know any French)

– created an assignment where they had to create a short video of them performing a new piece and include a discussion of what they did well and what they need to work on. I responded to each of these videos giving suggests for practice. On Monday, they will be responding to my comments and setting practice goals. About a week later, they will be creating a second video and reflect on their improvements and practice goals.

I think the ning is such a fabulous opportunity for these students to get some experience performing. I am astounded at how comfortable they all are with performing solos. I have never seen a group of students that are so willing to do that (especially beginners) so that is fantastic!

It is also really cool that they can receive comments and learn from someone else with musical expertise in another country. Essentially, they can receive feedback from anyone that is willing with any kind of expertise without having to pay them to come to your school as clinicians. I just think that is great.

Some things that are a challenge – you can never really replace that face to face contact, so just simply being able to respond and have conversations is more difficult on the ning. I found when I was making responses to the videos, I sometimes thought it might be easier to jump in and demonstrate for them instead of trying to write it down.
Another disadvantage is that as useful as it is, it can be time consuming for the teacher to monitor everything that is being posted on the ning.

I am very excited about continuing my teaching (and learning) with this class! It definitely has inspired me to consider using a class ning in my first year of teaching.

March 5, 2010

Zoe from Ontario

Filed under: Cool Tools, Education — Tags: , , , , — debyj @ 10:31 pm

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this Elluminate session, but through the wonders of technology I was able to catch up on what I missed through a recording of the session!

Some neat things Zoe talked about:

-The software Zoe used to post all of her classes online: She puts all of her subjects online so that parents can be more familiar with what is going on in the classroom.

-all of her students have used Google Docs for at least one year and up to two years and they use this tool all the time to collaborate together on one document.  (very neat!)

-some of her students showed particular interest in bitstrips This is a neat program that helps them create comic strips.

-she mentioned livescribe.  This is essentially the most high-tech pen I have ever heard of!  It is basically a video camera for your notes.  I would love to have one of these!

Words of advice for teachers:

– start learning on your own.  Explore technology and become familiar with it before you start teaching with it!

-you can use blog comments as opportunities to teach students about how to deal with bullying and other negative social situations they may encounter in life.

-problem with having little/no control of what happens to students after they leave your classroom.  It would be really cool if our teachers could collaborate more technologically, such as carrying on portfolios and blogs from year to year.  The best thing to do is encourage students to encourage their future teachers to carry on what has been started!

I thought it was sooooo cool when her students spoke to us at the end of the session.  They were keeping up with our conversations and had some fabulous insights on the discussions we were having!  I was astounded and how much better they were at talking on Elluminate than I was!  They seemed so comfortable with the technology.

Interesting that one of the students really liked Diigo and valued the public sticky notes.  I am curious to know how Zoe addresses the negative or even derogatory comments that sometimes appear on these public sticky notes.

March 4, 2010

Diigo Exploration #4

Filed under: Diigo — Tags: , , — debyj @ 9:24 am

Diigo Tools

There are a lot of different extra tools that you can explore to enhance your Diigo experience. If you click on “tools” at the top of your Diigo account, you can view a variety of options.

One thing I found very challenging was understanding what exactly these tools were and how to use them. For most of the tools, Diigo gave a very brief description of what the purpose was. For example, I clicked on “Diigolet”. Here is the description:

“Diigolet is not as feature-rich as the Diigo toolbar, but it can be set-up by simple drag-and-drop – no download or installation needed, and it works for all major browsers. Much more powerful than bookmarklets offered by other social bookmarking sites, Diigolet is a “super bookmarklet” that allows you to highlight and add sticky-notes, in addition to simple bookmarking”

I wasn’t really sure why I needed this or what it really did so I tried following the instructions to install it. My browser said that I could not add Diigolet because I already had the Diigo toolbar. My assumption then was that the Diigolet is a simple substitute for the Diigo toolbar. This way, if I want to use a computer at school, I can add the Diigolet to the toolbar easily and use most of the Diigo tools I use at home on this public computer. It took a lot of guessing and assuming to come to that conclusion and I am still not 100% sure that is what the Diigolet does. I definitely think Diigo could do a little more explaining in their “tools” section to help the “unfamiliar” become more “familiar” with these tools.

Other times, I figured out what the tool was but I could not get it to work. For example, I thought that Diigo as a widget would be really great! But…it turns out I cannot figure out how to get it to work after many many attempts. There just simply is not enough “how-to” description to accompany these tools.

If you can figure out what they are and how to get them working, I can see how these tools could be very useful, especially to people who have their own blog or website. The tools also allow you to import and export bookmarks between other social bookmarking sites or your web browser bookmarks. Next time you are on your Diigo account, check out the “tools” option and you might find something that will make your life easier!

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