Activism or Slacktivism…Does It Have A Place In Your Classroom?

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What is the role of social media? Should it be used to check in with your family or friends, expand your horizons, or support a social action project? Does social media only have one purpose or should it be used for a combination of things?

If you remember a few years ago, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took social media by a storm? The purpose of this challenge was to raise awareness and donate money to the charity. In total, the campaign raised about 115 million dollars. So…do you think using social media for this type of campaign is effective?

My great grandmother passed away from ALS. Growing up, this disease was always near and dear to my heart. However, ALS was not a disease that was recognized by most. Personally, I think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge worked to raise awareness and money. Celebrities, hockey players, and your best friends could be seen on social media taking part in this challenge. The argument can be made that not everyone who participated in the challenge donated money or that some participants did not realize why they were pouring water over their heads. While this might be the case, overall the campaign still raised awareness and money even if not every participant donated.

But the argument can be made all the same that using social media to support causes, like ALS, also known as #slacktivism is problematic. For example, take this article by Maclean’s discussing how using social media to support social activism is “useless” because very little is being achieved to help the cause. The article ends by stating, “don’t embarrass yourself by demonstrating you need a gimmick to give. If you want to help, just give money or time. Anything else is only about you.” The reason I find this analysis problematic is because I think awareness is just as important in order to educate and take action. The article highlights that social media has caused society to believe they are making a difference by simply sending out a tweet with the #FeedTheStarving or #BringBackOurGirls. The argument stems from the fact that these tweets make the individual feel “rewarded” without actually taking action. Isn’t awareness the first step in order for a person to take action though? Without these so-called campaigns taking place on social media, would people even know about these social justice topics?

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It seems to me that as teachers we need to use these networks to educate our students about the action they can take. Think about how many students take part in Telemiracle. You can often find SLC executives fundraising for this Saskatchewan based fundraiser by holding a bake sale or selling Helping Hands. I think these social media campaigns are just another outlet for students to become aware of other organizations that they can give a helping hand. Are all of these campaigns seen on social media valid? No, probably not, which can be a valuable lesson in the classroom on its own. Teaching students to be aware of authenticity when browsing social media is an important understanding in the technological century that they are growing up in.

So how do we use this to teach about social action in the classroom? I think it begins by educating students about different social justice topics and using social media as a resource. In internship, I created a mini-unit, within a larger social justice unit, on systemic racism. I was able tie in the article, His Name is Cayden and discuss the #BlackLivesMatter. This led to the students asking those deeper thinking questions that we, as teachers, are always looking for. Students expressed the importance of being mindful of what one shares online. This led to a discussion on digital identity. Students also found other current events and articles that related to the idea of #BlackLivesMatter. Furthermore this idea was connected to the Syrian Refugee Crisis that was happening at the exact moment we were learning about systemic racism. I guess the point I am trying to make is that these social media campaigns create a platform for students, and society at large, to learn and make meaningful connections about important events taking place in the word. It seems that society has become so critical of the “problems” with such social media campaigns, that they forget to see the successes. The fact is, my class never actively engaged in any social media campaign, but they can use the knowledge and awareness they have learned to influence them to take action in the future.

As a teacher, the challenge is finding a way to use social media in a meaningful and productive way. The critics will always be critics. What do you think? Do you have a place for social media campaigns in your classroom?

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The Magic of Machines

It’s week seven and it’s crazy how quickly working out has become a part of my daily routine.  I think back to the beginning of my learning project and remember how uncomfortable I was walking into the gym.  I think the discomfort was more of an internal feeling more than anything.  One think I have learned personally is to be confident.  Why did I feel uncomfortable for making a life decision that improved my overall health? I think social media plays a role in the discomfort a new gym goer may feel.  Society influences us to believe that you have to have a certain appearance to lift weight at the gym, but I’ve come to realize the opposite.  Actually, the gym can be an inspiring place to make a change for the better because other gym goers are in the same shoes.

I’ve always wondered what’s better…free weights or machines? Or is one better than the other?  If you walk into a gym, you will quickly realize that both free weights and resistance machines are present. Here are a few things I learned about the difference between free weights and machines.I started the week by watching the YouTube video below to learn about the difference between free weights and machines.

Machine vs Free Weights

This might be the best website I have found since starting my Personal Learning Project. This website has pretty much any machine you can find at the gym and provides short, instructional videos for how to use each machine.  It’s quick and efficient.  Before going to the gym this week I focused on learning about three different machines.  Check out the exercises I learned this week along with their instructional videos.

1.     Abdominal

2.     Seated Dip

3.     Lateral Pull

This week was great for learning about some new machines and the proper form and technique for using each machine, but moving forward I want to learn how to use each machine to create an upper or lower body workout.  What are the different areas that I should be targeting at the gym? How often do you workout each area? What exercises are the most beneficial?  These are all questions I will be looking at closer as I move forward with my learning project.

“What is Your Word?”

Audience members sat in a packed auditorium to await Justice Murray Sinclair’s speech at the University of Regina.  Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, delivered an impactful and thought-provoking lecture.  His words were moving and profound because of the weight of his message.  If you were unable to attend the lecture or watch the live stream, you could have seen some of the words Sinclair had to share on Twitter.  I have included a few of the tweets from individuals I follow on Twitter below.

Sinclair’s word resonated for me as an educator for a number of reasons.  Growing up in a small town, I was never exposed to a lot of culture throughout my schooling.  However, I distinctly remember a few of my teachers focusing on First Nations culture, including Treaty Education.  Having no representation of First Nations peoples in my school’s population, I think it was essential that as a student, I was exposed to these learnings.  I think it is a common misconception that rural schools, where there is arguably less multiculturalism in the classrooms, gain little to no exposure to multicultural teaching.  However, the issue is not whether you attend school in an urban or rural setting.  Instead, the issue is whether or not teachers take the time to educate themselves and access outside resources, such as elders, that can help assist with the learning.  I believe as an educator, we have to be willing to find authentic and meaningful learning experiences so student are not afraid to share their voices.  Something that I have always carried forward with me that I learned from my professor, Sean Lessard, is that we cannot be afraid to disrupt the narratives.  These words have influenced me in pre-internship and internship and will continue to influence me in my future as a teacher.  I actually have to credit the Education program at the University of Regina for providing meaningful opportunities, such as Sinclair’s lecture, to learn about reconciliation and the importance of Treaty Education.

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One idea that resonated with me during Sinclair’s speech was the fact that reconciliation involves both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal peoples.  This begins through conversations in order to “better understand one another.”  As a teacher, I think this includes continuing to educate myself in order to have these conversations with students.

Something that Horizon School Division has done is created a video to send the message that “We Are All Treaty People.”  Claire Kreuger, a teacher who advocates for Treaty Education, bases her first project of the year as a response to Horizon School Division’s video.  The idea is simple, the conversation that takes place as a result is significant.

Sinclair’s lecture further reinforced my belief to continue to learn and teach Treaty Education and First Nation culture to work towards reconciliation.  He mentioned that we must help students answer these four important questions about identity:

“Where do I come from?”

“Where am I going?”

“Why am I here?”

“Who am I?”

As an educator, I believe we have the responsibility to make all students feel included and acknowledged.  It is so important that as educators we teach about First Nations and Treaties in the classroom.  Even though, as Sinclair mentioned, it can often be met with resistance with parents at home.  Why? I think it stems from the fact that they were never taught.  They don’t understand that residential schools still have lasting impacts, they don’t understand the history of First Nations colonization; the assimilation and segregation that took place, and they don’t understand the systemic racism as a result of Canada’s history.  I recently had a discussion with my boss at my job about the comments a member was making about the recent tragedy that took place at LaLoche.  I disagreed with the comments he was making about the events that took place, about reserves, and about First Nations people in general.  I wanted nothing more than to argue with the member, but I reminded myself that I needed to act professionally.  All I could do was inform the member I disagreed with his perspective and politely suggested he educate himself further on the matter before making such comments.  The problem is that these ignorant ways of thinking stem from a lack of education.  The lack of education stems from a generation of First Nations people as being represented as inferior.

When Sinclair talked of residential schools, I was reminded of the Witness Blanket that began its tour at the University of Regina last year.  I had the privilege of bringing my pre-internship class to see this monumental project last.  Fortunately, the app allowed me to teach about the Witness Blanket again during internship last fall.  It’s these moments that allow me to feel empowered as a teacher.  Whether I am sitting with Joseph Naytowhow having a conversation about how I should teach about the residential schools and the Witness Blanket, participating in events like Treaty Ed Camp, or listening to Sinclair’s moving lecture, I always leave feeling empowered and refreshed about how I can help end the stigma and teach towards reconciliation.  If I have learned anything it is that the conversation must never end and we must all continue to learn.

The following is from a reflective piece I wrote last year after meeting with Emerging Elder, Joseph Naytowhow.

“A question, which I think many of my peers share, is how do we teach about First Nations history and culture when we were not part of the lived experiences?  Joseph’s insight on this was something that I was not expecting.  He said that he, too, shared the same fears when he began teaching because residential schools stripped him of his culture.  Therefore, he self educated himself about his own culture. We all have the responsibility to do the same.”  

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Students in pre-internship brainstorming their thoughts about residential schools. Later they created their own “Witness Blanket” on global issues. An idea inspired by Emerging Elder, Joseph Naytowhow.

I want to close in the same way Dr. Shauneen Pete did at Treaty Ed Camp.  She asked us to choose a word for the day.  She ended by saying, “remember your word and carry it forward.”  My word for today is empowered.  What is your word?

No Gym…No Problem

What happens when you don’t have access to a gym? Maybe you are away on a business trip or on a family vacation. In my case, I went home for the break to visit my family. As I mentioned at the start of my learning project, I grew up in a small town that does not have a gym. So how do I continue on with my learning project? Do I simply not work out for the week because I do not have a gym to visit? That would be the easy way out, but that is not reality. Reality is, there is a number of workouts that I can do right from my home. So, this week was all about working out from the comfort of my home!

The first thing I noticed when searching the web for at home or “no gym” workouts was that there is endless possibilities. I quickly learned that I needed to focus in on the areas I wanted to work on. Was I looking for cardio workouts or did I want to focus on strength exercises? Fortunately, my parents have a treadmill so I spent the first two days focusing on cardio. I used what I learned from the beginning of this project and did an endurance and interval training session on the treadmill. It was great for the start of the week where I was lacking motivation and needed a good sweat!

For the rest of the week I once again used Men’s Fitness to support my learning. This site provides “10 At Home Workouts To Build Muscle.” I think it is a misconception that you need weights to help build and strengthen muscles. That is false. Using your own bodyweight is actually an effective way of gaining muscle. I tried a few of the workouts found on this site and noticed that my muscles were sore the following days, which is interesting because my muscles have not been sore for the past couple of weeks. Maybe I have developed too much of a routine at the gym.


The fact of the matter is that there is not excuse not to workout. Whether you are at home or at the gym, you are still working towards creating a better and healthier YOU. It all comes down to preference. Some people enjoy the privacy of their own homes. Others need the gym for motivation and more variety. But all in all, one-way is not more RIGHT than the other. A workout is a workout no matter where you are. Do you prefer working out at home over the gym or vice versa? How do you change things up so you do not become too routinized?

Tip of the Week: Change it up! This week by changing up my routine, I felt different muscle groups being used. If you do the same thing over and over, you gain muscle recognition and your muscles do not have to work as much.

I Dare You…

After reading Larissa’s blog post this week, it inspired me to write my own. As much as I believe technology plays a vital role in education, and in society, I think there is a need to set limits and to experience what it feels like to unplug. What are we doing to ourselves when we are constantly staring at a screen, unconsciously checking social media, or sending text after text? Are we losing the ability to have social interaction by becoming too dependent on technology? Why has it become the norm to document everything on social media? What message is this sending? How much of life are we truly missing out on?

I encourage you to check out the video below that I found on Joshua Becker’s blog, Becoming a Minimalist (7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space). It is a realistic representation of how attached society has become to their smartphones.

Here is a journal entry from my time volunteering in Costa Rica:

Today I am really thinking about the role technology plays in my life and the life of others in Canada. Why have we become a culture that is so dependent on our phones and on social media? What role does it really play? I am questioning how much life I miss out on when using my phone. As I sat with my host family showing them pictures of my family and friends back home, I started to reconsider how I spend my time with friends and family. What would it be like to meet up with friends and leave our cellphones in our pockets? Is that a realistic expectation back home? One thing I can say for sure is that living without technology has made me realize how much time is wasted in a day on social media and how quickly life can pass by. Here, in Providencia, the days go by slower and I am able to appreciate every second for what it is worth. Soon I will not be able to sit and visit with my host family looking out at the lush green mountains that have clouds hanging over them.

Since returning home from Costa Rica, I noticed how easy it was to fall back into the craze of social media and how quickly I became attached to my phone. I decided I needed to make a change in my life. I found that I was checking facebook way too often throughout the day. Sometimes I did not even recognize that I was checking facebook, which is somewhat scary. For the past three months, my phone has been facebook free. I find that I only go on facebook about two to three times a week now. I also try to be more conscious of the time I spend on my phone, using social media, and other forms of technology. Here are a few things I have noticed:

  • I no longer find myself scrolling through my news feeds before bed; as a result, I have noticed I fall asleep faster and feel more rested.
  • As an avid reader, I have found I have more time (or make more time) to read!
  • I no longer feel the need to check facebook constantly.
  • I feel like I don’t waste as much time on social media and have more time to experience what is happening right in front of my eyes; in other words, spend more time LIVING.

I want to make myself clear. I am not saying that you should never use social media or technology. I’m saying that you need to find a balance. I do not think you can truly understand how much of life you are spending on social media until you omit it from your life for a period of time. So, I DARE YOU to disconnect. Whether it is facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other form, I encourage you to try a digital detox. My goal is to do a complete digital detox over the break where I do not use my phone or laptop for a few days while I am at home visiting my family. I want to use this time to take a break from school, connect with my family, and live in the moment.

What do you think? Do you think we have become too attached to our phones and missing out on what is happening right in front of our eyes? Are you up for a digital detox? It can be something as simple as taking a break from one form of social media. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but I promise that you will notice a difference.

Do You Even Lift?

Do you even lift? I’m sure you have all heard this at one time or another. Maybe it was a humorous meme intending to question someone’s legitimacy of lifting weights. On a more serious note, I think the average person can relate to that statement. Although it is a misconception that you have to have huge muscles to even venture into the free weights section of the gym, it is a valid thought for sure. Free weights can seem intimidating, but are crucial to a balanced gym routine. I have learned that the intimidation factor is two fold. It is party due to the fact that you think people are continually watching and making judgments (which I have learned is entirely in your head). More commonly, the intimidation is due to a lack of knowledge. What do I do with free weights? A question I can relate to.

To be completely honest, this week has been a struggle to get to the gym. School seems to be getting busier, and I only was able to get to the gym a few times this week. I used a few articles and YouTube videos to assist me with my research of using free weights. Although this first video is extremely disinteresting, it does provide valuable information for different dumbbell exercises and focuses largely on the correct form, which is essential when using free weights.

The next video is great for beginners. It took me awhile to find this video, but after sifting through what seemed to be endless videos, I eventually found this resource that demonstrates a free weight workout for beginners. I particularly like this video because it did not require a lot of equipment and was easy to understand for someone that is not experienced with free weights. This week I had the opportunity to test out this beginner free weight workout at the gym. I found that since I had a plan, I didn’t feel intimidated using the free weights.

It doesn’t matter how big your arms, what size of weights you are lifting. What matters is having a plan and the Internet is a great resource for providing beginner, intermediate, and advances training. I have also been following different fitness profiles on Twitter and have been learning some interesting facts.

Interesting Fact of the Week: Working out for long periods of time is not more beneficial; it can actually start to deteriorate your muscles. Instead, focus on shorter workouts (30-60 minutes) that target a particular area.

Till next time…

The Digital Lives of Mr. Ryan McKillop

Have you ever wondered what comes up when you search your name on Google? What can people find out about you? Who are you online? This is called your digital identity.  You might think that you don’t have a digital identity, but it is the 21st century…you do!  Your digital identity could be something as simple as your facebook or Twitter account or it could be as broad as a blog you created that you either forgot about or still use to this day.  It could even be a combination of these things. The question really is whether or not you are aware of your digital identity. Are you being portrayed online how you want to?

This week, I decided to take a closer look at my digital identity.  As a future teacher, it is important for me to have a digital identity that reflects who I am, my values, and my beliefs; a digital identity that I would be proud to show future employers. Digital identity is not something that is new to me. I have been conscious of it throughout university, thanks to one of my professors, Katia Hildebrandt. It is also something that I focused on teaching to my students during my internship. Like I said, EVERYONE has a digital identity…even our students. It is important that they understand and recognize that whatever they post online will be a part of their identity for the rest of their lives. I referred to the term “digital footprint” to my students whenever I saw a “teachable” moment in a lesson.  For example, I during an ELA unit focused on social justice, the students were learning about systemic racism. One of the articles I used for this assignment was called His Name is Cayden. A statement that soon became an viral hashtag across Twitter.  I used this article to teach about the digital footprint that Roth (the man who posted the photo on his facebook) has left for himself. This will be something that he will be associated with for the rest of his life. It is essential that students are aware of the implications of their posts and that they, too, create a digital footprint that they would be proud to show others, that represents who they are, and that is aligned with their morals. This article mirrors exactly what I am trying to say and I especially like the four tips on how to establish your digital identity.

Below is a video of what happened when I took a closer look at my digital identity. In other words, what happens when I type my name into Google?

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I was not too surprised about what I found when I typed my name into Google. The first thing I noticed was the images that appeared.  Some were quickly recognizable (profile pictures from Summer Sports School and Twitter). Other images, not associated to me, were a little more shocking. No, I do not own my own underwear line, but apparently there is another Ryan McKillop who owns his own underwear line.

Here is what my digital identity consists of:

·      My Profile at Summer Sports School: includes a brief biography and a few sample lesson plans.

·      My LinkedIn Account: a form of online resume that indicates my past experiences, my skills and abilities, and my connections to other professionals

·      Educational Twitter Account (@ryan_education): a combination of tweets that outline the work I completed in internship, my educational philosophy and beliefs, and other educational resources.

·      Personal Twitter Account: this account is private, not because I post inappropriate material, but because I have no control over what friends will post.

·      Facebook Account: although it did not appear on my first search, the picture below shows what users (who are not friends with me) can see if they find me on Facebook.

·      My Blog (mckillopryan@wordpress.com): the space I use the most for my online identity; my blog consists of my philosophy, work I did in pre-internship and internship, work I have done in university classes, and is an overall reflection of who I am as an educator.

What I discovered about my online identity is that it is interconnected.  In other words, what I post on Twitter is relatable to what I post on my blog.  I think it is important that my online spaces display the same representation of who I am.

Week 3: No Rest for the Wicked

I have trained for two half marathons, but I have never been as sore as I am from learning these different cardio workouts. This week I learned three different forms of cardio exercises at the gym. First I tried a spin class. I have never been to a spin class before. For those of you that do not know what a spin class is, don’t worry, I didn’t know what it fully entailed until I read this. A spin class is an indoor cycling class .  Naively, I went into the spin class thinking that it wouldn’t be that hard. After the first few minutes, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. I would say that a spin class is as much of a cardio class as it is a lower body exercise.  It uses a form of interval training that changes intensity levels and the positioning on the bike. Throughout the class you are pedaling both on and off the seat. Although my legs were like jelly and my clothes were soaked in sweat, I enjoyed the spin class because I was in complete control of how hard I wanted to work.  Unlike the programs on the treadmill I could choose how hard I wanted to challenge myself. Before attending the class, I learned how to set up a spin bike. You might think there isn’t a lot of set up involved when using a spin bike at the gym, but you have to consider the height of the seat and the handles. I watched this video to learn about how to set up the bike before going to the gym and trying it out myself. I have also posted the video of me setting up my own bike.

The other cardio machine that I used this week was the elliptical machine. As I mentioned last week, I have never actually been on an elliptical before. There are a few things I learned. An elliptical machine allows you to change the resistance by choosing an effort level. After experimenting with the effort levels, I set mine around 20 and used the elliptical for a ten minute warm-up. I also learned that the elliptical machine offers programs similar to the treadmill.  As far as the difference between a treadmill and an elliptical, I noticed that the elliptical was a lot harder on my legs. However, I found that the treadmill was a better cardio workout.  Personally, I found that using the treadmill better suited the needs of my cardio workout.  After comparing both of these machines, I found this article that explains the difference between the two.

A high intensity interval workout is another form of cardio that I experimented with this week.  A lot of at home workouts are a form of high intensity interval training. This means that it is short periods of fast paced exercises. In simple terms, it increases your heart rate quickly.  The gym I attend has a program called “Fitness on Demand” which allows you to choose different programs and follow the video. I chose one that used intense interval training. I found that the workout worked on both strength training and endurance. Through this type of exercise I also learned the definition of a set and a rep. I also created my own high intensity interval workout to try at the gym. Note that each exercise was done for thirty seconds with a ten second break in between each exercise and a minute break between each round. The workout consisted of the following:

Round 1

·      Burpees (2 sets)

·      Boxing Punches (2 sets)

·      Squat Jumps (2 sets)

·      Plank (2 sets)

Round 2

·      High Jumps (2 sets)

·      Push Ups Side to Side (2 sets)

·      High Knees (2 sets)

·      Raised Leg Hold – left and right (2 sets – 1 set each leg)

Round 3

·      Squat Jumps (2 sets)

·      Arm Row Push Ups (2 sets)

·      Mountain Climbers (2 sets)

·      Bicycle (2 sets)

Here are a few videos of parts of the high intensity interval training session (see above) that I did at the gym this week. The workout took about 30 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ6o3eb8yGk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0e50zoH0NY

I would highly recommend this type of workout for someone looking for cardio exercises to burn fat. Not only does it push you to your limits, but it also builds muscle and stamina.

Blogging 101: Google Classroom

Over the last year I have heard a lot of hype about Google Classrooms from reading about it briefly on Twitter to listening to my colleagues talk about it.  I’ve heard outstanding reviews and I’ve heard some problematic issues with it as well.  I decided it was time to look at Google Classrooms in more depth so I could develop my own opinion or at least have better background knowledge about the program.

If you have been following my blog, you will have noticed that I started following the Cool Cat Teacher blog (@coolcatteacher) and have found myself reading the posts frequently.  Whether it is a quick skim or I dive full force into an article, I always take something away.  Coincidentally enough, Vicki Davis reviewed Google Classrooms on her blog this week through a recorded interview with high school teacher, Alice Keeler. You can find the interview, 10 More Things You Can Do Easier In Google Classroom here.

What exactly is Google Classroom? It is an online platform that allows teachers to set up a classroom to give instruction, provide feedback and comments, plan and organize assignments, and communicate with their students.  There are numerous benefits of using Google Classroom that can be found through a simple Google search. This article I found complimented Davis’ interview. The most common benefits of Google Classroom are listed below.

  • Easy to use
  • Form of paperless classroom
  • Allows teachers to give quality feedback and comments
  • Allows for worthy formative assessment
  • Both students and teachers can communicate and ask questions with each other
  • Students have the ability to upload assignments to Google Drive folders
  • Timely and efficient for planning, feedback, and questions
  • Compatible with Google Apps (Google Docs, Google +, etc.)

According to Keeler, Google Classroom allows her the ability to cut down on instructional time by providing directions for students to quickly and easily access.  She notes that workflow is quicker, it’s beneficial for students who are absent or not paying attention, and allows her more time to work one on one with students.

Here are some disadvantages of Google Classroom:

  • No audio/video option
  • No calendar for assignment due dates or overview
  • Grading application lacks

I wonder if another disadvantage would be privacy.  During my internship, I was unable to use any Google applications in my classroom due to privacy reasons set up by the division.  Students were not allowed to have school Gmail accounts and Google Docs were not permitted because of online privacy issues.  Therefore, as an educator it is important to be aware of division policies before implementing any form of technology into the classroom.

If you want to learn more about Google Classroom check out the interview and read this article that helped me to write this post.  Personally, if I get the opportunity, I would like to try Google Classroom in my future classroom for the simple fact that it allows for meaningful and quality feedback.

Week 2: The Life of a Treadmill

I’d be lying if I said my body didn’t hurt. It seems like every day I wake up a new muscle in my body is sore. This week I focused my time on cardio and more particularly the treadmill. The reason I started with the treadmill is because it is my comfort zone. As I have mentioned previously, when I did find myself using the gym my go to was running on the treadmill because it seemed to be something I couldn’t “fail” at. To contradict what I just said, I am going to share a somewhat humorous, utterly embarrassing story of my first experience using the treadmill this week. I jumped on the treadmill, put my water bottle in the holder, found the spot to plug my earphones into and then attempted to turn the treadmill on. To give you some background information, this treadmill is completely new as the gym just opened a few months ago. It had a screen on the front that was black. I looked around the edges of the screen, tried attaching the safety clip to my waistband, got off the treadmill and walked to the front to see if there was a button I was missing. At this point I was already sweating from embarrassment. I could have gone home. Turns out, all I had to do was touch the black screen for the settings to be displayed. I won’t be making that mistake again.

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You might be thinking, “what is there to learn about the treadmill besides the obvious of turning it on?” Let me tell you, there is a lot to be learned. If you simply want to walk or run on the treadmill you can choose your speed and incline. For the first day I figured turning the treadmill on was an accomplishment in itself so I stuck to running for forty minutes, changing the incline every five minutes. Needless to say, I was tired at the end. However, the rest of my week I focused on learning the various programs that the treadmill offers.

I focused some of my time on the advanced settings trying the customizable program and the preset profiles. Pictured below is the screen on the treadmill. As you can see, you can choose between five different programs.

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Pictured here is the goal driven setting. I would say this is the simplest setting to choose from in regards to the set up. You have the choice between the amount of time you want to be on the treadmill, how many calories you wish to burn, or how far you want to run. I have read on many different blogs that the distance setting is recommended for marathon training.

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Below is pictures of the settings I chose when I tested the customizable profile.

Here is a summary of what I learned about the advanced programming:

  • I set my effort level to 8 thinking that it would be somewhat challenging. However; the program barely had me jogging so I found myself increasing the sped with each phase.
  • I found the programs to change the speed so often that it was difficult to get a steady momentum (although maybe that was the challenge of the program…).
  • I found the preset programs to be difficult to understand. For example, I did not know if the target of programs I was selecting were focused on endurance, speed, incline, sprints, etc.

Personally, after learning about the programmed exercises on the treadmill, I have learned that I prefer to control my own settings. I found that I was having manage the settings myself throughout the workouts anyways because they were either not challenging enough or they were too challenging that I would have flew right off the back of the treadmill.

After a few days of trying the programs on the treadmill, I found this website that explains various 30 minutes treadmill workouts.

I tried the interval workout and the endurance workout from this Men’s Fitness site and discovered that I preferred this as opposed to the preset programs because it still gave me the foundation of the workout, but allowed me to use my own settings. Who knew there was more to a treadmill than just turning it on? The trick is to experiment and find out what works for you. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Next week I will be focusing my time on learning some new cardio exercises including spin (indoor cycling), and high intensity interval workouts.