Author Archives: Gillian Crocker

So many choices … So little time!

From the moment we talked about our Major Project in EC&I 831, I knew that I would want to pick Option 2. How often do we get the opportunity to pick something we want to learn and actually get a little credit for it? I mean, this makes it feel like I am doing something I want to do, but on the clock!

As someone who constantly has a running list of things I would like to know how to do and be awesome at, I found it tough to select something for this project. First, I have always wanted to learn to play guitar. I was learning decades ago from an extremely passionate guitar enthusiast. But, eventually, that went to the wayside. I still love to sing and honestly would love to be able to play the guitar while I do it. However, I am not sure how much everyone around me would enjoy it.

Second, I love to bake. I used to bake non-stop and always said my dream job would be to own a coffee and bakery shop. The truth is, my husband is not wrong when he says I would NEVER be able to do the 4am wake ups in order to have everything ready. However, if I could just do fancy treats and cakes, then I could operate on my own time. Right?! I would truthfully love to learn the art of cake decorating! However, add in the amount of time and money it would take to do this, along with my annoying gluten allergy, and cake decorating seems like a pretty big hassle.

Third, I have always wanted to learn to crochet. Truth is, until I read Riley’s post on her learning project, I didn’t even know the difference between crocheting and knitting (she has a great visual comparison). I think I would enjoy it, but I honestly don’t have the time for it and would end up finding it stressful rather than relaxing.

So what? I have been forcing myself to try to enjoy golf for the last few months. As someone who again, likes to be good at things, I find the sport pretty frustrating. However, I am growing and enjoying it more now then I was a few months ago. I could sign up for lessons, watch videos and read pro golf tips, but is this really going to benefit me right now? Maybe I will leave that for the 2022 To-Do-List.

That led me to the question of “What can I dedicate time to learning that will not take me away from my family but will in fact enhance it? Possibly even invite participation?”

The Project

Meet Duke and Gryff (short for Gryffindor – full on Harry Potter geek right here). These are my fur babies. I have two human babies too, but these days they don’t need me nearly as much as they once did (at 19 and 10), and these little fluff balls give me somewhere to direct all my extra love.

After some serious consideration, I have decided to make these two a big part of my project. Duke is currently 6 1/2 years old and Gryff will be 6 months in October. When Duke was a pup, we did puppy classes and found he caught on quickly to a few basic commands. He is a loving, sweet dog who is generally easy to care for. However, as time went on, some annoying habits and behaviours came to light.

Duke is over-the-top excited whenever someone comes to the door. He will jump all over them and takes a bit to calm down no matter how many times he is scolded for this or how much we expect him to sit. I partly blame my mother for this as showing up with milk bones in her purse has really conditioned Duke to think everyone must be there for him. He has also not always been good around other dogs. I attribute this mostly to his over excitement, but it is still a challenge. He has often gone right to play mode without any caution when seeing another dog and as you can imagine, this does not always go well. Possibly for this reason, Duke is a terrible leash walker. He constantly has a “Me first” attitude and will not stop pulling no matter what we do! Despite these annoying traits, we love him and always considered him to be a pretty good dog.

We were worried about how this would go when we got Gryff though. However, from having him around our neighbours dogs, we knew he would calm down eventually. I really wanted another dog and kept at it until I got my way on this one. LOL. I am really so happy I did though. In many ways, Gryff has made Duke a much better dog.

Right from the start, Gryff was an easier dog. He loves to snuggle, eats well and didn’t bark. He balances out Duke’s slightly anxious nature and even calms him. However, now that Gryff is getting a little older, we are seeing the effects of each others behaviour. Duke has started to bark since Gryff arrived. At first it seemed to be just a warning bark if he had enough. Then it developed into more playful barking and now it is developing into a habit. Gryff has picked this up and is now starting to bark a bit as well. In addition, when company comes over, or one of us arrives home, we now have a whole new level of chaos. Finally, walks are terrible!! Now instead of one pulling, we have two, and often in opposite directions.

So all of this leads me to my choice of project. I have decided that I would like to try to learn what I can about dog training from online sources. I did not find obedience classes to be particularly useful, nor do I wish to commit to a certain time each week. This project gives me the flexibility to learn about this in a more individualized way. Through this project there are a few areas I am hoping to improve. I specifically want to target their behaviour around company, around other dogs and when walking on leash, but I do hope I am able to learn more that carries over. I feel this is a suitable project as it benefits my family, is something they can participate in and will allow me a chance to explore if it really is possible to learn a skill like this using social media outlets.

To begin, I have decided to create a Wakelet as a way to organize my findings. I started looking for frequently followed individuals or organizations offering pet tips on Twitter and Instagram. I plan to also explore Pinterest and YouTube. I will be organizing my findings in a Wakelet in an effort to keep it all in one place. I am looking forward to checking out all the resources out there and becoming a better puppy momma!

As for how I will document this process, I am still toying with ideas. I may see what Wakelet will do for me, compile a series of samples along the way and embed it all in one place. Or, I might compile it all in a iMovie or a Flipgrid. I’m still sorting these details out!

Are there any specific resources you know of that I should definitely check out? Do you have any training tips for me from your own experience? I’d love to hear about them if you do!

Finally, I must give a shout out to Curtis, who inspired me to spice up this post a bit with a hint of the flare he has added to his own! All of these can be found at https://giphy.com/. Just click on the photos to go right to the source.

Social Media: A Battle Between Beliefs and Necessity!

To describe my relationship with social media is to outline a story of ups and downs. For me, my earliest memories are with email and MSN Messenger. These are really quite minimal as I truly only used them for faster communication with those who I was no longer close to in proximity. Slowly this expanded to include texting – the good ol’ T9 kind. Wow did this make life easier! How quickly actual phone conversations disappeared though. Facebook came next and from there, the social media world seemed to explode.

Image can be found at <a href="http://<a href="https://www.vecteezy.com/free-photos">Free Stock photos by VecteezyVecteezy.com

I remember when I first saw Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat and I thought, why? Why do we need so many different platforms? Well, as much as I personally felt I didn’t need to have all these things on the go, along came my 13 year old daughter. Suddenly I was completely thrown into a NEED to be more aware of what existed and how to use it. At the same time, I was teaching Grade 5 and in my first year at a school where half the children of that age already had phones (today I would say that is more like 75%). Two-thirds of the way through that first year, I became aware of social media concerns with my students. I had students sending messages from other students devices, saying hurtful things about their peers in group chats, and posting unkind things about their peers in public domains like Musicl.ly (which would later become TikTok). By the end of that year it became very clear to me that:

  1. I needed to increase my own awareness of social media platforms.
  2. Parents and educators in general needed to increase their awareness of the social media platforms that exist, safety concerns and ways to monitor and keep their own children safe.
  3. Digital Citizenship instruction should be a part of school from an early age.

After many discussions with my administrators, my husband and a few other teachers who were seeing similar things, I started on a journey to find resources to support students, teachers and parents. This became part of my work in Learning Improvement Teams (LITs) for the next two years.

While there were many wonderful websites out there including Media Smarts and Common Sense Media, we found that teachers needed help to see where Digital Citizenship fit in their curriculum. Not everyone felt as strongly as I did that this was something that should be addressed in schools. For this reason we turned to the guide Digital Citizenship in Education.

The layout of this Saskatchewan guide, written by Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt, breaks down Digital Citizenship into nine elements found within three different categories. What we most appreciated about this as a team, was that it was not just focussed on all the bad things about social media. It helped to provide a framework for instruction meant to increase student’s digital literacy. We used this guide to pull together a sequence of lessons addressing each of the nine elements at each grade level, using numerous resources, including those mentioned previously. We then connected the specific lessons to their curriculum correlations for students in K-8, in order to provide teachers with concrete evidence of how digital citizenship education fit within their instruction.

This has been a big part of my social media journey and helped me to develop as a more digitally literate adult. It improved my own instruction in how to conduct research, the use of online educational tools and my attitude towards technology. However, it also made me increasingly more aware of the need to maintain a healthy balance. While I do not boycott social media all together, I find it to be a huge time sucker. I also see the effects of it on my mood very quickly and find it generally makes me unhappy. For this reason, I personally limit myself, try very hard to be present in the moment and avoid this ever present distraction in our world.

This leads to my current stop on the technology journey which is a feeling of it taking over my life no matter how much I don’t want it to (this is something I will discuss more later)! In fact, I kind of feeling like I am drowning it at the moment! Is anyone else feeling this way?