Author Archives: lblairdueck

To TikTok or not to TikTok?

Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, oh my! Twitter and Discord now give TikTok a try.

This week I signed up for an account and started exploring TikTok. Truth be told, I am not into it yet. My little interaction with the platform hasn’t drawn me in. When I use other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, I rarely watch the videos. Since TikTok is all videos, perhaps that is why it isn’t drawing me in. I found this video to see what I was missing from exploring blindly for a few days. It goes through all the features of Tiktok and how to use the mobile app on an iPhone.

I started looking for teachers and other educators to follow. I have found a few. I am not seeing the content that I would look for in social media such as lesson ideas, classroom management and reading intervention/strategies. What I am seeing are teacher outfits and classroom setups. However, I recently found this article with more ideas for using hashtags to help me find teachers using TikTok. Some of the most popular hashtags are #teachertips, #classroommanagement and #studentengagment. These are more of my area of interest that I will dive into in the coming weeks.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This next article is a must-read for teachers and parents. It is CBC article called Some teachers are using TikTok to reach teens but concerns over app’s effects persist. It presents many interesting ideas to consider. One is that TikTok is where many teens are getting their news from. This could be an opportunity for the teens to ask questions about what they are seeing but also for teachers and parents to talk to their children/ students about what news they are seeing. Opening up the chance for discussion. TikTok can capture attention and spark curiosity as one of the contributors says. This article points out the fact that the videos are all short and you move on to the next. What is this doing to the attention span of youth and how will this affect them at school?

This week, I also had a conversation with my 12-year-old nephew about TikTok. I learned that he does have an account and thinks that there are some bad things on there. I asked if he felt there was any educational value. He thought there was because he could watch cooking and baking videos to help him learn new things as baking is one of his interests. Otherwise, Auntie, it’s not very good. That got me thinkings and searching for more articles. My takeaway from these articles is that TikTok is really no different from other social media platforms when it comes to pros and cons. Cyberbullying can happen on any of the platforms as well as getting down “rabbit holes” looking for information.

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

The first article is 8 Pros and Cons of TikTok. I found that these pros and cons could apply to any platform. For example, some pros are: it’s entertaining, it’s a creative outlet and you could make friends. Making friends is one that makes me a bit nervous. The cons are: being exposed to sexual predators, it can harm your privacy and the negative comments that can be received. All of this leads me to the importance of educating our children/ students on how we can protect our privacy and being aware of the other cons.

The next two articles that would be important for parents and teachers to be aware of comes from the Cyber Bullying Research Centre website. The first is another list of pros and cons. There are some great points here that would be important for adults to be aware of to share with children. One is that when you sign up for an account it is automatically public. You have to go into the setting to set up your privacy settings. That article led me to the TikTok Top Ten Tips for Teens. This is a great place for parents and teens to start having a conversation about the platform and how to use it more safely.

I also went looking for #gardening ideas to help with my major project. This is where I found some success and a few accounts that will be helpful going forward. Stay tuned for more from @texasgardenguy . He has lots of great gardening tips.

I see both pros and cons of using TikTok. Will I continue once this class is complete, I am not sure, yet! My biggest takeaway is to continue to have conversations with students and children about the social media they are using to help them use it safely but also as connection point. I look forward to having further conversations with my nephew on the topic.

What are some of your favourite accounts to follow as an educator or other?

Week 2- Gardening update

No time for wasting. This week, I jumped into my online research as I knew I would soon have to get my garden in the ground.

First, I joined the Saskatchewan Gardeners Facebook page. I made a post to determine if one of my plants was a flower or a weed. Very quickly, I had 50 comments about my plant…not a weed!  It is a poppy! One of the commenters was able to identify one of the other plants in the picture. I used the Plant look-up tool on my iPhone in my pictures which confirmed what the comment said, it is a Lamb’s Ear.

My Facebook post to the Saskatchewan Gardens group.
Plant Look-up in my iPhone pictures.
Plant Look- up to confirm Lamb’s Ear

Next, I used Feedly to start gathering articles related to my topic. I really like this site. I have to check only one place every few days and read the new articles. I have also found that some of the article sources are better than others and can look on those pages for other articles of interest. Here are a few articles that I found helpful this week:

Lawn care: From this article, I learned that I should mow the lawn every two weeks and keep the lawn length to 3.5 inches. It also talks about not cutting the grass in May. We had already cut the grass this month so I was too late to take that advice. The reason for that is to help with pollination. Other ideas for pollination that were given are to put a Hummingbird feeder, bird bath, bee house and a variety of coloured flowers to attract pollinators. So far, we have added a Hummingbird feeder and bird bath to our front garden bed. Below are not my pictures, I hope to have a few of my own pictures with birds soon.

Image by George from Pixabay
Image by Ralph from Pixabay

Growing Vegetables– I took the advice from this article to prepare my vegetable garden for planting. I added cow manure to the soil and mixed it up together to raise the nutrient level in the soil. They also suggested adding fertilizer to the soil before planting, which we did. The greenhouse had cow manure and sheep manure. In reading both packages they seemed to do the same thing so of course I asked my toddler if he would rather have cow poop or sheep poop in the garden. His choice was cow so cow manure it is.

This article is specifically about tomatoes. They prefer full sun in the garden, which helped decide on garden placement. We purchased Beefsteak seedlings as they have the potential to grow larger tomatoes. Stay tuned for more about tomatoes in a later post.

My helper mixing the soil.
Garden divided and seeds planted.
Garden as of May 22, 2023

When to Plant?: This site has lots of great information for beginner gardeners such as the easiest veggies to grow, how to decide what to plant, and guidelines for arranging the vegetables in the garden. This article led me to the planting calendar. This is a very cool web page. You input your postal code and it tells you when is the best time to plant seeds and seedlings based on the last frost in that area. I learned that I am late planting my carrot, green bean and pea seeds. They should have been in the ground by May 11th and I got them in the ground May 21st. I will plant my tomato plants and cucumber plants between June 15th and 29th as the almanac suggests.

Companion planting: The article shows which vegetables should be planted together and which you should avoid for the best growth. I used this article to decide the best placement for the vegetables and which vegetables to plant.

I also watched this video to help me decide on plant placement in the garden. The video and article are about square-foot garden designs. Look back at the garden picture and notice black tape. This is where I measured out each foot to help space the garden properly.

The last thing for this week is Aeration. My brother called me and said he was renting an aeration machine for an evening, would I like my lawn done as well? How perfect, I thought. This will fit in so well with my project, that he is unaware of.  Of course, I told him to come on over. I did the research after the aeration was done. It will allow to the water to get in deep to the roots and help with the compression of the lawn.

My brother, hard at work aerating the lawn.

I hope you will come back next week to see how the garden is growing, learn about spring perennial care and find out what other mystery plants are growing in my flower beds. I would love any tips, tricks or gardening advice you have to share!

One of three beautiful Tulips in my garden.
Updated picture of the spring-cleaned perennial bed with the Humminbird feeder and birdbath included.

I am not so “social” media.

I remember in 2006, sitting in Tim Horton’s with another first-year teacher talking about Facebook. Something we had just learned about.  Can you imagine being a part of this? What could this possibly mean for a teacher? Students would see everything we do? This is a bad idea!

Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay

Fast forward a few months, I too made a Facebook account and still have it today. I am a fairly private person and am not super excited about sharing my life on social media. I do post occasionally. I enjoy the platform for keeping up with friends I don’t often see and seeing their children grow…even though I rarely post pictures of my own. I have strict rules about accepting friend requests, especially from students. Only if they have graduated high school, I will accept them as friends. I also don’t accept students’ parents as friends. It’s my attempt to keep my work and personal life a little separate.

I also have Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest being my most go to platforms. I began using Twitter when I took EC&I 834 with Katia, a year and a half ago. This is where I first realized the connections you can make with educators, teaching ideas, and many other education related sources. I haven’t yet started using it regularly however, I can see how you could build a community of Twitter.

Instagram, I use for connecting with friends and following other teachers and other personal interest items. This is platform I turn to the most often to scroll through, which can be a time waster for sure!

I remember hearing about Pinterest early in my teaching career. My colleagues strongly suggested that I don’t check it out until report cards were over so I would never get my report cards written. It too has a lot of information. I enjoy using it for teaching ideas, family picture outfit suggestions, and how to hang pictures on my wall just to name a few. I use this platform often when looking for ideas for any kind.

After reading this week’s articles about building a PLN, Professional Learning Network, I am inspired to use these tools in a different way. This is the way I have been using Twitter not realizing what I was doing. PLN, makes me think about Edsby groups I am apart of and how we use the groups to ask questions and support colleagues within our school division.

Image by Marie from Pixabay

My relationship with social media is mostly positive as I have set boundaries for myself and how I would like to connect with others and who I would like to connect with. The biggest negative for me would be the time I can waste “scrolling” when there are other things I should be doing.

My green thumb?!?

A green thumb, I do not have! I have always loved the idea of having flowers and a vegetable garden in my yard. Each year, I chose the flowers that I think are the prettiest, a variety of vegetables seeds and a few veggie plants and away I go. Some survive better than others. My approach to yard maintenance is: weed when I see weeds, cut the grass when it gets long and water when I have time. As you can see, no science involved.  

Instagram @BizarreLazar

A year ago, at the end of June, my family and I moved into our new home. It is an older home with a mature yard and landscaping. We have many perennials, shrubs, bushes, and a lovely garden box. When we moved in, everything was in bloom. I am starting from scratch this spring. My goal is to figure out what kinds of plants and shrubs I have and how to best maintain them. I would like to find out what vegetables are best planted together, what are best for the location of my garden bed and how I should fertilize the soil and so on. We are fortunate to have underground sprinklers, which I have never had before. I would like to investigate best time of day to water and for how long as well as, when is the best time to cut the grass and what length to cut it to.

By the end of this semester, I hope that my thumb is a bit greener and my plants are happy!

Here are the before pictures, taken May 13, 2023.