Nevis: Back to Basics Round 2

It has been so incredibly refreshing to go back to basics – I could feel myself rushing through training and wanting better results than I was getting with her and I knew I needed to slow down. This happened to parallel with many elements of my life that needed a little bit of a ‘whoa’ button hit. I took the time I needed, went back to ‘play basics’ with Nevis, and tried to do my best to just ‘rekindle’ my connection with her a little bit. It helped tremendously and I think that it set us up for success. I appreciated the comments that everyone made on my last “Back to Basics” post so much, it really made me think more about the ‘long term’ nature of training her and the pressure of the time constraint within this semester-based timeline. I had to come to terms with the fact that we are not going to be super solid and consistent on our training and commands by the time this project comes due, but we will be able to show the growth and improvements we’ve made over these short weeks. Looking at it this way has helped me alleviate unnecessary pressure I put on myself and Nevis, and it also helped me see these small victories as more of a success than I was giving them credit for initially.

Nevis has entered her ‘adolescent’/teenager mindset having turned 6 months old. The puppy that would follow me out the door when it was time to go outside now requires a leash to go to the backyard so she doesn’t dash and she puts up quite the fuss when it’s time to leave the dog park. She’s a little moody these days but it’s fun to watch her personality come out.

But man oh man are we crushing the “sit, stay, break” while we wait for food. *high five*!

Here are a couple of videos we took (with use of a tri-pod this time, instead of the usual ‘phone prop’). They focus on some back to basics work with “stay” and incorporate some “leave it”, and more movement from me around the house while she ‘stays’.

Practicing ‘Stay’: Round 1

Practicing ‘Stay’: Round 2

Nevis Training: Back to Basics

A little laugh to start us off: my dad was, for quite a while, “Anti-Dog”. Before I got Nevis on July 21, Dad was known for saying the following: “do you *really* need a dog right now?”, “they tie you down and you won’t be able to travel as much”, “it’s a lot of responsibility” blah, blah, blah. All valid points…all went ignored.
Fast Forward to October: my dad and Nevis have a bond like I’ve never seen before. It’s a beautiful thing to witness – she plays with him, follows him around, cuddles with him as he reads the paper, etc. They were meant to be in each other’s lives, that I believe for sure. Here’s a little look at their ‘game time’ shenanigans:

Based on the videos and posts from last week (where discouragement was the overarching theme), I thought it would be important for both Nevis and I to go through some training that brought us back to the basics. It just served as a reminder to reset ourselves and go back to the times of our puppy classes where there were no expectations and results per class were a bonus. I had to go back to the feeling of no pressure, otherwise I think I would have struggled more.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Her and I can have a lot of fun together with this
    • I find that in these sessions we are able to connect more and have some patience with each other. Sure she’s jumping up a little bit as I’m talking and getting organized, but she is excited to get started!
  • She is SUPER engaged
    • rarely in our sessions does she become too ‘distracted’ and want to leave the session to find something else to do  – this is a HUGE plus!

Video 1: Sit, Stay, Down & Leave It

Video 2: Sit, Down, and Stay (Few Vocal Cues)
**Disclaimer: even though the title says “Few Vocal Cues” you’re going to hear my voice a lot – because this is ‘back to basics’ it’s important for me to be diligent with cues in setting up for success.

UPDATE on Past Posts/Videos:

  • Now, when I get her food ready at meal times, I only have to say “Stay” ONCE (it’s a freaking miracle – any wood to knock on???). And she leads me to her pen and sits while I am still walking over, anticipating the command. After a “stay” command at the pen, she will wait until I say “Break!” before she eats. PROGRESS!!

Nevis Training + Being Vulnerable

This training session occurred over the Thanksgiving long weekend. The Thanksgiving weekend was a tough one for me personally: coming down from a lot of stress at work, pressures of family and company and hosting dinners, combined with feeling under-the-weather and a little behind in both of my Masters classes.

  • The biggest struggle I have as a dog-owner: patience. I know, it’s not the best thing to struggle with having a new pet added into your routine. However, I’m getting better.

This was not a successful training session. I had a goal over the long weekend to have a couple family members film me and Nevis randomly throughout the weekend when they identified us having ‘teaching moments’ and ‘in the moment training’. You can tell in my voice that I’m just defeated and I’m quoted saying “I don’t know why you’re filming this, it’s not good”. In addition, there’s some laughter in the background when Nevis goes to “sit” on her own time rather than on Command. Looking back I can chuckle now too, but the other really frustrating part of training is that people who are outside looking in, don’t see the day-to-day, minute-to-minute frustrations that come with it and the laughter or ‘making light of’ can be more discouraging than anything. Am I being too sensitive? Maybe.

*I’m trying to build in more distractions as we go through these sessions, but sometimes we need to go BACK TO BASICS and that is totally okay!! There is a LOT of distraction going on during this session 1) her favorite toy, 2) it’s out of the blue, 3) we had company over, 4), there is music on, and 5) we had a ‘fetch’ and ‘bring back’ session a few minutes before so she was already in the habit for that.

Drop It & Sit w/ Distraction

Sit w/ Distraction

 

Nevis Training: We Have Video, Folks!

Alright, Alright, Alright! Thanks to a little YouTube tutorial and figuring out my ‘channel’ I have successfully uploaded some film footage of training sessions with Nevis over the past few weeks! Please keep in mind these are in a timeline that right now is a little all over the place so I will do better to organize them and show progress now that I have the uploading skills in my toolkit. To give some context to each of the posts, I’ve given a brief introduction of the video, the goals of that session, and what I hope to do next time.

Walking on the Leash*: this video is a reflection from our second one-on-one training session on October 2. **Disclaimer: I get cut off at the end but what I meant to say is that we got some tips and tricks that help me be a better ‘handler’ and a little more exaggerated so that she will listen to me as well. Also..I was introduced to thumbnails for the beginnings of videos which I will learn how to do. You can probably tell from my facial expression what kind of update this will be like! *face palm*

Sit and Stay while Food is Getting Ready: She is frustrated in this video and quite frankly, so was I! I was a little rushed getting ready for work and so you can tell in my tone that it’s not going to be successful. She gets to the point though! …that ‘heey–aggghhh!’ (phonetically wonderful, I know!) sound I make is called an “Interruption Cue” that I’m supposed to make when she breaks from a command and knows to go back to it.

Sit and Stay w/ Food + “Break!”: this is a bit of a shorter one where I finally remembered to use the “break!” command for her to eat, instead of saying “okay” – because I use that word too much in a daily basis for her to know that it means something to her!

I was going to add a couple more videos – but they’re a little vulnerable for me right now so I will leave them for another post. I don’t like not being good at something – I know…get over it, Jessica!!! So, it’s in draft form right now and I’ll work up the courage to post it. It is a learning process after all, and no matter how slow the progress is, it’s still progress.

Goal for Next Week: do a “time lapse video” (with some edits of course!) focusing on “go to your mat”, “caught me being good”, and “off!” commands during #eci831 class so I can track how well she does over the course of the two hours – that’s a long time for a pup, so we’ll see how it goes!

If anyone knows how to make these MONSTROUS videos a little bit smaller on my blog so that it’s a little more aesthetically pleasing, please let me know!

‘Never Nervous Nevis’: An Update (Week One & Two)

I am panicking. Totally falling behind in this project and my updates for it on the blog, paired with the ‘regression’ of Nevis’ skills lately – she’s teething like crazy (lost 3 teeth this weekend alone!) and is close to the time when she’s to be spayed so she’s all up in the hormones. Never thought that these updates would be playing such a major part of my training processes, let alone my project for this Masters class, but here we are!
Please beware, this is a long post! I’m trying to get caught up! Sorry folks.

Neighborhood Watch

My fearless companion has been quite the challenge when it comes to approaching this project. She has been deemed ‘Never Nervous Nevis’ in my family for her ‘fearless character’ and ‘bravery’ – sounds so honorary…but let me tell you, she’s a rascal. She could be a *little* bit more nervous if you ask me!

I work with a trainer in Moose Jaw one-on-one which has been really helpful. It’s also made me very mindful of how much to share when the training methods are considered Intellectual Property, and I feel like I’ve been toeing the line a little bit in this post when it comes to what I’ve shared.
I find it very interesting that our training sessions have more to do with training me, than they do training Nevis. I’m not a person for small talk, nor do I engage in a lot of random conversations and it is glaringly apparent through my training with Nevis. I also live alone and am not in too much of a habit of talking to myself out loud (…very much). What does this have anything to do with training my dog, you ask?

Well, I’ve been told by the trainer that I don’t praise her enough. I know, right? What does ‘enough praise’ look like? And what should it sound like?
Well what I’ve learned about “Praise” is:

  • it is important in phasing out the food rewards as we continue training
  • it can sound as ‘baby talk’ as I’d like (which is also really hard for me!! – I actually struggle to say “oh you’re such a good girl, yes you are!” or even think about saying it – so I’ve had to come up with other phrases I can use with enough inflection in my voice that equates it to praise)
  • it should occur during the “Caught Me Being Good” times (as mentioned below) every now and then in place of the food rewards

Here’s what I’m finding:

  • when the camera comes out Nevis is SO distracted by it that the training she had been excelling at ‘off camera’ falls away almost immediately – I’ll have to come up with a ‘sneak attack’ way to go about it
  • I find it incredibly hard to film the ‘every day’ moments that she has been doing (which is what we are working really hard on)
  • I was struggling to add videos to my posts (as I said in my proposal) but then I remember seeing on Slack that with this free wordpress version it’s impossible – so I created a YouTube channel and can hopefully embed from there (thanks for the help, Alec!!)
  • Nevis responds very well to using only kibbles in her training and for the most part is still excited about them as a reward (I am incredibly lucky for this because one of my biggest fears was ‘over feeding’ her but she has so much energy I really don’t think that is going to be a problem!).
  • We have moved up to using little bits of cheese when we start something new so that she is excited about completing the task again!
    • I have a strict ‘no people food’ policy with Nevis
      • some of you may think this is mean, or a little ridiculous, but I’ve seen what it’s done to dogs in the past and I just don’t want to create any issues in the future that I can avoid through action like this

Here are the skills we are working on lately (you will see some examples of these in the films below – please excuse the lack of editing, I can only do so much! But it’s something I want to work on!)

  • ‘Caught Me Being Good’:
    • Essentially this is a reward for doing nothing.
    • Quite simply, it rewards her for being quiet and lying down in the kitchen while I’m cooking, lying on the couch without tearing up the leather, etc.
      • A reward for doing nothing?! It’s her favorite kind
  • Walking on the Leash
    • I did make a video for this but I’m having trouble uploading it to YouTube and then to here. I’ll keep trying and I’ll update the post when it’s successful!!
    • She did really well with the trainer and then again with me. I try to have her walk on the right hand side of my body (that way she’s away from people as we walk on paths, etc)
    • How do I know it’s working?
      • Every now and then on our walks she will correct and reset herself to walk on the right-hand side without me having to tell her to.
  • Sit and Stay while Food is Getting Ready:
    • How I know it’s working:
      • she will even anticipate the ‘sit’ when I walk to her food container and will head to her ‘spot’ once the dish is full
  • “Break!”
    • this is the command for ‘ending’ another command.
    • For example, if she does “sit stay” while food is ready, I’ll set it on the ground and say ‘break!” and she will know it’s over and can now eat
    • I’ll admit that this one is tough for me to remember to say – there are so many ‘commands’ and I have to be better at bringing them into my dialogue with her so that it’s better associated with certain behaviors
  • Go to Your Mat:
    • We are making HUGE progress with this command.
    • I have a mat by my second door in the kitchen and this is where I’ve been training her to go while I work, mark, cook, or am eating at the table.
    • How do I know it’s working?
      • If I go into the kitchen and approach the counter, she will stay near her mat and wait for food.
      • she will shy away from affection in the kitchen and go closer to her mat because she knows if she does this, she gets food instead
  • Coming when Called in Distraction: WORK IN PROGRESS!
    • How I know it’s working?
      • When we are at the dog park, she does little ‘check ins’ where she will run over to me, no matter how far away I am (which I give an immediate food reward for so that she doesn’t think the only time I call her is when we’re going to leave)
      • She will be playing with 2-5 dogs at the dog park and as I walk away and call her to ‘come!’ she has only a slight hesitation before coming to me

In my next post I hope to do more of a ‘vlog’-style update to eliminate the amount of text and continue to experiment with my Youtube uploads and editing skills!

All this final project stuff is hard work! Nap time. She loves to cuddle her toys in protection.

 

Explain Everything: A Review

For the assignment this week I decided to take a look at “Explain Everything“! It is a ‘whiteboard video’ tool that has been around for a little while based on what I can find. It combines my love of screencasts (it has audio and screen capture capabilities) with user-friendly platforms for making presentations.

Take a look below at a quick overview as well as an example of something I played around with to use as an artifact for my learning project.

Enjoy!

Why I chose it? 

  • Heard about it before, but have never used it! 
  • I saw a lot of people use a platform like this for final projects in previous classes but I was a little intimidated by the technology at first!
  • It was brought up in a class discussion in #eci831
  • Oftentimes if I can find something that the students haven’t seen (rather than using one of their loved apps and ‘teachering it’ (that means ‘ruin’, I’ve learned ahah) then they are a little more receptive to using tech in the classroom 
  • Explore our levels of patience while testing it out and learning through trial and error 

Review of the App/Tool 

  • You can sign in through Google which is helpful for a “google school” with significant use of Chromebooks and Google Drive 
  • It has a ‘drive’ of its own where all of your projects are stored 
    • The Free subscription has quite a bit of memory for a few projects 
    • Obviously the premiums allow for more tools to be used within the app 
  • Free download in the app store 
    • User friendly on the iPhone (that’s my only experience with it, other than a laptop computer)
  • Very fast and easy ‘tutorial’ of how to use the basics of the program while allowing you to explore the more advanced options as you become comfortable with it 
  • Access to microphone on the computer for audio and visual (screen capture and voice over for presentations)
  • Each project has a ‘code’ that it’s given for easy search access and sharing preferences 

 

Using the tool personally

  • I have added it to my list of things I want to incorporate into my project! Especially for little introduction videos 

Using the tool in instructional situations 

  • Giving instructions, making ‘how to’ or ‘step-by-step’ videos for any process task, instructional videos, etc 

Using the tool to document learning and growth 

  • Start with an initial project using the tool at the beginning of the year, use it in the final product assignment as a reflection of growth 
  • Contribute to it in developing a digital portfolio through sharing preferences 
  • Students can create a presentation with meeting the ‘strands’ of ELA (speaking and listening) even if they are not comfortable speaking in front of the class 
  • The options are endless!!

Here’s a quick snapshot of a video I was in the process of making as I experimented with the app. I hope to have the final version of it on my “Learning Project Week One” update that is coming soon!!

 

Ps. I used to Google ‘how to screenshot on a Mac/PC whenever I needed it but after using Chrome Extensions so much more, I stumbled across Lightshot! SO user friendly – I’d suggest checking it out!

Knowledge is Obsolete – What does that mean for Education?

On a daily basis I hear myself tell my students: “if you can Google it, I won’t ask you that on a test”. This poses quite a few challenges for me; 1) there’s a lot of privilege in that statement (as was brought up in a class discussion a couple of weeks ago), 2) you can Google just about EVERYTHING – even if it’s not a specific answer, it’s looking at things that will inform your opinion, 3) what is my role as a teacher in this kind of world now?, 4) how do I find a balance between the ‘traditional forms’ of education and the ‘new-age’ / ‘prepare-them-for-the-ever-changing’ pressures that education has today? 

If I’m being honest, I have answers for none of these questions. So where does that leave me? I found Pavan Arora’s TedTalk: Knowledge is Obsolete a refreshing take on the ‘technology in education’ debate. He states that “If knowledge is growing faster than ever, it’s expiring faster than ever, and it’s more accessible than ever, then what do we teach our children?” 

I find this question circling in my head as I contemplate what I have planned for my lessons for that day. How is what I am doing today, preparing you for the world of unknown tomorrows?  

There is a beauty in teaching a generation so in tune with technology, so ready to try new apps, explore new opportunities, and who, for the most part, see a value in what they do in the classroom each day. With that, as Arora alludes to, no matter what we toss at our students as ‘new’ or ‘innovative’ they will figure out how to master it to meet their needs within mere minutes and become experts in the task before we know it. Some teachers may feel threatened by this and maybe that’s why technology isn’t being implemented – for fear that their ‘place’ in the classroom, much like knowledge, will also soon become obsolete. But I think that this is actually really exciting – a room full of new teachers (our students) with new skill sets, and talents that they can pass onto their peers. And we are there to witness and help facilitate this growth. 

On the flip side, I feel a lot of pressure to ‘get through’ curriculum – there is so much to do, so many adaptations to make, finding a balance in the reading and writing dominance of ELA to allow for the other strands to be practiced and assessed. So where in this mess can I fit in technology? Of course it’s easy to say ‘everywhere, Jessica!’ but it can be overwhelming to attempt this. The advice I like to follow is ‘a little bit a time’. For the last few years I’ve challenged myself to revamp one unit from each class I teach in order to incorporate more ‘social network’ and ‘Web 2.0’ capabilities and increase student-choice in final products. This, so far, has been well-received by my students and it’s encouraging for me to see that the students are a little bit more engaged than they usually are in class. 

Another element of Arora’s talk that I agreed with is that he is right in stating that our students are going to enter a workforce in which we have no vocabulary for – how am I as a teacher helping this transition!? He suggests that ‘what we need is the kind of quantum leap that Steve Jobs gave us’, in order to create solutions that meet the needs of the world around us. We need to teach our kids to ‘deduce, not memorize, to experiment and experience rather than listen and take notes’; while we often feel limitations from budget constraints, the four walls of our classrooms, etc. it’s important to remember that it’s technology that actually opens the doors to so many learning experiences that our students may not have received before. Arora’s closing remarks ring true throughout all systems of education: we are experiencing and teaching the most creative and productive generation of our day (if only they have the opportunities to embrace this).