I: Pet Fox Cases

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While foxes are not popular animals to keep as companions, there are many cases of keeping foxes as pets. From these cases, we can understand the responsibilities involved with owning a fox as a pet and the consequences one must be prepared to handle. Unfortunately, several pet fox cases have tragic endings for the animal due to human fear, misunderstanding, negligence, or restriction. Only a few cases of pet-fox ownership are documented here.

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I: The History of Fox Domestication at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Science Experimental Fox Farm

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Since 1959, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Science in Novisibirsk, Russia has been attempting to domesticate the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, on their experimental fox farm, a project now known as the “Farm-Fox Experiment” (Kukekova et al. 2011; Spady and Ostrander 2007; Trut 1999). Currently led by head of the research group, Dr. Lyudmila N. Trut, the experiment was initiated by the late evolutionary geneticist and Director of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Dr. Dimitry K. Belyaev. In 1948, a time when Soviet genetics was beginning to recover from the anti-Darwinian ideology of Trofim Lysenko, Belyaev lost his position as Head of the Department of Fur Animal Breeding at the Central Research Laboratory of Fur Breeding in Moscow. His commitment to genetics led him to conduct genetic research under the guise of studying animal physiology. Under his leadership, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics was founded and became a center of basic and applied research in both classical and modern molecular genetics (Trut 1999). Belyaev mainly worked in genetics and animal breeding and was heavily influenced by the work of Charles Darwin (Belyaev 1979). “Animal domestication was his lifelong project, and fur bearers were his favorite subjects” recalls Dr. Trut (1999, p.162).

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Chapter I: Introduction

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The dog, Canis familiaris, has become one of the most popular companion animals since it was domesticated from the gray wolf, Canis lupus, its sole progenitor (Wayne et al. 1997). Because of its incredible versatility and variety, the dog can adjust and accommodate to fit the lifestyle of his owner. Young and Bannasch (2006) report that the dog has the greatest diversity recognized within any single species. Dogs vary in body size and type, ear and tail length and carriage, coat patterns and colors, craniofacial features, and even limb formation. Virtually any and all combinations of traits can be manipulated in dogs through selective breeding, creating a variation in morphology, anatomy, physiology, and behavior.
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Undergraduate Honors Thesis

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Thesis Supervisor: Harvey Ginsburg, Ph.D. | Department of Psychology
Second Reader: Bob Fischer, Ph.D. | Department of Philosophy
Approved: Heather C. Galloway Ph.D. | Dean, Honors College

 

Abstract

Since 1959, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novisibirsk, Russia has attempted to domesticate the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, in order to better understand the domestication of the dog, Canis familiaris, from the gray wolf, Canis lupus. Interest in owning these newly-domesticated animals as pets has increased, adding to the controversy of exotic pet ownership. Pet foxes in the United States have come across negative community attitudes and have been relocated, confiscated, and even exterminated as a result.

This study investigated existing participant attitudes toward pets and pet ownership and analyzed how the manipulation of canine physical attributes by domestication can affect participant perceptions. Anonymous surveys were administered to 97 undergraduate students enrolled in psychology classes at Texas State University. Each participant’s attitudes toward dogs and pet-dog ownership were measured alongside their attitudes toward domesticated foxes and pet-domesticated-fox ownership. Additional questions were created to assess participants’ legal and ethical attitudes, knowledge of fox domestication, and opinions and experiences in regard to pet ownership. Images were created to isolate physical attributes in canines in order to assess their impact on human perception of undomesticated and domesticated features.

The results of this study showed a preference for pet dogs over pet foxes and provided evidence that a majority of people have participated in the practice of owning pet dogs. A connection was found between attitudes toward pet dogs and foxes. Attitudes toward dog and fox breeding and laws regarding pet-dog ownership and pet-fox ownership showed a preference for the legal possession of dogs as pets over foxes, but a moderate agreement to both dog and fox breeding. A low percentage of participants were found to have knowledge of the Farm-Fox Experiment and a moderately-high percentage showed interest in owning a domesticated fox as a pet. This study’s illustrations found that participants instantly reacted to physical attributes manipulated by domestication, but often preferred the standard wild red-colored fox. Different physical traits were also found to have different perceptions of participants.

This study has shown that while our communities are not yet ready to accept these animals into the home, there is potential. Not only do these animals have the genetic potential to become more domesticated and suited for life with humans, participants were shown to have moderately high favorability scores toward pet domesticated foxes.
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Day 26: Stormy Puddles

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Today was the end of what felt like a short week. Although I’m exhausted and tired, mainly because I’ve been staying up late every night to finish my Honor’s thesis, Faux Foxes: Fox Domestication and Pet Ownership, this week seemed to go by pretty quickly and it was enjoyable. I’m glad it’s the weekend, so I can continue working on my thesis, though.

Today was another standard Fitness Friday. The morning began with a Friday assembly, then we had a shortened 2nd-Grade class to start off the day of gym classes. Unfortunately, because a huge storm blew in this morning, there were tremendous amounts of water and puddles outside that prevented us from using the outdoor space for the students.

Fortunately, this did allow me to see a new game.

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Day 25: Surprised by Kindergarteners

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Today was another successful day of teaching for me at the elementary school. Again, I feel like I handled the classes well, delivered quality instruction, improved my management skills, and became more confident as an elementary art teacher.

I feel like I improved even more today because my cooperating teacher spent some time out of the classroom in order to hang up artwork for the upcoming Specials Showcase. She told me that they normally have a gym week in order to allow her to hang up the artwork, similar to how we had a gym week in order to allow the music teacher to practice for the Talent Show, but because I’m here, classes can continue as usual. I can conduct the art classes while she prepares for the showcase. My cooperating teacher said that she’s been going home much earlier than she normally does, with me here and that she feels every teacher should have an assistant. I’m glad that I can help.

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Day 24: All of a Sudden, Kindergarteners!

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Today was the last day of S.T.A.A.R. Testing for this week and the end of the crazy schedule changes for the most part. As for schedule changes, today was exactly like yesterday with the older students having art classes in the afternoon with shortened periods and the younger students having art class in complete silence.

Surprisingly, I’ve found that the Kindergarten students handled the completely silent art classes the best and it was the 2nd grade students who had the most trouble with it. I thought that yesterday’s Kindergarten students were struggling with staying quiet, but after experiencing several more classes, they actually handled it the best of them all! I’m starting to find Kindergarten not as hard to manage as I had originally thought. They tend to be quieter and less rowdy than the older students.

There was a complication with Kindergarten today, though.

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Day 23: A Day of Silence

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Today was my second day acting as the primary teacher and teaching all of the classes in my student teaching experience at the elementary school. Just like yesterday, I felt confident, comfortable, and successful. The day was also more enjoyable and I felt more involved and like I belonged. It looks like this is going to be a good week.

The day did begin a little rocky, however.

Today was the second day of the S.T.A.A.R. Testing this week and the 3rd grade students began to test. Unfortunately, the art classroom flanks a 3rd grade classroom and we can often hear each other through the walls. Because of that, I told my first class of 2nd grade students that we would be keeping the class at a Level 1 voice level. I monitored the class and quieted them whenever they began to become too loud. It was difficult as they needed constant reminding. At the end of the class period when the teacher was picking up her students, the principal came by the room and spoke with my cooperating teacher. Afterwards, my cooperating teacher told me that administration had received a noise complaint from the 3rd grade room we were flanking. I was surprised as the art room never really got that loud, but I decided to keep all of the classes at a Level 0 voice level, absolutely no talking, until the end of S.T.A.A.R. Testing.

The next class was Kindergarten and I told them about keeping the class at a Level 0. Again, it was difficult because the students needed constant reminding and we needed to silence anyone who began to talk immediately before it began to spread and grow. It was also no fun conducting an art class in complete silence. I feel like it was draining for the students, as well, especially because they were having to be completely silent in the halls, as well.

Another fact that didn’t help the noise level was the fact that the library was being used to administer S.T.A.A.R. tests so the library class was not an option in the Specials rotation of classes. All the classes that were supposed to have library class today were split up with a few students having gym class, a few having music, and few joining the class we already had at art. This meant that in each of our Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade classes we had about 6-8 extra students. We don’t even have enough table and chair space for extra students, so we had to sit these students on the rug and give them an alternate assignment, especially since they’d be coming to art again that week during their normally-scheduled time and we didn’t want them to get ahead of their classes too much.

The final schedule change was with the 3rd-5th grade students. Because they were testing in the mornings, all of their art classes were moved to the afternoon class periods. Because we only have two class periods after noon, though, they shortened the class periods to 30 minutes in order to fit three class periods. In the two classes that were starting new lessons, 30 minutes felt incredibly short, but for the 4th grade class in which they were continuing a past assignment, the class actually felt incredibly long. I thought that this phenomenon was odd, but perhaps it’s just because I get absorbed into instruction and tend to enjoy it while I don’t like the “walking around monitoring the class as they work” part of the day.

The new lessons that the 3rd and 5th grade students were starting were optical illusions. Interestingly, when I created teacher-made examples for these lessons, I felt that the 5th grade optical illusion was much easier to create than the 3rd grade one. I shared this thought with my cooperating teacher and she couldn’t remember why she had chosen one lesson for 3rd grade and the other for 5th grade. Even more strange, was the fact that the 5th grade students actually struggled with the illusion that I felt was incredibly simple and easy to make. Either I need to adjust my instruction, or the lesson plans are suitably selected for each grade and I just personally find that lesson easier than the 3rd grade one.

 

 

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Day 22

Today was the first day in which I became the primary teacher and taught all of the classes. I have been nervous for this day, but it actually went really well. In fact, I really enjoyed it and found today to be one of the best days of my elementary student teaching experience. I have found that I often feel better when I’m teaching all of the classes and will enjoy the day more as it seems to go by more quickly and enjoyably. I think that this is odd since I stress out and worry about taking over. Hopefully, this will be an enjoyable week since I should be teaching all of the classes this week.

I also feel that my teaching was successful and effective. I am really feeling like I can be an effective elementary art teacher. I expressed my confidence to my cooperating teacher, and she agreed stating that she has no hesitations on my becoming an elementary art teacher and that I am doing fine in her classroom. She stated that she doesn’t really have any suggestions for improvements for me and that I’ll do most of my improving when I actually take on a teaching position. “You’re just at the point where you need to jump in and start,” she said. “I think you’re done with Student Teaching; I don’t think there’s much more you can learn.”

Today was the first day of S.T.A.A.R. Testing this week, and the first day of crazy schedule changes. The schedule is going to be greatly changed tomorrow and the next day, so today we just had Kindergarten switched with the 5th Grade class. We also didn’t have lunch duty, so we had an extended lunch period and I was able to create teacher-made examples for the 3rd and 5th grade class optical illusions lesson plans.

I feel like the 3rd grade optical illusion is a little challenging. I don’t feel that it’s too advanced for them, but it requires a planning and critical thinking. In order to complete the optical illusion, students have to draw several lines on their paper in order to create several interesting shapes. They are then supposed to color in each shape in a way in which no two colors are touching each other, similar to a checkerboard pattern. Today we had several students struggling with the coloring and messing up. They’re finding ways to figure it out or work around their mistakes, though, and that’s what art is all about!


<< Monday, April 17, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Tuesday, April 21, 2015 >>

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Day 21

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was the Talent Show!

I’ve been excited for today all week. Not only have I been managing boring and exhausting gym days every single day this week and last Friday in order to allow students to practice for the Talent Show, but I also hadn’t seen any of the acts beforehand. All of the students had been practicing on the stage in the gym with the curtains drawn, so all of the acts were a complete mystery to me. I could hear the music coming from the stage, but I had no idea what kind of act the music was accompanying.

Today, I was on my own as my cooperating teacher took her “Student Teaching Free Day,” today in which she can take the day off and doesn’t need to have a substitute teacher in place. She picked this day in particular because she said it would be the easiest day all semester. The Talent Show was taking place during every single grade level’s Special period, so there were actually six mini Talent Shows today. All I needed to do was manage the crowd, making sure the students were seated properly and quiet throughout the performances. This was especially easy with the help of the homeroom teachers who stayed to watch the Talent Show and the administrators who came by, such as the principal. The students were well-behaved today, as well.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Talent Shows!

There was an incredibly diverse variety of acts in the shows. I was expecting a majority of singing acts, but there were several other acts including hula hooping, jump roping, magic, comedy, skits, dance routines, breakdancing, yo-yo tricks, piano playing, guitar playing, gymnastics, and even basketball tricks. The diversity kept things interesting and I was really impressed with some of the students’ talent. I also really loved the energy of all the acts and how excited the audience was. The audience couldn’t help but sing and clap along with the musical acts and it was fun to see their expressions when something exciting happened.

I was also surprised at the amount of parents and family that showed up. I was worried that there wouldn’t be a large audience because the Talent Shows were taking place during the school day, but many parents ended up coming. During the final, 4th Grade Talent Show, the gym was completely packed! It was incredibly exciting.

At the end of the day, an administrator said that the Talent Show was fantastic and such a great production to put on right before the start of another round of S.T.A.A.R. Testing next week. “It really lifts the spirits of the students with all of the support and shows them that they can do more than take tests!” she said.

There’s not really much else to report, as this week was kind of overtaken by the Talent Show, but it allowed me to witness how an elementary school puts on a large production like this. It is time-consuming, schedule-altering, and tiresome. The music teacher was so relieved at the end of the day, saying that she could now check the Talent Show off of her to-do list.


<< Thursday, March 26, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Monday, April 20, 2015 >>

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Day 20

In the Gym

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was the last gym day of the week. I am so glad to be done with the same exact thing over and over and over. I have managed the same gym class 24 times in a row! I watched students run laps around the track while I marked their hands to show how many laps they’ve run and then watched them play with the gym stations…over and over and over…every single grade, every single class.

I am ready for something new!

Today, my cooperating teacher was out so I was paired with a substitute teacher. I liked working with this teacher and observing his teaching style. It always intrigues me to see how others teach. This person was direct and blunt with the students, but fun and playful at the same time. He would ask students how their days were going, start up friendly conversation with them, and even played with them during their stations times. I saw him toss a football with some 2nd grade boys and start a hula hooping contest with some 4th grade students. I was completely floored when we were lining up all of the kindergarten students at the end of their class period and he used his booming voice to take control of the entire grade. He started a competition between the four lines of kindergarten students to see which could be the straightest and quietest. I’d never seen the kindergarten students so well-behaved, and even their teachers were stunned to see them so straight and quiet when they came to pick them up. The music and gym teachers seemed to like this substitute as well, as the music teacher requested he sub her class in late May and the gym teacher wanted him for three days in June.

Today, there was a constant luminous storm seeming to be coming. We were outside with the students all day and sometimes it would start sprinkling, but it never picked up into a full rain. During the last class period, there was some incredibly loud thunder claps, but there was no visible lightning. The substitute and gym teacher started discussing when the requirement to bring the students in was.

“Do we have to bring the students in? There’s thunder,” the gym teacher said.

“There’s no visible lightning though. I think it’s when we first see lightning,” the sub responded.

I wasn’t sure, myself. A few minutes later, though, the gym teacher called all of the students inside and we spent the last 10 or so minutes in the gym. When the students can’t go outside, the inside of the gym is so crowded with them all playing with all the various stations. It really makes you appreciate that outside space.

Of course, the one moment it did decide to start down-pouring was during outside dismissal duty when I was standing outside of the front of the school without an umbrella, helping students into their cars. After I got pretty soaked, a teacher came and took my position so that I could grab an umbrella for myself and the gym teacher from the front office. I was thankful for the umbrella afterwards, but I had already gotten pretty wet. Once I got home, I had to switch out of all my wet clothes.

But it’s all right, because tomorrow is the Talent Show! No more gym days!


AC/DC – Thunderstruck

Here’s one of the songs that’s played at the beginning of the Friday assemblies.


<< Wednesday, April 15, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Friday, April 17, 2015 >>

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Day 19

Today continued the Talent Show practice in which all of the students are either practicing for the Talent Show or partaking in a gym day during their art classes, but it was actually kind of an eventful day! I did actually get to teach one art class today because my university supervisor was coming to observe me! While all of the students still had their gym day, my cooperating teacher had to pull one class of 1st Grade students to come to the art room for an art lesson. Because this class was the only 1st Grade class to partake in this lesson, I wanted to give them a new one-day lesson that would not throw the class off-track from all of the other classes. Though they started their dinosaur drawings last week, they won’t be finishing them until all the 1st Grade classes work on them next week.

I was a little nervous for my observation because I created a lesson plan for the 1st Grade students that I thought might be a bit too challenging for them. I wanted to focus on warm and cool colors and decided to have the students illustrate a starscape in mostly warm or cool colors. I thought that this would allow them to experiment with color and blending in a way that wouldn’t focus heavily on content matter as the colors can be randomly placed in the background. I was also a little unsure on the time-frame. I was worried that the students would finish too quickly or wouldn’t finish before the end of class. I also have not been performing as well at the elementary level as I did at the middle and high school level, so I was just nervous altogether!

The observation seemed to go well for the most part, though. I loved teaching the students as I was interested in the lesson plan and they seemed to be interested in it as well. They seemed pretty excited for it and were all rambunctious with their questions and curiosity. I was student-centered with my instruction and kept the lecture interactive, asking the students questions and for their opinions. I also gave a demonstration in which I asked for the students’ input to help me create a composition.

After the class, I spoke with my university supervisor and cooperating teacher and received feedback on my performance. My university supervisor noted that I am still stronger at the secondary level and have much to improve on at the elementary level. She said that one of my biggest weaknesses is noticing distractions that students find, whether it be something in the classroom or another student’s disruptive behavior, and taking care of the problem. She mentioned that there was a student distracting another during my instruction that I failed to correct. I’ll need to keep a better eye out for distractions when I teach. She mentioned that I can get a little too focused and absorbed in the actual lecture that I tend to go a little blind. She mentioned that my instruction could have been a little stronger with more visual aids, more instruction on how to use varying pressure with the materials to create different marks, and telling students where to put the scrap paper from when they tore the wrappings from their oil pastels. Overall, she said that my instruction is always on-point, but my classroom management skills need improvement, especially with younger students.

I’ve known this whole time that classroom management is my weakness. Am I not improving, or is my improvement just progressing slowly? How can I better my skills? Unlike instruction, it’s not something that you can really practice. I suppose I’ll need to do more research on classroom management and just focus on improving that aspect.

Unfortunately, after my supervisor observation, it was back to the gym for my cooperating teacher and me.

I mentioned that today was an eventful day and it wasn’t just because of my observation.

First off, as my cooperating teacher and I entered the gym, we found the music teacher looking flustered. “I don’t know where the gym teacher is,” she told us. “It looks like it’s just one of those days…” I had mentioned in a previous reflection that the music teacher made a remark similar to this, so it seems like the gym teacher may miss a lot of days with little to no reason. This can cause problems for the other teachers because she either doesn’t call into the school or calls to late so that a substitute teacher is not arranged. “I’m not going to be able to practice for the Talent Show,” the music teacher concluded, realizing that she would need to help us manage the gym classes. “I’m not going to be able to practice with 2nd Grade at all anymore because we have morning assembly during their class tomorrow. This is unfortunate.”

The 2nd Grade students began to enter the gym and the music teacher put on the gym headset and began managing the class.

The morning gets even more exciting, though.

This morning, while the 2nd Grade students, our first class of the day, were running their laps outside, my cooperating teacher and I suddenly heard a lot of screaming and laughing coming from the students across the other side of the track from where we were standing. While the students were on their second or third lap out of eight, a dog had appeared on the track from the neighborhood across the street. The students were laughing and screaming as they were chasing and playing with the dog. It was a happy and fun moment, but we had to cut it short. There’s no telling if the dog was infected or dangerous or something. The students chased the dog around the track to where the music teacher was monitoring and she instantly took charge. I noticed that all of the students began running into the gym and figured that she was sending everyone in.

After all of the students were in the gym, the music teacher had them all sit down on the floor, be quiet, and receive a lecture. She was incredibly disappointed in their behavior and response to the dog. She explained that the dog could be dangerous or harmful or sick and that children should know not to play with dogs they don’t know. “What do you do when you see a dog you don’t know?” she asked. “You come find an adult so that they can figure out what to do. You don’t run and chase and play with the dog.” She had the students sit in silence while we called the office to figure out how to get rid of the dog. After calling, the students were allowed to start playing with the gym stations.

It kind of felt like a zombie attack or something as all of the students and teachers were “trapped” inside the gym. Occasionally, we would glance out the window and find the dog still sitting right outside the door. Every now and then, we’d look outside, not find the dog, start sending kids out, and then the dog would come running around the corner and we’d have to send everyone back inside. Finally, near the end of the period, I glanced outside and didn’t see the dog. We then heard on the walkie-talkie that the dog had been placed in the Pre-K playground, a playground flanking the other side of the gym that was fenced in. While this did remove the dog from the gym’s track area, the dog was now inside the middle “courtyard” area of the school where several classes walk through during passing periods. Because of this, the next class began with 5th grade students running in screaming, “There’s a dog outside!” It took us several minutes to pry the students from the gym’s doors and to their spots so that we could begin class.

Thankfully, the gym teacher showed up around the time the second class was starting. “Did you guys know there’s a dog outside?” she said. Thankfully, her presence allowed the music teacher to conduct Talent Show practicing as planned, but she did miss out on that time with the 2nd Grade students.

Later, during our lunch break, my cooperating teacher told me that it’s kind of common for the gym teacher to arrive late to school or just not come for little to no reason. She said that the gym teacher will sometimes park in the back of the school or enter through a back door to not be seen by administrators and that she hasn’t gotten into trouble as far as she knows. My cooperating teacher explained that it puts her in a difficult position because she doesn’t want to damage their relationship by reporting her since they have to work together every Friday. “This is just what it’s like in the Work World,” she explained. “It wasn’t this bad at my previous schools.”

The rest of the day was the same gym day that we’ve been having all week and will have again tomorrow. My cooperating teacher and I lesson planned during our lunch break and she decided that she’ll be calling for a substitute tomorrow and taking her “Student Teacher Free Day” on Friday, so she wanted to have next week’s plans ready to go. She also suggested that I take full control of the classes next week, so that’s going to be interesting. I’m a little nervous about taking over, especially with my thesis deadline coming up! I’m so stressed out about finishing everything in time!

Let’s hope I make it through this semester.


<< Tuesday, April 14, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Thursday, April 16, 2015 >>