Christmas Crush: Gävlebocken

Twitter can be intimidating for newbies. It’s like when you arrive at a party where you barely know anybody, and there are conversations going on all around you, and you just don’t quite know how to get involved at first.It helps when you know someone already there, but sometimes they’re already involved in other conversations. Maybe you hang out at the periphery and then engage when you have something meaningful to contribute. Maybe you wait for a lull or an icebreaker. Or maybe you just find the host’s dog to pet.

I know that last sentence was really convincing, but I am an even sadder sack than that. I really engage with inanimate objects.

I admire the decorations. I get really into appetizers. I frequently bring games to help me socialize, at least initially. I knock a lot of tchotchkes over. (Sorry, gracious hosts!)

I’ve started coming out of my shell on Twitter a bit over the past few months. I still mostly lurk — I eavesdrop on conversations and remarks without engaging with them directly. I tweet links out via other social media I’ve linked to my Twitter — my WordPress and Youtube accounts, mainly. I occasionally heart or retweet something someone posts that I find interesting. I click on many links myself, to articles with headlines that catch my eye.

But in terms of actually engaging, I am super into a giant straw goat from Sweden. It’s my favorite on Twitter right now. Nerd alert.

A Yule goat or Christmas goat is a traditional symbol and decoration for the Christmas season, most popular in Scandinavia and northern Europe. They are usually made of straw and are often small enough to hang as an ornament on a Christmas tree. The Gävle Goat is a giant version in the city of Gävle, Sweden. For the past several years, I have seen it mentioned annually, as it has in the past been burned down by mischief makers.

So this year, I decided to follow it on Twitter, because I want to find out what happens to it. Why not? I could always unfollow after the Christmas season is over.

I have to tell you, I really hope it doesn’t burn down this year. Because I have a crush on the Gävle goat.

It’s not like a full-blown infatuation. It’s more the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when somebody sees you being awkward at a party and makes an effort to include you.

It started on December 1st, when I tweeted:

And @Gavlebocken tweeted back! As a result, twelve more people retweeted me and twenty-four people gave my original tweet a heart.

Is that a lot? Not relative to people who have been on Twitter for a while and know what they’re doing. Honestly, my tweenage siblings weren’t impressed. But it was a lot for me. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference to someone. I felt welcomed and cheered.

And it wasn’t just a one-time thing, either. @Gavlebocken is engaging even with more mundane tweets. I tweeted again to it just this week, after the first graders at our school learned about Sweden during their “Christmas Around the World” Unit.


My heart cockles, they are warmed. And it’s because a giant straw goat talks to me on Twitter. And the fact that our first graders keep putting their ears to the floor to listen for gnomes. That’s also fun.

We’re cheering for you to make it through this holiday season, Gävlebocken! Love and luck from Ohio, USA.

Asking for International Video Postcards

Hello world!

Starting in January, the second graders at our school will be doing a research project about other countries. They will have some choices available. However, it can be challenging and overwhelming for kids to make that kind of choice if they don’t have a lot of background knowledge or interest.

So, I had an idea. What if people from or in other countries invite our students to research about other countries? That doesn’t instantly turn a student into an expert, but then a student would be able to imagine what a person from another country might be like. Then, I could attach these videos to our school morning announcements. They would be like commercials or video postcards from people around the world! My hope is that it would get students interested in learning about other countries, even countries that they have never heard of or knew much about before.

Here is an example. Cornelius is from Democratic Republic of the Congo:

I like that the video is about thirty seconds long. He gives special reasons why students should study his country. He chose his words carefully so students could understand him. (I will probably write some subtitles before I show it to students, but I think it is important that they hear people speak with accents. It’s good active listening practice.)

If you are willing to do a video, please let me know. You can comment here on my blog, or you could email me at You can send me a video or you could upload a video to Youtube yourself and send me the link. If you want to address students more directly, you can start by saying, “Hello Aviators!” because that is our school team name. You can say an interesting fact about your country, or teach a word in a different language. You can show us cultural food or clothing. Really, almost anything will do! But thirty seconds is a good amount of time – no more than a minute, please. Shorter is okay too. You can do it by yourself or with a friend. We welcome creativity.

Thank you in advance for your kind attention and effort.

Ms. Driscoll

Elephants and Honeybees

Sometimes a simple solution can be the best solution, no matter how big the problem is. And we’re talking about elephant-sized.



The Elephants and Bees Project aims to save elephants by preventing human-elephant conflict. Specifically, they are trying to prevent elephants from raiding agricultural areas and causing great damage to crops. Doing that makes farmers upset, and understandably so. But trying to scare the elephants away with firecrackers and bullets also risks making them more aggressive, making the situation more dangerous for elephants and humans alike. But how do you solve this conflict over resources? Electric fences are not affordable for many an African farmer, nor is it feasible to power them.

That’s where the bees come in! See, elephants don’t like bees — their stings hurt very much on their trunks — but they also don’t see the point in charging them. So researchers have started testing out “beehive fences.” Elephants disturb the hives when they come too close to the crops. The bees come out of the hive to protect it. The elephants hear the bees and decide to make like a banana, and split! As a bonus, farmers can harvest honey and other products like beeswax and royal jelly from the hives. Bees are also good to have around crops for pollination purposes.

Sometimes you don’t have to go super techno or fancy to fix a problem. Sometimes all you need is a good idea and a whole bunch of bees.


How Is Neptune Different from North America? Show Notes

Resources used to research and write this podcast include:

Music (and sounds) included in this episode:

Post image by Robert Proska on

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