How did you get involved in #walkmyworld? Did you start as a participant or facilitator?
I was looking at my twitter feed over the early January 2014 school holidays and somehow stumbled upon the hashtag #walkmyworld. I checked the feed, liked what I saw, so decided to participate informally. Then I started looking further ahead and how I could adapt and connect this project meaningfuly in a classroom and link directly to NSW English for the Australian Curriculum outcomes. Luckily, my job was to create rich learning projects/experiences using digital technology in a number of local public schools. I decided to run the project at a small K-6 school with a student population of around 15 students. It was a perfect demographic and, with the support of a great principal, the children engaged with the learning events and work of Poet Laureate Robert Hass. A highlight was when the Robert Hass responded to one of the younger student’s photographic responses.
In 2015 I became an organiser and also ran the project with my grade 1 class. In 2016 I am again an organiser and will be running the project with my grade 2 class, thirteen of which were participants last year.
How have you grown as a teacher because of #walkmyworld?
I have always felt comfortable experimenting with new digital tools but participating in this project and becoming an organiser has certainly enriched my pedagogy and self-confidence as a teacher. I now have access to a number of ‘literacy experts’ and colleagues that I feel comfortable enough to be quite open and honest with. They support and validate what I am doing, not only with the project, but also with my class and the experiences I am creating for my students. Initially, and to some extent even now, I was the ‘little kid on the block’ (the only one with a measly undergraduate degree-the rest of the organisers are very well credentialed) I remember distinctly thinking last year, as I was collaborating on the learning events with Sue Ringler Pet and others, that my suggested poems/texts were too simple…easy…but the criticism never came. Ultimately, it was wonderful to see how a global audience responded to them and I was thrilled with my classes engagement and their interactions with others through our class twitter account and blog.
How have your tech skills grown?
My tech skills have grown a little as I try new things to see what works and doesn’t. However, as I am very limited by the amount of time and age of my class, I feel my class management and teaching of content has grown more. Tech can be used poorly and for me less can sometimes be more. That said, I love what DogTrax does and he often is a motivater for me to try out new digital tools in my spare time.
One of the great things about #walkmyworld is the simplicity of the entry point and freedom to take the events as far as you wish using either the suggested online tools or your own. It is all dependent on your skill set and willingness to jump in and try new things. I do not remember one single response to an event ever being criticised for being digitally too ‘low level’. However, one of the requirements I thought was that this was an open research project and am not sure that adding a closed stream is in keeping with the original thought behind this project. It also adds more unecessary information that I believe will confuse and muddy the ‘walk’. I couId be wrong (I often am). I work within very strict boundaries in regards to online identity and digital citizenship and, for the most part, am ‘always a teacher’ when engaging in online spaces. My students only respond on our class blog and I hold the class twitter account. Both of these publishing spaces have also been notifed to my state Department of Education as this is a requirement. I have a very detailed letter that goes home to parents at the beginning of the year explaining that the class will be using these spaces and parents/carers can then decide to give permission or not for their child. #Walkmyworld is the perfect project and environment to teach, authentically and meaningfully, best practice in digital citizenship. The work of Dr Bron Stuckey supports this notion: ‘lived curriculum’ . Creating a private closed stream would be a dissappointing decision but I recognise that ethical delivery of the project is also key. This could be a crossroad were the researchers will need to clarify what the walks real purpose is, and how it is evolving.
#Walkmyworld is already a challenge in its current form for many participants and by adding more choices you could end up not being able to see the forest for the trees.