Monthly Archives: January 2015

Opening Doors #walkmyworld

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When I first considered the first learning event of #WalkMyWorld 2015  (http://bit.ly/walk2015LE1), I considered the physical doors of my world. I thought about my front door, both the view from it and my canine companion who insists I don’t actually step though it. But my front door isn’t really about me or my world. It’s a lovely double door with leaded glass that brings in prisms and light, but in my world, it serves more of a decorative than an practical purpose.

#walkmyworld My Front Door

The view from my front door.

WalkMyWorld-My Canine Companion

My canine companion, an Italian Greyhound who is always alert and somewhat pampered.

As much as I like my front door, it is not the real open door to my world.  My real world is much less formal than a “front door life” and those who walk with me learn quickly that my reality is often messy with things out of place, and generally things that don’t work as they should.

This gate is the door I use daily when I leave my home whether I’m heading out on foot or by car. Most days I don’t really “see” the gate as I’m focused on whatever takes me through it. The back yard is far from an inviting garden, especially in the winter, although the dogs and the birds seem to enjoy it. The distance through from the gate is simply a transition from my world to something other.

#walkmyworld: The gate to my world outside

#walkmyworld: The gate to my world outside

The gate is a little crooked, and the latch sticks to that it takes an effort to ensure it stays closed so the greyhounds don’t escape. The jasmine tries to take over every summer, but the sweet fragrance makes the inconvenience of pushing it aside worthwhile. Going out the gate represents a new adventure or the promise of something about to happen. Sometimes it’s a trip to the gym or the grocery store, but other times is it the gate to something greater.

Coming home, the gate has another meaning. Usually coming in through the gate is the final step at the end of the day or the workout or the errands. Very often coming through the gate includes juggling bags and boxes and books, so that the sticky latch is more of a nuisance. The emotions associated with this side of the gate are some blend of fatigue and relief at being home.

I can see the gate from my computer station in the kitchen. I see when family arrives home or good friends come for tea. (Good friends never use the front door!) The latch is loud, so it alerts me to people coming in so that I can disengage from whatever work I’m doing and put on the kettle (usually.) This is the gate that welcomes people into my world.

#walkmyworld

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Last year I participated in a really cool event called “Walk My World.” Educators and students shared bits of their lives via Twitter using the hashtag #walkmyworld. The project covered ten weeks, with specific learning events each week. We analyzed the poetry of Robert Hass, wrote poetry, and shared pictures. Of shoes. Lots of shoes. Not exactly sure why.

It was tremendous fun, and I connected with people all over the US. It was during this project that I decided to see just how well Twitter can function as a pedagogical tool. So much class time is taken up with administrative duties and test preparation that there often isn’t time to really delve into the meat of the literature and what makes it relevant to today’s teens/young adults. Using Twitter as a modified discussion board allows students to continue to contemplate the literature: how it affects them and how others are affected by it. Assigning a class hashtag and an “assignment” tag allows Twitter’s filters to organize those discussions so that a teacher can quickly see how students are thinking about the work.

Twitter has its advantages. The 140 character limit forces economy of words. The relative anonymity allows for shy students to speak up and be heard. Reading the tweets of their peers connects students who may not otherwise have something in common. Having to connect literature to life requires introspection and self-evaluation, two key elements in forming a personal identity. To get students considering who they are and who they want to be is a critical thinking skill that cannot be measured in a standardized test. This kind of thinking is real life.

In a broader sense, a project like Walk My World allows people to connect who may never have met in any other way. The commonality of learning events forms a foundation upon which relationships can build. One never knows where those relationships will lead.