Projects with Schools

One Thousand Steps

childs drawing: One thousand steps

This project was run with 7 schools in the Bendigo area. This project was funded by the School Focused Youth Service and involved visits by one expeditioner to each of the 7 schools before and after the next trip plus access to updates during the expedition.

Participating schools were:

  • Eaglehawk Secondary College
  • Weeroona College
  • Strathfieldsaye PS
  • Kangaroo Flat PS
  • Quarry Hill PS
  • Maple St PS
  • Comet Hill PS

The One Thousand Steps project aimed to increase resilience in students through the exploration of resilience and team work during and between presentations to students by Linda Beilharz (expeditioner). The outcomes sought were:

  1. students will gain an insight into values and attitudes that impact on their thinking and feeling.
  2. students will have an increased confidence in their capacity to be resourceful and to make a valued contribution to a team.
  3. appreciation by teachers of the value of sharing work with students from others schools, and of collaboration with Journeys for Learning.

Linda visited 5 primary schools and 2 secondary schools late in term 4, 2008 or early term 1, 2009 and did a preliminary presentation involving pictures and storytelling. A 6th primary school joined the project in term 3 2009. The presentations were about trips to the South Pole and Greenland and a proposed trip to South Patagonia.

Schools were provided with ways of receiving updates from the expedition (an updates page on the expedition website, a blog and superclubs updates) and for contributing responses from students (to the blog and through superclubs). The expedition fell partly in school holidays so students would have to initiate links to the expedition from home. In most schools students were receiving the updates as they came in.

A final visit was made to the each of the schools in terms 3 and 4 2009. Students heard about the Patagonia expedition and asked questions.

Several schools added value to the visits by doing additional project work. In two schools this took the form of video making. Other activities were on line game design and research projects. Schools tended to use superclubs as the main online forum for student posting of their work as this site has the best security (only accessible by schools). Teachers in several of the primary schools collaborated, mainly in relation to ICT interaction opportunities. One teacher did a presentation to others at a staff inservice day about her use of the expedition to facilitate ICT learning for students. Several schools utilised the opportunity of the visits to have presentations or discussions with particular groups of students - girls groups, interested students and 'special students'. Two thirds of the schools reported using the presentations and expedition updates as material for further activities in the classrooms.

Approximately 421 students in grades 4 to 8 took part. Twenty three teachers supported the visits.

Students demonstrated strong recall of the presentation stories and indicated a high level of interest in aspects of the presentation that illustrated 'what it was like'. They were most interested in aspects of training and preparation and some of the key 'incidents' of the expedition.

I enjoyed getting showed what the conditions were and the equipment that they used. (student)

While the presentations did not overtly teach about resilience, confidence or team work most students were able to identify aspects of the presentations that demonstrated those qualities.

Students seemed able to identify and articulate aspects of resilience, confidence and team work such as - feelings and emotional intelligence(choosing to focus on things that make you feel positive, staying calm), social support (gaining support from friends or family to boost confidence), persistent behavior (there were many examples of how they could 'keep going') and supportive behavior (sharing, taking turns, being kind communication, helping).

By going into a quiet spot and thinking if I should or not and I ignore any distraction (student)

I do what Linda does except not as big, as in if I want to become more confident with my speaking, I would practice and talk in front of lots of people more (student)

They would have to have good communication skills with one another and get along. They would have to share their things and work together (student)

They also demonstrated knowledge of ways of increasing confidence eg by practicing difficult tasks, by trying things that were scary or that they weren't confident with, by learning skills and practicing component skills.

I had forty percent on tangled tables at the start but I changed and got ninety nine percent. I was scared at dancing but I got over it a little bit. I was dancing in front of people I didn't know.(student)

The survey tools don't enable identification of specific responses from students who are less engaged in school or experiencing academic or social problems however it was noted that:

  • students understood that the presentation themes applied to everyone - themselves, the presenter and other students in all aspects of their lives. The broad ranging examples they provided illustrated this broad understanding of the application - eg. sport, maths, class activities, with friends, homework, playground
  • a couple of students noted they were 'not confident' and added that they responded to this situation by 'keeping on trying' and practicing.

It would seem that the greatest value of the presentations was the way in which the examples drawn out of the expedition stories complemented the teaching that was occurring at school. The presentations provided real life and interesting examples that students were familiar with. Because the presenter was a 'local person' this was recognized as conveying a message that 'they could do it too'.

No so much new skills - but yes, new understandings. We discuss resilience all the time, and to have an adult reflect on their struggles and the life skills needed (especially resilience) brings home the message and allows perspective. (teacher)

Schools or community groups are welcome to propose similar projects. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for ideas and discussion.