Monday, September 22, 2014

We Made Our Marks and More!

Last week Memorial School celebrated International Dot Day with many, many kids and grown-ups around the world.  Here are the stats from the official Dot Day website:

                                    1,863,084   Participants!   

                                 82                Countries!                                                    

Wow! What an impressive number!  And to think we were part of this exciting event!  It was like a One Book, One School initiative for us because every single student heard or read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds in the past two weeks.  We discussed it's message of creativity, courage and collaboration in classrooms, in art classes, in the library and at lunch in the teachers' room. All students and many staff members created an original dot to display around the building. Parents may have noticed all the beautiful dots at PIN night last week.  I so love that everyone signs their dots and makes their marks.

Kindergarten Dot Trees!
We loved watching Peter H. Reynolds create a dot for International Dot Day 2014:

Peter H. Reynolds on Dot Day-ish! from FableVision Learning on Vimeo.

We sang The Dot Song I love this song as it reinforces the message of Dot Day. It is so catchy, I found myself humming it to myself throughout the week! Click here for the video version of the song.

And, every First Grade class made a connection with another class beyond the walls of our school. We collaborated with Teacher Librarians and their students from Vermont, Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Texas. We showed each other our dots, we sent some of the classes halves of our dots and they will send halves of their dots to us to create "Buddy Dots." 

Dot halves getting ready to be mailed to Texas!
One class made Dot Trading Cards!  Students drew a dot on one side (and of course signed their names) and then wrote something on the back of the card they wanted the other class to try.  This goes along with the message of being brave.

Here are few of the Trading Cards that will be mailed to Connecticut.  And of course, our students will be receiving
Trading Cards from the CT class. Very fun and exciting!

We made new connections with classes from far away via Skype and Google Hangout. Sometimes we shared a story relating to Dot Day.  Sometimes we asked each other questions.  We learned what was the same and what was different about our schools. While we have many things in common (like everyone liking recess!) we learned that at least one school in North Carolina does not have a swing set or monkey bars in their playground like we do. This was very surprising to our Medfield students!

Here are some pics from our Skype/Google Hangout sessions:

Co-reading The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds with a librarian in Newton, MA!

What our dots looked like when we showed them to our friends in Maryland!

A new friend asking us a question!
One of our students asking the other class a question
Texas Connection!

We even made virtual dots to share with our North Carolina friends!
And, they made one for us!
Making new friends, even virtually, is really fun ;-)

More introductions!
New friends had questions for us too!
Another introduction. The other class was curious about us!

We made our dots come to life using Augmented Reality!

Some of us couldn't resist wearing dots!

We'll leave the dots students and staff created around the building up for a little while to remind us of the fun week we had learning, creating, sharing and connecting.  Thank you, Peter H. Reynolds, for making the world a better place, for sharing your creativity and vision, and for giving us the opportunity to have such a remarkable time making our marks.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's International Dot Day - September 15-ish!

This is one of my favorite weeks of the school year.  It is a special time when we celebrate art, books, creativity and being brave.  It's a time when we talk about taking risks, getting out of our comfort zones and leaving our mark.

All of the students at Memorial School will listen to The Dot, a wonderful story by Peter H. Reynolds. It is the story of a girl named Vashti who begins a journey of self-discovery after a caring teacher challenges her to make her mark. This story really resonates with our young students - it has such a great and important message. And everyone, including all students and staff, are invited to create their own dots. But here's the important thing: all of our dots will be signed on the front.  We are proud of our creations and we're learning to always sign our work.  This also fits perfectly with a lesson in our Pilot Digital Citizenship curriculum where students are introduced to the concept of having ownership over their creative work.

Trees on one of the bulletin board waiting to be covered with student created dots!

Dot Day is also about collaboration. This is the second year awesome Art Teacher, Joe Knaus, and I have collaborated for our Memorial School Dot Day Celebration. Joe is a big fan of the message in the story and he loves using books to tie into his lessons. Joe is working hard to create beautiful bulletin boards in the art room hallway (on the way the the Library!) with student dots.  Hope you will have a chance to see them.

Buddy Dots from our 2013 Dot Day Celebration!

I have also been collaborating with teacher librarians several states to make plans for Dot Day.  This year, all grade 1 classes will be connecting with another class. Some of the classes will be "Dot Buddies" with another grade 1 class. This is where we cut our dots in half (but are sure to sign both halves!).  We send our half dots to the other class and they send theirs to us so we can all create new collaborative dots or Buddy Dots.  We will also be connecting with classes via Skype or Google Hangout to share stories, to talk about the message of Dot Day and to meet new friends. This experience also ties into our Pilot Digital Citizenship curriculum unit about "Your Online Community." We will be connecting with students in Vermont, Texas, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

We are anticipating a fun and inspiring week full of creativity and new experiences.  How will you make your mark?