International Dot Day!

Monday was my first experience Skyping my class around the world!  This past summer at Building Learning Communities, word spread fast of an idea that students around the world could read and share the impact of a common book: The Dot, by Peter H. 

Reynolds. It took no convincing for me to plan this for my students, realizing the impact it could have on their world perspectives. It is so challenging for students to grasp this immense planet and consider that they might “make a mark” on it!

The story, if you are not familiar, is of a girl named Vashti who believes she cannot draw.  After being instructed to simply make a mark on the paper and sign it, she discovers that her teacher truly values that mark and Vashti challenges herself to create even more kinds of dots.

On the Morning Message I told them to look for a piece of paper on their desks.  I had placed different colored dots in different locations on the paper and instructed the students to simply “see where the dot takes you!” So much interesting artwork resulted from the simple prompt.

After reading the book, we began to build the idea of the dot metaphor.  What does it mean to make your mark on the world? On our class? On our school? The idea was still a bit fuzzy to them, so we wrote about our talents, our smarts, (we have been exploring the Multiple Intelligences) and considered how these talents might help others around us.

Then, we Skyped with another 3rd grade class at an international school in Berlin, Germany.  Lining up the time was tricky, since there was a 6 hour time difference. However, Ms. Victor (@victortweets) hosts a book club after school, so our group of 35 3rd graders got to talk to her 5 students attending the club that day!  I loved the dot activity they shared- their artwork displayed original dots each student created, representing different positive “marks” they wanted to make on the world…happiness, caring…etc.  This really helped my students to begin to generalize the idea of making your “mark”.

 Finally, we extended this activity to relate to our classroom behavior by considering: What mark do we want to make on our classroom? Together we created a list of qualities we hoped our classmates saw in each other.  Our mission then was to create abstract artwork showing the mark we wish to make on our class community, a “dot” to represent the quality they hope their classmates see within. Last week we learned about Random Acts of Kindness, and I think connecting these random “marks” made will help them to understand even more, the power of their mark.

They were so excited about the idea of “connecting the dots” between New Hampshire and Germany, and I could read amazement and disbelief on their faces that we were actually talking to other kids so far away…but seemingly so close. I look forward to capitalizing on the power of Skype to continue expanding the students’ worlds. While creating a dot to represent personal qualities is an extremely abstract thought, I knew that many students understood when they began writing and sharing their explanations of the art work.  Students considered size, color, placement, pattern etc. with regards to the represented quality.


Truly an experience with literal, metaphorical, personal, and global components.  Truly the way learning comes alive for learners.

Day 2 in Review at BLC ’12

BLC ’12: Favorites from Day One…

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63 thoughts on “International Dot Day!

  1. wonderful activity… now this is true learning…u must make a great teacher…
    and thank you a great idea u’ve spread among all those reading…I’ll definitely read “the dot” and then may be some day can talk to people about what kind of mark they d want to leave on the world, and the smaller subsets…. I think its a great way to inculcate positivity, inspiration and the idea of the need to do something at that early age… Bravo :)


  2. This sounds like a fabulous book. I wish I had had it when I was teaching my youngsters! I loved your teaching idea, too, about making your mark on the world. We need more of that for sure!


  3. What a fun idea! I love the way kids from all over the world can see each other. It really brings a sense of unity to this next generation!


  4. I just want to say Thank you for embrasing the world beyond yours and your students. To show them there is world beyond there’s a whole big world that doesn’t just come from pictures and words in a book. They may be young but they will remember and look back and say thank you. So I would like to say From the outside world thank you for bring them to us and us to them.


    1. These are such kind words- thank you so much. I really strive to do this as much as I can and have been inspired by other teachers who do the same. I hope I inspire more teachers as well! Thank you for reading.


      1. Well your welcome, and i hope to see more of this in the world because we need it and we need more teachers to strive for that. I hope to read more of these types of projects in the near future. Good luck to you and your students.


    1. That is the idea. I try to ask myself every day- what is the purpose of what I am doing today? If the answer is not: to build skill, to have fun, or to use arts/technology to truly remember an experience, I don’t do it! Thanks for reading.


    1. Yes, most definitely! I would have loved to connect with a different class around the country/world during the week, but was just beginning to wrap my brain around Dot Day. Next year, for sure! And yes- now I know how the Freshly Pressed badge occurs! Such great conversation here as a result.


  5. Great post! You sound like exactly the kind of caring and innovative teacher that our public education system needs more of. (But also the kind that the bureaucrats keep trying to stuff back “inside the box.”)


    1. Thank you so much. It’s tough isn’t it, that box… ;) You know, so many great teachers out there have the potential to be outside the box and unfortunately are crushed by someone telling them what to teach and what page to be on each day…This is the first thing that needs to change- letting go of control so students can explore. Thanks for your support!


  6. Yeah!!! You got pressed! That’s awesome, congratulations. Also, fantastic post. I think you can describe things through artwork that you cannot describe through speaking or writing. Super cool.


    1. Thank you Jan! I heard my iPad blowing up all day while I was teaching, and just now am seeing the positive response to my post. Yes, though abstract, describing things through artwork is a great brain exercise. Cheers!


    1. Thank you so much. I loved the idea of being part of something that classes all over the world were trying- I still think the idea is hard to grasp for my 3rd graders, but with more experiences like this I know they will see the power of the connections.


  7. God bless you and teachers like you who use creativity and imagination to involve students and get them exploring — without fear or hesitation — the unknown. I’m sure you’ll be on someone’s list of teachers who made a difference. Congratulations!


  8. This reminds me of when I worked as a scientific illustrator for the anthropology department of my college. I would draw all the artifacts with a technique called strippling (made of all dots!). It’s amazing what one create with dots. I haven’t read this book, but it seems like one I should share with my niece. Thanks for this post!


      1. Thanks! I had to look up stippling to really get the idea—definitely a neat technique! I will show my students some of the examples to extend this idea a bit. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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