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 Responses to “International Dot Day!”
  1. mirrormon says:

    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. If you don’t mind Soul, I mentioned your name in one of my blogs :D

  3. esmeowl12 says:

    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!

  4. You brighten my day. You are making my world a better place.
    Sending you some support, and appreciation. You will receive it in the field.

  5. A great post! I had something like this at school,,The Face To Faith thing? Ring a bell?
    Anyways congrats on freshly pressed!
    Check mine too?!
    Thanks! :)

  6. stayinghomeformychild says:

    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!

  7. audreyzworld says:

    This is so inspirational =) Thank you for sharing about “The Dot” and your interesting classroom experiences!

  8. …Its remarkable to see the progression! Congrats to you on this!

  9. You are completely “dot” on with this one!! Yet one more way to move our students beyond the brick and mortar they sit in!! Bravo!!

  10. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  11. dorothyadele says:

    The children will remember the impact of this activity (even though they are third graders) for years.

    • 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.

  12. Red Toenails says:

    That it! You get the great teacher award. Hands. Down.

  13. Sciencelens says:

    Great post, and International Dot Day is such a cool concept! Can’t believe I’ve missed it…

  14. Cath says:

    hehe how cute
    loved it

  15. elketeaches says:

    Reblogged this on elketeaches and commented:
    Love it, love it! Lots of great teaching, learning & integrated ICT stuff in this wonderful post. Very inspiring and I hope my children have teachers that are this passionate.

  16. What a clever inspiration for the students! Love it! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • 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.

  17. scribblechic says:

    Teaching at its most genuine, embracing the whole student while inspiring creativity and community. Well done!

  18. Wish we used Skype in school, would wake everyone up :D lol

  19. Matt_S_Law says:

    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.”)

    • 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!

  20. You have written really nicely!!! followed u pls follow my blogs too to support me:-) I really need help to get mor followers!!

  21. Jan Simson says:

    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.

    • 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!

    • And one more thought…Is there a way to see how/who did the “pressing” (haha). Just curious because it really opened up so many new blogs to me.

      • Jan Simson says:

        Usually, one of the WordPress editors sends you an E-mail a few days prior to your pressing. At least, that’s what happened to me and one of my friends.

  22. emekatalks says:

    great idea. totally enjoyed reading this

  23. What a beautiful thing you have done! It’s great to know there are creative educators like you who do not just go through the motions, but who truly care about the education of children.

    • 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.

  24. Delana says:

    Fantastic idea! I love it and will share it with readers of The Education Cafe via my facebook page.

  25. 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!

  26. segmation says:

    What an awesome class! You make learning fun! Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog!

  27. What a beautiful exercise — and a meaningful metaphor. I wish more teachers took time to connect the dots like this!


    • I am hoping this event happens again next year! It seems thousands of people did this activity in some way shape or form…I am looking to find out more about everyone’s experiences!

  28. 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!

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