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.
- International Dot Day – Sept. 15, 2012 (childrensbooksheal.com)
- Promoting Student Engagement ~ Make Your Mark (angelamaiers.com)
- Skype In the Classroom – Connecting Dots between Schools, Students and Communities (angelamaiers.com)