Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Making Plans: Celebrating International Dot Day

For many teachers, we are in the midst of the good old summertime. And while many of us are catching up on much-needed sun, fun, and quality time with family and friends, this is also a time to reflect. We spend time reading professional books, reconnecting with members of our PLN, attending professional development events, and searching for new ways to reach our incoming students.

Each year, I ask my students to provide me with honest feedback on what they enjoy most about our classroom and explain to me why that learning opportunity ranks high with them. Each year, many of my students name one or more of the different "special days" that we have. These are days where we take a break from our usual routine and focus on specific topic or idea.   

One of their favorite days is International Dot Day. International Dot Day is a day centered on Peter H. Reynolds’ book, The Dot. The official day is September 15th. Based on the book, the entire day is spent focusing on the importance of creativity, imagination, and individual talents and how each individual can harness their own uniqueness to make a mark on the world.

For many students, they don't see themselves as leaders or world-changers. By reading and discussing this book, students take the time to reflect on their own unique personal strengths within the context of how they can use those talents to make a positive mark on the world. Learners connect with their global peers through Twitter (and Instagram) using the hashtag #DotDay and #MakeYourMark and having conversations on how they can make their mark. We also take the time to blog about our plans for the future through this lens and students comment upon one another's posts turning their writing into a conversation tied to specific ideas and plans.

In addition to reading, discussing and tweeting, posting, learners also create personalized dot-shaped word clouds using 30 words that describe who they are as a person. We also used recycled lids from jars and students paint their own dot that represents who they are as a person. We turn these into magnets that they hang inside their lockers reminding them of why being unique empowers them to make a difference in the world.

By participating in Dot Day, learners not only discuss the overarching theme of The Dot but also internalize the text by making applications to their own lives, something we often do not provide for our students in our regular classroom time. They love this time and often refer to the lessons they've learned on Dot Day throughout the school year. (They also enjoy the dot-themed snacks we enjoy.)

This is a one-day event that could very easily become an overarching theme for a week or month-long study. As a teacher, you can connect with other teachers through Twitter (#DotDay), Facebook, and Pinterest to share ideas for implementing it into your schedule. This network of very creative and imaginative teachers is more than willing to give you all the ideas you need to bring this international book discussion to your students.

So while you are making plans for next year, I encourage you to take some time to look into International Dot Day. It's a day of deep-thinking and reflection for our students that help them to realize that being different is good and that by embracing their own gifts they can make the world, even the world of one person, a better place.