September 15th was “International Dot Day”.
This day is designated as an opportunity to inspire students around the world to “make their mark on the world”. The inspiration for this day is from the children’s book, “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds. The story is about a student who is frustrated that she just cannot draw. Her art teacher encourages her to “just make a dot”. She does and the teacher asks that she sign it. The following week her dot is displayed in a golden frame for all to see. The student decides that she “can make a better dot than that” and thus, she starts a creative exploration of dots, which also leads to inspiring others. If you have never read the book, it is a great story about the power of making a difference in the world through a simple act. The book has grown into a celebration of creativity, inspiration and self-expression around the world.
Last year, my smART partner and I came across “International Dot Day” through social media, but since it is celebrated very close to the start of the school year, we were not prepared to embark on doing a big project with our students. This year we started the school year with “Dot Day” and September 15th in mind. We brainstormed lots of “Dot Day” ideas and how to get all of our students involved. We also registered our school on the official website, http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/register, so we could download resources and information to share with students and parents.
Our plan was to have students create a visual interpretation of “their dot”, but also use that dot as a symbol of how they will “make their mark on the world”. As an introduction to “Dot Day”, we read aloud “The Dot” to our students and discussed the symbolism in the story. We then shared some inspirational videos of children that have made an impact on the world. We hoped these stories would get our students thinking about how they can make a difference in the world we live in.
The next day, we greeted our art students with enthusiasm and donning “dots”, as Miss Chris and I made our own special “Dot Day” t-shirts! We passed out a small paper plate to each student as they arrived and let them sit in groups at large tables. We had an assortment of art supplies at each table, in baskets, for students to embellish and create their dots. We included pom-poms, constructions paper, assorted patterned papers, pipe cleaners, stickers, magazine scraps, feathers, etc. I think the only thing we left in the craft closet was the glitter!
In order to add a collaborative aspect to the”Dot Day” experience, we decided to connect online with the art teachers in other buildings within our school district that were celebrating “Dot Day”. Using “Google Hangouts”, and with the help of our district’s Technology Team, we were able to live stream our students working, as well as watch the other art classes create their dots. Students shared their artwork, talked about their inspiration and talked about how they will “make their mark” on camera between buildings. It was such a fun experience seeing our middle school students connect with the middle school students at a different campus, as well as connect with kindergarten students and hear about their dot creations.
It kind of felt like a craft supply closet exploded in the art room by the end of the day, but the overall experience was really spontaneous, creative and fun for the students and us. The technology component added a new level of interaction which I look forward to using again. The feedback we got from students was great and our “dot display” quickly decorated the halls just in time for Open House! We even managed to get our local news stations to show up that day and interview the students and myself. You can watch it here: http://www.pahomepage.com/news/happy-international-dot-day-leave-your-mark-on-the-world
I was quite proud of how memorable the day turned out. I am already looking forward to “Dot Day 2017”!