International Dot Day Inspires Teachers and Students

International Dot Day 2011 - Kindergarten Dots
International Dot Day 2011 - Kindergarten Dots (Photo credit: Visions By Vicky)
by Janel N Spencer

This Saturday marked the fifth annual International Dot Day, a day dedicated to encouraging students' creativity and inspiring confidence.

Classrooms around the globe have been celebrating this and last week with unique activities such as dot art, musical "sound dots," and using dots to help teach maps and math.

Dot Day was started by teacher Terry Shay in Waterloo, Iowa, to celebrate the publication of Peter H. Reynold's children's book "The Dot"; the book shares the story of a young girl named Vashti who is encouraged by her teacher to "make her mark."

In the story, Vashti tries to prove to her teacher that she cannot draw by making a small mark on the paper while declaring, "There!" - Vashti's art teacher then encourages her to be brave and use her imagination to see where this dot could take her.

Reynolds' story, which has been translated into 22 languages including Braille, has been inspiring the creativity of students and teachers around the world. Reynolds has also been one of the main inspirations for teacher Angela Maiers, who began the World Movement Choose2Matter.

'What would happen if children and adults not only believed that they had the power to take on the world, but chose to use it?' Maiers asked at her TEDx Conference in Des Moines, Iowa this August. She wholeheartedly believes that encouraging others and the self to understand that "You Matter" can make teachers and students more responsible and empowered.

Reynolds teamed up with Maiers this year to kickoff the Dot Day event at the Boston Children's Museum this Saturday. This year more than half a million students participating in 15,000 classrooms worldwide registered online for International Dot Day.

The event is inspiring creativity in the classroom worldwide: many teachers are reading Reynolds' book aloud to their class, while some have been giving out certificates and dot candy as prizes.

Elementary teacher Melissa Black is having her fourth graders use Pointillism (working with primary and secondary colors) and tiny dots to make paintings. She had her younger students start their artwork by gluing a paper dot of any size and color onto a piece of paper and learning to use the dot as a part of a bigger picture.

Music teacher Judy Holloway is "Making Music with Dots" in her classes. She planned to use the notion of "sound dots" to relay basic lessons about rhythmic and melodic dictation while making the lessons fun and easy for her young students.

"Third graders made colorful rhythmic patters and second grade wrote Do Re Mi on staff paper," Holloway wrote. "First grade will take colored markers and respond to music that is staccato (dots!) and legato by drawing designs on the whiteboard."

Other teachers are having their students dot the equator and prime meridian on a map while they learn about latitude, longitude and other map skills. Some math teachers are using brightly colored dots in their lessons on arrays.

In the computer lab, students are using Paint for Windows to discover where their dot takes them. Teachers are also sharing their plans with other teachers on the web; some are using Skype in the classroom and others are posting their ideas to the International Dot Day Facebook page.

International Dot Day is not only meant to inspire confidence and creativity in the students: the event is dedicated to the teachers, as well, who inspire all of us. For, as all the many teachers of the world know, the possibilities of that one dot are endless-it is the mark of a beginning.

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