International Dot Day falls perfectly at the beginning of the school year. September 15th. We have been in school for just over a week and we are getting to know each other and our school routines. Dot Day is a festival which extends the message of the brilliant book, The Dot. In this story, Vashti doesn’t like art class. She has an encouraging teacher who tells her to sign her name and she frames Vashti’s art work. This gives Vashti a beginners mindset and she starts to explore other ways of making her mark in art class. The story ends with a showcase of Vashti’s dots and a chat with another unconfident young learner. She helps him make his mark and tells him to sign it. And the story begins again!
International Dot Day takes the idea of dot art work and how through art work you can show how unique you are. Children make their own art work to represent themselves. In group and class discussions we unpick what it means to be you. What are you proud of? What makes your unique? How will you make your mark?
My young learners suggest that they will make their mark on the world by being helpful, kind, respectful… listing those class rules we have agreed. But with International Dot Day I want to extend our reach beyond our class and school. How will we make our mark on the world?
It’s a big question and it takes more than 1 day to answer. That’s why this year we planned for The Dot over 5 days! This gave us time to dive deeper in to the messages of the book, as well as create even more fantastic pieces of art work! Take a look at our class blog to see what we did during the week.
In the lead up to International Dot Day we have planned activities to help build our thinking about making our mark on the world. We started with home and ‘Proud of Me’. Then looked to the future and talked about our ambitions. Next we made friends with other school children elsewhere in the world.
With my Apple Distinguished Educator peers from the Early Learning community, we use International Dot Day as a platform for launching our Connecting Classes Across Continents project. On International Dot Day we make FaceTime calls between our classes. This year we connected with Ireland, South Carolina and Maine. Each call had a different focus during the day. Miss Mangan’s class in Ireland was first because we could call in the morning. We shared our art work and why we are proud of ourselves. Mrs Meeuwse and her class in South Carolina called in at 2pm and we talked about our place in the world, answered questions about where we lived and talked about what jobs we would like to do. At 3pm, Miss DuFour and her class in Maine called and they helped us talk about making our mark on the world:
How would being a vet make a mark on the world? How do doctors make their mark on the world? What can a pilot of a helicopter do to help people? What do mummies do to help the world? How does a princess make a positive contribution on the world?
We talk about real examples of when people in these roles have helped make the world a better place.
International Dot Day connects our classes, and this is the first connection we make in the year. We make sure that we whenever we are working on a project in the year, we suggest sharing it with one our Connected Classes. Connected Classes are our audience for the work we do. It’s been a brilliant start to the third year of this project, especially when we discussed the time difference with South Carolina. One child in my class explained:
‘it must be morning in America because it is the other side of the world, the world turns you know!’
I’m looking forward to seeing how his knowledge of the world exceeds expectations because of the connections he will make over FaceTime this year!
After International Dot Day and these in depth conversations with real people from all over the world, we set out to secure our thinking in the pages of a book. The children in our classes have all met their audience now. At the end of our calls we pledged to share our Dot Day books with each other, giving a purpose to writing. So on September 16th I modelled Book Creator to my class and we set out making a page each of our class book on the iPad. Each child added their digital dot and recorded their voice explaining how they will make their mark:
“I will make my mark by being a filmer for animals”
This one of my favourite ideas inspired by a young fan of David Attenborough! Find out more about introducing Book Creator and building a class book on 1 iPad here.
All of our class books are being uploaded to a private shared space (for us, an iTunes U course) where we can download each others books and share them with our classes. This also means we can share it with our Connected Class with Mr. Milner in Australia too! In the coming weeks we will drop in on each other over FaceTime to learn more about where each other lives.
International Dot Day gives our young learners a chance to talk about the world, their connection to it and a purpose to share their work. Make your International Dot Day more than a book study of The Dot, make connections and share your work with others! There’s plenty of time to plan a Dot Day this September, take a look at the website here. After all, the date is ‘September 15ish’!
Find out more about Connecting Classes Across Continents here:
Book – Connecting Classes Across Continents: Early Learning Edition (Free)
This is the early learning edition of Connecting Classes Across Continents book. This book explores ‘why, how and what’ to do when thinking about starting global connections in your classroom. The book acts as an introductory guide which will sign post those who need more information to an iTunes U course populated with project templates to follow.