Have you ever heard of ‘International Dot Day’? I hadn’t either, but I think we might have been missing out! Never fear – there is still time to find out more and join the party!
Here is fellow blogger, teacher and tweeter Marc Faulder to tell you a bit more about International Dot Day and what he did with it…
Marc is a full-time teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator in Nottingham. He has taught in Foundation for 5 years and at his school he also leads the vision for interactive technologies and develops the computing curriculum. Marc runs the popular early years and technology blog Enabling-Environments.co.uk and can be found on Twitter as @MarcWithersey
Over to you Marc…
This year International Dot Day was held on 15th September 2014 (ish. They say ‘ish’ because you can still join in Dot Day until the end of the year!) International Dot Day is an annual event planned with the author of ‘The Dot’, Peter Reynolds. ‘The Dot’ is a story of a young girl, Vashti, and a caring art teacher. The teacher sees that Vashti has little confidence in making her mark on paper, the teacher notices this and a simple tactic means Vashti’s confidence grows and creativity flows. Soon she is making her mark on the rest of the school, helping other children become artists too. Each year International Dot Day sets out to celebrate creativity and collaboration in classrooms around the globe.
I first heard of International Dot Day whilst at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in San Diego in July. The American teachers I met there had planned for Dot Day for several years and suggested we use it this year as a starting point for connecting the dots between our classes ready for our global projects this year. I began by registering my class to The Dot Club website and downloading the very useful educator’s guide. This pack is full of inspiring activities to get your class making their mark in art, design and even PE. A week before Dot Day this year, a song was also published!
From this pack we decided to go with the ‘Buddy Dot’ activity and each child made their dot background and their dot with the intention of putting their dot on their background. The Buddy Dot suggests that the children cut their dots in half and swap half with another children. However, when our dots and backgrounds where finished, they were so spectacular we just couldn’t cover up the backgrounds with the dots. We certainly couldn’t ask them to cut them in half either! Instead, the children arranged the dots and squares on backing paper themselves.
We wanted as many collaborative art spaces and talking activities as possible. These were the most the popular: coffee filter paper designs and pipettes, large paper and wax crayons, circle tables covered in paper, an outdoor dot hunt, balancing and travelling between dots, small circular artefacts in small world, dice and numicon, Twister, and of course, Alistair’s own bread painting! Children also checked in to write or draw on their ‘Proud of Me’ page. With a photograph of themselves in the middle of different sized circles, children reflected on their proudest moments, ambitions and hopes for the future. You can view our video trailer for the day on our class blog here.
To make this day a real success, it is the global connections that really inspire the children. I was lucky enough to have these planned with my Apple Distinguished Educator friends, however when registering to the Dot Day site you can opt to have links made for you as these can be hard to find by yourself!
We began our day with a pre-recorded video from our friends in Kansas. The children there read the story of The Dot to us and then shared their personal dots with us. My class really enjoyed listening to their American accents and we listened to them read the story a few times! Next on the video each child explained how they would ‘make their mark’ on the world too. This became our first talking point of the day and children in my class said they would make their mark on the world by ‘looking after animals’, ‘being a doctor’, ‘being in a team’ and ‘looking after my mum and dad’. We then used the My Story app on iPads to draw our dot and record our ‘mark on the world’ statement. I shared the finished book on our class blog and our friends in Kansas, South Carolina, Maine, Ireland and Italy all downloaded our book and read it with their kindergarten classes. We received their dot books too. You can see our book here
In the afternoon group times we made Skype calls to some of these classes. We made a short call to Ireland, South Carolina and Kansas. During these calls we shared our art work and ideas on how we could make our mark on the world. These calls are the first we will do with these classes this year and now that our classes have ‘met’ we are planning lots of other collaborative projects with them. You can find out more about our projects on my blog here
Skype in the classroom is a great resource for connecting children and modelling good use of social media to them. After the call, some of the boys wanted to know more about where these children were in the world so we had good fun using Google Maps and the globe. There was a lot of discussion around how to get to America and why they had only just got to school whilst it was the end of the day for us.
International Dot Day is such a great day, even if you keep it localised to your school and collaborate with other classes, so much can be gained by working with others on such a simple project. To get the most out of the book and the day, we actually started our preparations a week before. The children had the text read to them for enjoyment, and our artwork started the Thursday before Dot Day. The timing Dot Day is perfect. It is a few weeks in to a new term, children are still getting to know each other and the staff so a story of confidence is a real good one! It gave me a chance to observe PSED, CL, UW and EAD too. I gained so much evidence for entry to F2. As I said at the start of this post, you can still join in this year’s Dot Day until the end of the year!
Interactive Technologies Coordinator
Early Years Teacher
Burton Joyce Primary School
Thanks Marc. I look forward to seeing what everyone does with the ‘the dot’….
If anyone has a go then please send me some photos of what you do!