Sunday, September 9, 2012

Release Their Creativity

In preparing to celebrate International Dot Day this week, I asked my students to brainstorm ideas for what we'll do to "make our mark and make it matter." Working in their table groups, I asked them to come up with as many ideas as they could. After about ten minutes, I noticed that each group only had two or three ideas written on their papers. Having heard plenty of "we can't do that" comments while I roamed around the classroom, I realized they were censoring themselves and, therefore, inhibiting the creative process.

So I interrupted them and explained what I was seeing and hearing. I said, "Let's try something different." I put ten minutes on the timer and told my students they would have ten minutes to come up with fifty (yes...50) ideas. There were a number of gasps as well as comments like, "no way!" and "wait, is she serious?!" Of course I was serious! Am I ever not serious?!

Never mind. Don't answer that.

What transpired in the next ten minutes in my classroom was truly fabulous! It got rather noisy, but it was a noise filled with creative expression. I loved watching my students get excited - and rather competitive - about their ideas. A few kids were literally jumping up and down at their tables.

You're probably wondering how many groups actually got to 50 ideas. About half of them did. And the other groups had between 20 and 30 ideas each. Did we fail because every group did not come up with 50 ideas? Absolutely not! We went from a grand total of 18-20 ideas for the entire class to 310 ideas in ten minutes flat.

What does this prove? That when given the freedom to be creative, our students can quite literally astound us...and themselves.

So, if you're looking for some ideas to celebrate International Dot Day this year, I have a few suggestions for you. (Don't worry, I won't be typing up all of their ideas...that would make my hands cramp up!) Here are some of my students' ideas:

Let's start with the group that apparently hadn't eaten breakfast that morning. They suggest bringing in:
  • cakes
  • cupcakes
  • pies
  • cookies
  • ding-dongs
  • candy Dots
  • dip’n dots
  • donut holes
  • funcakes
  • Cheerios
  • Fruit Loops
  • cherry tomatoes
  • sliced cucumbers
  • brussel sprouts
  • pickles
  • bacon balls?

For our Choose 2 Matter campaign this year (some of these don't necessarily involve dots, but I love the way these kids think!):

  • Put up a bulletin board that says Choose 2 Matter in dots (on each of the dots we’ll each have written something or someone that matters to us).
  • Have a "bouncy ball" that we can pass around the room. Each student signs their name on it and tells the class why they matter.
  • Make Dot Cards and send them to people around the world to let them know they matter.
  • Create a “genius” light bulb out of dots. As Angela Maiers says, we are all geniuses and I tell my students that every day. (Be sure to read her Dot Day blog post here: Come Celebrate International Dot Day With Us)
  • Make and sell eco-friendly dot necklaces and donate the profits to Uganda.
  • Make Choose 2 Matter/Dot Day placemats.
  • Pass out “The Dot” book to people (a new version of World Book Night).
  • Plant flowers in the shape of the earth.
  • The Earth chair - made out of recyclable materials.
  • Create “green” brochures and newspapers.
  • Develop online video diaries about going green.
  • Celebrate Earth Hour - turn off all electricity for an hour.
  • Have a “no trash” day.
  • Smile at one person every day.
  • Write “Choose 2 Matter” on a cake for the President.
Make a ____ out of dots ideas:
  • Earth
  • book
  • The Bible (we're a Catholic school, after all)
  • American flag
  • Miss McMillan (hmmm...)
  • Our school logo
  • a dove
  • self-portraits
  • eyeball (maybe I shouldn't have told them about my eye surgery this summer)
  • smiley faces
  • a rainbow
  • the sun
  • the moon
  • the stars
  • peace sign
  • a duck
  • a heart
Miscellaneous ideas:
  • Write a haiku about dots.
  • Make a recycle sign out of bottle caps.
  • Create a mural or poster of "dot people" holding hands around the world.
  • Create a large chalk outline of a dot on the yard and have every student and teacher write their name inside.
  • Have each student dip a finger in paint and use all of our fingerprints to create an image (the Earth, a peace sign, a tree).
  • Hang a galaxy of star dots from the classroom ceiling.
  • Use buttons to create art.
  • Have a flash mob in front of City Hall in dot formation. (And you thought flash mobs were a thing of the past!)
  • Write a Dot Day anthem.
  • Have a Dot Day dance (I'm assuming that's what this group meant when they said "dot day dance." It could be that they want to create their own style of dance.)

One idea that I haven't listed here was created by one of my students before we even began brainstorming. She brought the idea to me a few days before this and we immediately got started on it. Each student created a small 8 x 10 poster of an inspirational quote that matters to them. I took a picture of each of them holding up their quote and will be giving the photos to Nicole so that she can take them home and finish her idea. She's going to create a paper mache globe and then put all of our pictures on it. Pretty cool, eh?!

I had the privilege yesterday of being a guest on Classroom 2.0 along with T.J. Shay, Maryann Molishus, and Heather Temske. We shared how we've celebrated Dot Day in the past as well as what we might be doing this year. Participants in the session also shared some of their great ideas, so you won't want to miss the archive of the show here: International Dot Day 2012 Preview. Be sure to also check out the LiveBinder of resources for the session; it's just filled with great ideas! Classroom 2.0 LiveBinder (Be sure you've clicked on the International Dot Day tab.)

However you choose to celebrate International Dot Day this year, find the artist within you, give your students the freedom to find their own inner artist (it's probably much closer to the surface than our own), and have fun!

"Make Your Mark; Make It Matter!"

I just had to add this picture to this post. Three of my students made a very special shirt for me for Dot Day:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

International Dot Day 2012

Ah, summer. Time to relax, travel, read for pleasure, and...lesson plan! That's right, a teacher's work really is never done. While I'm not necessarily writing up lessons at this point, I am most definitely making plans for the new school year (our first day with kids is August 21st). One of the activities that I am most looking forward to is International Dot Day which is celebrated each year on September 15th.

Last year, I had a wonderful time reading Peter H. Reynolds' The Dot to three different classes, only one of which was mine. I really enjoyed the conversations I had with all three classes about creativity and what constitutes "art." (You can read my post about those conversations here: International Dot Day 2011.) I'm especially excited about this year's Dot Day as I recently became a FableVision Ambassador; I'm so proud to have been included with this wonderful group of dedicated educators!

Teachers and students around the world are getting ready to participate again this year, and we'd love to see even more participants. The locations of everyone who has signed up to participate can be seen in this map:

View International Dot Day 2012 in a larger map

As you can see, we really need to add some pins to our world map! Won't you join us this year? You'll be ever-so-happy that you did, I promise! Here's what you need to know:
I'd also like to mention another project started by Terry Shay called Celebri-Dots. Terry has done a wonderful job gathering authors, illustrators, and celebrities willing to create their own Dots. Take a look at the site, I'm sure you'll love seeing the artwork of some familiar names. Of course, if you happen to know any authors, illustrators, or celebrities who might be willing to add their creation, please let us know!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Born to Learn

"Adolescence is not a problem. It's an opportunity." Now, there's something you don't hear every day!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Web Tools for Teachers

Looking for the perfect web 2.0 tool to use for yourself or your classroom? You might want to check out this fabulous LiveBinder from Tim Wilhelmus: Web Tools for Teachers by Type. It has everything you might need, from photo, video, and audio editing to research, polling, and presentation tools. I especially appreciate how Tim has taken the time to include the perfect picture for each tab (although the picture on the avatar creation tab kinda sorta gives me the heebie jeebies).

Check it out for yourself and then pass it along to the teachers you work with!

Special thanks to Kyle Pace for sharing this link on Twitter.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cheryl and Morgan's Search Story

If you're looking for an inspiring story about using technology in education, search no further. Watch Google's latest Search Story starring Cheryl Oakes as the teacher who helps to make learning accessible for her student Morgan.

Be sure to also check out Wes Fryer's wonderful blog post about Cheryl and Morgan's Search Story: A Heartwarming Google Search Story of Education at Its Best in Maine.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Text Poetry Image

Once again, my seventh graders and I have enjoyed doing our text poetry activity. I'm currently looking for a new way to share their poems, something that will actually look like they texted me their assignment...without me having to give them my cellphone number. (This is always my students' first suggestion, by the way.)

I came across the website iFakeText via Tammy Worcester's Tech Tip of the Week and thought I'd give it a try:

The html code provided by the website didn't seem to work with my blog, so I took a screenshot to share with everyone. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow me to share the entire poem at one time. I'd have to create multiple entries along with several screenshots. It does look pretty cool, though!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Let's Jump Right In

First day back after Christmas vacation for my students; how would I get us started? I stressed a little bit about this over the weekend.

Ok...actually, I stressed A LOT about this over the weekend! I wanted it to be something special, something poignant; something they would remember THE. REST. OF. THEIR. LIVES.

No pressure. And, clearly, no sense of reality either.

Finally, I decided to keep it simple...and fun. So we began our day today with a quick YouTube video. I prefaced this video with, "Now, I don't know what the person who posted this video wanted the title to be, but after you watch this I'll tell you what title I've given it. It has to do with starting back to school."

"And my title," I told the kids, "is....

Let's Jump Right In!"

Howls of laughter ensued. Well, it might have been more like very loud groans, but I choose to remember laughter.

Special thanks to Lee Kolbert for sharing this video on Facebook!