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: