Thursday, September 8, 2011

Today The Students Made Their Mark....On Each Other, The World, and ME!

Today I read The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds to the 5th graders in the elementary library. 

John Schu, my teaching partner in Oak Brook, Illinois, and I are getting ready to celebrate International Dot Day  on September 15th.  I have been sharing The Dot with the students by reading it aloud and watching the video on BookFlix.  We have had wonderful conversations about leaving your mark on the world, being unique, creative, and having a VOICE.  

I had been thinking about ways to decorate for Dot Day.  I put up the new display in the library and taped up the Dot Day image from above, but I needed something really "WOW" in the hallways.  

I needed to make my mark for this event.  

Suddenly,  I had an idea!  

Why was I just reading The Dot to just the elementary students?  What about all of the young people upstairs?  If they were to also hear The Dot, then I could have them create their own mark and help me decorate for this very special day.  
So when my seventh grade advisory group came in before lunch (and my She's the First chapter....and of course the several other kids that trickle into the library each day), I had them sit down on the floor as I read The Dot to all of them.  

We had a meaningful conversation about being ourselves, being proud of what we create, and how to make our mark on the world.  

They agreed!  It would be very fun to create their marks and celebrate Dot Day by sharing their work in the hallways of Van Meter.  
We quickly gathered up paints, brushes, and bowls from the art room.  I tore off really long pieces of white paper from the roll in the office.

And we headed outside for a space big enough to make this happen.  
They took the paper and formed three groups as they painted dots.  

I loved seeing them work in groups that were not only different in age, but also with people they usually didn't hang out with.  In this project, it didn't matter if they were working next to their best friend or the person they usually sat by in class.  

In this project, the only thing that mattered was they were working together to make their mark. 

When it was time for lunch, they carried the art work into the elementary library to dry.
After lunch, I had a group of girls in 7th and 8th grade come back to find me.  I had told them we needed to really make our mark on the library doors and art room.

They decided to create huge, beautiful dots which turned out to be unbelievable pieces of art work.  Twelve girls worked together to create these dots that will hang on the doors tomorrow celebrating Dot Day.

Together with the amazing banners, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate not only Dot Day, but the uniqueness, creativity, and VOICE of our students at Van Meter.  

This is not what I had planned to do today.  I didn't have it on my Google Calendar.  I didn't gather the supplies beforehand.

But you know what, this was one of those days that aren't planned, that aren't laid out step by step.

It was one of those moments that happens to every teacher.  Those moments that we take just as much, if not more, from our students and learn a valuable lesson from what is happening around us.  It was so much fun for me to stand back and see this happen today.  Within 25 minutes, a group of kids who met in the library everyday from 11:30 to 11:55am opened up, worked together and created something that they were proud of.

They made their mark.  Not just on the paper or in Van Meter.  But on each other.

And most of all, on the world.

I hope you join all of us to celebrate Dot Day and make your mark too!

1 comment:

  1. We are students at Anastasis Academy in Denver, Colorado. We really liked the photos of all your dots! They're really cool dots! We really liked how creative you were in how you created your dots. We bet you all worked really hard.

    We learned from the story, The Dot, that being an artist means that we can each use our own creativity. It's not about what other people think about our art... it's about what WE think about our art.