Friday, September 27, 2013

Seize the Dot Day!

This post may be long, and it seems to be just a story explaining how the events of "Dot Day" came about. But in the end I think anyone can learn from this story because this is more than a story - it's about Seizing the Day!

On Friday, September 20, 2013 my class celebrated Dot Day. I heard about Dot Day on Twitter and began planning for the day just a week beforehand. With the hustle and bustle of the year, I reminded myself that I could do something on a 'small scale' and not have to make Dot Day into a huge ordeal that took over the whole school. I mentioned Dot Day to a few other teachers, but for a change, I didn't push for a whole school participation like I have done in the past for other events...

I kept telling myself - just do something small - make a small dot, just for the students in your classroom...

The book that inspired the whole day, The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, can be interpreted in many different ways. The message I decided to focus on was that "By yourself you can make a mark (dot) on the world, but if we connect the dots, we can make an IMPACT." (I'm not sure if I read this somewhere on Twitter or if I made this up by myself, so please let me know if credit needs to be given to someone.)

So, here's how "Dot (3) Days" went:

On Wednesday, I read The Dot, by Peter Reynolds to the 50 students on my team and we discussed the message above.

On Thursday, the students decorated their dots. They also wrote word problems that involved multiplication and any other operation. I gave each student a number and the answer to their word problem had to equal this number. (You'll find out why later...)

Friday was the BIG DAY! One of my favorite quotes that I shared with the students was that "You may not be able to change the WHOLE WORLD, but you can change SOMEONE'S world!" This helped the students focus on things that they could realistically do to change someone's day or to make an impact on the environment. The students had great ideas such as recycling, reusing paper, picking up trash, planting trees, writing a note to a friend, making cards for those in the military, painting fingernails of children in hospitals, starting a canned food drive, raising money for cancer research, donating your hair, giving blood, donating books, shoes, clothing and much much more! I was very impressed with the students' brainstorming and throughout the year I hope that they decide to turn their brainstorming into actions!  (I actually started an after school program that gives students the time and resources to do just that: ACT. The program is called Choose2Matter and you can learn more information about our program here.)

Then students switched multiplication word problems and solved them. They checked their answer and then placed their colored dot on the 'board' with the corresponding number to the math problem. I told the students that this was the largest connect the dot activity which may be a lie....So, technically I'm calling it a "Life Sized Connect the Dot Activity." Here's one of the the 'boards.'
This picture was taken before I put numbers on the sticky notes marking where the dots should go. 

After all dots were placed on the board, the students connected the numbers/dots. Once they stepped back they could see what the dots spelled:

The students on the scarlet team literally made their MARK!

The students on the gray team literally made an IMPACT!

So, this was my original plan - Dot brainstorming, math word problems, and life sized connect the dots activity.  But, the story is really just beginning. On Wednesday, I saw a tweet from Janine Crain who is a 5th grade teacher in Iowa. She asked if anyone wanted to Skype to celebrate Dot Day on Friday together. I absolutely love Skype in the Classroom and I thought that the students in my class could 'connect their dots' with students from Mrs. Crain's class in Iowa!

After exchanging a few messages on Twitter, Janine was able to help me set up two Skype calls - one for each one of my classes. The plan was that the scarlet team would share their ideas on how to make their mark on the world with Mrs. Crain's 5th grade class and my gray group would do a Mystery Skype activity and share dot day ideas with Jennifer Plummer's 4th grade students (Jennifer and Janine teach at the same school in Council Bluffs, Iowa.)  Mrs. Plummer's class is on a quest to Mystery Skype with a school from each of the 50 states! We are very lucky to represent OHIO on their quest! Because of time purposes, my students answered the mystery Skype questions but I told the students beforehand where the other class was located. It actually was a great way to model a mystery Skype for the students!

So, again, the Dot Day celebration was getting a little bigger - we were able to connect dots with another school which was wonderful...but of course my mind raced in another direction.

Also on Wednesday, I emailed a incredible teacher I met last May via Skype. @Capt_KK is a 5th grade teacher in Perth, Australia. I wondered if she knew about Dot Day and emailed her the basics. Because of the 12 hour time difference, I thought it would be fun to exchange pre-recorded videos of how students in Ohio and Perth would have similar dots. Jacqui replied that she hadn't heard of Dot Day, but she loved the idea and she would try to send us 'a little something' for our Dot Day celebration on Friday....I was excited to receive their video and honestly I didn't know what to expect....

On Friday morning, I woke up at 4:45 excited for the day! I looked at Twitter and read the message below from Skype in the Classroom

Would anyone be interested in doing a last minute Skype at 10:15 CT with a fire safety dog named, Molly?

I thought for a second about the timing and realized the students could Skype with Molly and then immediately afterward Skype with Mrs. Crain's class in Iowa. I read about the lesson and it fit my student's age range. We recently just discussed fire safety in science so I thought it would be a great opportunity. Within 30 minutes, Dayna Hilton (Molly's owner), and I had exchanged information and the call was set up! I mean who would pass up Skyping with a dog with dots on Dot Day.... (Incredible right!?)

Here are some pictures from the each of the three Skype in the Classroom calls on Dot Day!

 Dayna explains how Molly makes her 'mark' by helping others learn about fire safety BEFORE fires happen!
Below, Molly holds up the sign from Clarksville, Arkansas (one of her many tricks!) Molly also can crawl on her stomach to demonstrate the proper way to escape a burning building! See, even a DOG can make a DOT on the world. :)  

Mrs. Crain's students shared their colored dots and their plans on how they can impact the world. We had a lot of common ideas for dots, but one thing that we did NOT have in common was their use of technology in the classroom. We were very impressed (and jealous) that they were using iPads! 

Mrs. Plummer's class found Grove City, OH in only 8 guesses for their Mystery Skype! (I think this is a record!). They used Chrombooks to help them find our exact location!  Our students were in awe at the technology they had access to, but we'll be happy to get our LearnPads soon!
The students then showed us their dots and explained that their entire school celebrated Dot Day together! We were very fortunate to be a part of their celebration!
Mrs. Plummer also shared with us how the students could make 3-D dots using the iPad app, colAR! We were very fortunate to see how this app works via Skype. What a fun way for students to celebrate Dot Day.

Finally, remember Miss Korten from Australia? She was able to put together this AMAZING Dot Day video with her students in only TWO days! I got goosebumps as I watched the 46 second video and listened to how they wanted to impact the world! 

Many of the students in Australia gave the same reasons as the students in Iowa and Ohio! The Australian students sure put the DOT on the exclamation point of a great day!

As I wrote this blog I realized something pretty powerful. I actually lived the message I was trying to get across to my students. You can make your own mark but together we can make an IMPACT. At first, my connect-the-dot activity would have been fun and more than enough for Dot Day. But by reaching out to others across the globe, we were all able connect the dots to make a larger IMPACT. And this is the point that I hope all teachers can learn...

When someone offers to connect - seize the day!

Ask others to connect, so they can - seize the day!

Don't be afraid to share your ideas - seize the day!

Don't be afraid to CHANGE your original plan - seize the day!

Don't be afraid to fail - seize the day!

Ask questions - seize the day!

Push boundaries - seize the day!

Think outside the box - seize the day!

Take risks - seize the day!

HAVE FUN - seize the day!

I'm so lucky that I decided to connect my students with others from around the world. I know that the day was much more memorable and they were able to learn much more because I decided to SEIZE THE (DOT) DAY :)

Thanks for reading!
Arin (@ArinKress on Twitter)

Special Thank Yous to:

Janine- Thank you for reaching out to any teacher who was willing to accept your invitation on Twitter. If you would like to connect our classrooms in the future, please be sure to contact me! Good luck on your upcoming Skype in the Classroom presentations! I love that you're trying to spread the power of Skype to other teachers! 

Jennifer-It was great connecting our students again. Good luck with your quest to Mystery Skype all 50 states! I'll be following along on your class's journey! Good luck also with your upcoming presentations with Janine!

Dayna- Thank you for setting up the call so quickly. My students loved your presentation and loved the pictures you sent of Molly. Good luck with future calls and the great work you are doing with your dogs :)

Jacqui- Thank you for the AMAZING video and for creating a great experience for both your students and mine on Dot Day. I'm very excited about the future connections that we will plan together. The sky's the limit as we create a global classroom and 'seize the day' together! 

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