Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dot Day & Choose2Matter

Too often educators adopt a content coverage mentality to prepare students for high-stakes tests. They try to cram a ton of facts into students’ heads without engaging students in deeper, longer-lasting learning.  International Dot Day and the Choose2Matter movement are opportunities for teachers, principals, superintendents and others to reject the content coverage mentality and articulate a more compelling vision of teaching and learning. With this vision, students commit themselves enthusiastically to work that makes a difference locally, nationally, and/or globally. Students learn the content and skills of the curriculum as they choose to matter.
International Dot Day is inspired by Peter Reynolds children’s book The Dot. The Dot tells the story of Vashti, a little girl who is dared by her teacher to “make her mark.” Based on registrations, over 500,000 students are participating in Dot Day September 15-ish.
Students from all areas within our school district are participating in International Dot Day. The level of participation by school varies ranging from an entire school, to entire grade levels or departments, to a few classes. Students in each of our nineteen schools will make their mark matter during the school year. Third grade students will research options for fertilizing soil in rural communities as part of managing actual charitable contributions. Sixth grade students will write letters and create videotaped public service announcements for 5th grade students regarding lockers, homework, and other topics relating to the transition to middle school. High school students will engage in oyster restoration to improve water quality and increase the native oyster population. Students at all levels will create tutorials using screencasting, Claymation, and videotaping in a variety of content areas, including Driver’s Education, Spanish, Algebra, and Biology. They will publish these tutorials for a global audience on the Internet. You can read blog posts relating to these and other similar projects via the links provided at the end of this post.

Student Dots from Mount
Vernon Elementary School 
Participation in International Dot Day can launch sustained efforts to support students as they do work that matters. Participation in Dot Day can generate excitement, extend understanding of the concept of choosing to matter, build community, and make connections. These examples illustrate the different ways schools can use participation in Dot Day to launch a year of doing work that matters:

Dot Day Digital Quilt of Magruder
Elementary School Staff Dots

·         Students, teachers and administrators are making their own dots.
·         High School students are Skyping with elementary school students for a read-aloud of The Dot and related activities.
·         Multiple schools are planning aerial photographs of students and staff standing together forming a Dot, making their mark as a school.

Waller Mill Elementary School, with a Dot Week of activities, provides other examples of using International Dot Day to kick off sustained efforts to support students’ making their mark matter.

WMES Display in Front Hall will
Display Dots Soon
·         A bulletin board near the entrance to the school will display staff and student dots.
·         Gold frames will initially exhibit student dots and eventually exhibit other student work that makes a difference.
·         The morning show will feature students sharing their commitment to make their mark matter.
·         Students will write responses, some of which will be published as blog posts, in response to a school-wide common writing prompt relating to making one’s mark matter.

Gold Frames, Just Like Vashti Used!
Here are five steps you can take to participate in International Dot Day:
1.       Visit the official Dot Day web site to learn more and view resources for instructional activities.
2.       Read Angela Maier’s blog post regarding connecting the dots to change the world.
3.       Sign your students up to participate in International Dot Day.
4.       Register for the Skype in the Classroom network to use videoconferencing to participate in Dot Day and followup activities throughout the year.
5. Exchange ideas with others through Twitter using the #DotDay #Choose2Matter and #MakeURMark hashtags.
Participating in International Dot Day can be an effective part of engaging students in deeper, longer-lasting learning through projects that make a difference.  When students learn the content and skills of the curriculum through these projects, we see that a content-coverage mentality that focuses on just exposing students to content is not the best perspective. So, join educators and students around the globe in connecting their dots to make a difference locally, nationally, and/or globally.
You might also like:
Choose to Matter: Don't Underestimate Students
The Digital Learning Farm: A Call to Action
Students and Transformative Work
Using Technology to Transform Teaching and Learning