International Dot Day is one of our favorite days (weeks) of the year. It gives us permission to be creative and see what we can do just by making a mark. It also connects us with so many classrooms around the world. Classes are always looking to connect on this day, and we have made many collaborative relationships with schools because of this one day of the year.
This year, we used Dot Day as a way to explore our goal of dreaming, tinkering, creating, and sharing. We explored Google Drawing, which was a new tool for most students. We used Dot Day as a time to tinker and see how Google Drawing functioned as well as how to collaborate on a drawing with another student or class.
We also used colAR mix again this year to make augmented reality dots. This year, I encouraged students to think more globally as they made their dots by embracing the them of “making your mark on the world” that is the essence of The Dot. Students were encouraged to design a dot that represented their talents, hopes, dreams, and passions. I loved this new twist on a tool that we used last year because it revealed so many stories from students. One student drew a picture of an airplane flying through the clouds because of his dream to be a pilot when he grows up. Another student drew an astronaut and UFOs because of his desire to explore space. Another drew her whole family because they are what she loves in life. Some students chose to highlight their creativity as a way that they make their mark by designing unusual dots with their favorite colors. These were empowering stories because they allowed students to have a voice to share something personal about themselves in a way that they might now have shown before.
One amazing thing that happened while students were using the colAR app was how they discovered different ways to scan their dot. It started out as what some people might see as a mistake. A student’s hand was on top of their dot while they were scanning their image, and the hand became a part of the rotating sphere on the iPad screen. This resulted in an uproar of excitement as sharing began and the idea spread like wildfire. Soon students were trying to put their faces on their spinning spheres. Others stacked towers of crayons on top of their dot and tried to see if that would scan into the 3D image. All of this happened because of an opportunity to tinker. When we give kids a space to explore, they figure out amazing things and they willingly share and teach others what they learned. They get excited about their learning and they want to do more. I bet that these students would have spent an extended period of time continuing to experiment with colAR mix to see what else they could figure out, and they would have done this without getting tired or bored. These are the things that days like Dot Day reveal.
We had numerous Skype connections. Each one had its own unique twists and conversations between students and teachers. In many of these Skypes, we collaborated on a Google Drawing dots after reading the book. This included dots with our friend Okle Miller in Tampa, Edie Crook in North Carolina, and Crystal Hendrix in North Carolina (just to name a few). Sometimes this was live during a Google Hangout or Skype and other times it was after we disconnected. One of our hangouts was a large hangout between Matthew Winner in Maryland, Nancy Jo Lambert in Texas, Donna MacDonald in Vermont, and Esther Uribe in Texas. It was fun to read The Dot to students in so many states at one time, but what was even more fun was drawing with all of them at the same time! We definitely did some tinkering with this one. Many of us learned of the challenges of younger students but found ways to involved them even with computer-use difficulties. The students loved seeing drawings “magically” appear on our shared dot.
With Jennifer Reed in Massachusetts, we accidentally deleted all of our work on our collaborative dot. The kids were in a panic, but it was a fantastic opportunity to do an impromptu lesson on the power of revision history in Google Drive. We were able to recover our work and learn an important trick. We even talked about how revision history is one way that work is never deleted, which can be a positive but also a negative if you have written something that you wished you hadn’t.
Mrs. Clarke’s class had a Skype connection, but we weren’t able to do a collaborative dot with our connecting class. Instead, we split the class in half at our 2 projection boards and they created a dot together as a class. They got just a bit competitive as they tried to cover up each other’s work, but even this was a great opportunity to talk about how to work with others on a doc without being disrespectful of the contributions.
Some classes that we connected with had already spent a great deal of time being creative, and they shared with us dots that they are going to physically mail to us. Jenny Lussier in Connecticut had colAR dots as well as Morse code greeting cards. We can’t wait to decode what they say! We also discovered with Jenny that there’s more than one version of The Dot floating around out there.
Cathy Potter’s students in Maine read the book Ish to our students and shared their own illustrations for the book. We had a great conversation about the connections between both books.
Students and teachers alike love this day, but I do leave this day with a wondering. I’m thinking so much this year about global thinking and global collaboration. This day is filled with thousands of Skype and Google Hangout connections around the world. We connect. We read. We dream. We create. But then what? We leave one another until the next big event. I’m by no means being negative about Dot Day. I’m a huge advocate, but I do wonder about why we don’t build upon these connections we make. If we are really going to “make our mark” on the world, shouldn’t we be taking some actions together beyond connecting, reading, and creating? I would like to gently nudge us all to think about this. I’m just as guilty. I connect every year and then I move on, but I can’t help but carry this on my mind, reflect on it, and consider what more we might do beyond today. Think with me! Let’s keep our dots connected.