Monday, September 15, 2014

Making Your Mark

Today is Dot Day. I learned about Dot Day by following Howard County Media Teacher Matthew Winner on Twitter. You can learn more about his work on his blog, The Busy Librarian.

Dot Day, or rather International Dot Day, is a "global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, (which) began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009." Dot Day is significant to me because it is an example of teachers connecting through social media and the World Wide Web to create a creative and affirming learning experience for students.

I write a good bit here about what high stakes testing and the emphasis on data, graphs, and endless meetings about the same, are doing to education. Dot Day is an example of what teachers really want to be doing: creating, collaborating, challenging students to be their best selves. These teachers don't need professionally vetted surveys to rate their level of engagement. They are engagement. As they are open to learning from one another, and from their students, we should be open to learn from them.

From the Dot Day website,

The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to "make her mark". What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

For some reason, the whole concept of Dot Day makes me think about this wacky, funky little book by Daniel Pinkwater called The Big Orange Splot. It is also a testament of sorts to self-expression. If you take the time for the read-aloud, you'll also see why this is the sort of book that might make Columbia RAC committees tear their hair out. It is hard to tell if the book was truly meant for children or really for adults. Perhaps both.

It challenges our comfortable acceptance of conformity. It gives us permission to dream our dreams, and then live them.

The Dot is available in our Howard County Public Libraries. The Big Orange Splot, alas, is not. They do carry forty other Daniel Pinkwater selections. I wish they had this one--in fact, I almost wish there was a Big Orange Splot Day.

Do something today to express yourself and break out of the mold!


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