Our first day of school is Wednesday, September 7th. This is just 5 school days before International Dot Day on September 15th, 2016. And for me the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Dot Day has become an important part of my students first grade year. It’s the first time, that we think and talk about what is most important about ourselves and the learning journey that we are about to begin. This day is named for the classic Peter H. Reynolds story called The Dot. The book shares the story of a girl named Vashti, who begins a journey of self-discovery after a teacher challenges her to “make her mark.” This will be just the third year that I have joined thousands of other educators around the world who are asking their own students to make their mark. And this one question is the perfect way to start a new year.
During the 1st week of school we will have read the book several times and have had many conversations about Vashti and her teacher. But on Dot Day, it truly is a question that I pose for the first time to my brand new 1st graders – “How will YOU make your mark?” Then I will hand them a single piece of paper, a paint brush and some watercolor paints. I ask them not only to make their mark but to write a word or two to go with it. I explain that these will hang in our classroom for the 170- some days to come. I’m always delighted with the outcome.
Every student’s dot is original and I’m always amazed by how these simple works of art inspire us as our year goes on. We refer to them when we are stuck, last year, Carl’s dot reminded us to try. During projects, Ruby’s dot gave us permission to explore. When we were struggling, Noah’s dot told us to be brave. And finally, Olivia’s dot lets us know that it’s always okay to follow your heart. Important life lessons. Other dots reminded us to work hard, to make new friends and to play. And each one inspired me, as their teacher, to take risks and know that my 6 and 7 year old students would rise to the challenge.
2015-16 was a great year filled with challenges including a teacher’s strike that delayed the start of our school year and meant that we did Dot Day 10 days late. And that’s one of the reasons why Dot Day 2016 is scheduled for September 15th ~ish . Dot Day is not about a certain day. It’s about a question that we as teachers need to ask students again and again. “How will you make your mark and how can I help you make it?” Here’s the link – It’s not to late to sign up. http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/