Dots Helps Us Make Our Mark!

Every September, we participate in International Dot Day – a global celebration of courage, creativity, and collaboration. It is based on the Peter H. Reynolds’ book entitled The Dot—the story of frustrated grade school artist, Vashti, as she sits slumped over her blank piece of paper at the end of art class. “I just CAN’T draw!” she tells her teacher. Her teacher first uses wit, then subtle yet clever encouragement to inspire her student to go beyond her insecurities and become, in the words of a younger boy who “can’t” draw either, and laments that he could never become “a really great artist” like Vashti. However, she encourages him to try, just as her
teacher did. The open-ended conclusion encourages students of all ages to contemplate how they can make their own mark in the world.

Peter H. Reynolds is one of my favorite author/illustrators!

We discussed fixed versus growth mindset, making our mark, and then students created their own art to take home and share with their parents.

Students used our recycled dot-shaped crayons, too! This is a great use for old, broken crayons — find out how to make them here.

Lots of Dots, Awesome Authors, & One Little Otis

It’s been busy couple of weeks in my school libraries.  We had a great time celebrating creativity, courage, and collaboration during International Dot Day (well, for us, it was a week!).  The hallways outside my libraries are splashed with color in an amazing array of dots.  My 3rd graders made dot trading cards and we’ve sent them to our Skype partner in Dayton, Ohio.    Most of my classes had the opportunity to Skype with other classes….we chatted with classrooms in Higganum and South Burlington (Vermont), Princeton ( New Jersey), Austin and Weatherford (Texas) and Lexington (South Carolina).  We shared The Dot by Peter Reynolds,  Press Here by Hervé Tullet, colorful dots, and lots of state symbols. Please click here to take a look at our Brookhaven celebration, and here for our Clopper Mill celebration. One really neat result of my Skyping was that I got to meet my Lexington, SC Skype partner, Valerie Byrd-Fort, at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC that same weekend!  Skyping is such great way to collaborate, share a love of reading, teach digital citizenship, and also show our students how small our world really is!


Valerie & Me – Skyping partners meet in person at the 2013 National Book Festival in Washington, DC

Speaking of the National Book Festival, I had a super–dee-duper time listening to the wonderful childrens authors speak about their work.   Suzy Lee had a wonderful multimedia presentation of three of her books: Mirror, Wave, Shadow , and Open this Little Book – she also illustrated the official National Book Festival poster.    Mirror, Wave, and Shadow are wordless books, click here for an article about other great wordless books.  In this article, Susan Dee states, “Author David Wiesner commented once that one of the most valuable characteristics of the wordless book is it’s “endless possibilities for creative interpretation.”   Consider including some wordless books in your lesson plans – I plan to, and will let you know how it goes!


Author/Illustrator Suzy Lee shows us “Shadow.”


Author Jon Sciezska shares a funny story with the audience

Mark Teague’s dinosaur drawing at 2013 National Book Festival in Washington, DC

Jon Scieszka (he said it rhymes with Fresca) had a fun talk about growing up in a family of all boys.  He is the founder of Guys Read website, too!

Mark Teague, was also on the line up in the children’s tent.  He is both an author and an illustrator.  He gave a nice talk about what he loves to do, drew a dinosaur for us , and moderated a long line of Q & As.

Author Lesa Cline-Ransome and her author/illustrator husband James E. Ransome spoke about the creation process, working together, and a lot about their newest book:  A Light in the Darkness. Lesa is a passionate researcher, reader,  and writer.  I encourage you to check out Lesa’s website – you’ll be glad you did!   Click here for a video which shows James as he creates a beautiful watercolor painting from A Light in the Darkness. 


Christopher Myers & Me!

Christopher Myers, son of award winning Walter Dean Myers, gave a wonderful talk about being black in today’s America, and about his new book, H.O.R.S.E. – A Game of Basketball and Imagination.  He said that despite his height (6’7”) he was never a good basketball player ( but that he was good with a pen) and that the basketball games he and his friends played were a combination of creativity, imagination, and physical playfulness.  Click here for a wonderful father-son interview about their collaborative work We are America.

Last, but certainly not least, Newbery Award winner Richard Peck spoke about what it means to be a good writer.  He said that in order to be a good writer, one must first be a good reader.   What struck me the most (besides his eloquent way of speaking!) was that he writes his books six times – 6 times!  He writes, rewrites and rewrites and rewrites, until he gets it right.  He types each version on an electric typewriter – he does not use a computer. He writes from beginning to end. Once he finishes the book, and knows how it ends, without rereading it, he throws out the first chapter and rewrites it, because “the first chapter is the last chapter in disguise,” Typically pulling his opening line from somewhere within the novel, he said said that he can rewrite his opening paragraph twenty or more times.  This is true of his newest novel, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail.

A fun event happening this week is “Read for the Record” sponsored by We Give Books, an online source for free e-books.  Please consider sharing the story Otis by Loren Long with your students on October 3rd! You may pledge to read on their website here.

Happy Reading!

Getting Graphic with Dots and Books!

My students and I are gearing up for a fabulous celebration of International Dot Day.  Here’s a sneak peek at the splash of color that decorates the hallway walls at Brookhaven ES. Image

I also wanted to share some additional Dot Day resources created by Peter Reynolds which includes posters and certificates of participation.

I have a few openings in my International Dot Day Skyping schedule, and would love to connect with you!    Please take a look at the Google Doc that lists everyone connecting the dots through  Skype video chats.

On a completely different note, I was excited to spend my Saturday at the Small Press Expo, where I got the chance to meet amazing graphic novelists Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, John Green, and Gene Luen Yang, and also listen to a very informative conversation between Raina and Gene about their work.


Raina has a great newsletter, and her fall edition included a series of blog posts about the graphic novel creation process – a great set of resources for the MCPS 3rd grade Marking Period 3 writing project.


If you haven’t done so already, consider building your graphic novel collection.  An informative article by Scholastic Books explains what the graphic novel format is, and how graphic novels promote literacy  – this is a great resource to share with those that are wary of the format.  

For a list of great graphic novels for the grade 4-6 set (in addition to the titles by the authors listed above!) visit the Maryland Association of School Librarians 2013-14 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan nominees for the new graphic novel division.





Making our Mark!

The Dot Poster

Make Your Mark on Dot Day!

I am looking forward to connecting with other educators, and sharing the joy, hope, and creativity that The Dot by Peter Reynolds inspires in its readers.  For ideas about how to participate in International Dot Day on September 15thish, visit the official site here.  For even more ideas, read the blog posts on The Busy Librarian and Life Lessons for Little Ones.

If you haven’t read The Dot or Ish by Peter Reynolds, you should!  I also highly recommend The North Star, also by Peter Reynolds.  All three of these books celebrate finding one’s own talents,  following your dreams, and creating your own life’s journey to make your personal mark on the world.   Another book I plan to share on International Dot Day is the interactive book Press Here by Hervé Tullet (watch book trailer here).

For additional activity ideas, visit blogs Creative Connections for Kids and My Little Bookcase, or Laughing Book’s Pinterest page Ideas for Book of the Month. Both The Dot and Ish are available on TumbleBooks, and I also located a video on YouTube, if  you don’t have access to TumbleBooks and you’d like to experience the animated version of The Dot.

Whether we’re connecting with a classroom around the world, across the country, or across Montgomery County, my students and I look forward to visiting with you and sharing both The Dot and Press Here next week!