Sunday, May 10, 2015

92 Dot Day Countries

Sunday, January 18, 2015

For Linda

In 2009, I met Linda Ragsdale and I was immediately changed by her strength and her kindness. In one of the early emails, she said this, "There is good in everything....sometimes you have to look harder." Once you hear her story, you will never forget it. You will want to draw dragons and you will want, more than you ever have before, for peace. 

Linda is now facing another daunting challenge....and she is determined to turn lemons into something sweeter. If you are into prayer, send one up. If you think positive thoughts, send some in her direction. If you love to draw, make a dragon and have it eat some lemons. You can hear her story below.  Linda- I'm sending you so much love and even more peace. I love you, brave warrior for peace.

I made this lemon for you....with love.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Characteristics of a Good Teacher - 2014 Junior High

I asked JH Chorus kids to write down what the characteristics of a good teacher are:

I think a good teacher would be when you ask a question, she explains to you again when it does not make sense. She helps you work, but doesn't give you the answer.

I think a good teacher helps their student learn first, and then is a fun person

Fun, smart, gives you a little homework, funny, let's you play some games, teaches in fun ways, helps you, can do gymnastics, brings food/candy, tells funny stories, makes you laugh

A great teacher teaches us a lot of things, but doesn't make it boring. A funny teacher is a great teacher. A teacher that doesn't assign a lot of homework.

Humorous- funny at times Inspiring- good example. Sharing life experiences.

We learn lots of stuff but in fun ways. Cracks jokes in the middle of class. Doesn't give a lot of homework. Understands us. Doesn't make class boring.

I think a good teacher is someone who is fun and who teaches cool things to people and who gives candy to people who get stuff right.

I think a good teacher is a fun teacher and also a teacher who helps you learn things.

I think a good teacher should - actually give detentions instead of just threatening -take control -have fun - is serious - teacher instead of handing out fliers -talks to class -explains assignments -and jokes around

A teacher is nice and assigns little homework

Someone who doesn't favor anyone in class. Someone who can joke with us. Someone who is laid back but still stern.

To be hilarious and to not give us homework, but give us candy

I think a good teacher is someone who teaches and explains everything thoroughly and makes sure we all understand. They also are awesome if the can joke around with us.

Funny. Not a lot of homework. Teachers in a fun way. Plays games sometimes. Helps you. Has fun stories. Brings food/candy

I think a good teacher who is stern enough to yell at people, but will give them a warning first. I think a teacher who rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior will be liked by students.

I think a good teacher is someone who knows how to tell you something so that you understand it well. If a teacher is really funny it helps, but they have to also be getting the point across.

I think that a good teacher is one who doesn't let the students talk when it's time to learn but makes learning fun and having experiments. A person to tell jokes to and have fun, but can be serious.

A good teacher is a teacher that is happy and wants to help you and that is forgiving when you make a mistake.

A good teacher makes sure everyone is listening. They help students when they need it. They want us to learn.

Lets you talk but keeps it under control. Laughs at out jokes. Teachers in fun ways. Learning games. Not a lot of homework.

To be funny and cool and if a girl, good looking.

They let us do fun stuff. They like to joke around with us. Don't give us homework every night. Let's us do fun activities. Teaches interesting things.

A teacher I would listen to has to like football, gives candy and good info.

A teacher who is serious about work. Not strict and has a good sense of humor.

Let's you play fun games. Sit by whoever you want. Gives you candy. Fun to hang out with. Likes football.

A good teacher is one that is fun and teaches us.

I like teachers that are funny. Mr. *** is funny and he is one of the best teachers ever.

A teacher I learn from and that is fun. That lets us talk sometimes.

Friendly and makes things fun.

A good teacher is a teacher that plays games and no homework.

A good teacher is one that isn't mean and tells you good info that's not fake and they're fun.

Is fun to hang out with. You can learn from. Gives a lot of candy. Likes football. Music

Nice. Doesn't give detentions. Gives little homework. Good at explaining things. Plays games with the class once one a while. Gives you in class work time for homework.

Lets you be on your phone during class. Is fun. Gives candy. Gives little homework.

A good teacher is like Mr. *** Helps you and is fun, funny, scary (sometimes) but really awesome.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

North Tama Makes a Mark on the World

Last Wednesday, September 17, my school celebrated International Dot Day with a huge K-12 celebration. Here are some highlights:

Each student K-12 was given two dots. One was for them to decorate and one was for them to have someone who has made a positive mark on his/her life decorate. This was amazing and the dots were beautiful. We laid them out in the middle of the gym floor. Here's the collective dot display:
Here's a time-lapse video of placing the dots:

The K-12 celebration kicked off with a welcome from Superintendent, Mr. Robert Cue

I was surprised by a special gift for me which was presented by Principal, Paul Rea and Secretary, Suzanne Earley. A very special original piece of artwork from Peter H. Reynolds which Becky Conners helped coordinate with the school:

We followed that surprise gift with a viewing of "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds.

Elementary counselor, Teresa O'Meara, took the podium and introduced our first "Make Your Mark Award" recipient, Ellen Young. Ellen is a tireless supporter of our community and worthy recipient of this award. 

I was honored to present Ellen with a signed copy of "The Dot."

We then watched a short presentation that highlighted the ways North Tama has celebrated International Dot Day since it started at our school in 2009. We were blessed to have a very special video in the middle of our presentation from famous author, Deborah Underwood.

We concluded the event by inviting all 500 students to circle around our collective dot.

It was an awesome Dot Day. I'm honored to work in a school that supports and encourages creativity.

Students had the option of creating electronic dots, you can view them here

Other Dot Art from around the school:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

International Dot Day - Links to Share

International Dot Day started in a few classrooms in 2009 and has grown into a celebration celebrated around the world. I am constantly sharing links on Twitter and Facebook to encourage more classes to participate and decided to place links here as well.

Official Page and Signup: is where to send people first. There is a yearly signup and lots of resources and ideas to make your day (week, month, school year) successful. Please encourage people to check out the site and sign up!!

The amazing Celebridot Site:  The site was inspired by Sharon Creech who sent me a dot on Dot Day 2011. I was so inspired by her graciousness that I decided to start asking other celebrities to make their mark. So many awesome dots are now on the site by the best people out there. If you know an author/illustrator/actor/sports personality, please invite them to participate. The determining factor on 'celebrity' status is if kids would recognize his/her name or work.

I have curated a group of Dot Day celebrations through Pinterest: I also encourage you to search Pinterest for International Dot Day as I may have missed some, I did yesterday and my heart exploded. Beautiful stuff there! I also have a newer board for Dot Day Ideas here:

Matthew Winner and Shannon M. Miller have created a great Google Doc for help connecting with other schools on Dot Day. You can find the 2014 document here:

This year people have wondered if 7-12 students can participate in Dot Day! I am very proud to share this site from my school: Every kid in grades 7-12 (and the awesome teachers) created a dot on his/her tablet and we took a large picture in the gym and also created a Flickr online gallery of all the dots.

I also would encourage you to use and search the #DotDay hashtag on Twitter! The very best and most creative educators on the planet will be found there!

 North Tama Elementary Dot, 2013

North Tama Secondary Dot, 2013

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why Teachers Should Be More Like Authors/Illustrators

I have been very lucky to make the online acquaintance of some amazing authors and illustrators. I hold a place to be able to be the proverbial fly on the wall as I watch them all interact and I've made some pretty good friendships as a result.

Although I'm sure you could fill my inbox with exceptions on both sides -- Here's why teachers should be more like authors/illustrators:

1- They support one another. There is no fierce competitiveness out in public, with the occassional exception when someone gets very famous for writing vampire garbage (my word). You can always find them sharing books by other authors and writing about how great the books are. I've been told it's a very isolating job, but many seem to have found a way to branch out and support others. It warms my heart to see how they celebrate each other.

2- They all are outwardly happy when someone wins and award or a starred review. Remember when teachers were upset because some random award honored teachers and there was huge backlash?

3- They are truly kind and friendly to each other. If someone posts about a sick family member (canine, feline, or human) they rush to post something kind. It never seems to fail. Plus, it seems genuine.

4- They support each other in a 'family' sort of way when things go wrong. If someone has stolen artwork or a reviewer has said something rude, the family will 'take care' of the perpetrator.

5- They are constantly honing their craft. There is no 'one and done' in their yellowed paper run through the copy machine and inflicted on another set of learners.

6- The kindness never ends. I don't know how many times I see them volunteering their talents to schools and asking nothing in return.

Sure, there are teachers like this......but I sure would like to see a lot more of it.

We should have one goal--teaching kids in the best way possible....we should all be on the same team.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Learning Journey

My very first keynote presentation was to an amazing group of gifted and talented educators at the "Developing Possibilities" conference held in Storm Lake, IA. I was honored that Shari Collins asked me to present my story and passion for creativity.

The main points of my talk were:
 -Make connections, let them bring out your passion. For me, I learned about a program called "Stationery Studio" and fell in love with a company that designs amazing software and has a huge mission that showed me how passionate I was about creativity. Through that first connection, I was beyond blessed to be able to meet and fall in love with Peter H. Reynolds and software designer, Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns
I was also fortunate to have a friend at school, Brent Thoren, who took one of the lessons I created for "Animation-Ish" and had kids do it as an assignment, even before the program was on the market, to test it out. Having people who support you along the way is so important, I was lucky to have one of the best.
-Share your ideas with the right people. I shared the small idea of having kids make dots in their classrooms with Peter H. Reynolds and it took off because he loved the idea and supported it. He had the brilliance of calling it International Dot Day, setting the bar fantastically high. 
-Find people who share your passion. The first explosion of Dot Day happened when Shannon M. Miller and John Schumacher shared with their schools and social networks.
The second major milestone happened when Newbery Medal winning author, Sharon Creech, kindly sent me a dot on Dot Day 2011. That one act of kindness launched the Celebridot site. One of the huge blessings in my life is to be connected with the very best authors and illustrators on the planet who were kind enough to make dots to inspire kids to be creative.
I shared examples of how creativity has impacted my school and my classroom. So many awesome connections have established because of my passion for creativity in the classroom. Watching kids create amazing things feeds the passion in me. 
International Dot Day has allowed me to meet and build enduring friendships with the very best educators all around the world. Search #DotDay on Twitter and find amazing educators with amazing creativity and heart.
I challenged the educators at my session to share a dot with me. I am so honored that some of these great people sent me a dot and shared what they are passionate about. Below are the dots they sent, I was so impressed with all of them!!

What are you passionate about and what are you doing every day to feed that passion?

Inisha Hoehamer

Terry Van Berkum

Marleta Smith

Shari Collins

Rebecka Allen

Vickie Hemmingson

Julie Gibson