Dot Day, Journal of Emerging Investigators, and DocsTeach

Updated: Sep 6, 2018

International Dot Day isn’t a school holiday typically celebrated by high school teachers but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. Dot Day, celebrated around the world on Sept 15, has 11.8 million participants from over 174 countries. So what is it and why should you try it? The holiday celebrates the children’s book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds that challenges a young girl in art class to make her mark during her journey of self-discovery. This universal theme lends itself easily to the high school classroom and setting, especially as teachers continue to make connections with students and students grow as learners. While you will find many elementary types of activities associated with the day, here are a few secondary lesson ideas:

  1. Use it to set goals in the classroom. Have a discussion on how students will be making their mark this year. Create a video clip of each student or use Flipgrid to record comments. Come back to it every few months and see if students are making progress.

  2. Have students complete a mini-research project on someone who has made a mark. This could be someone they know personally or someone related to your curricular area. Have students make connections to themselves as they complete the research.

  3. Create a culture of Growth Mindset in the classroom and use Dot Day as an introduction.

  4. Plan a mystery Skype with someone who has “made a mark” or connect with another classroom from a different city/state/country.

  5. Discuss diversity in the classroom by differentiating everyone’s ‘mark.’ What makes each individual student different? How would their mark be different from those living in different cultures?

Journal of Emerging Investigators is a free, online resource that is the culmination of middle and high school students’ scientific processes. It is an “open-access science journal publishing research by middle and high school scientists”. The goal is to be a source of engagement for students to think critically about published work and to motivate others to create their own. The site provides details on parts of a scientific manuscript, external links for students and teachers, and a database of approved articles covering a variety of topics in the biological and physical sciences. The writing stems from class-based projects, science fairs, and other research that has been supervised. Classroom uses could include teaching students how to write for an audience, practice scientific writing, learning to write collaboratively, select an article and compare it to other published journals, identify an article of interest and recreate the experiment looking to see similarities in results.

DocsTeach is a collection of primary sources and activities created by the National Archives. Teachers can search for a document, activity, or create their own. DocsTeach integrates with Google Classroom and provides citations for all images and information. The focus of lessons includes analyzing documents, finding sequences, making connections, mapping history, weighing evidence, interpreting data, and seeing the overall picture. All images from the National Archive are free to use under the Creative Commons license. Teachers using DocsTeach will need to create a free account to access any saved activities. Follow them on Twitter for more ideas @DocsTeach.

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