The Testing Camera

Peter H. Reynolds, creativity advocate and best-selling author and illustrator, and co-founder of FableVision Learning, has created a new animated short called The Testing Camera — a whimsical poke at high-stakes, standardized testing and a reminder that real assessment is as easy, and — at the same time — as challenging as getting to really know the gifts and talents of every child.

(If you don’t have access to YouTube, you can also view the film on Vimeo.)

“We’ve gone through a very test-centric decade which, in my opinion, has consumed a lot of time, energy, and resources,” Reynolds shares. “Many teachers have had to adhere to new mandates and measures that require a ‘teach to the test’ approach. Public schools redirected funding for art, music, theater, libraries, field trips, and more. It’s a discouraging picture for those trying to reach all children in creative, engaging ways.”

Reynolds, who is known for his books encouraging creativity, The Dot, Ish, Sky Color and The North Star among many others, penned this whimsical and poignant story about a young girl named Daisy who, dismayed at her art class being canceled, nervously faces her turn with the “Testing Camera.” This huge apparatus snaps at her with a few blinding flashes of light. Weeks later, her father’s reaction to the test results surprises Daisy in a most wonderful way.

“This is my gift to educators to remind them to follow their instincts and remember why they got into teaching in the first place: to see the potential in every child, to nurture those emerging gifts and talents, and to change lives,” Reynolds shared.

The film was produced by FableVision, the transmedia studio in Boston founded by Peter and his twin brother, Paul Reynolds, author of Going Places and the Sydney & Simon series. The Testing Camera was directed by John Lechner with music by Tony Lechner, and animated by a team of young animators interning at FableVision for the summer. Broadway actor Chester Gregory lends his voice to the project.

The film is being released on the web free of charge by FableVision Learning. Educators, learning communities, parents and caregivers are urged to share The Testing Camera to begin or enhance constructive conversations on how to better support authentic learning in the classroom and beyond.

A free companion poster by Peter H. Reynolds: “I AM NOT THE TEST SCORE, I AM NOT DATA, I AM NOT THE LABELS STUCK ON BY OTHERS”

Peter adds, “We need to innovate our assessments of how kids are doing, and, at the same time, to reevaluate what our priorities are. Priorities drive policy and policies drive funding. My hope is that our film will be part of the change. The testing industry ballooned to 2.5 billion in 2012, while roughly 1.2 million students a year still never get their high school diploma. And even those who do make it past the testing camera often carry the burden of a distorted image about their own potential for decades to come. From my perspective, making schools wonderful places for kids — and for teachers — will help move things forward.”

If you’re inspired by The Testing Camera and share Peter and FableVision’s philosophy, please stay connected with us by subscribing to our newsletter list! We share free educator resources, messages from Peter, and information on our learning tools and creative approaches. Subscribe here today.

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A Message from Peter H. Reynolds: He answers questions from Global Read Aloud friends!

Peter H. ReynoldsWow. I have been flooded with e-mails, tweets, direct messages and “snail mail” these past few weeks from my Global Read Aloud friends from around the world. I love seeing all this energy around books — and very honored that I was chosen to be the focus of the Author Study this year. I wish I could respond to each and every message and give feedback on every student blog post, but there are only so many hours in a day and I am busy, busy, busy on several new books.

I decided to pull a few questions from the pile and answer them here as they mirror many of those that came in.

Kay Hetzer, a first grade teacher from the Miami Valley School in Dayton, Ohio sent me a question from her classroom:

“Were you like the boy in your book “I’m Here?”

Great question. My inspiration for the boy is a boy named Matthew, but I can relate to the I’m Here boy. My twin brother, Paul and I were a bit quiet and shy growing up. Hard to believe now with me speaking on stage to thousands of educators and Paul teaching at Boston College and also speaking to crowds fearlessly. By the way, Matt is now grown up, loves to bake and has started his own biscotti baking company.

Mason, a five year old from Canada asked, “Did you like making books when you five?”

Well, I think at five I was drawing a lot and probably learning to write. It was in first grade when my brother, Paul and I created a newspaper. This really sparked the idea of publishing, sharing our ideas and creativity with the world. I wish someone had given me a blank book and challenged me to use my art and words to tell a story at age five. I think the earlier you start the better. It’s like learning a language.

I’ll sign off for now and get back to the pile of books I am creating, but I wanted to say a BIG thank you to Pernille Ripp and the Global Read Aloud team for helping “Connect the dots” with so many creative teachers and students. I treasure all the tweets, posts, letters, art, and photos. Inspiration for my own creative journey.


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Peter H. Reynolds selected for Global Read Aloud Author Study

FableVision Learning founder, Peter H. Reynolds has been chosen to be this year’s author study for Global Read Aloud (#GRA14) which is spans from Oct 6- Nov 14. This project, founded by Pernille Ripp, was created in 2010 with the goal to use one book to connect children around the world, similar to International Dot Day inspired by Peter’s book The Dot. In just four years, Global Read Aloud has made over 500,000 connections in 60 different countries.

Peter H. Reynolds

In addition to choosing a single book to dig into, Global Read Aloud also selects one author each year for participants to study. Peter received news earlier this year that he had been chosen for the GRA Author Study. “I was thrilled to have been chosen. It is quite an honor, but for me it was exciting to think that this was a way for the messages in my books to reach more children, teachers and families. Having teachers help students really do a “deep dive” into my work and explore the big ideas, reflect, think, share and create is… well, a wow. My hope is that the experience inspires students to never give up on their own creative journeys. I wish that for their teachers too.”

Peter’s books being studied include The North Star, The Dot, Ish, Sky Color, and I’m Here. It also includes a collaboration with his twin brother, Paul called Going Places.

“Educators understand the power of learning through storytelling.” shared Peter. “They also get that reading a story aloud is MUCH more than reading it verbatim. It is the questions peppered along the way, the pause to check for understanding, the invitation to chant a chorus, or to look more closely at the art for deeper appreciation of the story. It is also not just what happens DURING the read aloud, but what happens after. Great teachers know how to riff on a story with hands-on, minds-on creative extension activities.”

One of the thousands of GRA14 inspired projects is this delightful film, “Ish Drawings” ( created by classroom teacher, Rachel Hyland from Coppell, Texas.

Many of Peter’s own teachers helped him extend the learning “beyond the book.” His 7th grade math teacher, noticing Peter’s penchant for drawing and storytelling, suggested Peter try using his talents to teach math. Peter made a comic book which Mr. Matson pointed out was also called a storyboard- adding that a storyboard is a tool that filmmakers use to plan out their films. Peter took his cue and made his very first animated film at age twelve!

“That experience  inspired me to keep going – to see how I could use my energy and skills to teach, to inspire, to make the world a better place. I can trace it all back to a teacher who took the time to “connect the dots” with me in a creative way. He changed my life. Today, my company, FableVision uses media, story, and technology to inspire, inform and teach. I guess it’s not surprising that I developed animation software for “kids like me.” Amazing to think my teacher could see a glimpse into my future way back in 1973.”

He enjoys sharing that story and message to remind all educators to appreciate the impact that they are having on their own students.

“I am optimistic about a future where all children are encouraged to navigate their true potential. We have to be creative in the ways we reach all learners — to help them find their voice, be brave about expressing it, and be inspired to use their gifts to ‘make their mark.’”

GRA has made a recommended schedule for when to read Peter’s books so that schools, classrooms, libraries, and homes around the globe can be “on the same page” during the study:

GRA Peter's Books
10/7 Week 1: The North Star
10/14 Week 2: I’m Here
10/21 Week 3: Ish
10/28 Week 4: Sky Color
11/4 Week 5: Going Places
11/11 Week 6: Your Choice!

You can find Peter’s full collection, including books he has illustrated, at his very own bookstore, The Blue Bunny Books and Toy Store in Dedham, Massachusetts. Peter is busy working on several new books and some new software to allow young kids to become engineers, but he still is managing to follow Twitter and social media to keep up the exciting news, questions and photos from GRA participants worldwide.

Click here to share and be connected for GRA. We would love to hear how you are using Peter’s books in your creative classroom — connect with us on Twitter! Also, explore the FableVision Learning site to see Peter’s posters and our software designed to support your creativity and literacy mission in your school.


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Happy International Dot Day!

We are wishing you the best this Dot Day! Thank you for celebrating creativity and bravery with your students. Continue inspiring them to make their mark.

Click below to watch Peter make his mark for you this Dot Day!

Enjoy the newest resource for Dot Day! Keep your place while reading The Dot and other books with bookmarks. Click below to download your Dot Day bookmarks today!
Dot Day Bookmarks

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Around the World on Dot Day

Child with the WorldInternational Dot Day is celebrated in many different countries around the world. As of today, there are participants in 81 countries that will be making their mark on September 15th-ish!

As of today, participants will be celebrating in the following countries:

Netherlands, Romania, Ivory Coast, Belarus, Egypt, Estonia, Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, Gambia, Turkey, Guatemala, Ecuador, Iraq, Philippines, Tanzania, Panama, Peru, Oman, Taiwan, Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Norway, Honduras, Morocco, Kenya, Croatia, Italy, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Greece, Kuwait, Ethiopia, Uganda, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Pakistan, Bolivia, Austria, Jamaica, Vietnam, Thailand, Albania, Puerto Rico, Denmark, Portugal, Indonesia, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Brazil, Jordan, France, Russia, Mexico, India, El Salvador, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Poland, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Venezuela, United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Iran, United States of America, and Canada!

Dot Day World Map

We love that we are able to celebrate creativity and bravery with participants circling the globe that speak many different languages. Coming together on this special day inspires us to continue to spread the message of The Dot.

Click here for FREE posters created by Peter H. Reynolds in English, Spanish, French, and Italian. Enjoy this special addition of the International Dot Day Resource Guide written
in Portuguese!

International Dot Day Portuguese Guide


Also check out this video created by Beatriz Montero reading El Punto in Spanish.


Share Facebook and Twitter

Connect the dots with us on Facebook and Twitter! Continue to share the message of bravery and creativity with your educator friends.
Use #DotDay to connect with educators around the world celebrating Dot Day!

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