Creative Educator Constellation

Dear Fablefriends,

Thanks to those who replied to our Creative Educator Constellation email.  We appreciate all the support and kind words that our Fablefriends provided in their responses.  As promised, we are featuring the submissions below:

Christine Gillions (Australia):

The Dot by Peter Reynolds has made its mark on me, my students, my colleagues and the whole school community…. and has taken us all on exciting teaching and learning journeys.

In my role as the leader of St Paul’s professional development program in ‘Differentiation’, over the past three years I have used The Dot to inspire, motivate and sustain the teachers in their learning and implementation of the essential yet challenging Differentiation approach in the regular classroom. Applying best practice Differentiation as outlined by Carol Tomlinson, a noted expert on Differentiation, is often daunting for teachers. However The Dot in its different forms (hardcopy and interactive books, song, posters, CD), has contributed considerably to the St Paul’s staff’s enthusiastic embrace and implementation of Differentiation – our teachers, administration staff, teacher assistants AND our principal even wear The Dot tee shirt!

The Dot has also taken the students in my Gifted Education classes (5-12 year olds) beyond their hometown, beyond Australia, and into classrooms across the globe. By participating in The Dot’s International Dot Days, my gifted and talented students have been able to communicate and work directly with students in France, Thailand and the USA. This international collaboration is not only leaving an invaluable mark on my students, but is also taking them on real-world learning adventures. These adventurous opportunities are enabling my students to increase their knowledge, understandings and skills with, and via multimedia technology, PLUS also gain increased appreciation of and respect for cultural differences and develop a sense of global citizenship – essential attributes for our 21st century children’s lives and contributions, now and in the future.

Donna (New Jersey):

Thank you for the opportunity to celebrate my colleagues. We have been celebrating The Dot in February to celebrate our children and their strengths, creativity and love. Every year it has grown, happy tears are shed, and love is blooming…all we did was Plant a Kiss!

Students in first grade participate in a week of fun learning activities, all Common Core Standard based. They use DOTS for math, reading, word work (word building/phonics), art activities and building relationships with classmates.

The last three years we have had a grant for the purchase of learning  materials and a copy of The Dot for each first grade student to keep (194 books last year).
My favorite activity  based on The Dot  is a letter that is the “DOT of Love”. The  letter, with an attached large circle and heart is sent home asking the parents/family to write a Dot of Love to their child. Parents have written the most beautiful word of love and  encouragement. Students who did not have a parent respond, the staff wrote one for them. Each student was represented in the hallway display.  Hearts were full and tears were flowing! Prior to our DOT Day assembly where parents/family are invited in to read The Dot with their child. Community members also were invited to be buddy readers with our children including the Mayor, Police Chief, Firefighters, and local representatives.

Parents were invited to school on a Friday night in prior to Dot Week and volunteered time to come in and paint dots on our floor in the first grade hallway and hang dots everywhere. Laugh, laugh and laugh as parents painted each other, formed new friendships, and stayed until 10:00. They didn’t want to go home!

The Dot has impacted our first grade in a most positive manner. The children learn about never giving up, keep a focus on a goal, and build friendships as a learning community.

You know an event is a success with growth, and getting yelled at by first graders (and other students in second and third grade) when the dots were washed off the floor!

Our DOT DAY has bloomed, and will continue to do so. Our new principal is purchasing one book for each of our first grade students this year.

Help me celebrate my colleagues who have helped me create this event! Dot week is February 9-12, 2015.

Anything is possible with a DOT of Love!

Karla (Iowa):

Making Our Mark (DOT) in the World

The Ripple Effect: Individual DOTS with one main Purpose = A MARK that matters. What MARK are you making on the World?

Room 12 celebrated Dot Day by sharing their story with the world.

Using social media and blogging, Room 12 students have reached over 500 individuals in 29 countries since posting about their mark making a difference.

Every Dot matters!

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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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