Celebrating Dot Day and Growth Mindsets!

 Her teacher smiled. "Just make a mark and see where it takes you."                               ― Peter Reynolds, The Dot

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.” 
― Carol Dweck, Mindset

Two powerful books. One powerful message. Last month I had the privilege of working with 300 elementary students to celebrate International Dot Day. It was an opportunity to let kids express themselves, to be creative, to have some fun, and most of all, to really live the lesson that Peter Reynolds’ picture book, The Dot has spread to 1.3 million kids in 82 counties. Last month I also picked up an enlightening book called Mindset, which I discovered is a perfect complement to The Dot.

This year I am working with Title 1 kids in reading and math. They are referred to as “at-risk”, “struggling”, “below benchmark” and sometimes “striving”. Regardless of the term used to describe these students who are simply not performing as well as many of their peers, the challenge is the same. How do we convince these kids that they have what it takes? How do we move them out of a “fixed mindset” into one of growth? I believe the answers can be found in these two marvelous books.

Vashti, the character from The Dot, is certain that she cannot draw even when her teacher encourages her to “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”  A short time later Vashti is transformed when she discovers that her teacher framed and celebrated the simple dot that she grudgingly jabbed on her paper. In no time she is not only exploring, experimenting and growing as an artist, she is encouraging another student to make his mark and most importantly, to sign it.

If only it were that simple... we educators would be stocking up on gold, swirly frames! However, I believe The Dot is an inspiring story to share with kids of all ages. I also believe implementing the practical and research driven advice from Mindset will create the conditions that can empower kids, not just those who are “at-risk” but also those who are at or above grade level. The idea behind Mindset is that people (kids included) can move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset by learning to do four things. First, listen to your fixed mindset voice. Second, recognize that you have a choice. Third, respond with a growth mindset voice. And fourth, take the growth mindset action. 

The parallel message found in the pages of these two texts sums up my philosophy of teaching so beautifully. Help kids discover their sense of self-efficacy. Teach kids that their effort and strategies matter more than their innate talent or intelligence. As Dweck suggests. “Look for ways to convey valuing of effort, perseverance, and learning – rather than some empty display of ability. Instead of false confidence in fixed ability, these methods will foster an appreciation for the true ingredients of achievement.”

Click on the book icons below to visit websites for each title. And click on the photo below to check out our video: Ogilvie Students Make Their Mark! 

IMG_0685The Dot Mindset

Vocabulary Parade is a SUCCESS!

The finale for our I LOVE TO READ MONTH and celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday was a VOCABULARY PARADE inspired by the terrific book "Miss Alaineous" by Debra Frasier. Our entire elementary joined in on this exciting event! We recognized lots of WORD WIZARDS with certificates and trophies. Check out the photos of some very clever vocab parade ideas! You can download an awesome Vocabulary Parade "How to" packet from Ms. Frasier's website by clicking on this link: 



Vocab Parade featured in local paper!

Vocab Parade featured in local paper!

Idea: Author’s Coat

The connection between reading and writing has become so much more powerful in my classroom since I started promoting the "Author's Coat". Motivating kids to see themselves as writers is so much fun! I purchased several doctor's lab coats and had them embroidered with a "Prescription to Read" logo. I explain to my students at the start of the year that the author's coat is worn by anyone who writes a book and would like to share it with the class! Over the past 8 years I have been able to collect autographs from many of my favorite authors... Patricia Polacco, Kevin Henkes, Jane O'Conner, Jerry Spinelli, and lots more! The kids are impressed by the coat and are eager to earn the privilege of wearing it.  When kids bring in their stapled pages and rough draft stories, I applaud their effort and celebrate their success as an aspiring author. The kids then get to wear the "Author's Coat", sit in our special chair and read their story to the class. I also ask a classmate to videotape their peer which helps me track writing and reading progress over the year. Kids love using our iPad to record their peers and they also love knowing they are being recorded. This simple idea takes very little class time since kids are writing many of their "books" at home. Every student in my class publishes a hard cover book of their own (we love www.barebooks.com!) and by the end of the year EVERY student will have had a chance to wear the author's coat. If you don't have the opportunity to collect autographs from professional authors, another idea is to have student authors sign the coat when they share their very first book. By the end of the year, the Author's Coat will become a lovely keepsake! Interested in ordering your own Author's Coat? Just click on any of the Author's Coat photos to visit my TpT store!

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Idea: Great Books!

The Children's Literature Network is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. The CLN website features amazing resources, books, and authors. I especially love the book trailers and author videos. Every February CLN hosts an exciting event called "Books for Breakfast". Guests at each table are delighted to dine with one of the featured authors who join them for the entire morning. Each author spends a few minutes addressing the whole crowd, tons of door prizes are given away and 5 literacy enthusiasts share their 5 favorite titles in 5 minutes. I was honored to be invited to participate in this year's Books for Breakfast event as one of the 5X5 Book Talkers! Bringing the best of children's literature into my classroom is one of the most important things I do to promote high levels of literacy learning with my students. CLN helps me accomplish this goal. Click on the first photo below to see all of the 5X5 book titles! Click on the CLN logo to check out CLN's website. You can also "like" CLN on facebook! Happy Reading!

Mrs. R's 5X5 PicksChildren's Literature Network