FableVision Learning Teacher Spotlight: Heather Brown

She caught our eye with a beautiful, creative project that encouraged students to make their mark, fostered teamwork and collaboration, not to mention turn her school’s library from drab to fab in celebration of International Dot Day! Four birds with one stone? Amazing! Heather Brown, librarian at Saint Joseph School in Herndon, VA, was the catalyst behind this recipe for dot-connecting success. With inspiration from fellow librarian, Katie Darty's blog entry, from Northcombe High School in North Carolina, in collaboration with her colleague, Mary Sears, Saint Joseph’s art teacher, and with the delightful dots of their K-8 students a fabulous circulation desk re-design was created. If you’re wondering how your school will celebrate International Dot Day this September 15-ish, this may be your golden ticket!

 Mrs. Heather Brown

Mrs. Heather Brown

1. We loved your creative, low-cost library circulation desk update celebrating International Dot Day! What inspired you to create this project?

I was first inspired after seeing a fellow librarian, Katie Darty’s blog post outlining how she spruced up her school library at North Buncombe High School in Weaverville, NC for less than $600 and the upgrades she made to her old circulation desk.  When I shared her idea with Mary Sears, our art teacher, last spring, she and I began brainstorming what we could do with our circulation desk. We decided to use International Dot Day as a theme since we had wanted to collaborate on that already. The artistic inspiration came from other art teachers’ projects we found on Pinterest that are based on Wassily Kandinsky's Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles.

2. Talk us through the process of the desk overhaul. We’re sure other educators would love to know!

Since International Dot Day occurs so early in the school year, September 15-ish, we started our collaborative project on the first art class of the year for every student in grades K-8. In art class, rules and procedures were taught in conjunction with this simple hands-on project, since students like to enjoy art right away. We talked about The Dot and the importance of making "your mark." Students also read the book or watched the movie in library class ahead of time.

Each student in grades 1-3 were given 5 warm colored pieces of 4"x4" construction paper. Grades 4-6 got 5 pieces of cool colored construction paper, 7th and 8th grade got 5 different shades of green and kindergarten got pinks and reds. Each student selected a base color, which remained a square. They held all the other pieces together and cut out a large circle. They chose one to glue down. Then held the rest together and cut a smaller circle. They continued gluing and cutting until they ran out of paper. The exception was Kindergarten- they cut squares out. Circles would have been challenging on day one, since their skill levels were unknown. We also used glue sponges, a great Pinterest inspired tip, where you place a sponge soaked in glue in a sealed airtight container. There are no drips or messy glue bottles, just press the paper on the sponge for the perfect amount of glue. It was quick and easy and all the dots were made within the first 45 minute class.

The individual pieces were assembled over the next couple of weeks onto large pieces of black bulletin board paper and laminated. They were pieced together on the front of the library desk. The green dots created by 7th and 8th graders were used to frame our school logo which hangs behind the desk.

School wide collaboration to create a central piece of artwork is a great way to kick off the year. Students each made their marks and worked as a team to create a really fun piece!

3. How has St. Joseph School celebrated International Dot Day in the past and what are your plans for 2016?  

This was our first Dot Day celebration, and I'm not sure the whole building was aware of it until they saw the beautiful dots installed on the circulation desk. Students love coming to the library and locating their dot on the desk. Every student in the school is represented. I think that is important. We are not sure what we'll do next year, but you've got the wheels turning with that question!

4. How do you make your mark?

I leave my mark with each lesson I give, each story I read, each time I help students find books to read that they love!