Friday, April 9, 2010

Rhode Island news and notes (including great ideas for schools #2 and 3)

Happenings during a recent round of speaking engagements in Rhode Island:

For the first time, a school had me sign in as a guest by computer. Prior to that, I’d signed in only by hand, either by writing my name in a log or filling out my own visitor nametag. But this way, the computer generated the label. I know—in the iPad Age, this should not surprise me, but I’m calibrated to record any first.

Speaking of which... another school, I showed the cover of my first published title, The Felix Activity Book, which came out in 1996 and didn’t have a long shelf life. A teacher excitedly raised her hand to say she has it. After my talk, she proved it—and it looked like new. She insisted, however, that she uses it regularly. She just takes good care of her books.

At yet another school, I learned of not one but two inspiring events. The first is Quiet Week, during which all classes compete to see which can be the quietest in the hallways. The winning class (and in our PC climate, I’m always thrilled when I encounter a school that still allows for healthy competitions that yield winners) gets a pizza party. I was told the competition was (silently) fierce—the kids did a great job. I suspect this is an idea other schools will not need to be forced into adopting.

The second is a principal willing to go the distance for his kids and for a good cause. To kick off their “Blast Off Into Reading” campaign, the school’s principal (who I’ve got to name—Steve Ponte at Forest Avenue School in Middletown) went skydiving...while the student body watched.

So the distance he went is two miles, but it was two miles up. Rather down. I was majorly impressed with that. Plus, several other teachers signed on to join him. The lucky kids at that school surely got a memorable lesson not only in literacy but bravery.

And finally, at a fourth school, a student told us all that, at his house, he had found the most valuable comic book of all time.

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