Friday, December 10, 2010

School visits, Shifty Music, and a "this is not a drill" FIRE ALARM!

Napa County Reads SHIFTY!

My first day of Napa County school visits after my Napa Valley Opera House presentation began at Harvest Middle School. I met the principal and more amazing teachers including science teacher extraordinaire, Ms. Laura Lewis. Ms. Lewis had rallied the other science teachers in the weeks prior to take a bit of time to read SHIFTY aloud to their students during their science classes because the English curriculum was filled to the max with little time for reading aloud.
That's me on the left, Laura Lewis to the right of Shifty, and another great teacher. (I met so many amazing teachers and librarians, counselors and youth advocates during Napa Reads! I hope someone reminds me of the other teacher's name.)

Ms. Lewis was great. She showed me her copy of SHIFTY with several different bookmarks, marking the slightly different progress of several science classes. Because of Ms. Lewis and the other science teachers, most of the students had heard at least half of SHIFTY read aloud. This makes all the difference for a successful author visit. She also prepared a totally cool mix of music from the songs in the book, mostly the songs of Martha's misheard lyrics. So that made me smile and put me in a good mood as the students filed in (and in, and in, and in!) Bleachers and bleachers of students! We're talking about a half-gym full of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, maybe 300-350+, which would normally make me a bit nervous to start. But like I said, the songs made me remember some funny moments in the book and put me at ease. Thank you Ms. Lewis!

Harvest Middle School students created the colorful poster below of the cover of the book which they asked me to sign. The poster will hang in their school library with several other author visit posters.

I wish I could have gone to the library to see all the posters hanging in there--but it was time to start my presentation!

The students were super responsive and engaged! They participated actively, asked great questions, and then suddenly--

Yikes! It was LOUD! I was told "this is not a drill." Okay, so it was time to leave the gym. The teachers and students were incredible as they filed safely out of the gym along with the rest of the school to the yard outside. It took some time to make sure everything was okay and to file everyone systematically back into the gym! Luckily we were in a 90 minute block period so once everyone was seated again we resumed with a teensy bit more of my presentation and Q & A (my favorite part). Again the students were lively and engaged and had really great questions.
That's me again with Dr. Barbara Nemko, superintendent of schools, admiring the poster at Harvest Middle School. Today in the mail, I received a BIG packet of letters from Barbara. She shared the letters that the students at Harvest Middle School had sent, thanking her for the copies of SHIFTY for the students to read and for bringing me to school. I'd like to thank Dr. Nemko, too!

The students' letters were fun and I'll quote some here soon, but now I need to post more pics of Shifty-themed planter planter boxes created by the after school students at Redwood Middle School.

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