Jen’s New Year Resolutions…for other people

I was reading Scholastic News today (as I do every day) and was reminded to make a few New Year resolutions…for my co-workers.

Tyler: Resolve to do more interviews with the awesome minds at Scholastic on the Flip, and also to buy Cool Ranch Doritos as a mid-afternoon snack more often (Jen’s favorite).

Sarah: Resolve to co-create a loose editorial calendar for the OOM blog. It’s almost year two: let’s step it up!

As for myself, I have to ‘fess up that I haven’t even completed (or started) my 2008 resolution, but I will. I will! For 2009, my office resolution is to not let my Google Reader feeds build up to an unmanageable degree. And to share Tyler’s Doritos more.

This is going to be the last post from me in 2008 because early tomorrow morning, I’ll be on a non-stop flight to Las Vegas to visit my Dad. See you next year!


Happy Blue Year!

I heard about this very cool school on NPR last week. It’s called “Blue School” after, you got it, the Blue Man Group! The orginal members of the kooky trio started the New York City school (grades preK-1) as an experiment in “divergent thinking”… and shaving cream.

Their mission, according to the school’s web site is “To cultivate creative, joyful, and compassionate inquirers who use courageous and innovative thinking to build a harmonious and sustainable world.”

What I’d like to know is: is there an adult day care program for creative, adventurous thirtysomethings?

Twas the post before Christmas…

…when all through the office, not a creature was stirring, not even a…crawfish? Okay, so I’m not feeling very inspired. Even so, I wanted to wish anyone reading this at home or work, on iPhone or Google Reader, a very happy and healthy holiday season from the On Our Minds team.

Oh, one more thing. Yesterday I blogged about the First Book “Bedtime Stories” campaign— you’ve got two more days to help– and forgot to mention Wes Fryer’s blog post looking for bedtime story suggestions earlier this month. I hope Wes was reading OOM!

Sleep tight: What’s your favorite bedtime story?

This summer — sigh, remember summer? — Tyler blogged about a fun campaign from First Book called “What Book Got You Hooked?” This wintry season, the nonprofit is teaming up with Disney and their new movie “Bedtime Stories” to get books into kids’ hands.

It goes like this: from now through December 25, post a comment here about your favorite bedtime story and Disney donates one new book to a child in need. Easy, fun and for a wonderful cause. I’m going to post my comment now….

….right after I check out this story from yesterday’s USA Today (USA Yesterday?) about “Bedtime Stories,” featuring Scholastic authors R.L. Stine and Mark Teague. See? It all comes back around.

Kids Draw the Presidents – Incredibly well

Working with Clifford and WordGirl and that boy wizard everyone loves so much is fun…but there are days when I can’t help but be reminded that it’s pretty awesome to work at Scholastic. Last week, I had a week of those days thanks to the Scholastic Book Clubs “Picture a President” contest

In September, in honor of the election, Book Clubs sent a special “Vote for Reading” catalog out to teacher in grades K-6 nationwide.  The catalog was filled with interesting election and politics related books and materials, and a special call to students nationwide…send us a drawing of a US president.  10 finalists would win a collection of presidential books from Book Clubs…one lucky (and talented) winner would win a trip for two to Washington, DC.  We expected a few thousand entries.  
Drawings poured in. 12,000 of them.  From all fifty states. Of all 43 presidents (yes…only 43 men have been president…the history buffs among you will remember that Grover Cleveland was president twice). Even the obscure ones.  Even Rutherford B. Hayes.  

And dozens of volunteers at Scholastic helped to judge them.  From Abraham Lincoln in anime style, to a chiseled-featured Zachary Taylor, to FDR complete with ubiquitous cigarette, to the winner (a stunning charcoal portrait of Woodrow Wilson by 10-year-old Helena Bundy of Duarte, CA), to hundreds of President-elect Barack Obama, they were fantastic.  And they remind us, as we are reminded frequently at Scholastic, that kids are awesome.  And talented.  
The contest was featured in Friday’s USA Today in a fantastic (and giant) article…you can visit this link to read the piece (complete with interview with Helena) and see a slideshow of the finalists.  We’re currently putting a gallery of the images on for all to see…stay tuned for a link to that.  
While you’re waiting, try to name all 43 presidents.  I attempted this during a long layover in Denver, CO on my way to the snowy Sierra Nevadas for the Holidays.  I got 38.  A clue: Don’t forget Franklin Pierce.   How many can you get?

Merry Quiet Office!

It’s the week before “winter break” here at Scholastic. How can you tell? Long periods of silence (phones not ringing, absent co-workers) are punctuated by laughter and glass clinking at departmental celebrations in our “Living Room” nearby.

It’s all putting me in the holiday spirit, as will the 6-7 inches of snow expected in New York City tomorrow…so here’s a fun resource from The History of Christmas. There’s tons of info, like the various kinds of Christmas trees, the origins of Santa Claus, and Christmas celebrations around the world.

Of course not everyone celebrates Christmas, but never fear, there is also a site for Hannukah and Kwanzaa. Nothing yet for Festivus.

Does distress lead to change?

If you read this blog very thoroughly, like I know many multitudes of you do, you’ll know that in my mind I often compare the changes we’ve seen in the media in recent years to what may be coming (or has already begun) for schools.

I read an interesting story in Slate today about the so-called “death” of newspapers (a description that irks me slightly, and I’m happy to discuss outside the confines of this blog) where the author, Jack Shafer, said this:

I keep waiting for one of these distressed, failing newspapers to realize that it has nothing to lose and get a little crazy and create something brand new and brilliant for readers and advertisers.

It has me thinking: Is this what’s coming for schools?