Monday, November 8, 2010

Lost in Lexicon launch party

Yesterday we held the Lost in Lexicon launch party and Breakthrough Cambridge fundraiser. It felt odd to have a launch party when I feel I've been on the road, speaking, signing, and selling for months, but in fact it's only been five weeks.

The party was everything I could hope for. We set up the Lexicon villages, ten stations in all, and seventy or eighty adults and children applied themselves to solving the puzzles and trying the challenges. Many good friends from the world of education were there, including four teachers who are already using the books with students; people I've worked with on curriculum frameworks, science fairs, math professional development, and policy papers; book club friends; my children's classmates and their parents; family; and others.

Here are some random notes:

My brother came over to show me proudly how well he did the maze in the mirror. "It was all that flying model airplanes," he told me. "When they're flying toward you you have to reverse on the directional instructions."

My young friend Tyler helped Damian stack the books in a tower designed to resemble Fenway Park. Then he kept asking me, "Dr. Penny, did you write ALL these books?"

I asked my friend Donna, who is a personal trainer, to person the village of Flora, where people selected words written on flower petals colored differently for different parts of speech and arranged them into flowers. I learned later that Donna required people to use all 8 parts of speech. She's as tough a taskmaster with grammar as she is with crunches and lunges.

My irrepressible and perhaps irredeemable friend Sol Garfunkel, who runs COMAP, which once received a small Noyce Foundation grant, looked around at all the people in attendance and remarked, "I never knew the Noyce Foundation gave so many grants!" I kicked him.

One friend stayed to the bitter end to do all nine of the Tangram challenges, but in the end she had to call Damian over for help with the hardest one, the Mistress of Metaphor's pot.

A volunteer from Breakthrough staffed the Radix station, where visitors draw from a pile of word roots and make up all the words they can that use that root. Not enough for our volunteer: she ran them through the pile like flashcards, making them shout out answers.

Three fourth grade boys from a school pull-out book group in Brookline came over one by one to introduce themselves and tell me how much they liked the book. They worked diligently on the anagram challenge and won the prize: an advance, very rough draft of the sequel, THE ICE CASTLE.

A lot else happened, by I was so busy meeting people and signing books that I hardly had time to notice. The oddest thing was that people were too busy playing games to eat very much of the food we provided.


Jennifer Hoffine said...

Sounds exciting! Congrats!

Marva Dasef said...

How fun! This was a great launch. Maybe Lexicon should be a permanent exhibit?


Andrew Hingston said...

Wow. Great job. Did you get my message re introducing you to Hilary Pennington at the Gates Foundation? I think you and she should be working together. On the other hand, you and she may already know each other (if wouldn't surprise me), and you don't really need me to make any introductions. Just do a bit of Googling and pick up the phone.
Whatever you do, don't stop.

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