We had a good meeting today at Newspaper Club, the place the whole idea for The Secret Scroll began some fourteen months ago. I told the children that ITV News were coming in to do some filming, two days before the book launch, and we talked about what that would mean.
Then we discussed what the children could wear at the book launch. The Secret Scroll has a roman theme. We talked about dressing up as romans and the children were quite keen to dress up, though one little girl said her mummy had no spare sheets she could wear as a toga but I said we’d come up with a spare one and she was not to worry.
Then we talked about Waterstone’s. The Alton branch manager has invited us in to do a promotion on the book so we talked about what time of the day might be good for the children, given that the visit would have to be on a Saturday and so many children are busy with their lives and families on Saturdays.
We talked about publicity at the book launch, how the local paper had booked a photographer. We discussed timing and the fact they’d all have to turn up for the photocall on time so that nobody got left out. That would be tragic we thought. Then they all got a little over-excited and I kept thinking we only had 35 minutes to get the trolley of laptops out, log onto the Newsround website and send messages from each member of Newspaper Club to try get some coverage on the national news.
Suddenly everyone was talking at once. I wondered how teachers ever managed to get through the day without losing their voices. I tried blocking my ears and a very kind teacher from mext door popped into the classroom and said if I needed any help she was next door (we were a teacher down!). I smiled and looked at the clock. Tick, tick, tick it went. 30 minutes to go. I gave it one last shot and asked for volunteers to fetch the laptops. Two boys went and I told everyone to sit down, open the laptops and log onto CBBC.
I suddenly realised, with the teacher on sick leave, I had no idea just how much navigation the children had done on the Internet. Amazingly they all logged on without too much fuss, got onto Newsround and we all clicked onto Contact Us. Well, with twenty minutes to go we began to write. Most of the children had already drafted a message for Newsround the previous week and, with their little fingers, they were never going to write loads.
I wrote down the key messages on the board. I reminded everyone about the 5Ws we had discussed at Newspaper Club – the Who, What, Why, When, Where that needed to be covered in the story – and most of the children managed to write three or four sentences.
It was great.
With seven minutes to go, the children were sending messages to Newsround; some of the laptops lost contact and two children did not get to send their contributions, but we will do these next week.
Sometimes one hour just isn’t long enough to do what has to be done. It’s a bit like whizzing around in a washing machine on spin cycle.
I was amazed that at 4.30 on the dot most of the children had sent a message, logged off, replaced the laptops back in the trolley, grabbed their bags and coats and made their way towards the hall where their parents were already waiting.
It’s amazing this creative stuff. It’s amazing what children can do given an opportunity. And that’s it, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter if my head is in a spin. At the end of it all, the book launch will come together. The children will have their pictures taken and appear on television, and hopefully – hopefully – some of the messages from this whole experience will come flooding back to them one day … and their minds will grow because of it. Lovely!