March 27, 2016 - Michael Salinger

American International School of Budapest

aisb001I may not be able to buy a cup of coffee with my good looks – but at the American International School of Budapest I was able to purchase a double latte with a poem.

Sara and my first day at AISB coincided with world poetry day – serendipitous to say the least. Amy, the super organized librarian who wrangled our visit ( a super organized librarian – go figure) reminded us of the fact when we arrived and then informed us that we could trade a poem for a cup of coffee at the school’s cafe.  Well being super organized – Amy had a copy of a poem by each of us printed out and gave them to us to purchase our morning caffeine with. Worked like a charm – if only all retailers would honor this system. Holbrook and I are in the market for a new car when we get back from this trip – ya hear this Subaru?

We worked with the 5th thru 10th grade this time on writing and public speaking skills. As is often the case we ran into some folks who we had worked with previously at other international schools some from Jakarta some from Singapore – the international school world really is a small global community and we love when we get to reconnect with old friends.


A couple of the many great things this school is doing is that all the ninth grade language arts classes begin with 15 minutes of free reading. I was so happy to see this. All research shows over and over that free reading of self selected text is the number one best way to build background knowledge and reading stamina. This is simply a fact – now one can say that they do not have time for this – that there is too much material to cover – that we need to get ready for tests or that deconstruction of some 400 year  old text is impatiently pushing its way into the school day crowding out that time for silent sustained reading. One can say this – but one must also admit then that building knowledge and real critical thinking skills is then not the prime classroom goal. This is just a research based fact – Hattie’s work proves this as does Marzano’s and Beer’s and the ninth grade teachers at AISB apparently know this.


A second cool thing this school is doing is when the 8th graders graduate to the senior high they have a ceremony – but rather than having an administrator cap the event off with a keynote address expounding upon their journey into adulthood and higher academia the students speak. Each and every one of them – their charge is to give a 15 to 20 second synapses of their middle school experience. Talk about precise and concise! If this ain’t poetry I don’t know what is. Now I don’t know that each one of these snapshot speakers will receive a cinnamon cappuccino or a shot of espresso for their efforts but I do know they will have learned the confidence to stand in front of an audience and speak with conviction.

I think that is pretty stimulating too.


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“Sara and Michael bring infectious energy and joy leavened with deep knowledge of best practices in literacy to their work with children and teachers.” Ellin Keene – Author of Mosaic of Thought and The Teacher You Want to Be
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