Showing posts from 2009

Short Tall Tale Written with Ustreamers

No offense to anyone--school is great!--this is just a short tall tale that I wrote with Ustream viewers, exaggerating the fear that comes with the first day of school.

 It was Marisa Svitka’s first day of school in the first grade, a day which her mother said was auspicious, and Marisa was approaching it with the dread that comes with impending doom.
      She walked toward the sprawling, colossal elementary school, with its imposing double doors and the frightening sound of hundreds of children laughing. Marisa felt as though everyone was laughing at her.
      She walked inside, feeling as drained and frightened as if she had just walked into the jaws of a hippo, and what should she see but the terrifying visage of the principal.

My Writing on the Educators' Royal Treatment

I've talked about it for a long time...and here it is! My writing about education, from The Educators' Royal Treatment. Check it out!


You Can't Get Too Much of a Good Thing (NOT!)

Not to brag, but I usually get good grades in school (I go to an online public school, the Washington Virtual Academies). There’s nothing wrong with getting good grades, but it can irk me when I get 100% on my writing assignment for the eighth time, without much constructive criticism. I think that it’s important to realize that even the most exemplary of students need, and want, suggestions and feedback. It’s reasonable that better work should get a higher grade, but you can also go beyond the rubric—and give your students new perspectives to think about.

There’s a danger to praising students too much and always giving good grades—the student gets a certain sense of complacency. We might be tempted to think, “Oh, the teacher will always give us 100%. We don’t have to work that hard.” On…

Tree House Descriptive Passage Written with Fourth Graders

We built our tree house in our backyard, which gave
us lots of space. When you walk by our house, you
can't miss the tree house, because it's very tall--
and it's also brightly striped with red and white, just
like a candy cane. The door is square and made
out of non-perishable gingerbread. In fact, the
whole tree house is edible, which means that we will
have a big candy feast after Christmas is over.
To get into the tree house, you climb a ladder made
out of really, really hard gingerbread. Once inside,
you're rewarded by the sweet smell of fresh-baked
cookies, gingerbread, and candy canes. 

Story Beginning Written With Sixth Graders over Video Conferencing

William Bradford was no chef—he knew it, and his mother knew it, and most of the pizza-eating population of San Francisco knew it too well.
William had, until recently, worked at a charming little pizzeria called Rosemarie’s. It served pizza, pasta, and drinks, and it had been short on staff. So it hired William.
William was not a chef by nature. His parents cooked most of his food for him. When they didn’t, he ate cup noodles. This was the extent of his culinary prowess. Nevertheless, the pizzeria made him Head Chef and started him on pizzas right away.
It had been a cool, sunny morning when William’s very first customer walked in. Todd Giant was a short, heavyset man with two greasy bald spots on his head. He loved eating pizza.
“I’d like a double-thick pizza pie with triple toppings of chopped jalapenos, crumbled Oreos, and buttered anchovies.”
“OK,” William said, writing the order down. “Do you want that with soy sauce?”
“Yes, and lots of it!” Todd said, with a loud belch. He had just …

Beginning of Story Written with Sixth Graders Over Video Conferencing

Setting: San Bernardino Mountains
Characters: John—very short, very grumpy. He is the son.
Jess—she’s very humorous, and can make people laugh; she has brown hair. She’s the mom.
Bob—he’s very smart; he’s tall. He can be very klutzy sometimes.

It was an unusually cold Monday for California, and John, Jess, and Bob were vacationing in the San Bernardino Mountains. John, who was being a grumpy teenager as usual, said pessimistically,
“It looks like snow.”
“Come on, John, it’s California,” Jess (John’s mom) said lightly. “Anyway, even if it does snow, it won’t matter that much. We don’t have to get back until Wednesday, and—”
“WOAH!” John’s dad, Bob, yelled as he tripped over the phonebook that lay on the floor, then knocked the bedside lamp off the table.
“Um,” he said, embarrassed. “Well, what were you saying, Jess?”
“We don’t have to get back before Wednesday,” she said calmly. Her husband had tripped over things before.
“I was right, Mom!” John crowed triumphantly. “It’s snowing.”
The whole f…

Educators' Royal Treatment

Hey All,

If you want to see my posts about education, be sure to go to If you search Adora Svitak, you'll find a collection of all of my articles.



Poem written with elementary school students Over Video Conferencing

The kitty-cat is furry,
Fuzzy and quite purry,
They look very cute,
and their minds are acute.
They play with yarn,
Find mice in the barn,
But kitty-cat may claw you,
Her claws are very sharp.
Her relatives are in the zoo-
the tiger and the lion.

Their hunger is voracious,
And their cuteness is contagious,
But it's still very nasty to
Clean up the poo. Ewww!

Poem Written with Elementary School Students Over Video Conferencing

Monkeys are cute as they swing through the woods,
Wearing their fur like cloaks and hoods,
Saying, “Koo-koo-ah-ah!”
With a flexible jaw,
Made for eating bananas—
They’re jumpy and squeaky,
Sometimes dirty and leaky,
But they groom each other quite—

Why Killing Insects is Bad for You

In preparation for my grandma's visit in a couple of weeks, I went about cleaning the house's downstairs bathroom. This may not sound so bad, but you have not seen the downstairs bathroom. Groundwater seeping up to the walls from torrential rains had widened the gap between the wall and the floor, and what I assumed was mold had slowly begun its creep upwards. The remnants of a caulking job were strewn in an odd kind of order on top of the toilet, near the sink, and under the cupboard. But, of course, the title of this post is "Why Killing Insects is Bad for You." After shoving much of the non-vaccuumable mess into the cupboard and vaccuuming the rest, I was faced with my next task--the removal of spiders.

I could have just vaccuumed them up like so many other non-living things, but my older sister's vegetarian instincts must have washed off on me--that, or I was imagining being inside a vaccuum too vividly. So instead of speedily dispatching the spiders (or perh…

Letter to Future Representative Written with Port Leyden's Fifth Graders

Recently I've been teaching a video conferencing series, "A Kid's Guide to US Government" (Parts 1, 2, and 3) to fifth graders in Port Leyden, NY. I actually taught Port Leyden's fifth graders last year, and it was a fun experience to be reunited with the new fifth graders! Every year, New York fifth graders take a state social studies test, which I found upon reading to be not only informational and interesting but also much higher in its level and caliber than its counterpart, the WASL, in Washington State. Ah well--we can hope for a better new standardized test; they are replacing the WASL.

As part of my presentations, I taught about citizenship and ways for citizens to influence government, such as writing a letter to their representative. Port Leyden currently has a vacant representative seat but there will soon be an election for that area. This is the letter we wrote for the "future representative."


Dear _________,

Imagine this: you’re walking…

Descriptive Passages Written with Fourth Graders Through Video Conferencing

Bob was a tiny, brown, furry gopher with proportionally huge claws (his mother always complained about his inability to trim his claws) and a selfish attitude toward his toys, which were made out of fine wood chips and premium dirt. He liked his toys because they felt hard and rough, with lots of bumps he could file his claws on.

It was a gloomy, wet and soggy Tuesday when Bob scurried out of his burrow into an open
field. He could hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. It was muggy and some of the other burrows smelled moldy. Bob felt sleepy; rain had always had a soporific effect on him. "I think I shall take a little nap," he sighed, and dove into his burrow--just in the nick of time, as
a giant lightning bolt struck from above.


The tree house we recently built is
baby blue. It was as huge as a mansion,
with dark and gloomy shadows playing off
on the rust on the walls. Of course, this was
our Halloween theme; usually, the tree house
is bright and cheery, with lots o…

On the Redesign of CNN

CNN has recently redesigned its homepage. Now, instead of seeing the CNN logo in the left-hand corner of your screen, you're visually assaulted by a mammoth red banner with a bold CNN logo in the center. It's impossible not to see it, which is probably CNN's purpose, but it also makes everything else look small in comparison.

Another thing, besides the smallness, that I noticed on the new homepage is the divisiveness--or should I say the division-ness? It seems like there are more separators--bars or lines--that divide modules on the screen. Whether the point was to make things more clear, or to emphasize differences between modules, I'm not sure.

Finally, as has happened with CNN design changes in the past, not all parts of the website have been completely changed. If you check out some other sections, you'll still see the familiar logo in the corner, not the giant red banner, and you will see the same navigation bar. However, video has been integrated more thorou…

Story Written with Video Conferencing Third Graders

Character List:
Bob the Brontosaurus—main character
Charlie the Triceratops—enemy
Billy the Cat (Charlie)
Setting: Ashland Elementary
Conflict: Bob has the brightest colors; Charlie is arguing.
It was a hot day at Ashland Elementary on Wednesday. Bob the brontosaurus was finishing up a lunch of leaves and salad with a tiny dollop of dressing (he couldn’t eat too much or else his cholesterol would rise) when Charlie the triceratops swaggered into the room.
“Hey, what kind of lunch is Bob having?” he demanded. “Haha. You can’t even finish off a whole bowl of dressing like I can.”
“You shouldn’t eat a whole bowl of dressing, Charlie, that’s gross,” Bob said.
“Oh, come on. You’re the gross one. You’re always eating salad without much dressing, and wearing dull colors—hey, wait a second.” Charlie inspected Bob with wide, surprised eyes.
“What! You’re wearing bright colors!”
“Brighter colors than you, that’s for sure,” Bob’s best friend, Supermonkey, chimed in. “Brighter head, too.…

Short Passage Written with Kentucky Video Conferencing Students

It was an exceptionally warm day in the city of Anthalantern, Ipsnot. Inside the Anthalantern Elementary School, a big argument was going on--about uniforms.

"We should definitely wear uniforms!" Sandy said vehemently. "It makes everybody look neater and cleaner, and it makes our school look better!"

"Actually, a uniform could get worn out pretty fast," her sister, Addie, retorted.

"Come on, I thought you were on my side," Sandy said, sounding discouraged.

"Was on your side. Past tense," Addie said flatly. "How do you like our new campaign banner?" she smirked, holding up a giant banner that was five feet long. In fact, she nearly fell over--it was so heavy, being covered with gold leaf, copper wire, and stainless steel lettering. It said, "No Uniforms--Keep Freedom of Dress!"

"Uh-oh," said Sandy.