Showing posts from March, 2010

Video Conference with Students in Wyoming

On March 29th, 2010, twelve-year-old author and teacher Adora Svitak video conferenced with seventh graders at Dubois Elementary/Middle School to talk about blogging. When asked what she thought of Adora, student Kaitlin said that she was “amazed by her technology abilities.” 
In addition to discussing topics for blog posts, Adora asked students what made going to school in Wyoming unique. The answer: Hunters’ Ed. In addition, these lucky students get to camp at Yellowstone National Park for a week, visiting a ranger’s station and going to Montana. These students are a close-knit bunch; many know each other from kindergarten. Students also take one semester of tech and one semester of shop, and take part in track (the higher elevation makes them work more).

Research Skills with Ninth Graders

Poem Written with South Georgia Fourth Graders

Today I collaborated with a wonderful, enthusiastic group of fourth graders in South Georgia on writing a poem together. It was for the presentation Ridiculous Poems 101 (one of my favorite presentations!). One of the tips I mentioned in the presentation was, "To make a poem humorous and fun, exaggerate a real life event." The activity was to think of an activity that you didn't like doing, why you didn't like it, and to exaggerate those details. Here's the poem we created about giving chickens water:

I do not like giving the chickens water,

Cleaning their coop or feeding fodder,
Their water bowl is covered in spores of mold
I think it’s getting a little too old
The filled-up bowl is full of slime,
It’s very heavy; it takes too much time—
I do not like giving the chickens a drink,
Having to fill up the bowl at the sink,
Why do I hate this—what do you think?
Very simply—it’s just the stink.

Ustream Videos

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Hey all,

I've just received approval for a TEDx license, which means that I can independently organize a TED event under the TEDx name. The event will be called TEDxRedmond, and you can learn more about it by going to

Don't know what TED is? Go to to learn more.

Fourth Graders in Camden, NJ

Today I talked with fourth graders in Camden, NJ over video conferencing. We collaborated on the beginning of a story about a human getting superhuman powers (including a full list of what fourth graders tihnk are superpowers):

Superhuman powers: tipping over cars, invisibility, run at sonic speed, making people’s nightmares come true, break through stuff with your head, shoot electricity off your head, flying, laser vision

Main character: Dragonboy

Setting: Japan

Dragonboy lives with his parents and little sister in Tokyo, Japan. He always wanted superpowers, because he felt very limited by the basic human powers he had. No, Dragonboy was not content with opposable thumbs and running legs. He wanted laser vision and invisibility.

One day, he went shopping with the rest of the family and saw a fountain. He had a penny in his hand that he had just picked up off the ground and he thought, “Hmmm…I might as well throw the penny in that fountain and wish for superhuman powers.” So he threw…

Chemical Reactions

Today I learned about "Chemical Reactions" in science, an interesting topic and one I was completely befuddled by. The terrible thing was, this always seems to happen; I learn about something interesting in science, think I understand it, and find that I can hardly answer questions on it, let alone explain the concepts. I find myself tripping over words like "exothermic" and "endothermic" while attempting to explain what they mean. So I wanted to think of a new way that I could understand the material better--and why I wasn't understanding it in the first place!

As an author and avid history buff, subjects like language arts and social studies have, in general, been fairly smooth rides for me. I'm able to read the information quickly, remember it, and put it to use. But the problem with speed-reading your science text is that you miss words like "exothermic" and "endothermic" or exactly what they mean. That's one thing I…


I am the cat in the shadows that dance on the wall in the room in the house,
I am the cat in the shadows that dance on the wall who has just caught a mouse,
I am the shadows that dance on the wall to the tune of "Yellow Submarine,"
I am the shadows that dance on the wall during night and day and ev'rything between,
I am the wall in the room in the house that stands up to the air and the dust and paint,
I am the wall in the room in the house that will never ever faint,
I am the room in the house on the block that holds too much for my liking,
I am the room that is a good employee and will never ever think of striking,
I am the house on the block that stands alone and never glances,
I am the house on the block with catches, stands, and dances,
I am the house on the block and I? The house on the block--entrances.

Questions from Website

Recently I received an email from a website contact who asked some great questions:

1.) Do you outline when you are planning a story or do you merely "wing it"?

2.) Do others ask you to edit or beta read their books or stories?

3.) Do you ever listen to classical music or film scores when typing out the text for a new book?
4.) What is your favorite genre and time period to write in and why?

Here are my answers:

1.) I've had very detailed outlines for some of my stories (giant maps and huge family trees which detailed every possible relative of every character) and I've had no planning at all; most of the time, I go somewhere in the middle, where I have a general idea of my characters, setting, and plot (maybe writing some of that down) but not really formal outlining.
2.) I have gotten the occasional request to read someone's work, which I enjoy doing; it's always interesting to see the variety of creative styles out there. I also ask others to edit or read…

Glog Experiment

Here is a "Glog," or poster I designed online at Glogster, for my sister Adrianna:

Story Written with Third Graders at Yorkship School Over Video Conferencing

Joe the weatherman
Katie is a nurse
Jim Baker works at the bank
Jamia is a student

Yorkship School

It was a rainy Thursday morning at the Yorkship School and Jamia was riding on the bus as usual. It came to the school a little early, so instead of going in with all the other kids, Jamia went to the playground to play on the swing.
She started getting drenched and realized that maybe being outside in the rain wasn’t so fun after all. She was about to go inside when something papery hit her on the head.
She turned around, thinking that someone had maybe shot a paper airplane at her, but there was nobody around—just a crisp one hundred dollar bill, lying on the ground.
Jamia gasped in amazement and quickly picked it up before it became soaked—but she needn’t have worried, because the wet rain had turned to dry money. And it was falling—fast.
In the weather station at FOX29, Joe, the weatherman, was preparing for live television when he got a startling bulletin:

Sense and Sensibility Quiz

Recently I read Sense and Sensibility for my Honors Lit. Analysis and Composition class and I made a short quiz about it for fun. Here it is:
Sense and Sensibility Quiz » Make A Quiz

Adora Svitak Goes to Long Beach: TED2010

By Adora Svitak

Where can you eat free food to your heart’s delight, snap a picture with Al Gore and say hello to Bill Gates, and watch some of the world’s most influential people speak, all in the same week? If you went to the TED conference this February, then you know that the Long Beach Performing Arts Center is (or was) the answer. I was lucky enough to be able to go to TED as a speaker—and yes, I managed to do all those things. I even took some free yogurt pretzels and dark chocolate malt balls home for my sister. 
As the theme for this year’s conference was “What the World Needs Now,” I thought it would be appropriate to talk about “What Kids Need Now.” However, since I was talking mainly to an adult audience, I mentioned that the adult world could benefit by learning from kids. The main idea was that kids have the audacity to come up with ideas that can better the world, and that adults should listen. In other words, “You must lend an ear today, because we are the leaders of to…

Oscar Night!

I just finished watching the Oscars on TV. I watched the whole thing--or almost the whole thing. The only part I skipped was the section highlighting horror films--my nerves (and my stomach!) probably wouldn't quite take it. I enjoyed seeing the diversity of films, but I thought that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin had remarkably little screen time--it would have been nice to see more jokes. All in all, it was a fun experience. My only tip for ABC and the Academy Awards organizers? Less ads, please.


The Cult of Twitter

TWITTER IS A CULT, which I am ashamedly a member of. Why is Twitter a cult? Only certain people use it--my older sister, and, it seems, the rest of the American teenage population, shies away from it in favor of social networking sites. We Twitter users, cult followers, even have our own secret words--"direct message" and "retweet" and "hashtag." Are these words which any normal person would keep in their everyday vocabulary? And really professional Twitter users don't even update from Twitter online; they use their phones and remote updating tools like TweetDeck or TweetCaster or Twitterific. I say "remote updating tool"--clunky word!--because I can't think of the official term. I'm sure there is one.

For reasons which are beyond me, it doesn't seem as though Twitter is very popular among the thirteen to eighteen crowd. Sure, Twitter is home to such celebrities as Ashton Kutcher and Taylor Swift, but that's not a powerful eno…

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