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June 2008
Vol 5 No 6
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Back Issues
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.6 June 2008

Cover Story by Alfie Kohn
Atrocious Advice from "Supernanny"
Behaviorism is as American as rewarding children with apple pie… but for how long does it work, and at what cost?


Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
Eight Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2008

Columns
VisualizationMarvin Marshall
Textmapping: Where Old Becomes NewCheryl Sigmon
Administrative BroadwayTodd R. Nelson
The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
Easy Ideas to Wrap up the YearSue Gruber
Committees: Make Them More ProductiveHal Portner
Helping Children Cope After DisasterLeah Davies

Articles
The Dance of the Honeybee
June 2008 Writing Prompts
Your School's Mission in a Sound Bite
The Medicalizing of Education
I Used to Educate Students; Now I Prepare Them… for The Test
A Great Model Of Differentiation
Live Chat with Adora Svitak
Making the Most of Summer To Prepare for the New School Year

Features
Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
Candles of Inspiration: June 2008
Teachers.Net Craft Favorite: Father's Day Project
Featured Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: June 2008
Video Bytes: The human cost of war, in song, Literacy centers and more...
Today Is... Daily Commemoration for June 2008
Live on Teachers.Net: June 2008
The Lighter Side of Teaching
Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
What are some things you absolutely DO NOT miss about teaching?
How Many Years Did It Take You to Get It Together?
Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


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Teachers.Net Live!

Meeting Transcript

Live Chat with Adora Svitak

Child prodigy, author, presenter Adora Svitak (age 10) chatted with Teachers.Net about her writing process, and what she tells other children about writing during her videoconferences.
Meeting date was April 14, 2008
June 1, 2008

Following is the transcript of a 4/14/08 chat with 10 year old child prodigy, author and future teacher Adora Svitak (accompanied by her mother, Joyce Svitak).

joyce - Adora will be talking with teachers today about her teaching, if you'd like to read more about her, please visit her website at www.adorasvitak.com

joyce - hi everybody

Kathleen - Hi Joyce! Is Adora there with you?

joyce - yes, she is online as well

Kathleen - Thanks for coming, jennyi!

Kathleen - Teachers.Net welcomes young writer Adora Svitak and her mother, Joyce Svitak. Adora and Joyce, thank you for chatting with Teachers.Net. I hope you're seated so that both have access to the keyboard so questions can be addressed to both of you.

jennyi - I feel honored to be here, Kathleen

joyce - Adora is trying to get on this chat room

Kathleen - Adora and Joyce, jennyi is just one of many excellent Teachers.Net regulars.

joyce - she got into the wrong one, she is coming now though

Adora Svitak - Hello!

Kathleen - LOL, here we are, Adora! jennyi, wave so she'll see us

Kathleen - There you are. Hi Adora, thanks for doing this chat with Teachers.Net!

joyce - Hi Jennyi, nice to meet you. This is my first chatting like this; please forgive me if I make some mistakes.

jennyi - Hello Adora and Joyce

Adora Svitak - Hello

jennyi - Nice meeting you also.

Kathleen - We learn from mistakes, and we don't worry about typos in live chat.

jennyi - I'm a little slow at this also

Kathleen - Participants: Please address your question to either Adora or to her mom, Joyce by placing one of the names at the beginning of your post.

joyce - please ask any questions to Adora or to me

jennyi - Well, I would like to know a little about you if you don't mind.

joyce - do you mean Joyce or Adora?

Kathleen - Joyce, at what age did Adora begin to exhibit extraordinary abilities in the areas of reading and writing?

joyce - around 3 and half

jennyi - Sorry, meant Adora

joyce - she has an older sister so she got a lot of help from my older daughter Adrianna in reading

Adora Svitak - I began writing when I was four.

Adora Svitak - When I was seven, I published my first book of stories, Flying Fingers.

joyce - my husband was excellent in reading to them everyday for at least one hour every night

Adora Svitak - Now we're working on my poetry book, Dancing Fingers.

joyce - I also hired young students to read to them when they took care of them

Adora Svitak - I'm ten years old, by the way.

jennyi - Adora, is your book available here in the states?

jennyi - Your work paid off, Joyce

Adora Svitak - Yes. It's available at my website, www.adorasvitak.com, as well as Amazon

Donna - Adora, where do you find your inspiration?

jennyi - Great, thanks for the url

Adora Svitak - I find my inspirations from all around me, especially other people.

joyce - Adora's work with students really made us proud because many children don't have a role model in terms of reading and writing

Adora Svitak - In fact, one of my stories (The Spoiled Prince) was based on somebody I knew.

jennyi - Oh my goodness, you are a beautiful child.

Adora Svitak - Also, I get inspirations from nature

Donna - My oldest son is a writer and he was fascinated with words and ideas as soon as he could talk. Did you know back then you wanted to write?

Adora Svitak - I loved making things up and writing stories. I'm not sure if it was as early as I could talk, though.

Adora Svitak - I really started writing (longhand) when I was four

Donna - My son would come running and ask me to write things down for him. I think that for some it is very early when their brains find this wonderful outlet.

joyce - please click this link so you can watch Adora's demo on her programs Adora's Guide to Writing Poetry

jennyi - Joyce, I will be checking out her webpage. I'm looking at it and trying to read here. Lol, I'm not as good a reader as Adora so probably won't keep up with both

joyce - the link will take you to see Adora's presentation

Adora Svitak - That's great that your son was so inspired!

Adora Svitak - (to Donna, by the way)

Donna - Adora, do you think you see the world through different eyes than the average girl?

Adora Svitak - Well, I watch lots of news so I think that I may sometimes be more informed than some kids

Adora Svitak - I think that it's important to get informed before making decisions on important issues.

jennyi - Adora, do you go to public school?

joyce - Adora's news watching really have helped her to understand the world better

Adora Svitak - Yes, actually. It's a public online school paid for by the state called the Washington Virtual Academy.

joyce - she has more to share when she is informed

Adora Svitak - So it's not a regular brick-and-mortar school, but they still send all the materials (worksheets, etc.)

Donna - Adora, I live in Washington and just recently heard of that.

Adora Svitak - Where in Washington do you live? We're in Redmond (Microsoft headquarters)

joyce - the online school has really worked well for Adora, she loves to do all the activities and the lessons are well designed

Donna - I am in Walla Walla. I teach in a juvenile detention center.

joyce - well, it would be interesting if Adora can pay a visit to your school

Adora Svitak - I watched a 60 Minutes episode one time about teachers who gave college lessons at (adult) correction facilities

Adora Svitak - I think that education really does wonders

Donna - I wish she could but it is max security and juveniles are not allowed, but I would be happy to tell her about it.

Adora Svitak - I'd like to hear more, thanks

Donna - Maybe I can get your email and we can fill you in.

joyce - sure, I will send you the e-mail later

Mary - Adora, can you tell us a bit about your writing process? When you have an idea, what's the first thing you do? And then what?

Donna - Thanks.

Adora Svitak - Usually the idea sort of leads me into writing

Adora Svitak - So first I get the idea, then I begin to sort of smooth it out.

Adora Svitak - If I'm writing a poem, I wouldn't do as much work "smoothing it out"

Adora Svitak - I would probably jump right into the poem

Adora Svitak - But with a story, I would come up with a main character and what happens to them, the main parts of the story, an antagonist

Adora Svitak - Most of the other parts I develop as I write the story

Mary - Do you do all this on paper or in your head or both?

Donna - I have heard some authors say they don't know how the story will turn out until they write it. Others have it all mapped out. Do you know the ending before you start?

Adora Svitak - Usually on my computer, some in my head

Adora Svitak - I have a general idea of how a story will end before I start, but I really develop lots of ideas as I write.

Mary - Oh, of course...on the computer

jennyi - Do you write notes as thoughts come to you?

Adora Svitak - In fact, on one a novel that we're planning on releasing in May (Yang in Disguise), I experimented with alternative endings.

Adora Svitak - My "notes" are (as usual) on the computer. Obviously, I don't always lug around my big heavy laptop, so usually my mom will bring a notepad for me

Adora Svitak - in case I get ideas when we're playing Frisbee or on a walk or something

Donna - Do you ever get writer's block? How do you cope with that?

Adora Svitak - I don't usually get writer's block--my biggest problem is having too many ideas

Adora Svitak - But when I do, I usually sort of discuss ideas with myself in my head

Adora Svitak - Or talk to my mom and ask her if she thinks this or that is logical

Donna - LOL, too many ideas sounds like a delightful dilemma

Mary - How many poems or novels are you writing at any one time?

jennyi - Do you go to schools to encourage other kids to write? I think it would be great if you went to teacher workshops, too.

Adora Svitak - Actually, it's not really. Before I get the chance to end a story, I'll suddenly get another idea and abandon the first story

Adora Svitak - I do go to many schools to encourage others to write

joyce - do you have info on teacher workshops?

Adora Svitak - I'm also giving videoconferencing programs and online live webstreaming

joyce - Adora teaches schools via the video conference everyday, she also has done some for teachers via the video conference

Adora Svitak - Usually I finish a poem first, before starting another one

Adora Svitak - But I can be writing lots of stories at once

Donna - Who are some of your favorite authors?

jennyi - Wonderful. The students need to see that children can be writers.

Tony - Do you make yourself write a certain number of words each day?

joyce - Adora writes everyday, poems, stories, blogs, lesson plans to teach classes

Adora Svitak - Oh, what a hard question! I have lots of favorite authors: C.S. Lewis, Karen Cushman, J.R.R. Tolkien...

Adora Svitak - I don't really set a goal of a certain number of words for myself

Adora Svitak - Obviously, I would be mad at myself if I only wrote one word.

Tony - Do you write at a certain time of the day?

Adora Svitak - Well, I get up pretty late in the morning and I do work well later at night

joyce - after you log off, please make sure to visit her website and write to Adora from the contact us page

jennyi - lol, and night owl

Adora Svitak - I do a lot of my work from eleven AM to two PM

Adora Svitak - At night, I work mainly from eight to ten thirty

joyce - her teaching via the video conferences takes about two hours everyday

Adora Svitak - My mom wants me to go to sleep earlier, though

Tony - How old are you?

Adora Svitak - I am ten years old

Tony - Amazing!

Donna - I have students who want to write but get so frustrated at getting started. Any hints for them?

Adora Svitak - I would say just look all around you for inspirations. You could write a poem about being frustrated.

Adora Svitak - Also, writing is a great way to get yourself un-bored

Adora Svitak - Writing is something that you can use to create new worlds, do whatever you want

Donna - That is a great idea. Sometimes I just have them write a few words and see if they can go from there.

Adora Svitak - I think that's a wonderful method too.

Donna - Assigned writing is so different that writing out of personal desire.

Adora Svitak - Free writing is always fun--especially when you say "get started, don't lift your pencil from the paper"

Adora Svitak - and you just have to keep writing without stopping

Tony - Adora, you are amazing!

Adora Svitak - Thank you!

Tony - You are like a female Cicero!!!

joyce - Hi Tony, what grade do you teach?

Adora Svitak - That's very nice of you to say. My dad actually checked out a book on Cicero from the library and has been asking me to read it.

Tony - I am an elementary school principal

Adora Svitak - I keep on delaying.

Tony - In Kentucky...right next to Cincinnati

Tony - Where are you located?

Adora Svitak - We are in Redmond, Washington state.

Tony - Sixth Distrct School - Covington, KY

jennyi - haha Adora. One year while teaching my second graders cursive writing I told them they don't lift the pencil. I saw one little boy's paper and the whole thing was connected. I told him he was to put a space between each word and he reminded me I told them to not lift the pencil.

Adora Svitak - Redmond is a suburb of Seattle.

joyce - great. Do you have conference system? If not, do you have computer in the classroom with Internet?

Adora Svitak - That's an interesting anecdote (about not lifting the pencil). Some kids are smarter than we think.

Donna - Do you have other careers you might like to explore or are you certain writing is your future?

Adora Svitak - You know when they pretend that they took you very literally

Tony - Do you ever come near Cincinnati?

Adora Svitak - I definitely want writing to be in my future, but I would also like to become a journalist and a teacher.

jennyi - He took me literally like Amelia Bedelia. lol

Adora Svitak - Really, I suppose I already am (a teacher, that is) but I would like to teach full-time.

Donna - Ah, ha! We would love you to be a teacher!

Tony - What a great teacher you'd be!!

Adora Svitak - Thank you very much indeed. (British style way of saying "Thanks," I believe.)

joyce - if any of you have the video conference system, you can invite Adora to teach at your school

Tony - That would be great...but I'd like the students to meet her in person!

joyce - first via the video conference then Adora can come to meet them in person

jennyi - Adora, have you thought of recording presentations on DVD?

Donna - I must go, but I will contact you through your website. It was a joy to meet you Adora and Joyce

Adora Svitak - Yes, we have recorded these presentations online

Adora Svitak - Thank you. Bye, Donna!

joyce - if you could get more schools involved in she can make the trip to give schools presentations on many topics

jennyi - Are these linked to her webpage?

Mary - Could you tell us more about exactly what lessons you teach?

Adora Svitak - My mom would have the link.

Tony - What is her fee?

Adora Svitak - Here are a few of the things I teach: poetry, descriptive writing, writing inspirations, persuasive writing

joyce - if you need more info and links, please write to me via Adora's website and I will send them to you

Adora Svitak - Write To Learn: Women's Suffrage, Child Labor...

Tony - How about personal expressive writing?

Adora Svitak - All of the lessons have writing activities.

joyce - video conference per connection is $150

jennyi - I am retired, but I would like to share this information with my district.

Adora Svitak - We don't have one of those yet, but we can customize presentations to schools' needs.

Tony - Joyce, how are you connected with Adora?

Adora Svitak - "those" being personal expressive writing

Tony - I was thinking along the lines of personal narratives and memoirs.

joyce - Thank you Jennyi for sharing the info with the district

Adora Svitak - Oh, yes we do have a personal narrative series

Adora Svitak - Joyce is my mom.

Tony - Ohhh

joyce - Please contact me via my e-mail joyce@adorasvitak.com if you are interested in Adora's info and her programs

Mary - How long are your session?

Tony - Well Joyce, you and Adora should visit the great city of Cincinnati, cross the Ohio River, and speak to our students!

Adora Svitak - With videoconferencing sessions, typically forty five to sixty minutes.

joyce - that would be very lovely. Will you write to us to discuss it in the future?

Adora Svitak - It would be very interesting to visit Cincinnati, I've never been there.

Tony - I made a note of the website, Joyce.

Mary - Adora, do people ever send you things they've written and ask you for your opinion of it?

Kathleen - Joyce, what have you done to nurture in Adora a good balance of intellectual and social development?

Adora Svitak - To answer Mary's question: yes, actually quite a few people send me their work asking for my opinion. I have a few email correspondences and some of them are writing stories of their own that they sent to me to look at.

joyce - her interaction with students and adults have helped her great deal

Kathleen - Welcome, Christine!

Adora Svitak - One school I videoconferenced with made a beautiful book filled with their work and sent that to me via snail mail.

Christine - Hi, Adora, Joyce, and all. Just tuned in.

joyce - she has fantastic opportunities to travel, meeting different people

Kathleen - Joyce, what are your goals for Adora's future?

Adora Svitak - Hello, Christine

Kathleen - Christine, if you have questions, feel free to post them to the screen

Adora Svitak - I would say that it's less of my mom's goals and more of my goals (haha)

Christine - Adora, I'm going to tell my 4th graders about you tomorrow. They love writing. What is your best piece of advice to them?

joyce - more experience from life, helping others with her skills, making positive contribution

jennyi - Do you still play with toys, etc like most little girls do?

Kathleen - Mom's have goals for their kids. I know, I'm a mom

Adora Svitak - I would say that there are inspirations all around you, in people, in nature, in books...Writing lets you do whatever you want, create your own worlds, hold ultimate power.

Adora Svitak - I don't play with toys that much, I do lots of board games though

Kathleen - Adora, do you ever experience writer's block? What do you do about it?

Christine - Do you keep a writer's notebook?

Adora Svitak - I don't experience writer's block too much, but when I do I will sort of brainstorm ideas, review my goals for the story, review characters...

Adora Svitak - I don't keep a writer's notebook on paper but I do write down ideas on the computer

Kathleen - Adora, what is the question most frequently asked of you in interviews?

Tony - What is your best advice for young writers?

Adora Svitak - Probably where I get my ideas from, or what my advice would be to other writers...those are both frequently asked questions

Christine - Adora, are your mom and dad great writers also?

Adora Svitak - I am a little hesitant to say "best" piece of advice just because who knows? I might always come up with something better, but here are some words of advice: you can find inspirations all around you; when you write, it's your world--feel free to do whatever you want.

Tony - Great advice!

Tony - -writing connection to you, Adora? How important is the reading

Adora Svitak - My mom and dad are not writers, my dad works for Microsoft and my mom works at home helping schedule my videoconferences, organize our touring and travel plans, etc.

Kathleen - Adora, is there any question you wish people would ask?

Adora Svitak - She's publicist, mom, mentor, gourmet chef, and disciplinarian all at once...

Christine - Is there one special author whose writing you particularly enjoy?

Adora Svitak - I wish that people would ask me more about my older sister Adrianna, because it's really fun to ramble on about all the times we've gotten into fights, and her heinous crimes, etc.

Adora Svitak - Reading is extraordinarily important to me. It's really an important part of what feeds my writing inspiration. Reading was really how I got started on writing.

Tony - Adora, do you find it hard to relate to kids your own age?

jennyi - Ah ha! You ARE a normal kid if you fight with your sister.

Kathleen - Hi Adrianna! Adora, for those who don't know, what are the titles and topics of the books you've written?

jennyi - How old is your sister?

Adora Svitak - Oh, I am a "normal" kid in many ways. First of all, I enjoy getting dirty; second of all, I fight with my sister; third, I play games of all sorts (including, yes, some video games)

Adora Svitak - My sister is twelve years old.

Adora Svitak - My first book is Flying Fingers

Tony - Do you read a book a week?

Adora Svitak - My second (and upcoming book that will come out this month) is Dancing Fingers, a book of poetry written by my sister and I.

Kathleen - Joyce, how can educators contact you for additional information about Adora's video conferences for students?

Adora Svitak - I read more than a book a week, I probably finish at least one every day. Probably two to three, actually

Tony - sister and me...lol

jennyi - dirty huh. Do you like to play in the mud? I used to tell my class that you aren't a kid until you have made mud pies, etc

Kathleen - Isn't there another book? Political satire?

Adora Svitak - Yes, that's Yang in Disguise. It isn't quite published yet, but it will be coming out some time in May.

Tony - TWO OR THREE BOOKS A DAY!!!???

Adora Svitak - Oh yes, I play in the mud quite a bit. This month isn't too good for playing in mud just because it's raining most of the time and the mud has far too watery of a consistency for sculpting, but...you get my drift.

Kathleen - Adora: What books have you read this week?

Adora Svitak - Yes. When I was little I thought two to three books a day was normal, since my sister read at about that level too.

Kathleen - Have we lost Joyce?

Adora Svitak - I am starting on "The Book of Other People." At the same time, I am starting "The First Woman Doctor"--or at least I think that's what it's called--about the first woman doctor in the U.S., Elizabeth Blackwell.

Adora Svitak - She's cooking dinner right now, I think.

Tony - How many words per minute can you read...roughly?

Adora Svitak - I'm not sure, I think possibly one hundred something.

Adora Svitak - My mom counted it once, but I forget all the numbers (haha.)

joyce - I am back

Adora Svitak - More than one hundred, actually

Tony - Well, it has been an absolute pleasure meeting you! You are truly inspirational! I'll be in touch through your email address, Joyce!

Kathleen - Joyce, would you post your contact information for people who would like more information about the videoconferences?

joyce - thank you Tony, looking forward to it

Tony - Have a great evening, Joyce and Adora!!!

Adora Svitak - Thank you. You too!

Kathleen - This has been interesting and enjoyable! I'm happy I was able to meet both of you.

Christine - Thank you, Adora.

Adora Svitak - Thank you. I really enjoyed meeting everyone here.

Adora Svitak - Bye!

joyce - the video conference is www.cilc.org and type Adora Svitak from the search bar

Kathleen - We'll post the transcript of this chat in a future issue of the Teachers.Net Gazette http://teachers.net/gazette

jennyi - I've copied the links and will be looking over her webpage

Adora Svitak - Wonderful! thanks!

Kathleen - Adora and Joyce, thank you for chatting with Teachers.Net. And thank you to those who logged on to join the conversation. Good night!

joyce - Adora on UK Mirror: Exclusive: World's Cleverest Kid

Adora's report from WishTV, showing Adora teaching the future teachers at Ball State: Child prodigy teaches future teachers at Ball State

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