December 26, 2013



Our #6 most popular story of the year stemmed from a dramatic photograph of a tornado in the African desert.


It was Writing Wednesday, and I asked my readers to imagine they were in Namibia seeing this tornado, and to describe the sight. I suggested that they use lots of strong adjectives to help the scene come to life for their readers: What does it look like? Sound like? How would you feel if you were there in the desert?

Some wonderful student writing came from this Writing Wednesday exercise. You can read all the writing by clicking here, but here are some samples of powerful, dramatic student writing.

Kahria in Las Vegas, Nevada wrote: The black tornado traveled across the desert like a witch’s hat tumbling in the wind. My heart was thumping fast. What if it comes my way?

Many entries came from students in Massachusetts, including this one from Olivia:

I would feel like it’s a beautiful sight, but I’d be terrified!

I’d run away as fast as I could!

I hate being close to stuff that can kill me!

Sand would be everywhere!

I hate it when sand gets in my mouth! It’s a terrible taste!

I would not like being there!

Another Massachusetts student, Jalen, wrote this:

I see vast sky of darkness and orange all around in my sight.

My eardrum hurts more than being on an airplane with an engine with a screechy microphone.

I know once it touches the ground there will be no stopping its powerful force of destruction. I see dust and a black cloud in the tornado and all around It I feel myself slipping away from the ground.

Will began his writing by describing the sound of the tornado:

"Swwswwswsw!" I heard a faint swishing sound in the distance. The sun was blazing here in the Namib Desert in Nambia, but in the background of this beautiful landscape, a deadly tornado uproots trees. It is pure black with dark gray dust to the side. It has fast winds—enough force to lift a brick building. I felt that warm wind. It sent a shiver down my spine. Dust clouded in my eyes along with a dry taste stuck on my tongue. This was a true, deadly twister.

Derek took a different point of view, writing as someone who was seeing the tornado from far away:

The tornado is taking trees from the ground. It’s a light breeze from where I am. It sounds like a whisper. It looks like a black hook coming from the sky. I feel the warm relaxing air. I wish I could see feel and hear that again.

Kaya used many strong adjectives to make the scene come alive:

During the sunset, a large, black, and intimidating tornado towers over the African sand. The whirling wind whips around wildly. Sand flies everywhere and showers the desert. I am scared that the tornado is coming too close to me. The tornado is beautiful and deadly at the same time. I hear sand sprinkling everything and the wind slashing violently.

And finally Kristina created an entire story based on this one photograph:

I was terrified! There was a giant tornado spinning and spinning! People were screaming and running for life! Some people froze looking at the tornado. The tornado sounded like swoosh! Swoosh!

My family was far ahead of me! I was lost with other people, but  then I saw Joey. He stopped walking, he was crying. "I’m too weak."

"Joey," I said as I ran to him. "Come on my back, we have to keep running!"The spit in my face! The desert was getting tons of damage. Joey started crying. "We’ll be safe soon Joey, I promise."

Finally we entered a safe shelter. I found my Mom and Dad. They said "You were so brave!" Joey told them how I saved him! Joey went off my shoulders.  

"Where is Colin?" Mom asked. "I don’t know."  Soon I heard an announcement. "There’s a 11 year old boy named Colin looking for his family." Dad rushed to find Colin! He did. We were all safe!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: 2013 Countdown   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share: