Poetic Questionnaire for Valentine’s Day

Posted February 13, 2018 & filed under mentor text, Poem, Student Writing.



1. Why do I always __________ ?

A. Fall in love
B. Fall for the wrong one
C. Sleep
D. Cry


2. Why am I always ___________ ?

A. Getting hurt
B. Crying
C. Catching feelings fast
D. Stressed


3. Why didn’t he ___________ ?

A. Tell me
B. Show me
C. Love me
D. Love me like he said


4. Why are there __________ boys?

A. Unfaithful
B. Stupid
C. Lying
D. Cheating


5. Why can’t we just ____________ ?

A. Be together
B. Work it out
C. Love each other
D. Stay together


by Dariana, 8th grade

Spend Saturday mornings with WITS at Discovery Green!

Posted January 19, 2018 & filed under Event, free Houston event, Notebook, Student Writing, WITS People.

With fun and interactive writing activities to spark the imagination, the Young Writers Workshop helps children develop their language and creativity skills. Each workshop features two WITS writers. Each participant receives one-on-one interaction and feedback.

Held Saturdays at the Houston Public Library Express location at Discovery Green from 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM, the workshop is FREE. Space is first-come, first serve and limited to the first 25 students.


Meet the WITS Writers


Dottie Price taught for more than thirty years and was a literacy coach in the Houston Independent School District. She is ESL and GT certified, with extensive training and experience in writers and readers workshop and the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. Dottie created the Elders Songwriting Project, a 20- year collaboration between elementary school students and retirement home residents in which students have written 246 tribute songs for Elder interviewees. She enjoys writing songs, as well as articles that share stories and ideas from the classroom and beyond.


James Hershberger is an award-winning writer, comedian, musician, slam poet, and actor. He graduated with honors from Texas Tech University with degrees in Creative Writing and Political Science. He has performed live all over the U.S. as well as in Europe and Asia. In 2013, he was a member of the Houston V.I.P. Slam Team, winning 2nd place in Group Piece Finals at the National Poetry Slam in Boston. James is a volunteer teacher of a weekly creative writing workshop for the homeless.


K.C. Sinclair is a fellow in Fiction and Screenwriting at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her short works have appeared in the Texas Observer and the New Guard Literary Journal. She has been a finalist for the Master’s Review New Writers’ Competition, the Glimmer Train New Fiction Prize, and New Letter’s Short Story Award. Before her MFA, she was an elementary school teacher and vice principal for ten years. She left that beloved career to pursue a lifelong dream to write. Now, she lives in a Mont Belvieu with her husband, adorable dog, and self-absorbed kitty, and is working on a novel set in Houston about a group of four friends who have dreams of becoming astronauts. K.C. also teaches writing at Lee College in Baytown.


Posted January 5, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Public Poetry, Student Writing.

I am fire in the wind.

One little spark can ignite the entire world.

The air crisp and smokey,

the fire big and beautiful.

I am that wildfire,

spreading like gossip in teen girls’ hands.

My ways of life are dangerous; I lunge from tree to tree,

It takes 1,000,000 people to slow down my fiery reign of terror.

The outcome of my worldwide scare is poor.

I leave people with almost nothing to live on.

But with pain

comes beauty,

and I watch as friends and family, mountains and trees

gather together

to build the world up again.

I am not all bad

for my flames create opportunities

to get stronger, more powerful.

I can transform the weakest squirrel into the strongest lion.

When my destruction ends, I am exhausted.

I tell myself that my wildfire is a warning.

My silent, screaming message: stay alert.

Another fire is coming.

I am the fire in the wind, ready to ignite.


By Irene, 6th grade


>> Join us for Public Poetry this Saturday, January 6th, 2 pm at the Jungman Branch (5830 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77057) of the Houston Public Library. WITS student, Irene, will be reading alongside Robin Reagler, Corinna Delgado, Amanda Ortiz, and Miranda Mahoney. This event is FREE and open to the public. <<

Original post: 10/15/2017


Christmas Tree Tradition

Posted December 29, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.


The tree,


Standing in the corner

The middle of May

Five months past



My sister

Begging for the tree to stay

A bit more


It looks so graceful.

It almost feels as if

The tree

My family

We’re all glowing

A deep soft warm

Yellow shimmer

In the spirit of Christmas,

Of all the holidays.


So now in the Kim family

It’s a tradition to

Keep the shimmering


Spiritful tree

Until March

Or May

To keep the taste of

Christmas cookies

For the pine scent

To linger in the air

With us.


by Gayeon, age 10


Posted December 22, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.


A nine-year old girl

Face light and smiling

Yet a line of regret on her face

Rushing to hug her mommy

Laughing and laughing and laughing

Because she is so relieved

In the bright and beautiful

shine of the sun

A mother asking, shouting,

“Where have you been?”

In the familiar light

Of her home.


by Jiho, age 9


Posted December 14, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Student Writing.

Run. Run and hide from the world and reality. Run until you are free of this world, of this place of laws and truths. Run until you find a place where anything could happen: the Narnia in your closet. Escape from judgement and the restrictions that come with it.

Embrace the darkness, the morbidity. Let the shadows spill over the wet, black earth. Allow the wolves inside and let them rip up the house. Let the child run away, and then what? What next? Well, that’s your choice. My choice. Anyone’s choice.

Never lose hope. The sun always comes up, until it doesn’t. The world spins until it doesn’t exist.

No judgement, no limits. Not once the writing starts.


by Carson, 8th grade

On This Porch

Posted December 12, 2017 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook, Student Writing.


On my parents’ porch, I feel a gust of air as I walk out the screen door. Am I hot? Am I cold? No. I am just right.  But even here, there’s a twisted feeling in my gut, my long lost dog sits in ashes on the top shelf of my parents’ desk. The screen door separates me from the air conditioning and the wild weather.


I rest my arms and elbows on the eleven-year-old railing and look down at the ditch under our driveway.  I used to catch tadpoles there.  On this porch I hear the waves beating on each other, the waves I body surfed on all afternoon.  My childhood flashes before me. Blink! All the memories of my siblings, preschool, my friends and cousins.


I look behind and see the little gray table with the tall chairs where my parents come to talk. I could sit on this porch for the rest of my life, listening to the waves.  I feel at peace thinking of my first friend, my dog, my childhood, what I felt as a baby.


All the responsibilities which I have now will only increase in high school, college, and adulthood. I feel all my life again and again in a matter of seconds, though I have had ten long years on earth.


I may not be old, but I have seen more than I think is humanly possibly.  On this porch I am all I’ve been, all at the same time, even in my dreams.  It is nothing but a miracle.


by Ryan, 4th grade


Posted November 27, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Student Writing.

The trees sway in the wind, dancing upon our eyes. The joy-filled kids swarm past us like a flock of angry geese. The mud bestows heavy layers of stains at the tips of my shoes, leaving them with a brown bumpy concoction. The blades of grass at my feet tickle my toes, while the mulch does its job and makes the grass disappear. The fresh air roars through my skin, making its way into the roots of my hair. The sweat forms on my skin like rain in a thunderstorm, the warmth of the sun works its way down to the tips of my toes, to the roots of my fingernails. The pasty wind runs through my nostrils, leaving me with a sudden surge of cold. The creaks of the monkey bars crack through my ears, as love-filled kids rock upon them. The shrieks of laughter reach my ears like a mighty roar of thunder. The teachers happily talk to one another as if just meeting an old friend. The birds chirp above us sitting on trees stuffed to the brim with leaves. The playground is a place that makes any visitor feel free.

By Ella, 4th grade

A Hungry Dog at Thanksgiving

Posted November 21, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Poem, Student Writing.

If I were the dog, at Thanksgiving I would say:

That chopped liver smells good.
I hope they drop some turkey.
I want to taste that.
I think I see dessert.
This is so noisy.
When is it going to be over?
I think I like everything here.
I will just jump on the table.
Ooooooooh cake.
I can fly like a bird. Whee!
I am invincible like a zombie.
Splat! Sorry about that.
Darn, that was strawberry icing.


By Benjamin, 2nd grade

from the WITS archives, 2010

Nadiyah’s Island of Cats

Posted October 20, 2017 & filed under Fiction, Notebook, Student Writing.

If I had my very own island, it would be near Hawaii. What makes my island special is the fact that it has all the cats in the world. My mom, sister, grandparents, aunt and baby cousin live there. (No boys allowed, except for my grandfather.)

My island has crystal blue water and white beaches. Coconut trees, pineapple trees, palm trees, and banana trees cover the island. Cat toys and cats cover the island. The island is 1,000 miles long and 1,000 miles wide (so we and the cats have enough space.) We each have our own two-story house. There is a 100 miles long and 100 miles wide island connecting to our island. It has plants growing. All the types of fruits and vegetables in the world grow on them. A large cellar under the ground stores all the food. There is also a pool if we get hot.

Gardeners collect ripe fruits and vegetables every day. Then, chefs cook a meal with the bountiful harvest. They set the table in the dining hall and serve us our meal. We also have a garden filled with all the flowers in the world and a smaller garden filled with herbs and spices. We have a tiny spa just in case we strain our backs or our nails get damaged, especially for our gardeners. There are vets if the cats get sick. We have our very own hospital if we get hurt, too. My island is awesome.

by Nadiyah, 4th grade

(photo from pixabay.com)

Minute Maid Park

Posted October 13, 2017 & filed under Event, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.


Minute Maid


Five forty five  A.M.

Screaming, booming

Jose Altuve, Orbit, Carlos Correa

Play games, eat ice-cream

Two months!


by Anthony,  2nd grade

Texas Teen Book Festival Hits Austin on October 7th

Posted October 3, 2017 & filed under Event, News, Press, Student Writing, WITS People.

The Texas Teen Book Festival brings nationally known YA authors from across the nation for readings, writing workshops by WITS’ sister program Badgerdog, and even a literary costume contest. Participants in the FREE event will get to meet Renee Watson, Jason Reynolds, Marie Lu, Adam Silvera, Jennifer Mathieu, and many more.

WITS student Pearl R. is a Houston-based member of the BookPeople Teen Press Corps. Check out this post she’s written to encourage readers and writers to attend the festival in Austin on Saturday.

Calling all writers, readers, and lovers of kiwi!


Join us at the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin, Texas, on October 7th, 2017. Yup, that’s this weekend, so I suggest that you get packing.

You will not want to miss this glorious occasion that The New York Times calls “life-changing and more fun than Wisconsin’s annual cheese-eating contest.”

(Editor’s note: The New York Times never said that and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be sued now.)

This festival features all your favorite YA authors! Some of them came willingly, and some of them we had to smoke out of their houses with firecrackers. We’re going to show these authors some Texas love, which means slathering them in barbecue sauce and putting them on a mechanical bull while they read opening lines from their books. Get ready for some fun!

In addition to lots of readings and book signings, there will be a literary costume contest and free writing workshops. The grand finale will be a Lord of the Flies inspired pig-hunting contest where the winner gets $10,000 cash!

(Editor’s note: This is why we shouldn’t let teens write for our blog. Seriously, I have no idea what this kid was thinking.)

By Pearl R


Posted September 22, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Student Writing, WITS People.

Summer melting

into Fall

a perfect morning

letting the wind

wash over you

on the porch.

Lime Ice

reminds you

that the sweaty

days are over.

You enter

the realm

of cool breezes.

Gleeful children

run through

the streets


returning home

to dinner,

garden fresh.


by Lila, 5th grade

WITS Student Writes Poem of Hope to the City of Houston

Posted August 30, 2017 & filed under News, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

This morning, we received a touching gift – a poem written by one of our Writers in the Schools (WITS) students, Eshaan.

Eshaan, a 6th grader, crafted this poem during the course of his family’s journey through Harvey, and offers it up to the city of Houston as a way of bringing everyone together with words of hope.

Starting this week, WITS is volunteering at shelters to help more of our young neighbors tell their stories, because storytelling is healing, and we are #houstonstrong.

Hurricane Harvey: A Terrifying Tempest

Daily gales gossip of terror,
And tornadoes clone as if in infinite mirrors,
God watches over us though,
And as the winds blow,
He oversees,
Cities turning into seas.

I feel helpless,
As I pray for victims’ wellness.
Distraught and crying,
Kin of victims sighing,
Why is Mother Nature so cruel?

One minute there is sunrise,
The next moment you hear cries,
Young babies,
Old ladies,
All trapped in this haplessness.

A second Noah’s Ark,
God tells us to hark!
Batten down the hatches,
And as He snaps trees like matches,
Remember we are all one.

As bombs explode,
And tears flow,
Those on cloud seven,
Come down from heaven.
As barrages fire,
All unite in this horrid quagmire.

As we come together,
We will remake Houston for the better.
Resurrection is impossible,
But together we make it possible.
Harvey left distraught in his wake,
Many a person who stay awake.
If we unite as one,
We can get rebuilding done.

Neighbors help neighbors,
And the common man labors.
The hand hardened from oaring,
Helpful souls soaring.
911 is overworked,
As residents do their tornado homework.

We must pray,
And not stray,
Stay calm and strong,
For I believe God will see us through this storm.

By Eshaan


Posted August 5, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

Death is not

a tall figure dressed

in black.

It doesn’t have an intimidating

black cloak

or a skull for a face,

and it doesn’t bear a scythe to kill you.

We shouldn’t have to see Death as

this monster,

this scary,




Maybe if we saw


in a different light, not as a scary

entity, but as a small

but strong,


with dark–but not black–fur

and large, white, caring eyes,

we wouldn’t be so afraid

when Death crawls into our laps

to take us away.


by Cheyenne, 7th grade

My Diary of the Human Form

Posted August 1, 2017 & filed under Poem, Student Writing.

Day One

The human form communicates with the mouth.

Day Two

The human form has a very round head.

Day Three

The human form has body types.

Day Four

The human form has different types

of fun and toys.

Day Five

Their planet has grass. They have

cheeseburgers and fries. They have weird names like


Day Six

This is my final day on planet Earth.

I will stay at what they call the beach.


by Ja’Sanderia, 4th grade

The Warrior

Posted July 27, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.


The fire beside her was freshly

Lit and crackling. He stood there,

Above her sleeping body,

Quiet and waiting,

Waiting for her to awake from her

Peaceful sleep. The last

Dose of sunlight shone

On her face. Before, he too,

Went to sleep for the night,

He stood there thinking,

Thinking of what chaos would come

After this silent morning.

“Why am I doing this?”

Unable to find the answer,

He stood there watching,

Watching her and waiting.


by Mary, 10th grade

When I Become President

Posted July 25, 2017 & filed under Poem, Student Writing.


I am going to help the world

and make machines

that make food for poor people.

I am going to do everything that I can

to give them money.

I will make more money,

help schools, help teachers, and help others.

I will help insects and animals

living on the street,

help babies, help people who need cars fixed.

I will help other planets.

I will never give up.

I will try my best.


by Mia,1st grade

Revision Strategy #3: Rubber Banding

Posted July 18, 2017 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook, Student Writing, WITS People.


With younger children, this concrete activity called “Rubber Band Stretching” works well.  Demonstrate how a rubber band starts out small and can be stretched much larger.  Read a simple sentence out loud, and ask for suggestions about how to expand it.  After a student successfully stretches a sentence by adding new words, hand her a rubber band ball.  When a second student stretches the sentence further, the first student passes the ball to the second.  The game continues until it is impossible to stretch the sentence anymore!  Students then apply the lesson to a piece of their own writing.

With older students, the rubber band can be used to discuss sentence length in more complexity. Bring in a strong piece of writing that includes short, medium, and long sentences.  Discuss the various effects.  If you have a geo board, you can actually record or map out the sentences using rubber bands.  Show how the rhythm of a piece changes depending on sentence lengths.

As a spinoff activity, ask students to map out sentence lengths in advance.  Then, try to write a paragraph that fits, and notice how the paragraph sounds.  For older students, it is empowering to see how they can control the rhythm of their piece just through sentence length.

-Marcia Chamberlain, WITS Houston