Ekphrasis

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

Playground

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)

Fire

Posted October 15, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem, 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, 5th grade

Minute Maid Park

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

 

Minute Maid

Saturday!

Five forty five  A.M.

Screaming, booming

Jose Altuve, Orbit, Carlos Correa

Play games, eat ice-cream

Two months!

Happy.

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

Houston

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

laughing,

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

Death

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,

violent,

ruthless

monster.

Maybe if we saw

Death

in a different light, not as a scary

entity, but as a small

but strong,

kitten

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

Ja’Sanderia.

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.

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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

My Name

Posted June 23, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

My name is all the numbers because

I don’t have a favorite.

 

My name is silver because

it is shiny and is in Slytherin.

 

My name loves vegetarian cooking

that makes me hungry.

 

My name is the peaceful sound of the sea

and the sound of a stormy sea.

 

My name feels happy when I save

my money to take a trip.

 

My name means HUMANITY!

 

by Vishwa, age 6

The Birth of Color

Posted April 28, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

The beautiful sunset
making shades
of blue,
green,
red,
pink,
yellow,
and orange,
eyes of the wandering beings
opening,
looking,
watching
from their windows,
the golden yellow tree,
the sunset lake,
children playing,
bluebirds chirping,
the blue leaves,
dark green haunting shadows,
a red horse,
people hard at work,
a bright sunny day,
trees reaching up to grow,
mothers making supper for their children,
and a door opening,
telling people to come.
This is the birth of color.

by Kirby, 3rd grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on Sunny 99.1KPFT 90.1, and KTRU 96.1 Addison, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Sweet” by Bensound.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, KPFT 90.1, Sunny 99.1, and KTR

 

Original post: October 11, 2016

Library Music

Posted April 27, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

This library music,

With the always-noise of

Strangers coughing

People falling in love

Smooching around the corner

Librarian shushing my crying cousin

 

Vocabulary of

Cough       Who         Kiss         Shhhhh…..

Language combinations,

Beauty to my ears

With the always-music of

Pages turning over and over,

Books falling from the shelves,

People’s laughter

 

The always-noise of library music.

 

by Alyiah, 4th grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on Sunny 99.1KPFT 90.1, and KTRU 96.1 Tory, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Molten Snow” by Jesse Spillane, Freemusicarchive.org. Produced by Susan Phillips.

Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, KPFT 90.1, Sunny 99.1, and KTRU 96.