Guest Post by WITS Writer Gloria Alvarez!

Posted March 5, 2015 & filed under Classroom Reflections, Lesson Plan, Notebook, Student Writing, WITS People.

Mischievians Invade Meadow Wood Elementary!

By Gloria Alvarez

Meadow Wood ElemMy cooperating teachers at Meadow Wood Elementary, Tabitha Peña and Hali House, are the best a WITS writer could ask for:  enthusiastic, supportive, and eager to extend WITS lessons to their own teaching.  We exchange book suggestions, ideas for revision, and strategies for reaching underperforming students.  They open their classrooms to me and work alongside the kids during WITS.

One recent effort so inspired Ms. House that she made it her own.  I’d brought in William Joyce’s The Mischievians, a book about those mysterious creatures swipe TV remotes and cell phones, mislay or devour homework, and generally cause embarrassment and trouble.

We both love Joyce’s work, including Rolie Polie Olie and the Christmas tale Santa Calls.  I’d chosen The Mischievians because it’s so funny: everyone relates to the misplaced iPad or mismatched socks. The illustrations are just as clever.

The story follows a Q & A format: the questions in a child’s voice and the answer like a formal encyclopedia entry.  We read sections of the book, the students brainstormed new Mischievians, and finally they wrote their own questions and answers.

The students completed their drafts and read some aloud.  We will revisit the stories in several weeks to select and revise pieces for our class anthology.  For now, for me, the lesson was over.

But not for Ms. House.  She promptly purchased her own copy of The Mischievians for the classroom and displayed it on an easel at her desk.  Ms. House read their pieces, providing feedback and editing advice.  After allotting class time to revise and recopy their work with illustrations, she created a bulletin board to display all the finished pieces.

“They turned out great,” House said.  “Everyone had fun with it.”

I think so, too.  I was beyond thrilled that a lesson—a new, untested lesson at that—had struck such a chord with both students and teacher.  Here are some samples.

Boy at Meadow WoodThe TalkeyMer TalkyPants Mischievian

By Jonathan

Q: Whenever I’m supposed to be quiet, I whisper to my neighbor.  Then my voice gets louder until I get into trouble.  Why does this happen?

A:  There is a Mischievian on the loose called TalkeyMer, TalkeyPants.

Q: Where are they?

A: There are four of them in your mouth: Down, Up, Right and Left.

Q: How do they make you talk?

A: They jump up and down and make your mouth talk.  Once your mouth is moving, your voice wants to talk.  They jump harder and harder until your voice gets louder.

Riddle Me This…

Posted April 26, 2014 & filed under Lesson Plan.

Everyone loves a good riddle.  It works the brain.


Read This.




Now Try This:


Pick an animal or object or image and write a riddle poem. Choose three surprising or interesting clues to describe your animal or object or image, but don’t tell us the answer. Make us guess!



Now you try!

Posted April 19, 2014 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook.

The Irish have a blessing that begins, “May the road rise to meet you/May the wind be always at your back/May the sun shine warm upon your face.”

Read This.



Now Try This:

Write a poem full of good wishes for a loved one.  Start every line of the poem with the phrase “May…”  As you are brainstorming ideas for your blessings, think about words related to nature, home, the seven continents, music, food, animals, and more. You might write lines such as “May you protect your dreams with the fierceness of a tiger” or “May you always awake with a cup of coffee in your hands.”

Once you write your own poem, you can share your poem on Instagram #WhereWordsFly @WITSHouston. Happy writing!

Saturdays are for Writing

Posted April 12, 2014 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook.

Writers observe the world around them and gather ideas for writing from everywhere—the ground below, the sky above.


Read This:




Now Try This:


Choose an action verb such as weave, sew, flip, forge, glue, knit, breathe, build, hammer, burn, blow. Use this verb in the first line of your poem, such as “I will burn you a story…”  Then, keep writing by imagining where your story would come from (the air you breathe? the dirt between your toes? the fire in your heart?).


Once you write your own poem, you can share your poem on Instagram #WhereWordsFly @WITSHouston. Happy writing!