Blessings for our Janitor

Posted December 12, 2018 & filed under mentor text, Poem, Student Writing, WITS People.

WITS Writer Marcia Chamberlain shares this blessing: a 2nd grader wrote this beautiful poem for Mr. Sanchez, the custodian at Oak Forest Elementary.

 

May you always walk with pride.

May you always dream of brooms and mops.

May your friends have respect for you.

May the wind push you on.

May you never feel you don’t belong.

May the universe support you.

May your house be full of ideas.

And finally, may you have a Merry Christmas.

by Galeairy, 2nd grade

 

#blessings #inspiredbyjasonmraz #haveitall #wits

Poetic Questionnaire for Valentine’s Day

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

Why?

 

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

Found

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

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

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

Sonic Lime

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

I once met a tiny

strange martian

named Louie.

He told me

he had a

deep temptation

to leave

his home

and escape

to the lush

green world

of sonic lime.

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

Palm-reading Geography (for Jack)

Posted April 19, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

As I look at the twists
and turns in your palm,
I see something,

something more than lines,
like a virus worming its
way deeper,

deeper into your veins,
riding them to your
heart.

Another hill is like a
weakness, trying to hide
until it is strong,

hiding in those little
creases, just waiting for
the right time to show itself.

But you will love—I see
it deep in your heart,
waiting for your future.

by Katie, 4th grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on Sunny 99.1KPFT 90.1, and KTRU 96.1 by Audrey, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “The Dance” by David Szesztay. 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 96.1.

Original Post: October 28, 2016

My Freckles

Posted April 24, 2014 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Student Writing.

My under-skin has scars and scratches.
My upper skin has bumps like raisins.
My skin is covered with freckles
that remind me of the circles
on my paper.  Those circles remind me
of the moon, and the moon
reminds me of a soccer ball
and the ball reminds me of my freckles.

by Wesley, 4th grade

 

 

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Zachary Balleza, a 7th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The background music is”Chatham Rag” by Scottylee. Produced by Susan Phillips.

This poem is featured as part of the 2014 Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more.

 

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Mr. Fox and Mr. Squirrel

Posted July 2, 2012 & filed under Fiction, Lesson Plan, mentor text, Notebook.

(based on Aesop’s Fables)

Mr. Fox was very rich. He lived in a mansion and always wore clean tailcoats. One day Mr. Squirrel knocked on Mr. Fox’s door.  When Mr. Fox answered, Mr. Squirrel said, “My, what a fine coat you have on, Mr. Fox.”

“Why, thank you. Would you like to borrow it?” asked Mr. Fox.

“Why, what a generous offer!” said the squirrel. “Are you sure?”

“Oh, most definitely.”

“Then, I accept,” said Mr. Squirrel, and off he went with the beautiful coat.

So, on it went every day.  Mr. Squirrel went to Mr. Fox’s and complimented him on something, and Mr. Fox would let him borrow it.

Then one day, Mr. Fox had nothing left. He went and asked Mr. Squirrel to return his things.

The squirrel refused, and Mr. Fox learned a valuable lesson: beware of flatterers.

By Emma, 5th grade

5 Amazing Odes by Kids

Posted March 28, 2012 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem.

I put the PRO in procrastination

Odes are poems that celebrate a particular person, place, or thing. Writing an ode is an easy way to ease kids into the art of writing poetry. Click here if you’re a teacher or home-school parent wanting to know more about how to teach this writing lesson.

Companion Poems

Posted June 29, 2011 & filed under Lesson Plan, mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

One of my favorite lessons to teach this year was the Companion Poem.  I based the lesson idea loosely on William Blake’s companion poems from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.  In these two books Blake included some poems by the same title and generally about the same topic, but written from different perspectives.  The narrator in Songs of Innocence typically speaks from a place of lighthearted joy and youthful vigor.  The narrator in Songs of Experience usually speaks from a place of maturity and caution.  Here is an example of a “nurse” who is supervising children who refuse to go home at sundown because they are having too much fun laughing and playing in the fields.  In the first poem the nurse shares their joy; in the second poem she thinks they are wasting time.

Nurse’s Song

When the voices of children are heard on the green,

And laughing is heard on the hill,

My heart is at rest within my breast,

And everything else is still.”

Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,

And the dews of night arise;

Come, come, leave off play, and let us away

Till the morning appears in the skies.”

“No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,

And we cannot go to sleep;

Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,

And the hills are all cover’d with sheep.”

“Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,

And then go home to bed.”

The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh’d

And all the hills ecchoed.

Nurse’s Song

When the voices of children are heard on the green

And whisp’rings are in the dale,

The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind.

My face turns green and pale.

Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,

And the dews of night arise;

Your spring & your day are wasted in play,

And your winter and night in disguise.

It is fun for children to think about an event from two different perspectives.  The companion poem gives them the chance to do just that.

It is also possible to provide broader guidelines for this lesson and explain that companion poems don’t have to be written by the same person nor do they have to explore a contrary point of view.  One poem might be paired with another poem based on the shape of the poem, the length of the poem, the language of the poem, the point of view of the poem, the theme of the poem, or some of other point of connection.  If I use this broader interpretation, I am never disappointed.  The kids like it because there are plenty of choices involved, and I love the diversity of poems produced.

To set up this lesson, just hand out a page with 5-7 poems on it, different styles, different authors, different topics.  The students pick one that they like and cut it out.  They glue it to a piece of colored construction paper.  At the top of the paper they write the words Companion Poems. Then the students write a companion poem on notebook paper, cut it out and glue it next to the other.  It is easy to display these poems in the classroom.

Fiddle-i-fee Story Basket Lesson

Posted September 6, 2010 & filed under Fiction, Lesson Plan, mentor text, Notebook.

Grade level: Kindergarten – 1st

Genre: various

Objectives: To involve the students in listen to a story read aloud

Primary sources: Cat Goes Fiddle-i-fee by Paul Galdone

Materials: a basket with small stuffed animal characters from the book Cat Goes Fiddle-i-fee

Contributors: Brooke Brown, Linda Draper

This story basket activity ensures the active participation of all students in listening to a book read aloud. Originally used with Cat Goes Fiddle-i-fee, it can easily be adapted to any book by printing and laminating images of the story’s characters. Additionally, the students could make representations of the characters in the book as a pre-reading, art project.

Have the students sit in a circle on the floor with the “story basket” in the center which contains characters and farm animals from the book. The students should each take one animal from the story basket as the book is read aloud, listen for the appropriate time to place their character back in the basket.