Posted November 15, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

The birds settle down, the crickets start their
chorus, and outside, the bats rocket around. My mom
and I sit outside by the pool relaxing and getting
lost in the pleasant aroma of her cigarette. She
doesn’t notice if I steal a guzzle of her diet coke.
I sit there looking at the deep blue sky splotched
with pink leftovers of the sunset. I hear the roar of
a muscle car far off. The leaves glint in the
moonlight. Everything grows faint.

by Jonathan, 4th Grade

How I Get My Ideas

Posted November 13, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

Sometimes you just have to stare
at the sky to let the wind blow ideas
into your head. If this fails,
remember the last time you went ice skating.
The slippery, shaky feeling of being on ice.
You fall, you get back up.

Think of what would happen if you were
surrounded by sharks in an ocean.
Think, think of what to do to escape.
Wish that you were sitting next to a
fountain throwing pennies, staring at
Honest Abe’s face. Start to think about
the President who tried to stop the spread of
slavery, African-Americans, mistreated, chained,
from Africa, home of the great safari,
animals, trying to take their territory.
Some of these animals are shipped to the zoo,
children holding cotton candy, pure sugar, the sugar
cane is its origin, plants that look like bamboo, which
brings luck. Speaking of luck, lay down, dream about
finding a four-leaf clover, meeting a leprechaun, finding
a rainbow, colors shining brightly. Follow me
rainbow to a pot of gold, like
the jewelry on your neck, glittering in
diamonds, found in coal.

I am reminded of soot in a chimney from the fireplace.
In the fire is wood from a tree which
I used to climb, branches shaded by
evergreen leaves. Paper is made from
trees, put into notebooks,
which you are supposed to fill with words right now.

Do you have any idea what you
will write? You cannot control the amount of
ideas in your head. You cannot control
frustration. You do not know how
to stop yourself from falling on the ice,
but you hold out your arms anyway.
You fall down
but keep skating.

Monique, 7th Grade
(photo by Kira Girl via Flickr

Writing Prompted by Art

Posted November 12, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

Many WITS students get to take a field trip to an art museum. By studying the art closely and actively using their imaginations, students create stories, essays, and poems that exceed their own intentions. In this photo, a student writes in a gallery of The Menil Collection in Houston.

Photo originally uploaded by witshouston on flickr

Going Inside a Painting

Posted November 9, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


What do I see
when I go into
a painting? I
feel like going
through water
with fishes
and birds flying
around me saying
what’s your name?
When I go into
the painting I
feel like I’m
going into a
green valley
playing with
my sister saying
Where are we
going and why
are we going so
far? I tell
her that the trees
are made of money
and the sky is
made of dreams
of people who are
beautiful and kind in one way.

by Sa’sha, 6th Grade

(art by Rene Magritte)

8 Ways of Looking at Van Gogh’s Night Sky

Posted November 8, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


The moon wishes for a
quiet, dark night

The trees dance under the
night lights of the bright sky

The church screams as the
shooting stars fall

The bushes sway
whispering softly

The stars show
off their brilliance,
painting the houses
with a dull white

The mountain sing as the wind

The people pray as night falls

The night is never calm

by John, 5th Grade

art by Vincent Van Gogh
writing prompt by Wallace Stevens (“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird“)


Posted November 7, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

When I’m angry
I go to my friend’s house
I start to frown
I say things I don’t mean
When I’m embarrassed
I shush red
I run and hide
I sweat
I smile

When I’m afraid
My bones shake
I scream at the top of my lungs
I get stuck and can’t move
I start tossing uncontrollably
I stare at people without blinking

When I’m excited I yell loudly
I jump and laugh
I talk in a high pitch

When I’m tired
I sleep

by Lesly, 6th Grade

art by Annilese via the WITS Meeting House



Posted November 6, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

Depression is not like people. It is a person who has a hole in the middle, but not a hole like what you can see there. But Depression has a hole and in that hole it is like water, and the water is fifty feet deep. Depression to me is like death. Depression can tell you or give you a lot of feelings. Depression is black. It is dark in Depression. Some people get lost there, so think next time before taking a trip with Depression.

by Brandea, 4th Grade


art by Mark Rothko

Doodle, My Fish

Posted November 5, 2007 & filed under Notebook.



Having a pet is fun! I like to watch fish every day. I went to Target and bought a fish in a small tank. I called my pet fish “Doodle.” He was beautiful. Doodle was blue like the ocean. He was green like the grass. He was yellow like the sun. He was my very own rainbow fish.

Every day I took care of Doodle. I cleaned his water and gave him food every other day. He would swim around his tank fast and jump high as he could to catch his food. I loved to watch him eat. He snapped the food up as fast as it dropped. He grew bigger each month.

I played with Doodle. Sometimes I tapped on his fish tank to get his attention. He would swim from left to right to follow the sound he heard. I would stare into his tank to see if he noticed me. I even talked and sang to him sometimes. I took Doodle on a vacation trip to Dallas in our car. I was happy he was with me. I could still see him everyday. This made me very happy. My family loved Doodle too. They made sure I fed him. We wrote the days he had to eat on our family calendar. I loved Doodle very much. He is now in “fish heaven.” I really had fun with my pet fish.

by Jordan, 4th Grade

(photo by Arutha via Flickr.com)

Skirt! Sponsors WritingContest for Girls, Grades 5-8

Posted November 3, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

To celebrate the historic moment of a woman running for the White House, Skirt! wants to hear from girls in grades 5-8 about why they should be President and how they would make a difference in the world if they were elected. To produce your campaign package, be creative…design your own bumper sticker. Be thoughtful…explain your campaign issues.vote.jpg

Have fun with this project! Hillary Clinton’s campaign song is “You and I” by Celine Dion. What would yours be? Surprise the editors with your ideas and presentation. The top two entries will appear in the February 2008 issue of skirt! and will receive a gift package worth $250.

Submissions must be received no later than December 31, 2007, and must include your name, address, phone number, age, grade level, and school. You can mail your entry to: Skirt! 801 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX 77002, or email it to Dusty.

The Country, Night and Day

Posted November 2, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

Where I live is beautiful.
At night, it is horrible
because you see the trees with sun,
shining so bright,

but when the sun goes down,
the trees look like a scary person moving.

I live in the country
where the days are bright,
but when the sun goes down,
it looks so dark.

In the country
you hear the dogs barking,
but in the night,
you hear the wolves howling.
When they do that,
it frightens me.

In the country,
when it’s daytime,
I feel like playing with my friends
and with the dogs in the park,
but when the sun goes down and
the moon goes up,
the wolves howl,
and the trees look like men
walking down the street.

The leaves fall off
and look like ghosts.

Roberto, 10th Grade
Texas Children’s Hospital Renal Dialysis Unit

The Orchid

Posted November 1, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

orchid-innocent-by-melony-via-flickr.jpgAn orchid is peaceful and perfect like glass
or a mirror
because it is delicate and strong
and when I look in a mirror
I see myself
and I am also
delicate and strong.

by Collin, 2nd Grade


Posted October 31, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

Winter, my winter, is no winter.
It’s only


Turkey and stuffing make


delicious and my girlfriend
makes me so cool and cuddly
which makes my world


in love.

But sometimes the moon makes my mood


to the ground.

And then my dad starts to cook
just like my cozy mom
which makes my dad


into the best cooker-category in all of cooker-land.

by Michael, 5th Grade

The Tree Turning Red

Posted October 30, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


The kind of person I was is not the kind of person I am.
Just a body,
A potato sack of nards.
A tree turning red against a blue sky full of mourning,
Summer is dying and so is my heart.
Voices flutter like the birds,
So free and blinded as their broken wings fight against the impossible,

Sitting in a window is no way to live your life.
Sitting in a man is no way either.
Mother was sewing and pricked herself.
She didn’t forget to wince but she forgot to bleed.
She went to bed without talking and no food.
Bright white skin matching purple bags of restlessness awoke the next morning,
Only to find her children had been consumed by adulthood.

I sat feeling the summer kissed skin surrendering to the pink.
The pink soon darkened,
Slowly turning my skin red,
Then fell to white as winter sucked away summer from my mind and fall from my eyes.
Every night filling halls fat with loud voices,
Never talking,
Just yelling so that the truth could never enter their ears
Lies were slapping them blind,
Leaving them daft and retarded on the floor.

I went away from the tree turning red,
Never to see it again,
To experience its beauty,
Its hatred of the world around it dying,
Bending to the winter.
Back there,
I still hear the yelling.

by Tracy Jayne, 12th Grade

photo by flummoxed1 via flickr

The Sad Little Pumpkin

Posted October 29, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

pumpkin.jpgI lament Halloween.
I lament having to sit around in a field all day.
I lament having to get picked up and go to a place that’s new.
I lament having to be carved into a jack-o-lantern
and having to sit on a porch for a week.
I lament having to have a torch lit in me.
I lament sitting here while kids go trick-or-treating
wearing silly costumes.
I lament watching kids come out of houses with sacks full of candy
and watching them come home looking happy.
I lament seeing the little kids eat their candy.
I lament being a pumpkin.
I lament Halloween.

Andrew, Meadow Wood Elementary School
(photo by taitornator via Flikcr.com)

When I Was a Child

Posted October 25, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

When I was a child in Bellaire
Just eleven years old
I remember how I used to sit on my old,
Yellow pillow in my tiny room
Just after the house went quiet with anger
And watch the world go by.
I could see all the cars passing,
All the people with their kids strolling the street
The horizon eating up the beautiful sunset colors.
Through the circle of my window
I felt peace.

Leeor, 5th grade

I Am an Oak Tree

Posted October 24, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


I am very tall.
I am 7 years old.
During the day,
I see robins.
During the night,
I hear frogs singing.
During the day,
I grow leaves.
During the night,
I rest and wait
Until tomorrow.

Erik, Durham Elementary
(photo by mira d’oubliette via Flikcr.com)

Ode to Poetry

Posted October 23, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

O poem, you bring light
to my dark world.

O poem, you open my mind
to different things.

O poem, your words of wisdom
are like a saint.

O poem, you bring the gift of laughter
to my family and me.

O poem, each time I read you
you give me a chance in the spotlight.

O poem, when I read you,
it’s like I read God’s
spiritual mind.

O poem, you are like a chipmunk
wandering in the wild.

by Jose, 4th grade


Marv Hoffman Celebrates New Book in Houston Tonight

Posted October 22, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) founder Marv Hoffman will read tonight at Brazos Bookstore from his new book, “You Won’t Remember Me”: The Schoolboys of Barbiana Speak to Today. Marv is a lifelong educator who has reflected deeply and profoundly on what it means to be a teacher. He learns the most about his students by listening–really listening–to his students. The event will be at 7 pm tonight (October 22, 2007).

“At a time when too many children are disempowered by an education devoid of joy or meaning, Marv Hoffman reminds us of the magic that is made when teacher and student engage in first understanding, and then changing, the world.”
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund

Ode to Friday

Posted October 19, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

“Let go, Monday!”
Dragging me from my fun weekend.
Yet, like all bullies, your meanness chases me to
school where I’m safe with my friends.

Tuesday, You coward, Monday’s henchman.
Yeah right, all you do is use your big, fat self to
keep me from Friday.

Wednesday, neutral. Not sweet, not sour.
I wait ‘til days end, only one more hour.

Thursday, good old fellow
like an old train, you see,
carrying me to Friday! Yippee!

Friday, Oh Friday,
The best of ‘em all.
A friendly old guy,
And kindly, indeed.

Saturday, good friend to Friday,
And me!
Why he’s more fun than climbing a tree!

Sunday, so nervous,
friend of Friday,
yet he is bullied by Monday,
and brainless fat Tuesday.
Sunday will do whatever they say
because Monday will always say,
“Give me those kids, take their weekends away!”

by James, 5th Grade