Summer Camp 2014 Registration Opens January 31st

Posted January 27, 2014 & filed under Notebook.

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Sign up for Creative Writing Camp, sponsored by WITS and Rice University, in locations across Houston. Campers ages K-12 will immerse themselves in fun activities and exercises all focused around building and strengthening their love of reading and writing. Registration begins January 31st. Classes will fill up that day so mark your calendars!

Summer Camp ReCap

Posted July 1, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Words were flying this June  at the Creative Writing Camp program iin Houston. Here’s a recap of one classroom of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.

Video by WITS teacher Ericca Douglass

Where Words Fly

Posted June 28, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

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Today nearly 1,200 Houston students are celebrating the amazing stories, poems, essays, autobiographies, and screenplays they have created this summer at Creative Writing Camp. The Summer Creative Writing Workshops are offered by Writers in the Schools in collaboration with Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture Project (SLC). We offer a supportive environment where children engage in writing stories, poetry, essays, and plays, as well as simply reading for pleasure. We place WITS writers in other summer programs this summer. Next year register early to get your children a spot in our camp!

Creative Writing Camp

Posted February 7, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Registration is filling up quickly!

Within the first 20 minutes of open registration, over 100 students enrolled in Creative Writing Camp, a WITS record! Though it comes as no surprise – with our 8 campuses, 70 classrooms, and now 23 years of camp – that parents and kids look to Creative Writing Camp as a staple of their summer plans. Enroll now and find out why Houston Press described the workshops as the “best effort to inject culture into Houston” and AOL City’s Best listed it among Houston’s 6 Best Summer Camps for Kids.

About Creative Writing Camp

Creative Writing Camp offers a supportive environment where children engage in writing stories, poetry, essays, and plays, as well as simply reading for pleasure. Through these activities even the most hesitant child discovers the joy in writing, the intrigue of language, and the confidence of authorship. Students will work with teachers and writers, and the low teacher-student ratios ensure individual attention. Workshops end with a culminating performance and/or reading, and each child will receive an anthology with their published work.

A Collaboration

The Summer Creative Writing Workshops are offered by Writers in the Schools in collaboration with Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture Project (SLC).

Check out the 2012 Camp Highlights:

2012 Creative Writing Camp Highlights from Writers in the Schools on Vimeo.

Re-imagining the Alphabet

Posted August 14, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

The inspiration for Russell’s poem came from a prompt I borrowed from Janine Joseph, a fellow WITS writer. The lesson is called “Re-imagining the Alphabet.” The lesson asks students to re-imagine letters as objects in their everyday world. We practiced doing this as a class, looking at the letter “M” and noticing how it could be imagined as a mountain or a crown and so on, and we also read and discussed e. e. cummings’ poem, “i.” Students were then asked to write poems of their own with letters we gave them (it was a coincidence that Russell received the letter “r,” which he used very cleverly in his poem).

Who Are You r

r is a diving board, hanging over a pool.

r is also a ladder,

helping people to

climb out of the pool.

r is both sides of a spear

or a battle-ax

and a soldier’s hat.

r is the targeting scope of a gun,

and the gun itself.

r is also the first letter of my name,

Russell.

by Russell, 3rd grade

Listening to the students read the wonderful poems inspired from this lesson was one of the high points of camp for me.

by Michelle Oakes, Creative Writing Camp faculty

Michelle Oakes is a poet pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston whose work has appeared in The Laurel Review and RHINO. She is a poetry editor for Gulf Coast: a Journal of Literature and Fine Arts and an instructor for the 2012 Boldface Conference. Michelle earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Missouri, where she was also Associate Editor of Pleiades: a Journal of New Writing. She taught at the River Oaks Elementary campus during Creative Writing Camp.

Scenes from Creative Writing Camp

A Pantoum from Creative Writing Camp

Posted July 24, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Camp Instructor Abby Estillore, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in English and a secondary teacher certification from UTeach Liberal Arts, is currently completing an MA in literature at the University of Houston—Clear Lake. For the past eight years, she has been teaching English Language Arts to middle school students and serving as the grade level lead at Welch Middle School for HISD. Two years after recovering from open-heart surgery in 2008, Abby’s first poem, “Sleep,” appeared in The Marrow Literary Journal of the University of Houston–Clear Lake. She studies and writes poetry that focuses on language play, distortion, and imagination. This is her first summer working with the WITS Creative Writing Camp at the Bellaire campus. Here is a poem from her camp classroom:

To Do

To do you have to try
To know you have to learn
To stop you must defy
Success you have to earn

To know you have to learn
To get you have to reach
Success you have to earn
To help you have to teach

To get you have to reach
To fight you must stand tall
To help you have to teach
To rise you have to fall

To fight you must stand tall
To stop you must defy
To rise you have to fall
To do you have to try

by Aditya, 7th grade

Abby’s notes on the piece:

Though some structured poetic forms might feel restrictive, I took a chance introducing pantoums to my students. The majority of the group had an aversion to rhyming poems, so I thought about experimenting with the idea of recycling lines/phrases in poems as
well as allowing these lines to direct the poem’s path instead. In our final anthology, I did not expect several/multiple pantoum submissions; these poems carried a deep sense of the inarticulable and explainable, presence and absence. Of these sophisticated pantoums, I was impressed by Aditya’s “To Do.” Not only did he choose rhyming patterns, but he also infused a sense of urgency behind unassuming one-syllable words (try-learn, reach-teach, know-stop, fight-rise, must-have). The logical-poetical approach of his poem turns the philosophical into practicality. Aditya’s “To Do” is a straightforward, no-nonsense wise saying that should be printed on a WITS bookmark!

A snapshot of Creative Writing Camp

“A Tall Tale” from Creative Writing Camp

Posted July 18, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

WITS Writer Elizabeth A. M. Keel

One of our Creative Writing Camp instructors is Elizabeth A. M. Keel-a local novelist and playwright. Her plays have been produced by the University of Houston, The Nova Arts Project, The Scriptwriters/Houston, Big Head Productions, Bootown, and Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company. Her first novel, Running Into Trouble, was published in 2010. Elizabeth currently works as a teaching artist for the Alley Theatre, helping local teens write and produce short plays.

From Elizabeth’s Classroom:

 

A Tall Tale

Well, I was born out of an alligator’s mouth. When he tried to eat me, I punched his gut. When I went fishing, I would tie myself to a branch and fish with my bare hands. Once I tried staring down a fish. And it worked! Everyone wanted me to stare down the biggest fish this side of the Mississippi so I went and found it. I stared at it for five days and nights but it was just a rock.

by Jackson, 4th grade

This summer Elizabeth taught at our AOS campus, and had this to say about the above piece:

 As a playwright, I love hearing stories told out loud. Some of my favorites are the wild, exaggerated Tall Tales that came out of Texas and the rest of the American West. The camp lesson we formed incorporated colorful metaphors and the power of hyperbole – which, of course, can be more fun that a sack of badgers! But also offered the students the opportunity to write in a new voice: one of over-the-top, zany fun. Jackson’s Tall Tale portrays a classic surprise twist and a sprinkling of the humility that helps keep a Tall Tale hero in his place!

Creative Writing Camp Connects to Houston Arts and Culture

Posted July 9, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

In an ongoing effort to enrich creative writing through an integration of literacy and art, students at our Creative Writing Camp took field trips to iconic Houston art and cultural centers including The Menil Collection, Rice University, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. On these tours, they experienced and wrote about public art pieces, including James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” and Jaume Plensa’s popular “Mirror.” Younger writers in grades K-2 were visited in the classroom by artists, including contemporary dancers and drummers, who help students find beauty and unexpected inspiration in art and culture. “Children are most stimulated by the things and activities that surround them,” said Robin Reagler, Writers in the Schools Executive Director. “Through the experience of seeing, touching and hearing art firsthand, our camp shows students that their writing is art and their words are powerful.”

Jameelah Lang, a second-year WITS writer goes on to say: “I continue to be fervently involved in WITS Creative Writing Camp because it teaches children that what they have to say is important. They learn writing skills dictated not by someone else, but by their own strengths and points of view.” This year’s summer Creative Writing Camp served more than 1,000 students, the largest turnout Writers in the Schools has ever seen. Stay tuned this month for poetry and writing from these field trips and camp.

A Poem from Camp: What I Want

Posted June 29, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

What I Want

I want to crush the trash of struggle

that my people go through

for the invisible spirits of joy

to appear as happiness again.

I want to capture the moment when

the devastation of my people blows

away with the monsoon winds that

come from the north.

I want to remember how the

Vietnamese dragon once came,

bringing happiness like a rare toy

to our people.

I want to write about how the

wet rice fields were our only key

to survival and how my people will

bring peace to the world.

By Jacqueline

A Poem from Camp: Slow Beauty

Posted June 28, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Slow Beauty

A hippo ambles

on the sandy floor.

It strides and staggers

and saunters, uttering a low moan.

With great effort,

after a few minutes

of clear and glossy silence,

it hauls itself back

to the shimmering pond

making soft,

exquisite ripples.

By Seo-Ho, 4th grade

A Poem from Camp – Wonder

Posted June 26, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Wonder

(inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope”)

Wonder is the thing with sun and light

That lands straight in the soul,

And twists and turns—all night

And only stops at the answer

And the brightest marvel is in the fire

And faith must be in the water

That could abandon the small weak light

That made so many wonder

I’ve seen it in the arid places,

And in the oddest land

But, never, in extreme,

It makes me question all that gleams.

By Amy, 5th grade

Notes from a Teacher at Camp

Posted June 22, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Here are notes from Elizabeth Winston, a teacher at Creative Writing Camp:

During the first week in my 7th/8th grade Creative Writing Camp class, my teaching partner and I had the students work on writing short stories.  This week, we shifted the focus to poetry.  What’s interesting about having students try their hand at different kinds of writing is watching them each discover what kinds of writing they truly like to do – what inspires them, what they feel they’re good at.  Some of our students immediately got very involved in working on their short stories, and were anxious to get back to them when we moved to poetry.

One student, however, took us by surprise.  This particular boy– his name is Alex – told us on the first day that his dream is to be a fiction writer.  We assumed he’d be one of the ones that wanted to get back to his short story. What he brought to me today to type up for the classroom anthology, though, were two poems.  I asked him if he had written poetry before, and he shook his head no.

“I don’t know if I’m doing it right,” he told me.  “But I really like it.”  In his eyes was an excited light – he had been inspired by the poetry we’d read and discussed in class, and nodded eagerly when I offered to give him the titles of several books of poetry I thought he might enjoy.  Alex had discovered a new love, which will hopefully be a lifelong one.  For me, the kind of excitement I saw in him is the greatest reward of teaching writing.

We’re Built Like Horses

We are built like horses,

Strong, free and stubborn,

Our manes meant to feel the wind

But we were not born as such

We do not live with tenderness or freedom

Because we were born into bondage

Unto fingers cold to the touch

Every step is planned

Every stray is punished

In a land ruled by the likes of injustice

Where lies spread like fires to an open plain

Speech is not free

Every word has a price

And we are afraid to speak

For our words are their scripts

We are not us

But those that they want us to be

Shackled by the atrocities of their rule

Under an oath to be their servants

So, I say, they must be cast away

Replaced with those true in heart

Overrun by those with knowledge and goodness

So that they may be realized as the monsters they are

Whey we finally open our eyes

The people will be free

Our ignorance will fade

And the sun will shine again

We are built like horses,

Strong, free, and stubborn

Truly free at last, horses we can be

By Alex

Scenes from Summer Camp

Posted June 21, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

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The Creative Writing Camp is at the half-way point.  Field trips this year are to Rice University, the Menil Collection, and Glassell School/Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Here are a few snapshots by WITS Writer Nancy Pearson.

Calling Houston Young Writers

Posted May 9, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

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Summer is coming.  Have you made your plans? There are still spaces available in the Writers in the Schools (WITS) Program.

Who: Middle and High school students

What: Summer writing workshops

Where: Bellaire High School

When: June 11-29, 9 am -12 noon

Why: Because you have a story to tell

How: Click here to sign up today

In the Creative Writing Camp, you explore different literary genres (poetry, fiction, essay, drama) with friends. You learn about craft and revision in one-on-one conferences with published authors. Through multi-disciplinary projects combining text and art (such as painting, sculpture, or music), you will also find new ways to address a particular audience. At the end of the three weeks, you will publish your best work in an anthology and celebrate!

  • Write your own poems and stories, real or imaginary.
  • Compose an essay or a manifesto.
  • Perform your play.
  • Discuss your revisions with published writers.
  • Spend your Fridays on the Rice University campus.
  • Gather material and gain the skills to write a great essay for college applications.
  • Visit a real publisher.
  • Publish your work in an anthology.
  • Make friends with other writers.

Click here to find out more from a Rice News story. This summer program is sponsored by Writers in the Schools (WITS) and Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture Project.

Space is very limited. Click here to enroll.

Summer Camp Registration Opens Today!

Posted February 1, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

Registration for our Summer Creative Writing Workshops in now open online. Students grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade can attend this unique three week workshop, now offered at 5 locations in the Houston area. This collaboration between Writers in the Schools and Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture Project has been named “Best Summer Program for Kids” by the Houston Press.
Click here for more information, or if you’re ready to register, click here.

Summer Camp is Filling Up Fast!

Posted April 15, 2009 & filed under Notebook.

Register for the summer creative writing camp now because many grade levels are already full. Writers in the Schools (WITS) has offered this program in partnership with Rice University for the past 19 years.  It has even been named “Best Summer Program for Kids” by the Houston Press.  This year we have campuses in three different parts of Houston. Click here to find out more. Or if you’re ready to sign up, click here.

Summer Camp Registration Opens Today!

Posted March 6, 2009 & filed under Notebook.

ad_sumcampFor pre-K-12th grade students in the Houston area, you can now register for the summer creative writing camp. Writers in the Schools (WITS) has offered this program in partnership with Rice University for the past 19 years.  It has even been named “Best Summer Program for Kids” by the Houston Press.  Click here to find out more. Or if you’re ready to sign up, click here.