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.

Para el niño que no esta fuerte (To the Child Who is Not Strong)

Posted April 19, 2010 & filed under Poem of the Day.

Para el niño que no esta fuerte,
amigo, levántate del sillón,
y súbete a la montaña
más grande del mundo,
y yo te voy a esperar
arriba de la montaña.
Demuéstrale al mundo
que tienes más fuerza
que un huracán.
No digas que no sirves
para nada.
Si tu quieres,
te puedo dar mis manos fuertes.
Jamás, amigo,
dejes tus sueños en la basura.
To the child who is not strong,
my friend, get up from the couch,
and climb the highest mountain
in the world,
and I will wait for you
on top of the mountain.
Show the world
that you are much stronger
than a hurricane.
Do not say that you are not
worth anything.
If you want,
I can give you my strong hands.
Never, my friend,
throw your dreams away in the trash.

By Alejandro, 3rd grade
[photo by NinaMeyers via flickr]

Originally published on May 20, 2009.

apad2This poem is featured as part of the 2009 A Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by WITS that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click on the logo to the left to learn more.

Found Poem

Posted April 21, 2008 & filed under Poem of the Day.


Power to begin can inspire
a whole new thing.
You can taste the good life
anytime you want.

By Philip, age 13
(originally posted on September 27, 2007)

Jump into Fiction with Springboard Books

Posted April 4, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

Sometimes even the best writers need a springboard – an idea just big enough to give their imaginations a boost into the air. I’m always excited when I find a great new “springboard book” to use with my young writers. Here are two of my favorites.

I recently discovered the delightful book 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore, written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Nancy Carter. This book’s rambunctious heroine17things is full of schemes that seem like a good idea at the time, but invariably get her in trouble. “I had an idea,” the book begins, “to staple my brother’s hair to his pillow.” The facing page says, “I’m not allowed to use the stapler anymore.” Through this simple structure, the main character shows us sixteen more brilliant ideas she’s no longer allowed to pursue.

Although the illustrations give us some idea of the girl’s actions and their consequences, the beauty of this book is that it allows the reader to fill in the narrative, giving us plenty of room to imagine exactly what happened as a result of the main character acting on her rather impish ideas. After my third grade classes read this book with me, they were eager to write about the main character’s adventures–and given a starting and ending point framed by the book’s structure, they were confident in filling in the rest. Some were even inspired to continue this theme by writing their own fictional misadventures.

mysteriesofharrisburdickA book that serves as a more sinister jumping-off point for young writers is The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. Each surreal black-and-white illustration is accompanied by only the first line of a story. Young writers are intrigued by the slightly scary mood of the book, and are given enough information in the first line to begin to construct their own stories. The resulting mysteries, ghost stories, fantasy and science fiction tales also give young writers a chance to recognize and employ elements of each genre as well as expanding their imaginations into impossible realms.


posted by Tria Wood, Writers in the Schools