Poetic Questionnaire for Valentine’s Day

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



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

What If the Mightiest Word is Love?

Posted February 12, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

What If the Mightiest Word is Love?

website-photoHRBy WITS Writer Harriet Riley

For the last few years, I’ve used a powerful tool called The Matrix during one of my first writing classes with students of all ages. This came from a workshop Community Word Project of New York provided for WITS writers a few years ago. This tool allows students to create new ways of using language and encourages them to “think outside the box” in different ways.After briefly discussing the structure of a poem, I read my students “Praise Song for the Day,” Elizabeth Alexander’s beautiful poem written for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. The poem asks, “What if the mightiest word is love?” First, we have a group “word storm” coming up with words relating to love, texture words and action words. Then, students use their “matrix” (a sheet with a large box with 12 squares inside) to randomly write down two texture words, five words they like the sound of and five words they like the meaning of. They are then instructed to transform words from their matrix into a poetic sentence. I read them guidelines, but the most important is to combine word pairs to create new and different meanings. 

The students each create one poetic sentence and then work with the other students at their table or grouping to combine their lines into stanzas. Then each group performs their stanza to create one combined class poem on love. I videotape their performance and share it with them at the next class.

Here are some of the amazing lines the students created:

Love is peace flowing in the air.
Love is freedom; it will run down a road of fire and reach your sweet heart.
Love is like a diamond in a firework sky.
Love is a courageous intelligent sparkle in my sister’s eye.

Love indeed becomes a life-enhancing proclamation when students try combining words in unusual ways.

My Heart

Posted February 14, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

My heart is full of my first snowman and snow-angels deep in the snow.

My heart is full of making new ideas and bubbles that pop in my head

like a phone that just had rung.

My heart is full of hugging and holding my brother who had just been born.

My heart is full of my first steps.

My heart is full of my first laugh and hug.

My heart is full of my first best friend.

My heart is full of going to my first day of school.

My heart is full of my brother crawling to the couch, crying and laughing so loud.

My heart is full of animals:

Like the lion represents courage, the monkey represents joy, and the crocodile represents seriousness.

It feels like I’m one part of each of them.

By Christopher, 3rd grade

Photo by ff137 via Flickr

Happy Valentine’s Day from WITS! Send the one you love a gift that changes hearts and minds – give the gift of WITS.


Posted February 11, 2009 & filed under Notebook.

You see a block of wood,
but I see a carving of a baby
wrapped in gold and shining cloth.

You see a piece of paper,
but I see a love note.
It says love is human.
Whatever you say,
I see a girl,
and she’s human,
and she’s loved.

By Dahlia, 4th grade
[photo by erin via flickr]

Much Love

Posted February 5, 2009 & filed under Notebook.

I love you
With a love
That isn’t love
Which is a
Different love
From the depth of
Love that
Is from me
The most
Soul ever
In the time
Of history

I love you
Like the sun
Loves to warm the
Plants I love
You so much
I would go to
The breadth
Of the universe

When you walk
Your body moves
To the music of
Love in my soul
I love you so
That I write until
I have no more hands

By Damien, 6th grade
[photo by farawla foshya via flickr]

Love is the Mother Penguin

Posted September 5, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

Love is the mother penguin.emperor-penguins-pencil-drawing-by-poyee-lam
It is when she leans to her chicks,
The baby penguins cuddle to her,
That makes her happy.

Love is the father penguin.
It is as he dives faithfully for food,
The chicks wait expectantly.

Love is the chicks.
It is when they go to their parents for warmth.

It is a loving family.

By Lauren, 6th grade
[pencil drawing by Poyee Lam via flickr]

Perpetual Motion

Posted September 20, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


Spinning around
like a tornado
I could go on
smiling for a long, long smile.

I love my mom and dad.

by Bria, age 8
Texas Children’s Hospital

[photo kwisatc via Flickr]