Wake Up

Posted April 9, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.

(inspired by Anis Mojgani’s “Direct Orders”)

Wake up like there’s no tomorrow

Wake up like you’ve had a bad dream

Wake up like there’s a tiger racing after you

Wake up like the sky is falling

Wake up like your house is on fire

Wake up like you’re being chased down the street

Wake up like you’re Batman beating the Joker

Wake up like you’re late for basketball practice

Wake up like you didn’t finish your homework

Wake up like you’re ready to start the day

Wake up like you’re happy to see your friends

Wake up before you fall back to sleep

Wake up like you have a fridge full of Dr. Pepper

Wake up like it’s time for the cheer competition

Wake up like the universe is ending and

you only have one chance to be yourself.

By Alyssa, age 11

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Laura Anawaty (4th grade) and Jacob Goins (2nd grade) from Parker Elementary.

This poem is featured as part of the 2012 A 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.

Red Triangle Piñata

Posted April 5, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.

Me and my brother will hang

my red triangle piñata from a half-moon,

and I’ll punch it in.

It will sound like a song

when it breaks

and the candy melts out and falls on me

and then it drips on me

and feels like chocolate.

Inside are my cousins

jumping on the bed,

screaming so loud my brain

starts to scream.

And JD’s throwing a pass

to Josiah who passes it to me,

and I run for a touchdown

and do a Michael Jackson dance by myself.

With shiny black Jordans flying in the air,

I fly with them.

Inside the piñata

I will sit there with my family,

eating chicken nuggets

and nobody’s talking

because we’ll all be laughing.

By Daylen, 2nd grade

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Conner Duffey, a 2nd grader from Parker Elementary.

This poem is featured as part of the 2012 A 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.

To Happiness

Posted March 7, 2012 & filed under Notebook.


On the way to Mexico

I dreamed that I was in a maze

wandering in the mountains

falling into dark leaves

and fields of flowers

A sadness came into me

It felt like fog

But on the tips of my fingers

I felt a pink butterfly

I glided toward the stars

Where I found a window

To happiness.

By Maritza, 12th grade

Monkey Bars

Posted March 6, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

You’ve taught me a lot of good lessons

You’ve taught me to be braver than I am

To swing out as far as I can

To keep pushing forward

To move one step at a time

To fall into a heap in the dirt

And then get up and try again

Monkey Bars, you’ve shown me the stars

By Diego, 4th grade

Good News and Bad News

Posted December 12, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

The good news is that

my mom bought me

new boots,

but the bad news is that

they didn’t fit me.

The good news is that

the sun came out,

but the bad news is that

they didn’t let me go outside.

The good news is that

my dad has

a pretty wallet,

but the bad news is

that he lost the wallet

in the truck.

The good news is that

my mom had a birthday,

but the bad news is that

we didn’t celebrate her


By Jennyfer, 1st grade

Dear Child of Japan

Posted December 6, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

I want to give you flowers so that you are happy.

I want you to feel my heart.

I would like to give you toys.

Some sun to keep you warm.

A star so you can sleep calmly and with love.

I would especially like to give you my heart.

By Jocelyn, 1st grade

Dinosaur Robot

Posted September 22, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Once there were dinosaurs grabbing hot rod cars with their teeth. Their teeth were yellow and sharp.

There was a storm and some wind.  Everyone fell in the water.  They all drowned except for one who swam to the land.  It was a dinosaur robot.

Inside the robot there was a guy.  The robot was swinging its tail.  The dinosaur robot broke into little pieces, and the guy fell out.  He was sad.  He fell in the water, and a shark swallowed him.

The End.

By Chris, age 5

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.

June 21st: First Day of Summer

Posted June 21, 2011 & filed under Notebook.


Summer afternoons, peaceful and quiet

Melting popsicles and exploding sodas

Vibrant colors from fireworks

Bursting into the pale night sky

Going to my lake and sailing like a boat gliding or flying

Sitting on hot sand, burning my legs and back

Summer is tossing, turning in new green grass like rain that falls

Eating pink and white icing on my birthday

Playing for hours with my friends

Sucking on watermelon and spitting the seeds

into the air like flying black sparrows

Getting sunburned while the orange-red sun babbles

Seeing twinkling stars in the night sky

Yawning in the day and hibernating in the night

As I sleep summer passes

until I say

Goodbye summer, hello winter

By Mekenzie, age 9

Flower Day

Posted May 20, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

May 20th is Flower Day.  Robin Reagler, Executive Director of WITS, often tells the story of her mother explaining to her what she needed to do to be a poet.

The first thing on the list?  Memorize the names of 20 flowers.  So, Robin got right to work: daisy, azalea, silverbell, dahlia, magnolia, petunia, zinnia, snowdrop, iris, tulip, tiger lily….

Robin learned her first writing lesson.  Smart writers study, observe, and notice world around them.  Smart writers find ways to become one with the world outside of them.  In honor of poets and flowers everywhere, here is a piece written by a third grader:

Listen to Who I Am

I am the tiny, yellow flower that comes out in spring

I am the ghost hiding in your book

I am the moon, brighter than the sun

I am your flag singing from morning to night

I am the white paper you write your stories on

I am a balloon that goes up and never comes back

I am the old shoe that walks away from you

I am the shadow that follows you forever

I am salt like the snow in winter

I am a dream that opens and closes

I am the baseball that flies like a bird

I am the musical note that plays on the moon

I am beneath your feet

I am above the stars

I am in your soul

By Alyssa, age 9

posted by Marcia Chamberlain

Cinco de Mayo

Posted May 5, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that commemorates the Mexican army’s unexpected victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  In Houston, the city with the third-largest Mexican population in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a popular day for recognizing and appreciating Mexican heritage and culture.  In honor of Cinco de Mayo, here is a poem written by a 3rd grade WITS student at Travis Elementary:


Mexico sings like the birds in my world.

My house yawns when I tell it to awake.

The sunflowers play games with me.

The grass whispers to me about its life,

and I whisper back.

The sun beams when I need to cheer up.

The cactus talks while I listen, and

I talk while it listens.

I share my secrets with the sky, and

it promises not to tell.

The moon never sobs because I am

there to comfort it.

The wind dances and whips up my hair.

All of this happens because Mexico sings.

by Anna, age 9


Posted April 1, 2011 & filed under Poem of the Day.

The buds
of pansies
in the
muddy field
on a spring
mountain, as a butterfly
over a
blossoming rainbow
The spring breeze
picks up
dark clouds roll
A fawn
for cover
A thin
mist begins to
Water beats down on the

by Grace, 4th grade

This poem is featured as part of the 2011 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. Happy Poetry Month!

This Pen

Posted December 6, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

This pen is perfect,

Just right for my size.

This pen is indeed perfect,

But there is something I despise.

The lid is cracked and

The ink is running low.

The pen is a little crooked.

I guess it is a little old, but

Otherwise everything is fine.

This pen is my favorite

With its words still engraved

And its healthy green glow.

By Stephen, 3rd Grade

Ode to Procrastinators

Posted November 30, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


Out of the dust,
into the world,
just to wait for another day,
to come out and shine.
Why do we lollygag,
and wait for the world to
approach us?
Waiting for the future
to fall out of the sky,
and hit us on the head.
Wishing there was another
way to live.
We are the gum in the gumball machine,
waiting for the maintenance guy
to show up.
We are the fish in the lake,
avoiding the hook,
and waiting for the net to come,
an easier way
to get caught,
even if we go down anyway.
We are the hairband that keeps
simply because it isn’t

By Orly, 6th grade

Ode to Stars

Posted September 30, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


As I look up at the stars,

I see the moon, Venus and Mars.

The stars start to cover the land,

I want to hold one in my hand.

As they lift me off the ground

They spin me up down and around.

As they return me to my house

They’re as quiet as a mouse.

But as I stop in shock and fright,

I think that tonight was the best night.

By Jaklyn, 4th Grade

The Pond Speaks

Posted September 3, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

The great thing
is not having a
mind. You know
I do not
have a mouth, but
the truth is, I
am speaking now.
Do you
ever permit yourself
to swim in my water?
If you like
to swim in me,
the pond,
I would like
to talk with you.
I like to see bugs
I like frogs.
They like to hop over me
to eat
on lilypads.
I smell food sometimes
because human beings
like to camp
all around me,
and I get to talk
with all of them;
whisper all the time

when they come.

by Katherine, 4th grade

How I Feel Today

Posted August 20, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

Today I feel so happy.
I love candy.
I don’t know why I’m happy.

Oh, I am happy because
I stuck myself today.

Sometimes, I feel split in half,
like a sunset with beautiful flowers and
a frost with so much horror and death.

But today I feel like dancing,
like the couple in Paris and
playing like a Jack Russell terrier
and eating much too much candy
which the hospital won’t give me.

And I am sipping a cup of tea.

By DeAndrea, age 12

Collage made by the author and published in the anthology, My Hand is So Complicated and My Mind is a Mystery, published by Writers in the Schools and Texas Children’s Hospital


Posted August 9, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

Being down here, we don’t see much. We’re always covered and hidden by socks and shoes, as if we’re too embarrassing for you to look at. But sometimes, when you’re feeling daring, we can feel the rough grittiness of the cement sidewalk, can feel the heat radiating from it on a warm summer day. We’re never high enough to know what we’re missing. Remember that one time you were on the swing barefoot? You raised us high above your head, and we all saw the distant buildings in the wispy clouds, the broccoli-topped trees, and the feeling of being tall, at the top of the world. Why do you think you always raise us above your head when you swing? We have minds of our own.

By Anna, 9th grade
[photo by Mary Elise via flickr]

My Epic Hero

Posted April 20, 2009 & filed under Poem of the Day.


What happened to the old superman
when no one man could save the earth or land?

I saw a puddle that flooded a city
I saw one with sheets killing ones with not
I saw a bench that didn’t accept darkness
I saw black boots that stomped on the white doves
I saw one play toy kill a little child
I saw a kid hunt a man
I saw a man kill a man for green paper
I saw an offspring cry for his life
I saw a man sniff a rock and die
I saw a woman lose track of her child
I saw a woman struggle to get away from the man
I saw a child kill for his colors

What happened to the mighty superman
who could save one but not the others?

I heard a child cry no one listening
I heard a child run away for 1000 reasons
I heard a man cry for his rights

By Gabriel, 7th grade

This 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.