City of Dreams

Posted April 27, 2008 & filed under Poem of the Day.


Darkness, black, specks of light, swim
closer, light in the city of dreams,
population, fish, buildings, coral, shock,
flash, a fish beside me, he was slightly
transparent, flew into me, and I came to
be a fish, he flew out, I was human so I
called him Mistia, I gave him that name
because it was by that name he was
known on the streets and in the houses
of that magical city, no air, must breathe,
and he flew into me again to forever stay.

By Caroline, age 9

(photo by Stuck in Customs via flickr)

video = 53 seconds

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)

Text Messaging the Ocean

Posted April 18, 2008 & filed under Poem of the Day.


You will feel the vibrations.
If you don’t reply, you might drown.
Text the ocean, she will text you back
She will send a breeze.
You will shiver.
She will send a smell you will like.
You will see a big cloud come out of the ocean.

By Daniel, age 12
(photo by Dougww via flickr)

I Walk Alone

Posted April 16, 2008 & filed under Poem of the Day.

Wynton’s eyes see the night in a whole different dawn,
Walking his dog with his headphones on.
Listening to the music that takes his mind away,
Not into the night, but a whole new day.

Ignoring the world that continues to die,
Sad-hearted people harmoniously cry,
But not Wynton Macklin in a world all his own,
Walking his dog with his headphones on.

X-girlfriend’s shoulder colder than an igloo.
His best friend is dating who?
It won’t matter to Wynton unless it’s lyrics to a song,
Walking his dog with his headphones on.

As the world falls apart, Wynton is left alone.
Keep calling but reality won’t answer the phone.
So Wynton stays proud as he grows alone,
Walking his dog with his headphones on.

By Wynton, age 14

(originally posted on July 16, 2007)

When I Write

Posted April 13, 2008 & filed under Poem of the Day.

wrting.jpgWhen I write,
I imagine.
I use my heart.
I listen to my soul-mind.

I use my hands,
and touch the tip of the pencil.

I write words.

I imagine things I want to do.
I can write a story.
I listen to myself.
I feel free.

By Nathan, age 8
(photo by Alexander De Block via flickr)

Ode to Clementines

Posted April 12, 2008 & filed under Poem of the Day.

clementines1.jpgOh, have you ever trifled with

a juicy tree treasure?

Oh, have you owned

an orange orb?

Oh, have you conjured

a Clementine,

With all its juicy jumble?

The delicate flavors

tango on the tongue,

spraying their

supple sweetness.

Tangy but tart,

tree treasure from

the earth—

the Courageous Clementine!

By Jacob, age 8
(photo by BabyJD via flickr)

She Sells Sea Shells

Posted March 3, 2008 & filed under Notebook.



Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration. I brought in seashells for the class to observe. The children put the shells against their ears and listened to the sounds of the waves. They admired the delicate beauty of the shells. They smelled them and shook them a bit, listening for clues about the soul of a shell.

Next the students brainstormed a list of words to describe the shells’ properties, such as “smooth, pointy, and colorful.” Their lists also included any other ideas they had about shells, such has “hermit crabs live in them” and “they live in the ocean.” We discussed the different ideas generated, and I created a word bank on the chalkboard. Each student created a poem that personified the shell.

A Perfect Shell

I am a shell, as
black as writing ink,
hard as a brick,
and whirly like rich

I am lovely like pasta
on the inside.
I am like glass,
so delicate and

Then one day I will wash
upon a beach where
someone will pick me up and
put me in a big red pail.

Don’t you want to be a shell?amy-lin-in-a-maze.jpg

Jonathan, 3rd Grade

posted by Amy Lin, Writers in the Schools

(photo by ramislevy via Flickr)

2 Ops for High School Writers

Posted January 17, 2008 & filed under Notebook.


Here’s some information about two writing contests for high school students. Both offer prizes and are sponsored by universities.

1) The University at Buffalo invites current high school students to showcase their writing talents in a free poetry contest. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners. Read all the rules on the Humanities Institute website. The entries must be postmarked on or before. Monday, February 4, 2008.

2) The University of Indiana – Purdue University Indianapolis has a similar poetry contest with the same deadline. Read all the rules and requirements here.

(photo by Zeinunes via flickr)

To Rhyme is Sublime

Posted December 10, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


This week my first grade students used their spelling words to create a silly rhyme. I encouraged students to make up new words as well. Especially for younger students just learning how to write, rhyme can be a wonderful teaching tool for the following reasons:

1. Rhyme teaches students phonemic and phonological awareness.

2. Rhyme gives students an appreciation of the rhythmic and musical qualities of language.

3. Rhyme helps students learn about word families, like cake, bake, and lake.

4. Rhyme teaches students the patterns and structures in language.

5. Rhyme allows students to play and experiment with language.

Here’s an untitled example by one of my first graders:

ride the bike Mike

nice mice

bake the cake lake

race face

star mar

eat meat

peek at the week

there’s a cage on the stage

the dime is a crime

Did I miss Christmas

It is Christmas Eve Steve

by Katherine, 1st Grade

The children enjoyed this writing activity and hearing each other silly rhymes made everyone giggle. Wiwits-blog-pics-007.jpgth older students, it might be fun to bring in the Paul Simon song, “50 Ways to Leave your Lover,” which models internal rhyme in longer sentences with an overarching theme.


By Amy Lin, Writers in the Schools

Ode To My Dogs

Posted October 4, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

My dogs bark and bark as if they see a ghost, but actually I feel joy once I open the door.

I feel love once I touch my dogs. I am sure they do too.

It seems scary things and evil is being pulled away when I am face to face with my shining dogs. Shining like stars in the night sky and the light the sun gives us, my dogs run toward me. When they get hurt I feel my heart bri-said-sit.jpgeak….

I will always love my shield dogs.

Evil is too weak to take my love away.

by Jeong, 3rd grade
Condit Elementary

My Fish

Posted September 21, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


My fish live in
my house.
They blow bubbles
all day long.
They breathe through
their gills quietly.
I feed them with a
little, tiny spoon.
They don’t make any
noise when they swim,
but all together they look like a rainbow –
orange, red, yellow, brown.
They’re friendly fish.
I know because when I put
my finger in the tank,
they don’t bite too hard.

by John, age 9
Texas Children’s Hospital
[photo by ShaneWarne_60000 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]

El Sol [The Sun]

Posted September 19, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

El sol me
es un diamante
gigante. Es una
canica flotante.

Es una semilla,
es una estrella
El sol es
que me seguira todos
los dias de mi vida.


The sun
surprises me.

It’s a giant
diamond, a floating

It’s a seed,
a giant star.

The sun is

that will follow me
all the days of my life.

by Gina, 3rd grade







Photo by Sakura via flickr

Poetry Slam: The Next Generation

Posted August 7, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

The national poetry slam comes to Austin next week. Here are the details.

DATE & TIME: Saturday, Aug. 11th, 3:15 – 4:45 pm
PLACE: Ruta Maya World Headquarters, 3601 S. Congress, Austin TX
For more information, contact the Texas Youth Word Collective.

HYPE: What do you get when you combine the Texas Youth Word Collective’s Austin Under 21 Poetry Slam with the National Poetry Slam and Austin Poetry Slam? One incredible afternoon of spoken word artistry! Come hear some of the best youth slammers from across the country compete for the title of National Youth Slam Champion!

Here’s the stage for the next generation, open to all poets under the age of 21. The slam will be hosted by Kim Holzer (Durham, NC), Saturday, August 11th, 3:15 – 4:45 p.m., Ruta Maya Int’l Headquarters, 3601 S. Congress, D-200, Austin. Free.

And be sure to check out the rest of the National Poetry Slam! A Youth Writing Workshop will take place on Friday, Aug. 10th, 2:30-4:00, at the Hideout Upstairs. The competition will involve more than 300 poets competing and reading at many of the venues that serve as home to performers during Austin’s famed SXSW Conference. This year’s NPS will draw audiences numbering in the thousands to the premier annual showcase for performance poetry. The event will culminate with the Individual Finals show on Friday, August 10, and the Team Finals show on Saturday, August 11; both events will be at Austin’s historic Paramount Theater, home to sold-out poetry competitions when Austin hosted the National Poetry Slam in 1998 and 2006. Tickets for both events, as well as passes for the entire week of competitions, readings, and late-night shows, will be available at

Inside a Raindrop

Posted July 18, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


Go inside a raindrop
where it is cold. I see a rainbow down
the smooth side. As the rain falls,
I jump
up and down
inside the raindrop
As the rain falls,
I hear loud thunder.
I jump rope to calm myself down.
As I scream,
I hear my loud echo answering back to me.

by Samantha, 4th grade
J.R. Harris Elementary School

writing prompt = “Stone” by Charles Simic


Posted July 13, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

frida_kahlo_self_portrait.jpgShe is bleeding.
It looks like she’s angry.

She’s probably mad at her husband.
She doesn’t look like she’s in pain.
She’s letting the bird hang on her neck.
She looks like she got out of a wreck.
The thorn branches represent her anger.
The monkey is messing with one of the branches.
The cat is hiding behind her neck.
The cat might represent her anger too.
It’s a black cat.
She looks serious.
She looks like if anything gets in her way,
She would mess something up.
The flowers represent her sensitivity
And the butterfly.
She feels like nobody respects her or
Pays attention to her.

by Victor, age 17, Texas Children’s Hospital – Renal Division