Write a Poem for Barack Obama

Posted January 7, 2009 & filed under Notebook.


This week I was happy to hear from my friend Kristin Palm, a poet and teacher who works with California Poets in the Schools (CPITS). Kristin is inviting writing teachers and writers who teach to join her in a project that involves writing and sending poems to Barack Obama in celebration of his inauguration. Anyone can join in. Kristin would love to hear from you if you and your students decide to participate.

Dear Writers and Teachers—

I am writing to invite you to participate in a national poem writing campaign, Letters to Obama. This project was inspired by poems written by students in Detroit, Michigan, as part of theInsideOut Literary Arts Project, an amazing organization where I used to work (I now work through California Poets in the Schools). The idea is simple and fun: Have your students write “Letters to Obama” poems around inauguration time. Then, add a twist or two:

  • Send the poems to the White House with a letter thanking President Obama for his support of the arts and arts education
  • Hold a student reading or arrange for a display of student poems
  • Or come up with other creative ideas to ensure that our young people’s messages to this historic president are read and heard!

If you would like to participate, I can provide you with a resource kit that contains:

  • Writing prompts
  • Model poems (below)
  • Sample letter to the White House
  • Sample press release
  • Publication/display ideas

If you would like me to email you a resource kit, please email me at[email protected]. Even if you don’t need a resource kit, I’d like to ask you to contact me if you plan to participate so I can know how far this project reaches; please include the name of your school, grade level, and number of students participating. Please feel free to spread this post far and wide—I’d like to get as many students to get involved as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Kristin Palm

[email protected]


Advice to our Next President


Never start drama.
We voted for you because
we believe in you.
Don’t forget to not put
pressure on yourself.
Be sure to be ready
to be president. When
you answer the phone
you can say, This is
the Obama residence.
Are you going to be
ready for all of this?
Are you going to try
to be better than
those other cats?

By Dishuna, 4th grade, Detroit


Advice to the Next President


Always help the homeless.
Watch out for pointy hats.
Remember to share cucumbers.
Give the rich to the poor.
Keep your shoe out of your ear.
Follow your instincts.
Don’t help half of the world.
Help all of the world.
Don’t bail on us.
Stay strong.
Love the people.
Make this a new world.

By Talandra, 5th grade, Detroit

–posted by Robin Reagler, Writers in the Schools (WITS)

Running for President

Posted February 18, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

The 2008 presidential elections are fast approaching; candidates of every stripe and background are saturating the airwaves.jasper-johns-flag-moma.jpeg If there was ever a time to broach issues of democracy in action in the classroom, this would be it. While teachers should not endorse any particular political position, the students are usually ready to volunteer ideas of their own.

Last year, while teaching for WITS at Pearl Rucker Elementary, I had a chance to work with the students on a presidential election exercise. One of my students, Darion Waddle, wrote this piece about running for President, which was later selected and read by him at the WITS Young Writer’s Reading at The Menil Collection. This recording was made in the classroom; the students you hear in the background are his classmates, fellow fourth graders from Ms. Kamuiru’s HISD classroom. Click here to hear Darion deliver his address; the text of his speech appears below.

I’m going to be the President of my country because I want my friends, family, and country to believe me, for whatever it takes. I love my country. I will make America a better place. I will make my country clean by my army and stop the war, so no more men will get hurt. I will make America a better place.

I am the President. I will never, ever replace my job with anyone, not even for a million dollars. I will keep my job. I will love my country so much that whatever my country asks me, I will take the bad people out and keep the world a perfect place. I will give the poor my house. I will stop bad food. I will give bad people away. I will pay my army extra money for cleaning people’s houses, and I will call my army the Face Paints. I can make poor houses better. I love my country.julian-avatar-1107-128x160.jpg

Happy President’s Day, everyone.

posted by Julian Martinez, Writers in the Schools