Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Santa

On Monday night, the Dream Keepers met for their annual holiday party. We ate cookies, drank lemonade, and wrote letters to Santa. Afterwards, each of the children chose a book to take home. One of the younger Dream Keepers asked me, "You mean I can keep it forever?"


"Yes!" she cheered.

All of the young people—eight boys and two girls—were equally thrilled to take home a book.

This year's collection of books for the young people came from generous donations by the Zonta Club of Milwaukee, people who purchased books through our Amazon Associateprogram, and two individuals who donated their own gently used books. Many, many thanks!

I was thrilled to read their letters to Santa. I hope you are, too. Enjoy.

Dear Santa,
I want things to change. Let there be peace instead of violence. I want everybody to have a house and a car. I don't want anybody on the street.
Sincerely, Damarious

Dear Santa,
I want God for Christmas.
I want to meet Hannah Montana for Christmas.
I want the world to be better for Christmas.
Love, Mikila

Dear Santa,
Things need to change because there is too much violence instead of peace and quiet. Things need to go right instead of wrong. And this is what I want for Christmas: a playstation 3. And the controller and a game to go with it.
Sincerely, Tramonta

Dear Santa,
I want peace, and I truly want a DSI.
Mr. DeQuan

Dear Santa,
This year I want the violence to stop. Also, I want everyone to have presents and erevyone to spread some Christmas cheer. I want everyone to be a good person and I want Brandon Jennings (a.k.a., my dad) to win a championship and everyone to be happy.
Your friend,
Leroi May
a.k.a. Leroi Jennings

Dear Santa,
I want the world to be happy. I want everyone to have fun on Christmas day, and the only thing I want for myself is to see Lebron win the championship and get MVP again.
Sincerely, Davonn May

Dear Santa,
This year all I want is a digital camera and for the world not to end in 2012. I would also like for the world to be a better place.
From, Tierra

Dear Santa,
I want the world to stop fighting each other. And come together and help each other out. I want a PSP Go.
Sincerely, Robert.

Dear Santa,
I would like the world to change and things to go right and the gas prices to go down. I would like a lot of things to be better, and I want everybody to have a happy holiday. The world has a lot of things that need to be changed, and we want you to help us.
Steven Johnson

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Last week, one of the Dream Keepers wrote a scary story and shared it with the group. He had us all looking over our shoulders for ghosts. The author, Jaimie, is pictured above. His story follows. Enjoy!

Little Lyric

by Jaimie Bogard-LaMar

“Come on, Lyric,” said Deseree. “The last bell just rang.”

“I’m on the homecoming committee, remember?”

“Oh yeah. So you have to stay. Well, I’ll see you later. Just don’t be here alone,” said Deseree.

"Wonder what she means by ‘Don’t be here alone,’" thought Lyric.

After Lyric and the homecoming team were done for the day and about to leave, Lyric remembered. Uh oh, she thought. I left my jacket in the locker room. My mom said if I left it one more time, she wouldn’t let me go to the homecoming and all of my work would be for nothing. So, Lyric rushed to the locker room and saw her jacket lying on the bench. As she was about to grab it, she heard a banging sound. She looked around to see what it was. And she saw a locker door opening and closing by itself. Then she heard footsteps. Lyric grabbed her jacket and ran out of the building.

The next day she told Deseree what happened.

“I told you not to be here alone. Didn’t you hear what happened at this school?”

“What are you talking about,” asked Lyric.

Deseree said, “A long time ago, a girl was killed at this school. She was here alone in the locker room. A robber saw her and cut out her tongue before he killed her. This is why no one is ever here alone.”

“Stop playin’,” said Lyric.

“Seriously,” said Deseree. “Never be here alone.”

So that day, after the bell rang, Lyric was in the library working with the homecoming committee. She was so busy working she hadn’t noticed everyone was gone. Lyric jumped up and ran out the door. But then she remembered. Her jacket was still in there. So she ran back in to the locker room and grabbed her jacket. As she was about to leave, she noticed a duffel bag fill of money.

“Now you have to die,” said a voice.

She ran from the building and started towards home when she heard footsteps behind her.

Lyric made it all the way home, locked the door, and yelled, “Mom! Dad!” No one answered. She ran to the kitchen and found a note. It said, “Dear Lyric, We won’t be home for a few hours because we are working late. See you soon.”

"NOOOO!," thought Lyric, as she heard a loud scratching noise. She realized someone was cutting through the screen door. She ran upstairs to hide, as she heard him break the glass of the other door. She crawled under the bed and waited. Lyric looked out from under the bed and saw the ghost of the little girl holding her tongue in her hands. At that moment, the robber burst in and said, “Now you’ll end up just like she did.” He moved closer. Lyric’s parents came rushing into the room, catching a glimpse of the robber as he jumped out the window.

“What happened?” Asked Lyric’s parents.

Lyric said nothing. She never spoke again.

The end.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Six-word Scary Stories

We've done six-word memoirs. Tonight the Dream Keepers wrote six-word scary stories. Read and enjoy! (Then write and submit your own in the comment field!)

A vampire destroys the city with power. —Tramonta Garner (pictured above)

One virus. One town. No survivors. —Jaimee Bogard-LaMar, 14

One girl. Many monsters. What's next? —Jaimee Bogard-LaMar, 14

Big zombie eats eyeballs. City blind. —Elisha Branch, 14

One house. One family. Both gone. —Elisha Branch, 14

Knock, knock. Who's there? Killer mysterious. —Derranesha, 12

Baby cries. No answer. What happens? —Derranesha, 12

Ring, ring. "Hello." Please help me. —April, 12

The spooky monster ran towards me ... —Sonya, 17

The worm crawls into the brain. —Sierra

The slippery, slimy monster grabs two. —Quintoya Eskridge

Monday, October 19, 2009

Write a Job Description

Each week in October, the Dream Keepers have been meeting to write scary stories! None of those are quite ready to post yet. Until then, I thought I'd give you all an assignment. (That's what writing teachers do!)

When we met tonight, I put up a list of potentially scary creatures on the board. I didn't pay attention to the other writing on the board. Then one of the young people pointed out that it looked like the Census Office had jobs available for zombies, ghosts, goblins, and other creatures. Now that would be some job description! I'd love to read it.

And I can—if you write it. That's your assignment. Imagine that you are writing a job description for one of the above openings at the census office. If you like what you come up with, send it to me at rochelle@writenowcoach.com. I will post the best descriptions I receive!

Happy writing!


Dream Keeper Elisha Branch put together a couple of wonderful job postings:

Jobs Available
Vampires Only!!!
Black cape and fangs required (not included).
$200 paid for every bucket of blood gathered.
Tryouts Friday October 30th.
Must attend tryouts.
Must have an approachable appearance.
2201 W. Havenwood Drive Haven, WI 12345

Monsters Needed!
Do you have a freaky-looking face?
Do you have eight eyeballs?
Do you have two or more tails?

If you can say yes to any of the above questions,
you are eligible for a job as a model.
Only the extremely scary are accepted.

Tramonta Garner wrote this description:

Vampires have a job to scare kids and grow-ups for their own good. Just like monsters do. Goblins scare people by a haunted house. And zombies come from the dead to scare kids that are walking to and from the store at night.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Writing Tween and Teen

When we commit ourselves to writing for some part of each day we are happier, more enlightened, alive, lighthearted, and generous to everyone else. Even our health improves. —Brenda Ueland

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead.

Writing saved my childhood. I was a skinny girl who didn't fit in. Writing gave me power and purpose. Now that I'm an adult writing books, I know that writing has the power to transform not only our lives but our communities and the world.

Stop by on Monday afternoons this fall and claim your own writing power!

See you soon!


Monday, June 15, 2009

I Write To Change

Last week I was delighted to attend the graduation of Dream Keeper Elisha Branch from the Academy of Learning and Leadership Middle School in Milwaukee. In the above photo, Elisha is giving her Salutatorian Address. I am so proud of her. Read on for Elisha's latest poem and writings from some of the other Dream Keepers. Our theme for the day was, "I Write to Change." 

I Write To Change
by Elisha Branch

I write to change the lives of others,
I write to influence my sisters and brothers.
I write to change for the sake of us,
I write because I want and because I must.
I write to say, let's make this a great day.
I write because I have a lot to say.
I write to day and preach my word.
I write because I have a voice that needs to be heard.
I write to protect equalness.
I write to fight for what is just.
I write to protect justice and peace.
I write to protect—to keep your mind at ease.

I Write to Say
by Natalie Branch

What is this world coming to
I feel nothing but anger when I turn on the news—
Murders, robberies, and child abuse.
And not much good is coming from our youth.
Yeah, sometimes they show the thing we do that's a little right.
But followed right behind is a story about someone killed last night.
I can't take much more of this violence—
raising children in a world like this doesn't make sense.
I want my son's life to be worthwhile.
I don't want him growing up with false idols.
Rapper, gang banger, or a basketball player—
None of those things sound good on or off paper.
I want him to know that you have to work hard for a brighter future—
A big house and riches aren't just going to be handed to you.
These are valuable lessons to learn.
Not just for him but for everyone.
So for all of God's children both young and old—
Work hard to brighten your future and help save our world.

One of our Dream Keepers, a ten-year-old girl, lost her baby cousin to SIDs. After she told me about his death, I asked her to write about it. These are her words about what happened.

We Miss You!
by Trayvece

Meekel. A two-month old baby. Dead.
Meekel died a day after a wedding.
On a Sunday morning at 9:15.
Little Meekel found dead on his stomach,
His face got smothered on the bed.
His mom woke up 
because she thought her niece and nephews were making noise,
so she could tell them to stop before they woke him up.
But it was the angels giving the baby a party.
His face was purple and red. 
His mom put her ear to his mouth and no breathing was heard.
She put her ear to his heart. Nothing.
She started to tap him so he cold wake up. Nothing.
We Miss You!

I Like Monkeys
by Ashawn, age 7

I am going to the zoo
to visit monkeys.
Monkeys climb trees.
They eat bananas.
They say, "Ooh-ooh. Ahh-ahh."
When I see my monkey,
I will be happy.
Then I will go see more monkeys.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spring Dream Keeping

The Dream Keepers have had a busy spring. The high school Dream Keepers continue to work on advanced writing projects. Jacque Troy of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre visited us and presented a four-session playwriting workshop. At least two of the high school students finished plays and submitted them to Milwaukee Chamber Theatre One-Act Playwriting Festival. This is quite an achievement! 

The younger Dream Keepers group continues to grow. We attract a wide group of children each week—especially boys—who are interested in writing. Here are a few of the pieces the young people have created in the past two months.

by Robert

I am black and I'm proud.
I don't care what I am
Long as God's kind work together.
To be continued ...

by Trayvece

All I want is a dad who will
be there for me. Who would love me.
Who wouldn't forget my birthday.
And ask me is it a bad hair day.
Who would call me his little angel
sent from above and
tuck me into bed.
That's all I want.

by Kenneth

I am a tall giraffe walking the street.
I am a drum hitting to the beat.
When I'm tired, I go to sleep;
I hear the birds go tweet, tweet, tweet.

Summer is like ...
by Ashley, age 9

Summer is like a big ball of fun.
Sleep is a peace.
The moon is like a big night light.
Night is magic.
Day is drowsy.
Water is like a fountain of joy.
Time is priceless; you can't get enough.

Summer is like ...
by Kyle

Summer is like fire.
Sleep is like a break.
Time is like a slide when you can't stop.

Summer is ...
by Xavier

Summer is love. Spring
brings emotion. The heart 
beats back and forth to the
sounds of hummingbirds 
in the summer heat.

Urban Haiku
by Faith, age 9

Fight at school
Two boys punching each other
In the face. Big bump.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Madness

On Monday, the Dream Keepers had their own version of March Madness. The young people experienced difficulty concentrating. Still, in the midst of the giggles, a few words were set to paper. Enjoy!

Our newest Dream Keeper writer an I AM poem to introduce herself to you.

by Sydney Byrd

I am light skin

I am aware

I am a writer
 a basketball player
 a friend
 a daughter.

I am Sydney Byrd.

Dream Keeper Ruthie Matthew wrote about going to see the musical CATS with her family and friends.

by Ruthie Matthews, II

Lights appear on stage
As the dancers all appear
The crowd is restless

The music begins
And the first act is in play
The cats prance around

The various cats
Tell us about the main cats
Such as Barnabee.

Once we know the cats
The intermission begins
After the first act.

Fifteen minutes past
Everyone sits down at last
And the lights go out.

The cats come onstage
And the second act begins
As everyone claps.

After every song
The crowd offers up applause
Thanking the actors.

The second act ends
Ending the musical
Everyone liked it.

I grab all my things
And left with all of my friends
We were satisfied.

CATS was amazing
And the performance was nice
We all enjoyed it.

We went to my house
And we drank tea and coffee
Before they went home.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Writing With Pictures

Last Monday, the Dream Keepers were delighted to welcome guest speaker Keri Gerlach, Director of Marketing at Clement Manor, Inc. in Milwaukee. Keri is both a photographer and a writer. She brought beautiful framed photos and invited the young people to use them for inspiration. What fun we had!

The first group of writings comes from a photo of a tree's gnarled roots in spring, just before the earth has come back to life.

Around The Tree
by Lamar Hobson

I walk around a tree like three
times. It looks like darkness and
big as this tree is, I think if I touch him,
he going to eat me.

Everyone Has Roots
by Olivia Bell

Some people are like leaves, unstable, always moving with the wind. The season changes, they wither and die. They take and give shade under the harshness of the sun, but rarely do they stay all year long. In your time of need, the wind has taken them, and they will not return upon your calling.

Others are like branches on a tree. Little do they move with the wind or rain, but if you need a place to rest your head, they may break under your weight, and leave you hanging high and dry.

Some, very few, are the roots that help that tree live. When you find some roots, hold onto them. When the wind blows, they'll help anchor you to the ground. Don't let go.

Beneath the Big Tree
by Elisha Branch

Beneath the big tree is where I like to be
Where I hide and no one can see.
Beneath the big tree is where I run and flee
to be alone with no one just me.
I go to the tree and be and I don't know, sometimes I'll sleep
Beneath the big tree is just like me
I can tell it anything and my secrets will keep.
I go to the tree to think about what I could be
and look at myself and see what no one else sees
There is not place like the big tree
I can't go anywhere else because anywhere else doesn't want me.
One day I decided to leave the big tree 
And I saw boys and girls and they were all unhappy.
There was no protection and the world scared me
And just as she told me, I ran back to be with my friend beneath the big tree.

by Natalie Branch

As I gazed at the picture of this miraculous tree's roots, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed. This simple picture contained such detail without so much as making a sound. I remember thinking as I gazed at this picture, that roots are the foundation of life. Everyone wants to know where their genetic makeup comes from, and it all comes from their roots. No one comes about as they wish, for we all have an ancestor to blame or to thank for your traits. It's because of our roots that we have the blue eyes that we love or the hairy backs that we hate. But if it wasn't for roots we wouldn't be here today. From your roots you have grown into a full grown tree. Life comes from the roots through the tree right to the new leaves. Your roots go on forever, and not many know how far. Just live your life the best you can and pass your old and new roots to the next born star.

The next two pieces of writing were inspired by a picture of an island near Door County, Wisconsin. The island looked dark and gloomy under a heavily clouded sky.

Mystery Island
by Ashley Kinnard

It was a stormy night on mystery island. No one knew what it was really called because the myths said, "If anyone tried to find out the real name, they would be cursed forever. Also, their family members would be cursed." So this is why no one comes to mystery island.. But I am on mystery island because it is a good vacation area—not many people. Also, there is another myth that Black Beard left three wishes in his treasure chest of with all sorts of goods. So I have dug for two years. I hope Black Beard's ghost gives me the wishes. Finally, I hit something in the ground! A treasure chest! I am the luckiest girl in the world!

The Storm
by Kenneth W.

When I first saw the picture, it shocked me. Look how the clouds are and how dark they are. It's like it changes color. It seems a storm is coming. A big rain storm is coming. When the clouds get like that it means that something is going to happen. It might rain or snow or you might have a tornado. I wouldn't want to be there in it, because I don't want anything to happen to me.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learning Together

Tonight we had a small group of Dream Keepers writing and connecting. The younger students wrote acrostic poems. The high school students used headlines from popular magazines to write poems.  Natalie took a headline about Jessica Simpson to write her poem, She's Proud of Her Body. Before our hour was over, the High School students were delighted by a surprise visitor—Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor. State Senator Taylor encouraged the young people to work hard and send her their poems!

Both groups of students made it their mission to teach me about words and music. No matter which way you slice it, there's a lot of learning going on at Dream Keepers! If you know any young people who might be interested in writing, please send them to Atkinson Library on Monday nights.

Enjoy the poems,

She's Proud of Her Body
by Natalie Branch

She was used to society controlling her image.
They didn't care what she wanted or how she was feeling.
They knew what the buyers wanted to see.
They didn't know where the frustration would lead.
They did what they thought was best for her.
And so did she—by creating the new and improved her.
She's slightly larger and isn't the same.
Eye candy, but she couldn't be more fine and dandy.
She loves herself and isn't intimidated by anybody,
She is truly proud of her body.

by Ashley

Ice Cream
Too much
Honey Cakes
Ding Dongs
Too Sweet
All the sweets in the world
Raining Sweets
Too Loud
Yes! My present!

Pig Pen
by Lamar

P The pig is too fat.
I  I know they eat a lot.
G Gate gets crushed
P When Pigs fight each other
E Earthqquake
No food, no home, no pig pen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Visions and Dreams

The Dream Keepers has been on break since mid-December. We come back together on Monday to write and vision our next year of writing together. I'll be sure to let you know what we come up with! Until then, I wanted to share with you some of the poems and essays the Dream Keepers wrote in December. This work was written in response to essays we read in The Freedom Writers Diary. As you read the poems and essays, remember that most of these are not personal declarations but creative works. The students are using their imagination to create characters and situations. But we start with an essay from one of the students about our new president, Barack Obama.

Our President
by Gregory Byrd

Wow, finally a black president. I really do hope Mr. Obama makes a change in the society. The economy really needs work. I know that's President Obama's first job. I really worry people won't even listen to President Obama. I mean, like, the important stuff he is saying. Some people won't do their part. They did half by voting but it is not done yet. 
Global warming—that's also a big priority. You have to protect the earth. 
Violence. It is so sad—how people have no conscience. They do anything that comes to mind. The violence in American needs to go down. Also, in other countries. 
Drugs, I don't understand why there are drugs in America. If I was president, I would do something to make sure that no drugs get smuggled into America. 
I was listening to some music that really made me stop and think. The person said and I quote, "What the fu** would you bring my neighbor to jail, because the reason he live next door to me, ain't the reason why I live next door to him." That really made me stop and think. The topic he was talking about was drugs. He was talking about the jails are filled with drug dealers, but the streets are filled with sex offenders, rapists, serial killers, etc. He also said, "Meaning, he didn't rap his way to get to my neighborhood. He sold crack cocaine to get to my neighborhood. You move him out, bring him to jail for life. Then you move in a sex offenders and give me one of those papers." I really hope the President can fix that. Because we don't need rapists and people like that on streets where there are little children walking around. I don't get it, when they put a sex offender back on the street. That makes me really mad. 

Get Your Life Together
by Deanna Branch

You lie
You steal
And then you pass judgment on me.
Get your life together!

You make my mom cry
You make her stress
And then you hell her your "what's best."
Get your life together.

You drink
You cuss
You start arguments and fights
And then you try to make it right.
Get your life together!

You got a fake GED
You didn't go to college
So please stop tryin' to spit knowledge
Get your life together!

My mom says she loves you
You say you love her
So if you want to make it work
You have to
Get your life together!

The Hood
by Aliza Mendoza

We have different ways
to show who we are.
Tattoos, clothes, colors
even the glock I got strapped.
If you want respect
you got to go get it.
If one of us is in trouble
then it's all of us on the line.
We protect our own.
From injustice that people push on us.
You hear our sorrow
on the streets.
The screaming and crying.
We can't escape it,
even if we try.
They tell us to deal with 
this pain.
And we do
By protecting our own.
School won't help you.
It only slows you down.
Gotta make those stacks
to feed momma's kids.
We are remembered
When we protect our own.
As I run
I can hear my heart beat
"I can't get caught."
Can't risk losing time.
I spin around 
and squeezed my finger
on that cold 9 mm
Being in the game
It didn't phase me.
One cop went down, 
seeing his blood
paint the cement.
I ain't no killer.
Just tryin'
to protect my own.

You're Good If ...
by Elisha Branch

You're good if you're straight and 
you're bad if you're gay.
Why does it always have to be that way?
I don't care if I die or live another day.
Why does it have to be that way?
Children in detention center not seeing the light of day--
Why does it always have to be that way?
Parents yelling at children and not caring what they say.
Why does it always have to be that way?
Kids with nowhere to go so they just stay on the street and stray.
Why does it always have to be that way?
Gifted and talented brains sitting there waiting to decay.
Why does it always have to be that way.
So I'm just sitting there waiting on someone to say.
Why does it always have to be that way?
When our main problem is a failure to realize at the end of the day
That it doesn't always have to be that way.

by Aliza Mendoza

We wipe away
the sweat from our brow.
to the max.
The ache in our backs
matters not,
Only the check
we soon receive.
Day after day
night after night
everything seems the same.
Our work is tough
the pay is never fair
and we are the ones
who build this nation.
You give us breaks
and sometimes raises.
But for what?
To keep our mouths shut
about what you do.
You watch us with cameras
to record everything we do.
If something goes wrong.
It's not one of us.
Is it worth it?
Of course!
To feed our families
and keep us alive.
Don't worry, we won't talk
Just don't forget, without us
you're nothing.