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After-School Programs


TMWFI! After School: Brave Writers at Bret Harte

This year "Take My Word For It!" began a partnership with Oakland Leaf to create an After School Writers' Workshop for Bret Harte students. The students are embracing their creativity, taking some risks with their writing and writing here, there and everywhere.

To learn more about Oakland Leaf and their important community work check out their website.




Ascend Oakland: "I am from here and I am from there"

Our students at Ascend Elementary School in Oakland wrote and performed this group poem as part of December's Expo. Thanks to Oakland Leaf for running this great after-school program and for giving us the opportunity to work with these young writers!  (Note: The bold text at the beginning and end of the poem was said together as a group.)

Soy de aquí y soy de allá.

I am from here and I am from there.

 1. (Briceyda)

I am from a place where there is a lot of music

My mom is from Mexico and my dad is from Mexico too

Where there is lightning that turns the sky bright


2. (Sarah)

I am from Oakland.

My family is from Guatemala.

I am from the taste of lemons.


3. (Shantal)

I am from the game of tag and basketball

And from arts and crafts,

From calm music

Y pepinos con sal, limon, y chile


4. (Marlyn)

Soy de Oakland.

Soy de arte.

Mis padres son de Guatemala.

Me gusta el color verde.


5. (Lucas)

I am from a green house with bright colors:

Red, blue, white, brown, and pink.

We all live together:

Mom, dad, brother, sister, and grandma.


6.  (Xochitl)

I am from Oakland.

I am from my sister’s bedroom.

We came from a turquoise house.


7. (D’angelo)

I am from a blue house with lots of toys

My dad is from Honduras

My mom is from California

And we all love each other


8. (Amy)

Soy de Oakland California

My mom and dad are from Mexico

Se movieron en una brown house

Y después en una rosita casita


9. (Keyla)

I am from the sun.

My house is as bright as a rainbow.


10. (Nagely)

I am from Oakland.

My family is from El Salvador.

My niece is from El Salvador and Mexico.

The colors of El Salvador are Blue and White.

The colors of Mexico are red, white, and green.


11. (Karen)

Soy de Guatemala

Where the flag is blue and white.

Soy de Oakland

Where there are lots of buildings.

Soy de Ascend

Where there are many classes and kids. 


We are from here and we are from there.

Somos de aquí y somos de allá.

¡Somos Ascend!



Read It Here First: Bret Harte After School Expo

This semester we have been treated to some powerful writing by our students at Bret Harte in Oakland.  The student pieces have been thought provoking and well written.

Below are four pieces that were presented at the Bret Harte After School Expo. They just might convince you that we should let the children rule the world, at least for a little while.

Poem: "If I ruled the world" by Dustin

Opinion Writing: "Am I free or not?" by Ethan

Free Write: "Restriction and Liberation" by Calvin

Opinion Writing: "Are humans a virus on Earth?" by Steven


Creative to the Core at Madera Elementary!


Creative to the Core at Madera Elementary!

This fall at Madera Elementary in the East Bay, we were “Creative to the Core,” learning about different kinds of writing in really fun ways while supporting California Common Core State Standards. Our eight weeks flew by like a rocket and were as fun as a waterslide in August. (Can you tell that we covered similes?)

From humorous how-to instructions to persuasive opinion pieces to good old-fashioned narratives, these third- and fourth-grade students wrote up a storm. Inspired by poetry, pictures, and each other, they came up with quite a range of work. Here are just a few of the topics we explored either as a class or individually:

·       Should parents limit kids’ screen time?

·       The pros & cons of starting the school day later

·       What would happen if gummy bears started flowing from the kitchen faucet?

·       Writing from the perspective of a turtle

·       Dogs in scuba gear

In addition to individual projects, we also created group stories, challenged ourselves to write a paragraph without the letter “t” (that still makes sense!), and practiced active listening while classmates shared.

We wrote a lot, read a lot, and laughed a lot. Could there be anything better?



Next Chapter Club - Spring Has Sprung, Again!

We are proud to share the next installment of 'Spring Has Sprung' by Charlotte, a member of our Next Chapter Club.  This piece is a great example of how vivid and beautiful imagery can really enhance a story.

Spring Has Sprung! 

I flew as fast as my floral-scented gales could carry me, out of the falling fire-toned leaves, over beaches and sunny fields, and landed with a feeling of intense satisfaction. Nestling my wispy, small body into the blossoms on the biggest cherry tree I had blessed with Springtime, I giggled evilly. Clutched in my arms was a small burlap sack of apples. It was one of Autumn's magic items, for the tiny sack represented all of the apples in the world, the apples of Autumn. But now, apples were no longer hers. In fact, plump, crisp globes of fruit were beginning to pop up upon the usually barren apple trees, looking out of place among the tiny, pale green leaves. I bit into one and the tart, juicy flavor filled my mouth. It was perfectly ripe and delicious. But the best part? It was mine now!

t had been easy, really, stealing the apples. Summer was definitely the dumbest of the four of us, but Autumn wasn't the brightest, either. It was simply a matter of slipping through the window of her hut while she was busy painting leaves outside, charming open her enchanted wooden chest with a few simple birdsongs, grabbing the apples, and flying back home. 

My gleeful thoughts were interrupted by a sudden, harsh stream of air so cold that it dusted the petals on the tree with glittering crystals of ice. I shivered, and my normally cheerful face darkened. "What do you want, Winter?"

The young, beautiful girl clad in many swathes of translucent fabric raised her slender eyebrows. "Autumn's thrown an absolute fit. Turns out someone stole her precious apples." Her milky eyes dropped to my hands, and a sick feeling churned in my stomach as a smug smile began to dominate her pale face. The sack of apples was still resting on my palms. "And I think I've found the culprit," she finished.

She grabbed my wrist brosquely, her bluish hair falling forward to reveal a pair of abnormally large, pointed ears, and in that moment it was perfectly clear to me what she was inside; a devilish demon with a heart of ice, that had no hope of melting anytime soon. "You're coming with me," she hissed. "The Faerie Board will be very happy to know the identity of the thief." 

Her wings fluttered so fiercely that I was wrenched off my feet and had no other choice but to follow her as she flew faster and faster beyond the realms of the Four Seasons.