Thank You, Longfellow

By IYWP Mentor Taryen Lannutti

Imagine almost twenty students stuff their face with pizza, eating each slice so fast it’s almost a magic trick. It was really quite funny. Our last lesson at Longfellow was a humorous reading party. We ate pizza while each student read their favorite work from this semester’s anthologies and as our final day at Longfellow came to a close; I began to think about the time I have spent with these wonderful writers.

The fall semester of 2015 was not a semester I particularly looking forward. Not for any negative reasons, but I had a full class load which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but these classes were not exactly courses I was looking forward to. I decided to keep my sanity I would sign up for a class I would enjoy, writing with a purpose. This class was recommended to me by a friend who endlessly talked about a group of young writers she worked with every week. She spent most her time thinking about lessons and talking about how wonderful the kids at her site were. She had convinced me this class would be a class that was worth trying. “It can be challenging, but it’s totally worth it,” she said repeatedly. Before I knew it my first day at Longfellow Elementary and I had no idea what I was in for. We walked into the LMC and were quickly greeted by very eager kids. Then something strange happened, I blinked, and two semesters with them flew by. The past year I’ve spent with the Longfellow writing club has been the best. I know a lot of people say that, “I volunteer with blah… blah… blah… and it’s the most amazing experience you will ever have,” but they are so wrong because I can with out a doubt say that volunteering with the IYWP has been the most amazing experience I have ever had and I don’t think there’s really topping that. I have learned an incredible amount about myself, my future career, and the importance of creativity while writing. I have never met a group of kids more imaginative and expressive as these kids. I also have had the great pleasure of volunteering among a wonderful group of peers who are just as talented and imitative as the students we mentor. I want nothing more than to peek into these kids future lives to see the amazing things they will inevitably do, that’s how invested we have all become. We love these kids and the few that are leaving for Jr. High will be incredibly missed because what’s writing club without every single one of these kids? I honestly have no idea, but what I do know is that I want to continue my time at Longfellow. I’m not ready to leave them just yet. There are so many stories I want to hear from them, Poems I want to be impressed by, and plays I want to workshop with them. I have so much gratitude for the IYWP for creating such a unique organization that adds such imagination to our community. I also am so thankful for every Longfellow kid who has unknowingly made every volunteer’s semester enjoyable while simultaneously showing us how we can strengthen our own writing as well.


There are a group of Longfellow writers that are leaving for Jr. High, when asked what they will miss about writing club this is what Sully, a writer extraordinaire, said, “I’ll miss a cool place to express my ideas to others. Well, that’s the meaningful reason, but really I’m going to miss this pizza.” Sully is quite the jokester. His thought provoking work was also quite popular during our anthology reading. I’d like to end this semester with a poem he wrote.

Once I Had a Midnight Dream

by Sullivan

Once I had a midnight dream
It was strange, as most dreams seem
It left me in a blackened daze
In my eyes, a colored haze
That no one else but I could see
An array of paints all owned by me Green just like a fresh cut lawn
A red sun at the crack of dawn
Black smothered across the sky
Yellow as a firefly
Trees were floating in the air
Fish were flopping everywhere
An icy gust whips past my face
I got attacked by my shoelace
The dream just kept getting more weird I even began to grow a beard
An ugly bird
A fresh cut lawn
What in the world did I do wrong
A heavy lull
A booger knife
What’s the meaning of my life
I can’t stop
spinning spinning spinning
spinning spinning
I finally wake up in my bed
Honestly I’m filled with dread
I’m relieved that the dream has died

Until I see a floating tree outside.

Growing Writers II

By IYWP Mentor at Longfellow Elementary Taryen Lannutti

Remember the story about a girl who meets her clone? This is a continuation of Ordinary Life by Eliza. To read the first half just click on the Growing Writers blog post. Now, Eliza is still eagerly writing this story, but here is an update!

Ordinary Life By: Eliza

When I researched 7th Ave and she wasn’t there I knew it was not a big deal. But where would I find her? I finally found her I asked her name.

“Alina, that’s my name,” She said. I knew it could be a big coincidence, but still!

“Got to go…” I said. She started to walk in front of me, phew! I crept behind her and snipped her hair. I carefully put it in the zip lock baggie. I began to run faster than my sneakers have ever let me before! That was so close! When I got home I gave the hair to Erin.

“What took you so long!?” She asked. It was not an easy task…

“What are you going to do with it?”

“There is this thing called a microscope…” she kept talking and when she was finally done we walked out of her room and she took my hair and her hair and started looking at them closely.

“What. Are. You. Doing?”

“I am combining your hair with hers, putting them into a test tube, so I can see if there will be a chemical reaction, duh!” she answered

“Do you see anything?” I whispered, glaring at her. “It’s not going to work!”

“Just wait, I need her fingerprint…” she said. How was I supposed to get that?

“Fine.” I answered and walked down stairs to the door.

“What are you up to, honey?” My mom caught me…

“Nothing. Why? What have you heard?” I snapped.

“Nothing, honey. I have to go run an errand.” Finally… My mom left. I decided to empty my backpack and grab a notebook, pencil, ink pad, and more paper. I walked out of the house in search for the girl.


To Be Continued. After all, a writer is always writing.

The Show Must Go On!

By IYWP Mentor at Longfellow Elementary Taryen Lannutti

What happens when toys come to life, a prophesy is told, and an evil witch tries to steal your magic? Last Friday the students at Longfellow found out! Our Playwriting unit ended with each group preforming their creative work. Every groups play shined with the immense effort the writers put in! It’s hard to describe how proud each and every person felt at the end of the session. You could hear it in each powerful applause after a group performed. The play writing unit is a beloved repeated unit every semester at Longfellow, one the students enjoy just as much as the volunteers. When the students get together and write collaboratively each result becomes so different than one another. We had three amazing and very different plays. As a volunteer I often worry that because most the kids have similar interests that the plays will reflect that, but they never cease to amaze me. These kids are filled with endless ideas that are so original from one another. My greatest hope for them is to never lose that. With the plays being over, and the last lesson approaching I find myself wondering where the time went this semester, but I know the show must go on.


The cast and writers of Daydream, a play about an evil which nightmare becoming a daydream.


The cast and writers of The Prophesy, a play about two kids and a mine on a journey to learn their truth.


The cast and writers of The Flight of the Toys, a play that describes what happens when toys come to life and get help from a young boy.


Friday Night Writes

By IYWP Mentor at Longfellow Elementary Taryen Lannutti

I often get the question, “What do you do at writing club?” A question that is harder to answer than you might think. Simply put, we write. We write a lot actually, but people are never satisfied with that answer. I think they expect something more, which is fair because it’s a lot more than writing. These kids build friendships with other writers and volunteers. They learn to challenge themselves, and so much more. So,I decided to explain what we do on Fridays in the most fitting way I could think of, a poem.

On Friday Nights, we Write!

On Friday nights we write.

We write to let people know

how we think, feel, and dream.

We write to escape

into magical worlds with endless adventures.

We write to create

characters that are just as real to us as anyone else.

We write to laugh

at the crazy things those characters do.

We write to inspire

our friends and our foes.

We write to fight

the unfairness we come across.

We write to challenge

our limits, our minds, our goals.

We write to hope

that one day our stories will change how the world thinks,

but most importantly on Friday nights we write because we love it

and we couldn’t imagine a world without it.


Lights, Cameras, Action!

By IYWP Mentor at Longfellow Elementary Taryen Lannutti

It’s that time of the semester again. Writing club gets into character for the Longfellow plays! Every semester the IYWP volunteers work with the writers to develop play scripts, practice them, and perform them for the afterschool program and their parents. I know I am not supposed to show any favoritism, but this is always my favorite lesson. The students get so involved in the creative process. Their faces light up with ideas and love each time we work on plays. They take such a unique writing process and literally bring it to life. This last Friday I had the chance to walk around to all the different play groups and to no surprise each group had such different and imaginative ideas for their plays. Groups have plot lines including magical realms with evil queens called Nightmare to aliens on that come from very different home planets. I am eager to see how each group brings their characters to life in a few weeks.


Learning from Longfellow

By IYWP Mentor Taryen Lannutti
Writing for me has always been a hobby that processing life and nothing much more than that. It was never a hobby that I really pursued. I chose to go into the Education Program. Creative writing never really fit into my mind set. I have always enjoyed the classroom and heard about the work that the IYWP was doing through another volunteer. I decided to give it a try, after all I love teaching and you can never get to much pre-teaching experience. Last semester was my Longfellow experience and let me tell you, these kids are nothing less than amazing. Their writing inspires not only me, but every other volunteer that works with them. Their writing has the ability to take you on journeys into magical worlds, think about the unimaginable, and leave long lasting impressions. That is why I continued to volunteer this semester. Longfellow has taught me to enjoy writing again. Not only did they remind me how wonderful writing is, but how important creativity is in our everyday lives. My time at Longfellow has ensured me that when I become a teacher I will do everything in my power to incorporate creativity that could flow into their writing. I’ll leave you with an example of some creative Longfellow work.

I feel…

By: Nina


I am silly, goofy, dilly, so write me a poem

I am sad, crying, and teary so write me a poem

I am scared, fearing all the above so write me a poem

I am excited, joyful, fun filled so write me a poem

I am bored, gray, and silent so write me a poem

I am upset, angry, and mad so write me a poem

I am everything so write me a poem.


Growing Writers

By IYWP Mentor at Longfellow Elementary Taryen Lannutti

What would you do if you ran into a clone of yourself on the street? Could you even imagine that? Eliza, an avid writing club member pondered this thought, and the result was something special.My favorite part of writing club is getting to watch the young writers grow. Every single student’s writing develops in a remarkable way from their time with the IYWP and Eliza’s story is a great example of that.

My name is Alina, I am ten years old and I have an ordinary, boring life. Until something happened to spice it up! So, I was walking home from school when I reached 7th avenue. I bumped into… myself? “Hey watch where you are goo…. Wow you look really familiar.” I said. She just started at me. It was beginning to get kind of creepy. So, I just walking quickly in the opposite direction she was in. I decided to take the long way home. Don’t judge me I was a little afraid she might start following me. When I started to get close to my house I started thinking that the girl who looked exactly like me… could actually be me? We looked just like identical twins, only more than identical. I looked on the internet and searched this crazy question, “is it possible to have a clone of yourself?” After my research I found my answer “IMPOSSIBLE.” Are you kidding me? I was getting nervous, until I found tiny print on one page. “There is a one percent page chance of this occurring.” That made me feel better.

I decided to tell my science nerd sister.

“mhmmm, oh I see, okay….” She replied. “Hand me some of your hair.”

“What?! Why?” I asked

“Duh, because I have to test it…”

“um… okay?” She’s weird.

“I have a mission for you, “she said.

“Let me guess, you want me to get her hair?” I asked

“Exactly.” She answered

“Called it.” I whispered to myself.

I left my house with scissors and a zip lock bag determined to find her.


In case you were worried, don’t. I will keep you updated on Eliza’s ongoing story as it develops.