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A Message from Gretchen
Dear Friends,

This morning marks twenty years since publication of my first book, Why We Must Run with Scissors, co-authored and published by Barry Lane and his Discover Writing Company. Of course it doesn’t feel possible that two decades have passed by since then, but that’s how they fly. If you bring your copy of this book to one of the fall workshops, I will have a prize for you. It won’t be champagne, but it feels like it should be! 

Now, to the future! STAAR 2.0 is rolling down the mountain, and we have some new strategies for you. Jayne Hover and Judi Reimer and I have been reshaping the book we’ve been working on since before the pandemic, Text Structures from Fables. I cannot wait to show you some head-slapping epiphanies we have been experiencing as we’ve been weaving writing and reading together. Text-based essays and short-answer questions? We will share some concrete, stress-free ways to build students’ foundational skills, while aiming towards assessment success. The most game-changing aspects of all of these strategies is the talking-and-listening practice throughout, and how those two are tied to the hats we wear as writers and readers. 

I’m also pleased to share the news that a short course in kernel essays is available now through the TCEA web site! It’s inexpensive, asynchronous, and packed full. I hope you’ll share it with anyone who cannot come to a workshop.  

Enjoy this cool weather and stay safe.


Fall Workshops Are Here!

This workshop will deliver concrete strategies to get your students writing in response to reading, with special emphasis on short-answer questions expected on the new STAAR. This two-day session will weave between grammar, writing and reading across the curriculum, using materials Gretchen has authored and adapted from STAAR released tests and live student STAAR essays.

Hurst: October 5 - 6
McAllen: October 18 - 19
Midland: October 25 - 26
New Braunfels: November 3-4
Houston: November 10-11

Click here for details and tickets.

Kernel Essays for Writing & Reading

Check out the new self-paced online course!

The purpose of this course is to provide you with innovative, concrete tools to use for both reading and writing, tools which work with any style of teaching, from all-digital to paper-pencil. Guided by the foundation beliefs of the National Writing Project and informed by the work of literacy leaders and research in best practices, Gretchen Bernabei offers you tried-and-true methods that take the mystery out of powerful writing and in-depth reading.

Click here for details and to register.

Unsent Messages
TEKS Correspondence

Are you and your students writing "Unsent Messages" this fall?

Here's the TEKS correspondence document for your planning purposes.

You can access the Unsent Messages activities on our website:


Celebrating GLOW

This summer we were stunned by these poems about Marie Curie, the Radium Girls, and radioactivity. Now the book is launching, and Ann Hudson is reading her work. We’re all invited to the virtual release party!

Register for the event here.

About GLOW:  
Glow investigates the mystery of radium: the vision of Marie Curie who discovered it through labor and sheer will; its rise to fame as a health craze; the critically important work it did for the medical field; and its widespread use in luminescent paint which made watches glow in the dark. But Glow is also an investigation into what makes us tick, our curiosities, ambition, and our sense of purposeful work. These poems explore how one luminous substance -- the hunt for it, the search for its secrets and powers -- can be understood as a life force of its own, even as it has the power to whittle that life force to nothing. These poems show radium as destructive as it is illuminating.

Share Your Successes!

We would love to feature your work and the work of your students in our next newsletter! Please send your success stories to us at
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