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A Message from Gretchen
Dear Friends,

Thanksgiving is almost here, and we do have plenty of reasons for gratitude. As you work with your colleagues and young ones, we have a few little jewels to share with you.
First, we’re deeply happy to make available, at long last, a comprehensive Spanish-language resource, ¡Ándale ya! by Maureen Uclés. It’s massive and includes 27 weeks of everything you’d need in a fourth-grade dual language classroom:  composition, grammar, spelling. Maureen has translated my lessons from multiple books and planned out a meticulous course of study, and now it’s out there for anyone who wants it. You can order it from QEP Books. (Maureen is working on the all-English version, soon out.)
Our second string of jewels are the new-TEKS alignment documents created by Gina Graham for several books: Text Structures from Poetry (before it’s even out!), Grammar Keepers, and Text Structures from Fairy Tales. If you’re wondering how to weave reading and writing together, you’ll be as astounded as I was to read the TEKS covered in any lesson in any of these books. It gives us confidence to know that we’re doing just what we are supposed to be doing, with genuine reading and writing, and no worksheets or fill-in-the-blank, empty, fake-learning packets. 
And that takes us to the Lorrie Payne West Texas pump jack poem. She wrote this poem while we did the lesson using Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud.” It’s beautiful and surprising, don’t you think?
Also, if you dare visit the world of the pre-K teacher, you’ll see masterful Paul Erickson’s adventures with structures and story-building. He’s an inspiration, showing us that everyone needs good stories, and we also need to make them.
Last, I hope you will put November 1-3, 2020 on your calendar for next year’s “Teach Rhymes with Beach” conference at Port Aransas. It was so much fun this year – next year I’m going early and staying late. Kudos to Melanie Mayer and her team for whomping up such a fun, uplifting, enriching experience. 
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
A New Book
We are thrilled to announce that ¡Ándale Ya! Let’s Go! is now available from QEP books. Trail of Breadcrumbs teacher/trainer/author extraordinaire, Maureen Uclés, has put together a detailed and dynamic blueprint for the fourth-grade bilingual classroom. There are 27 weeks of daily lessons that include grammar, spelling, and composition.

A New Resource

Text Structures from Poetry is coming soon! And we’ve already posted the TEKS Alignment document for the book. Thanks to the thoughtful work of the lovely Gina Graham, this quick and easy reference highlights the TEKS addressed by each and every lesson in the book.

A Poem to Share

The Lone Pump Jack

Driving early in the morn,
leaving Midland and my love,
I saw in silhouette against the sky—
indigo, pink and orange—
a pump jack dark as coal.
It stood out, stark and black,
and though so many pumps dot the land,
this one is a world all its own,
a thing of beauty, quiet
amid the traffic and the noise.
I wanted to drink it in.
I keep that road hot, driving
through dusk or morning’s first light,
thinking not of the boring land,
but of a lone pump jack dark as night.

poem and photo by Lorrie Payne

This poem was inspired by Text Structures from Poetry, Lesson 49 using Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” as a mentor text. Here’s the lesson and the mentor poem.


A Lesson Idea

Paul Erickson, a Pre-K teacher in Killeen, has knocked our socks off! He has his students respond to a story, then explore a thematic idea, and finally create a group story. Here’s how he describes the process:
When planning for the read aloud, I looked at a good thematic question that I could ask the class. Then, I went through the original text structures comic pages, and found one that fit the question. We read the story twice, and had a discussion circle about it, and then on the fourth day I posed the question. I used the text structures to help the students answer the question, and wrote their responses. I then took their responses and wove it into the narrative.
Want to see what that would look like in the classroom?
Here’s an example:

They read “Sleeping Beauty” and then Paul looked through the text structure comic book pages to find a good structure to use. He chose the “Work Moment” structure to think about how the thirteenth fairy would have felt to be left out of the feast. The structure helps students further their understanding through their conversation. Paul wrote down the children's responses. He took words and phrases from all their responses and wove together a story for the classroom, recording it to put in the listening center.

Wouldn’t you love to see those children as they hear their teacher’s voice telling the story they helped to create? 

Here’s a link to the thirteenth-fairy story his class all had a hand in creating.


An Invitation

We would love to share your writing and your lesson ideas with the Trail of Breadcrumbs teacher community! Please send them to us at
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