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A Message from Gretchen

Dear Friends,

This school year is almost over, and there’s so much change in the air. We’ve been working hard on getting some help ready for teachers and students preparing for the new STAAR, and I’m happy to say that the new fables book is in the hands of our Corwin friends now. We’ll have it next fall. Thank you to all of those of you who helped us think through the strategies, who tried out ideas, who contributed writing, and who sent us permission forms to print your students’ work.  

Some of that work is already available on YouTube, in the form of the videos I recorded for the TCEA course (details below). You’re welcome to it!

We send a huge thank you to our friend Glenna Edgin, whose principal asked her to give some thought to helping the content-area teachers who are increasing their student writing.  She combed through over a hundred text structures and grouped them, and we thank her for sharing that work.  It’s now available for everyone, both below and on the Trail web site.

Last, a quick shout-out to Honor Moorman, whose deep grounding in education is matched by her savvy with the digital world. We appreciate your abilities to keep our family of teachers informed by tending to our website and newsletter.  

Until TEA sends us some results of the field testing, we won’t know what a high-scoring STAAR writing will look like. We do know what good writing looks like, we know what good discussions sound like, but we don’t know what TEA’s going to come up with on the next quirky iteration of student assessment. The moment they release some high-scoring answers to field-tested questions, we’ll be on it, and we’ll share our deconstructions immediately.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers, and to the mothers of all of you!


Got Questions? Ask Away!

Do you have a question you'd like to ask Gretchen? You can send your question by email to

All questions will be answered and many will be added to the new FAQ page on the website. We may even feature your question here in the newsletter!

Here's an example . . .

Do you still have Lightning in a Bottle available? I can’t find my copy, and I really liked using those visual prompts.

You and I must go way, way back! The visual prompts on the CD are still so useful, but technology has changed so rapidly! I remember when I first created the CD, it was a novel idea — we had been using overhead transparencies with those images. And now, most computers don’t even have a CD drive on them!

So I decided to put all of the content on my web site, downloadable for free. We separated the slides into different collections. Several of the collections are here, and all of the “major works” collections are here. That way, you can download, take screen shots, share at will. The only think I ask people not to do is re-sell them on TpT.   

Let me know if you have any trouble with this. I still love them.

Free Video Playlist from Gretchen's Online Course

Looking for new ways to help your students write in response to their reading? We have a new video playlist featuring a variety of ideas for using text structures to do just that!

These videos are from Gretchen's online course Kernel Essays for Writing and Reading, available from TCEA.

Here's what participants are saying:
  • I really enjoyed the short videos. I own all of the books, so the videos were a great overview and introduction to the materials and lessons provided in the books.
  • This course gave me a whole new outlook on teaching writing skills and practices.
  • Fantastic training to help create great writers within your classroom!
  • I LOVED IT!!!
  • Great practical writing strategies and mini lessons that are flexible and a compliment to both reading and writing.
  • This course was comprehensive without overloading you with too much information.

Useful Text Structures for the Content Areas

Our friend Glenna Edgin has organized some text structures useful for the content areas. Click here and scroll down for her collections for Math, Science, Social Studies, and Electives, which you can download, share with colleagues, and use with your students.

Join Us This Summer!
STAAR Intensive: Reading and Writing with Both Hands

New Braunfels Convention Center
July 25 - July 28, 2022 | 8:00 am - 2:30 pm

This workshop will weave between grammar, writing and reading across the curriculum, preparing teachers for integrated, authentic instruction.
Who is it for?
This four-day session would benefit anyone who works in staff development with other teachers OR teachers who would like to receive a more thorough training in the work of Gretchen Bernabei. It will focus on kid-centered, healthy, authentic strategies, spanning all TEKS strands while containing serious STAAR preparation.

For every grade of writing, 3-12.

Click here for more details and to register.

Share Your Successes!

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

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