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A Message from Gretchen
Dear Friends,

What a year!
In my corner of the world, our in-person workshops have resumed, and I’m so grateful for the time teachers have shared with me this fall. In everyone’s world, the weather is changing, the holidays are just ahead, and we’re learning more about the upcoming STAAR 2.0. What more could we ask?
(Okay, we could ask for a more functional Congress, fewer bullets in schools, pay raises, an end to the pandemic, less vitriol, more civility.)
It seems that the biggest takeaway with the TEKS is to teach students (and ourselves) to read like writers, and write for readers. To read materials that make an impact on you, and to notice the impact, and what created it. To write for other human beings, and to notice how they react when they hear your words.
When I think more about this, I realize that it’s literacy version of putting ourselves into the shoes of someone else. I feel a teacher’s sacred duty to teach this one thing to students, to practice it faithfully in every way possible. It’s the Golden Rule.
I like to remember something the Dalai Lama said, “As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings.” If you’re feeling stressed, give it a try during your morning moment of silence. Breathe in and cherish yourself, and breathe out and cherish all of those beings around you.  

New Text Structures for You

Here's a fall gift for you!

Text Structures to Use After Choosing a Favorite Line

Here’s how we use these structures:
  • After students read something, ask them to choose and write down a favorite phrase or line from the text.
  • Then let them choose one of the structures to retell their thinking as they were reading.
  • Then share.
  • It works best if they already know how to write kernel essays. 

New Grammar Keepers Resources

Have you visited the Trail of Breadcrumbs website lately?

Check out the latest addition to the Grammar Keepers resources:
  • Index of Grammatical Items
  • Grammar and Conventions TEKS Alignment

You Forgot My Birthday

Fourth grade teacher Tamara Dunn, created and shared this poem after reading Jimmy Santiago Baca’s “What I Have To Offer.”

Gretchen wanted to keep a copy of it and thought you would love it too.

I didn’t ask you to be my best friend
To be honest, I didn’t want to look in your direction.
I was bold and full of false persuasions
I didn’t ask you to be my best friend
Nonchalantly admiring your moral compass and carefree nature;
I soon found that I was parched and our relationship I savored
I didn’t ask you to be my best friend
But who am I without your voice in my head.
What could I possibly offer you that you haven’t given me ten times over.
I didn’t ask you to be my best friend, but at this moment,
I beg of you to keep me. I have nothing to give, but the memories of us I relish to relive

3 RGV Teacher-Poets

These three wonderful poems were shared at the workshop in McAllen.

I am offering my vulnerability to you.
Handle it with care. It's all I have left to give. 
Treat it like your grandma's fine china.
Although it is chipped in places and even cracked, it is not completely broken.
Follow the lines of its fragility and fine cracks like a map to my heart. 
Wrap it in your patience and understanding when it seems too delicate to appreciate. 
Treasure it, protect it, admire it because it's special and reserved for select few. 
It's slowly and gently been exposed for you like you're Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter all rolled into one.
It's a gift not easily given and even more difficult to receive. 
by Jodi-Beth Hazel


I am offering you the gift of listening. 
Use it to hear, to grow, to feel the world around you.
It is your weapon to become indestructible, 
to become a leader, 
to rise above when all else fails.
This gift is more valuable than most people think. 
It is a shield to protect you from failure,
humiliation, and the chaos of the world. 
Listen to your brain, your heart, your soul.
This is a gift for you to take wherever you may go. 
by Jessica Doan


I Give to You This Paper
To my little boy
With fire beneath his feet
Rollercoasters in his heart 
And angel wings on his fingertips
I give to you this paper
Free of words or any designs
Free of smudges or origami creases
Untouched by an artisan’s hand
I give to you this paper 
White as snow before a print
Empty and lonely on a barren tundra
For your youthful thoughts alone
I give to you this paper 
Because only you can make it glow
Only you can make paintbrushes and colors dance
And only you can wield within your hand
The magic you will put on paper
by Gwen Jean


Share Your Successes!

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