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A Message from Gretchen
Dear Friends,

You’ve been making lists, and checking them twice, shopping for school supplies and getting your rooms set up, anticipating those faces soon to be in your care. Even after you retire, this time of year fills your dreams with classroom scenes.  

As you launch into the year, trying to remember everything about your lessons plans, the new TEKS and STAAR, learning objectives and materials, here’s my thought for you:  trust your gut. You are someone’s son or daughter, someone’s sister or brother, someone’s wife, or friend, or uncle. Those roles in your own life have given you the most thorough, rich preparation for what you do in the classroom. 
Your own role in the life of every student is to help prepare them to navigate those roles in their own worlds. They will be stronger not because of the TEKS, but because of you. They will love learning not because of the objectives in the classroom, but because of their relationship with you. As you breathe in their energy, breathe out your wishes for them. Everything else will follow.

Have a wonderful year,

Grammar & Writing for the New STAAR

Coming to a Texas town near you!

Grammar and Writing for the New STAAR
October and November, 2022
McAllen, Hurst, Midland, New Braunfels, Houston

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.

Click here for more details and to register!

A Great Ba-Da-Bing to Start the Year Off

Fifth grade teachers in United ISD each wrote a sentence about one thing that happened while they were at lunch.
Ricardo Arizola wrote this.
Before: I picked my kids up from school.
After: As I exited my vehicle, I felt the scorching gravel through my shoes. When I turned the corner of my vehicle, I looked through the glare of the sun, through the chain link fence. I saw my beautiful daughter waving hello. I couldn’t help but think, it’s totally worth it if I’m late.

Getting Started on the Right Foot: Setting Up Journals

Getting ready to set up this year’s writing journal and have students set theirs up with you?

Here’s some help for setting up a journal, at least one way.

Keep It REAL - Lessons You Can Use!

Brilliant Austin teacher Ken Light is working to share something he does with his classes. He has the students build a creed for their classroom at the beginning of the year, and then they use that creed as a lens to look at literature and so many other texts throughout the year. It’s brilliant, and it connects our own senses of human respect and citizen-skills with all of the content areas. And since the students generate it, they are more invested in using it to measure other characters, people in history, the works.
If you’re interested in seeing his lessons, or even piloting them, let him know. Here’s his playlist and contact information!

New Favorite (a student poem)

Thanks to Glenna Edgin from Grape Creek ISD for sharing this poem with us!
It was written by a 7th grader inspired by Anne Bradstreet's "From an Author to her Book" (in Text Structures from Poetry).

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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