NEW! Text Structures from Poetry, Grades 4-12

Lessons to Help Students Read, Analyze, and Create Poems They Will Remember

by Gretchen Bernabei and poet, Laura Van Prooyen

Centered around 50 classroom-proven lesson and poem pairs, the mentor texts represent a broad range of voices in contemporary poetry and the canon. These unique and engaging lessons show educators how to “pop the hood” on a poem to discover what makes it work, using text structures to unlock the engine of a poem.  This method enables educators to engage students in reading and re-reading a poem closely, to identify how the parts of the poem relate to each other to create movement, and to leverage what they have learned to write their own evocative poems.

Each of the 50 lessons includes a mentor poem that serves as an excellent model for young writers, a diagram that illustrates the text structure of the poem, and several inspiring examples of student poems written to emulate the mentor poem. Easy-to-use instructional resources enhance instructor and student understanding and include:

  • Teaching notes for unlocking the text structure of a poem and the engine that makes it work.
  • Tips for exploring rhyme scheme, meter, and fixed forms.
  • Instructional sequences that vary the ways students can read and write poems and other prose forms.
  • Ideas for revising and publishing student poems.
  • A “Meet the Contemporary Authors” section that includes fascinating messages from the contemporary poets.

Teach your students to learn about poetry using the magic of poems themselves and lead the way to a rewarding love of poetry for teachers and students alike.


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Glossary of Poetic Terms

A glossary of terms plus quick reference guide for which poetic devices are addressed in which lessons.

Download the Glossary of Poetic Terms here for free!

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¡ANDALE YA! LET’S GO! by Maureen Uclés

Two-volume 27-week Curriculum Guide by Maureen Uclés, written in English and Spanish for a dual language/bilingual classroom.

Year-long Grammar, Spelling and Composition for the Fourth Grade Dual Language or ELL Classroom.

Applicationes prácticas para la instructión d la grammática, ortografia y composición en el aula bilingϋe de cuarto grado.

Aligned with the most recent state standards, ¡Andale Ya! Let’s Go! is a complete curriculum guide for fourth grade bilingual Spanish writing classrooms. Based on the work of Gretchen Bernabei, the author, Maureen Uclés, wrote this program for her own bilingual classroom.

Even though this guide is designed for the 4th grade classroom, ¡Andale Ya! can be easily adjusted to use in grades 3 through 8. This resource:

  • gives an overview of what needs to be taught
  • is broken down into week-long lessons and student practice pages
  • includes daily Spanish and English grammar, spelling, and composition for 27 weeks
  • also prepares students to take Spanish or English Writing standardized tests
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Text Structures from Fairy Tales

Truisms That Help Students Write About Abstract Concepts and Live Happily Ever After

by Gretchen Bernabei and Judi Reimer

Centered on classic fairy tales and designed for students grades 4-12, each lesson contains a writing prompt accompanied by a planning framework. Students write a truism, select or create a text structure, and write a kernel essay based on an abstract concept. Students move from depending on teacher guidance to becoming self-regulated analytical writers.

  • In-depth use of truisms, text structures, and kernel essays for scaffolding
  • Strategies for students to expand ideas into detailed, rich essays with abstract concepts
  • Ways for students to create and customize text structures for individual student needs
  • Adapt each fairy tale lesson for reading, for writing, or for both
  • Teacher- and student-friendly layout, built-in flexibility, and an abundance of additional resources
  • Ideal lessons for effective test preparation
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Prompts for 4th Grade from Text Structures from Fairy Tales

When looking at Text Structures from Fairy Tales, fourth grade teachers need not despair: “Prompts using abstract concepts? But what about for fourth grade?”

Here are all the prompts from the fairy tale book, tweaked into prompts that are more concrete, more like what the grade 4 STAAR prompts would look like.

Download the Text Structures from Fairy Tales Prompts for 4th Grade here for free!

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Text Structures From Nursery Rhymes (2018)

Teaching Reading and Writing to Young Children

It’s one of education’s greatest challenges: How do we shape our youngest students, who often are just learning how to hold a pencil, into capable writers within the span of a single school year? Text Structures from Nursery Rhymes offers the solution: a clear and actionable framework for guiding young students to write successfully in any style, from narrative to descriptive to persuasive.

This groundbreaking book provides 53 lessons, each centered around a classic nursery rhyme, and all the tools you’ll need to

  • Capitalize on the story’s rhythm and rhyme to make an instant connection with your students
  • Convey the story’s text structure using the lesson’s whimsical illustrations, providing a visual model that resonates with children
  • Lead the classroom in creating new stories — in words, pictures, or both — utilizing the text structure you’ve defined
  • Put each nursery rhyme to work as a springboard for important language-arts topics
  • Fine-tune your approach at every step based on your preferred teaching style and students’ progress
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Text Structures from the Masters (2016)

Gretchen Bernabei and Jennifer Koppe provide 50 short texts by famous Americans who put pen to paper driven by what Peter Elbow described as “an itch” to say something. The book includes Sojourner Truth’s Speech (itch: join a heated debate), FDR’s Pearl Harbor message (itch: pick up the pieces), JFK’s inaugural address (itch: give a pep talk) . . . along with 47 more pieces and their explicit purposes.

By examining the structure of these mentor texts, students suddenly see that the itch is something they have in their own lives, too! And the 50 companion lessons invite students to use the text structure of each the famous documents to express that itch.

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Grammar Keepers (2015)

Almost everyone could benefit from a grammar check every once in a while—even we teachers.  But our students desperately need something much more systematic, and they need it right way.

No matter what state you teach in, you can be certain that grammar is being tested . . . frequently and across the grades! Meanwhile our students entering middle and high school are still making the same errors they made back in third grade. Luckily, Gretchen Bernabei, author of Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning, comes to the rescue with Grammar Keepers: a kid-friendly cache of 101 lessons and practice pages to help your students internalize the conventions of correctness once and for all.

Gretchen’s secret? Embed the lessons in ten minutes of daily journal writing, then use students’ own writing as models for discussion and practice. Students are much more interested in learning from one another than from stodgy sentences in a dusty primer, and these ultra-relevant examples more easily transfer into students’ talking, thinking, reading, and writing.

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Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning (2013)

Sometimes a student’s best teacher is another student

Just as the pressure for students to perform well on state assessments escalates ever higher, and the call to raise students’ achievement in narrative, opinion/argument , and informative/explanatory writing grows louder, Gretchen Bernabei and Judi Reimer publish Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning. If ever there were a book to answer every need, this is it.

You see, Gretchen and Judi have been concerned about adolescents’ writing for years, and they have had amazing success using mentor texts by students to teach the ins and outs of writing in any genre. So with this book, they “hand over their file drawers” and provide you with 101 essays  written by students with one-page companion lessons that address text structure, imagery, dialogue, rhetorical devices, grammatical structures, textual blends–all the different tools that writers use.

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The Story of My Thinking: Expository Writing Activities for 13 Teaching Situations

In their signature easy-to-implement style, Gretchen Bernabei and Dorothy Hall offer new options for teaching expository writing that more realistically match the way readers actually think and writers actually write.  While many state assessments as well as the Common Core ask students to write about their opinions, the goal in The Story of My Thinking is to help teachers take their kids through the various stages of the writing process (from generating ideas to publication) in a way that breaks down the barrier between “academic” writing and “creative” writing and helps kids produce vibrant nonfiction with voice and conviction.

The Story of My Thinking provides 13 writing activities for familiar teaching situations, with step-by-step lessons that help you bridge the gap between narrative and informative writing. Using the same classroom-tested strategies that made Crunchtime a bestseller, the authors give the flexibility of dipping in and out of the lessons as you need them.  For example, “If you want them to explore topics for deep development and systemic growth,” use Gretchen’s “Inner Streams/Gritty Life” activity along with the tools that help students plan their thinking.  Choose the lesson that matches your teaching situation today, and then another one tomorrow. 

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Crunchtime (2009)

In this eagerly-anticipated teacher resource, master teachers Gretchen Bernabei, Jayne Hover, and Cynthia Candler share writing lessons that are healthy for kids, promote lifelong literacy, and, coincidentally, will help your students blow the roof off of their state test scores. Organized around the writing process—selecting topics, crafting drafts, and polishing finished pieces—explicit lessons engage student writers while shoring up the gaps between learning and testing. Growing out of their own work in Title I schools, Gretchen, Jayne, and Cynthia’s strategies have proven to be especially effective in helping ESL and special education students, not only pass the test, but achieve commended performance. In addition to providing classroom-tested strategies, this practical teaching resource provides a wealth of crunchtime tools (rubrics, reproducibles, and writing samples) minilessons, and lesson plans that will help you teach strategically and position your students for success on their state writing tests and beyond.

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Sparklers: High-Scoring Test Essays and What They Teach Us (2008)

Gretchen Bernabei and Judy Reimer have collected high scoring student test essays from 4th, 7th and 10 grades. Read these essays as models for your students and try the 30 lessons Gretchen and Judy have included to show your students that the best writing is not formulaic and the best writers have something to say.

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Reviving the Essay: How to Teach Structure Without Formula (2005)

Do reading school essays put you to sleep?  Inject new life into essay writing and learn to teach structure without formula.  Gretchen Bernabei will wake up your students’ writing with dozens of practical voice-building lessons that foster structured prose without force-feeding formulas. 

Testing results confirm the need for students to unify their essays with something internal.  Victoria Young from the Texas Education Agency explained that an essay is more focused and coherent if its unifying theme is “one step away from the prompt.”  Students do understand what it means to locate and identify one real belief, full of passion and experience, from the prompt.  And then sometimes, students are given the freedom to dream up their own topic to develop into a more focused thesis, assertion, or opinion. 

The many and varied lessons in Reviving the Essay help students transform a prompt or a personal idea into something of their own, something true and something that reflects they have digested it, found the hard-earned truth in it, or the paradox in it, or the human struggle within it.

In 20 years as a writing teacher in the Texas public school system, Gretchen Bernabei has found that students need guided practice in order to find a unifying message for their essay writings.  They need guidance to develop a feel for more compelling or interesting thoughts.  Reviving the Essay is her latest book for Discover Writing Press and one that every teacher of writing and language arts will want to add to their school bookshelf.

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Why We Must Run Wth Scissors: Voice Lessons in Persuasive Writing (2001)

Writing powerful persuasive prose begins by stirring up voices deep within the writer. As readers, we remember some of these voices of passion, humor, hope and chutzpah. We forget all the bureaucratic, jargon-filled position papers that mask real voices with dead words pinned in paragraphs on the page. There have been many great books on teaching the rhetoric of persuasion, but few tackle the com2lex Fu art of liberating the dynamic voices of the student persuaders themselves. Why We Must Run With Scissors– Voice Lessons in Persuasive Writing shows teachers how to approach persuasive writing from the inside out, teaching not only the craft of persuasion, but also the wild and crazy art that informs it.

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Ba-Da-Bing: Best Practice for Test Practice DVD (2001)

Gretchen Bernabei’s intuitive approach to  teaching the personal essay has revolutionized the way teachers teach the essay and transformed how students respond to writing prompts.  In this  dynamic 45 minute  DVD video you will get a personal introduction to these power strategies  from Gretchen  herself  and learn how to immediately implement them into your classroom.  You will see Gretchen  in action working with 4th graders, high school students and teachers and hear her personal tips for helping students write with voice and passion. 

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Lightning in a Bottle CD-ROM

One picture is worth a 1000 words and this CD has 266 pictures to inspire thematic insight for writing essays. Use in association with Ba Da Bing DVD and Reviving the Essay to inspire your students, grades 3-12, to find their writing voices. Perfect for your smart board or LCD projector and a great companion to Reviving the Essay and Ba Da Bing,

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