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Here are books I’ve written, most with other teachers. You’ll find TEKS Alignment documents with most of them, along with a few other helpful surprises just a click away.

Text Structures and Fables: Teaching Students to Write About What They Read, Grades 3-12

State tests are assessing reading and writing together—Are you ready?

I wish students would interact with a text on their own…I wish it wasn’t like pulling teeth to get them to elaborate their thinking.

Wish no more, because bestselling author Gretchen Bernabei shows you how to guide students to be nimble at both short answer and extended responses. Her secret? “Teach students text structures, and they can pour their swirling ideas about the text into cogent writing.”

Using the accessible format of fables, Bernabei and Hover share lessons and an appendix full of fables so you can teach students five concrete ways to respond to text in any genre:

  1. Generate basic responses, using structures that support clarity
  2. Craft fiction inspired by the text to unveil literary knowledge and imaginative response
  3. Write essays about a theme or moral that display empathic and evidence-based interpretation
  4. Answer open-ended questions by selecting a technique that reflects the text and their engagement
  5. Use non-traditional formats like graphics and spoken dialogue to showcase their learning

The heat is on—beginning in third grade, state tests are now assessing reading and writing together. And that’s a good thing, but we’ve got some catching up to do. With Text Structures and Fables in hand, your students will swiftly and surely become text-savvy readers and writers.

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Text Structures from Poetry

Lessons to Help Students Read, Analyze, and Create Poems They Will Remember, Grades 4-12

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.

This Glossary of Poetic Terms is a quick reference guide for which poetic devices are addressed in which lessons.

Download the Text Structures from Poetry TEKS Alignment document here.
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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, Grades 4-12

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

Here is a video of Gretchen using “The Wild Swans” to respond to a prompt about a concept.

For more resources, visit the Companion Website.

Download the Text Structures from Fairy Tales TEKS Alignment document here.
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Text Structures From Nursery Rhymes

Teaching Reading and Writing to Young Children

by Gretchen Bernabei, Kayla Shook, and Jayne Hover

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

Watch Gretchen using a nursery rhyme text structure to write about A Problem that Can’t Be Fixed.

For more resources, visit the Companion Website.

Download the Text Structures from Nursery Rhymes TEKS Alignment document here.

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Text Structures From the Masters

50 Lessons and Nonfiction Mentor Texts to Help Students Write Their Way In and Read Their Way Out of Every Single Imaginable Genre, Grades 6-10

by Gretchen Bernabei and Jennifer Koppe

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.

This video features Gretchen modeling the kernel essay using the No, Thank You text structure.

In this video, Gretchen models how to have students use the text structure before revealing the source.

For more resources, visit the Companion Website.

Download the Text Structures from the Masters TEKS Alignment document here.
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Grammar Keepers

Lessons That Tackle Students’ Most Persistent Problems Once and for All, Grades 4-12

by Gretchen Bernabei

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.

For more resources, visit the Companion Website.

Download the Grammar Keepers TEKS Alignment document here.
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Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning

101 Lessons & Mentor Texts–Narrative, Opinion/Argument, & Informative/Explanatory, Grades 4-9

by Gretchen Bernabei and Judi Reimer

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.

For more resources, visit the Companion Website.

Download the Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning TEKS Alignment document here.
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The Story of My Thinking

Expository Writing Activities for 13 Teaching Situations

by Gretchen Bernabei and Dottie Hall

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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Lessons to Help Students Blow the Roof Off Writing Tests – and Become Better Writers in the Process, Grades 4-10

by Gretchen Bernabei, Jayne Hover, and Cynthia Candler

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) mini-lessons, 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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Reviving the Essay

How to Teach Structure Without Formula, Grades 4-12

by Gretchen Bernabei

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 with Scissors

Voice Lessons in Persuasive Writing, Grades 3-12

by Gretchen Bernabei and Barry Lane

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 complex 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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