March, 2018
Kernels and Updates

Happy Crunchtime, Colleagues! 

With the STAAR writing day right around the corner, you’ll soon be seeing the fruits from the year’s work in your classrooms. I’m sending you lots of good thoughts and all the energy I can transmit, along with a few little fun tools that might be helpful.

I created a DIY page so students can create their own STAAR-style prompt, and then choose a structure for creating a kernel essay. To keep your last-minute practice light and social, it’s fun to have kids creating their kernel essay and performing it for the class. You can let the audience identify that structure while they’re getting deep rehearsal of the process. (Or they could write, of course.)

There’s one page for grade 4, using concrete nouns, and another page for the upper grades, using abstract nouns. 

Also, we included the reminder about the “dead giveaways,” the writing weakeners that students can spot not only in their own writing, but also on the answer choices of the revision questions. TEA wants to make sure students know the difference between weak writing and strong writing, not just what “makes sense.” 

One last thing: Lynda Morgart and Stephanie Vaughn, two 7th grade teachers in the Fulshear ISD, had huge success last year when their seventh graders tried out a strategy we’re calling “Truism Braids.” We posted lots of papers on the Trail of Breadcrumbs web site. So many people asked for a demonstration that we have posted a video on Youtube showing how the Truism Braid works. You can also view it below.

Good luck to everyone!

Gretchen Bernabei
STAAR Trails
STAAR Prompts and Structures
for 4th Grade
First, select from dozens of D.I.Y. STAAR prompts developed specifically for your 4th graders ...

then have your students select from these already-proven, high-scoring STAAR structures to help their essays shine.

STAAR Prompts and Structures for Grades 7, 9 and 10
First, select from the hundreds of D.I.Y. STAAR prompts developed for secondary students...

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then drop them into a kernel structure and, voila, you have the beginnings of another great essay.

Dead Giveaways

Help your students differentiate between Dead Giveaways (weak writing) and Author's Craft (strong writing) with this easy-to-use graphic organizer.

The Truism Braid
Trail of Breadcrumbs
Summer Professional Development
July 9-12  
Summer Writing Institute and Training of Trainers, New Braunfels Civic Center - $985
Registration will open April 15
August 1
  Andale Ya! Spanish Grammar and Composition at the Houston Norris Conference Center - $240
Registration will open on March 30
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