Make Cycles

Our course is organized by two week “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. You can find the weekly tasks for each cycle in the drop down menu above.

Google+ Community

We will share most of our work in a Google+ Community. We will upload images, respond to each other’s ideas, and share links and “makes” here.

Featured Bloggers Make 6: Shannon, Karla, Amanda, Hannah, Jessica, & Alison

Featured Bloggers Make 6: Shannon, Karla, Amanda, Hannah, Jessica, & Alison

In this week’s Make Cycle, we got busy reading and learning about assessments, Common Core Standards, and establishing better peer conferences.  We also got the challenging task of creating our own writing lesson for our peer partner to try out as well as completing the lesson that was created for us.

In chapter 7 of our texts we learned about why it is important to assess our student’s writing and what are some ways in which we can do that: “the main purposes of our assessment are to find evidence of the children using these ideas to make decisions about their writing work each day” (Ray, Cleaveland pg. 120).  We need to know what is working or not working for students and then make changes to our lessons if needed.  One point that the authors made is that our students can usually demonstrate a task or activity when asked to do so, but it is far more important to catch them deciding to do it on their own.  This tells us that the student is taking charge of their writing and making use of the lessons we teach.

The authors listed four ways that we can assess writing:

  •         Looking closely at individual pieces of writing.
  •         Watching and listening as children are engaged in the process.
  •         Asking children to be articulate.
  •         Looking across the work of a single child over time.

I think to successfully assess our students we must first build a relationship with them.  We must really know our students to be able to assess their work.  When we have their trust, they will openly discuss the work they are creating which is especially important for younger students whose writing may be limited in the beginning.  Key things to listen for when discussing their writing are: Is the student decisive in their writing? Are they using language from the lessons?  What is the student able to demonstrate but not able to explain?

Also from our text we read Appendix G.  Here we got some insight on how to help the students develop their ability to have better peer conferences.  I loved how they described role playing how the peer conference would go so that they would better know what it looked like.  I think it was a great point that they focused on the individual writer’s needs rather than the response of the peer; giving help rather than criticism.

This week we got the chance to review the Common Core Writing standards for a grade level of our choosing.  Common Core got a rough start about eight years ago.  I think over the years it has been more widely accepted or maybe we are just getting the hang of teaching to the standards.  It was interesting to see how each grade level supports the next level; building on the standards from one year to the next.  I think having the Common Core Standards will guide us in developing lesson plans and in assessing our student’s work.

 Our writing assignment for Make 6 came in two parts.  In Part I we were to create a writing assignment for our assigned partner following the guidelines of the Common Core Standards and basing it from our previous mentor texts.  We could also choose a work from a list of authors.  I’m glad that we have had many excellent examples of writing prompts from our previous Make Cycles.  Part II of our writing assignment had us completing the writing lesson that our partners developed and then writing a reflection about the activity and what we found that worked or what we thought was challenging.

There were many lessons that were fun and creative.  One of my favorites was Grace Taylor’s lesson for her partner Marissa Willits.  Grace chose to base her lesson on the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.  Grace asked that her partner reflect on what makes her unique.  Once her partner brainstormed some ideas about her unique qualities, she was asked to write a book about it.  Marissa created a wonderful story and included some pictures.  She was able to complete the activity as Grace had intended.  What I liked about this lesson, was that students will get to showcase their unique qualities.  I think it is a terrific way for students to get to know each other.

Another lesson that really stood out for me was by Caleb Johnson.  

Caleb chose his lesson based on the story by Peter H. Reynolds, The North Star.  The lesson was for his partner Ismael to write a short story about a character going on their own personal journey.  I think this type of storytelling could be very fun and creative, or as Ismael chose to write, a story that works through some personal issues.  Children need an outlet for what they’re feeling or experiencing and often cannot talk about.  Writing gives them this opportunity.  I enjoyed reading the story Ismael wrote.  I think he did a fantastic job completing the writing activity.

The final lesson that I found interesting was by Jaycee Singleton.  She chose to base her lesson on Chapter 6 from our textbook, About the Authors, regarding mini lessons.  Her activity was to have her partner, Elizabeth Salazar, create a book about safety rules including illustrations.  I thought this was noteworthy because we have been talking about having our students start making books by simply stapling paper together and then writing and illustrating their ideas and that is exactly what Elizabeth did.  The way this lesson is created will help students have a deeper understanding of safety rules because not only are they writing the rules but creating an illustration that will be a visual aide for them to follow.

Clever work from all on our lesson plans and the work we created.  It was challenging, but I think we all did an amazing job!

Author Bio: Shannon Lane lives in the central valley and attends Chico State via the online Liberal Studies program. She is a senior and will graduate in December 2017.  She hopes to obtain a multiple subject credential and go on to teach at the 3rd grade level.

In Make Cycle 6 we went into detail on assessment and how to assess our students as future teachers. We read from About the Authors chapter 7; I imagine borrowing the idea in section “Watching and Listening As Children Are Engaged in the Process” because as we watch them we learn the way they are learning. Also the section explains how watching and listening we can catch the little things like Levi’s process. When watching him, the authors noticed his process and the pictures he drew. They noticed that Levi was growing in his writing with the way he wrote the poems and the process he did to do so. I feel like this chapter helped me become more informed about assessment in children’s work; this is not something I thought about but realize how important it is. We also looked over Common Core Standards and tried to blend them in with ideas from chapter 7 we read before. Some of the ideas I noticed that pair well with About the Authors is the pictures being labeled by the student. 

We also had an assignment to make an activity for another classmate to try out. We were able to borrow from the past reading or assignments we have done in order to make an activity. This was very fun and engaging activity to design. We were able to then see what worked and what didn’t after we let a classmate try out our activity. We then tried to assess the work they did like we would with our future students. This really helped me figure out how to assess assignments and to be able to explain myself in a way students will understand want I expect on the assignment.

The overall ideas of these past few weeks have been on assessment and Common Core standards, as well as how we can blend them both as future teachers; it is important to see what works best for the students in order to grow their abilities.

These are some of the highlight work from the Makes 6 assignment:

I really enjoyed reading Jessica Maldonado’s activity. What really stood out to me is that she made a worksheet assignment and did a great job connecting it to her mentor. Her partner on this assignment gave great feedback on ways to revise the activity.

Here is Jessica’s work below!

Writing Activity Part 1: Jessica Medrano

I chose to use the book “Chrysanthemum,” by Kevin Henkes, for my writing assignment.  This one page writing activity is intended for 1st grade and would be a back to school/first week activity in the classroom.  I chose to do this because being so young, it can be scary for kids to meet other kids, and now a days, children have unique names.  I felt this would be like an ice breaker activity for students to get to know their peers.  This would be a homework assignment after reading the book in class, with parents or guardians helping the child answer the questions.  I would then welcome the children to share with the class in a group their responses to the questions and a picture if they drew one.  The goal for this assignment is to start learning how to research and get input from their parents/guardians about their name and why it was chosen. I would expect this page to have a lot of spelling errors, besides their name, very few sentences, and some pictures drawn of their family. I would hope that each child would be able to do this assignment and get the help that is required for them to answer these questions, and I would hope that this assignment would be a good start for the kids to learn how to research.  This activity would focus on CCS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.2, 1.5, and 1.8.    

My next highlight is Alice Mylod-Vargas: her work was very organized and thought out. Her activity connected with her mentor and it was very creative as well. She had lots of great detail and explained her activity being done in a classroom. Her partner did a great job as well and gave Alice great feedback.

This is her work below!

I chose to do my activity based off of Kobi Yamada’s book What Do You Do With An Idea? This activity is intended for third graders and is chosen from the 3.3 Common Core standard. The theme of this activity is to allow children to share their ideas no matter what they feel about them which is portrayed in the book. By doing this, they will allow their imagination and creativity to take over without anything stopping them. I imagine this activity taking place in the beginning of the year in order for the students to open up from the start of the school year. The materials needed would be a piece of paper and a pencil for all students without an eraser. Through this activity, I hope children learn that any idea is valuable and important in writing. I will access this activity by hearing them explain to their groups their ideas and also by reading their writing. If things go as expected, I hope to see creativity and originality in their writing. I hope to see many different outcomes that is unique to each individual.

For this activity I will first start off by reading the book out loud to my students. After that, I will have them talk about the main theme of this book. If my students don’t pick up on this theme I will guide them to come to this conclusion as a class. By doing this, they will all be introduced to the concept that all ideas are accepted and that there is no judgment in my classroom. After this, I will put three topics on the board. I will explain that they will have 1 minute to write as many phrases or words they can think of about each topic. After this minute they will move on to the next topic and same as the third. The three topics will be green grass, rainy days, and chocolate chip cookies. I chose very different topics because I hope that the outcome will have very unique and different responses. After this, I will hand out a piece of paper to each student, along with a pencil without an eraser. I will explain how they are not given an eraser because the point of this task is to write ANYTHING that comes to mind when thinking about these words. No ideas need to be erased or hidden.

After they finish writing phrases or words that come to mind when they think about these topics, I will have them get into groups and share their lists they came up with. This will allow them to be less embarrassed about sharing personal ideas. If my students feel accepted with their ideas, their writing throughout the year will improve and they will be able to fully use their imagination and express it in their writing. Next, I will then have them chose one of the three topics they just wrote about. They will be passed out an addition piece of paper and be given ten minutes to include 5 or more of the phrases they wrote down under their desired topic in a short, one page story. I will also include that this short story should be descriptive and detailed. After the ten minutes is up, I will give them an addition five minutes to explain why they wrote about the topic and what meaning of the phrases that they associated with that topic. After this, I will have them turn in their papers to me and I will get to read over their creative and original writing!

Down below are the step by step instructions that I would like you to partake in. Let me know if you have any questions. These instructions are a little different than my in class activity because this activity is online but there are only a couple of differences!


  1. Read Kobi Yamada’s book What Do You Do With An Idea? Down below is the link to the book.

  2. After this, think about the theme of the book. If you are unsure, read the paragraph above where I include the theme of the story I want my students to get out of the book.

  3. Next, log into your email and open a new google docs sheet and title it “Alice’s Activity”.

  4. Next, type “green grass” , “rainy days”, and “chocolate chip cookies” at the very top of the page.

  5. Set a timer for a minute and type out as many phrases or words that you associate with the first word at the top of the page. Start with green grass. Repeat this step for rainy days and chocolate chip cookies.

  6. After you are done with this choose one of the words (green grass, rainy days, chocolate chip cookies) and set a timer for ten minutes and write a short story (5-10 sentences) incorporating 5 of the words you came up with from one of the three words you just wrote about. Write this short story underneath your three lists.

  7. After this, set a timer for five minutes and explain why you associate these 5 words or phrases with the word you chose to write about. Write this underneath your short story.

  8. Next, post your lists and your story + reflection in google plus.

Author Bio: Karla Arroyo is from Southern California and loves nature. She loves working out and being apart of endurance sports like triathlons. She wants to travel around the world and experience cultures. She wants to work outdoors after college and pursue working in ministry as a second job or hobby.

This week’s make was without a doubt one of my favorites because it gave us the freedom to have a feel for what it is like for teachers on an everyday basis when making lesson plans. For example, my partner this week Jake Muck gave me a blast from the past. His assignment was to write about an experience I had over summer and it was intended for when we just returned after summer vacation. I absolutely loved this assignment because it had guidelines but was still broad enough for me to explore my creativity.

From what I saw on the Google+ page there was a lot of thought and effort put into each assignment, especially for Michelle Rodriguez’s make how she came up with a worksheet which was really interesting, because it exercised different common core standards for the kids too! Designing the lesson plan was definitely underestimated by many though, however, because I thought it would be easier to come up with an activity, but I looked around the internet for a while and really didn’t like any ideas so when I remembered back to the ABC’s book I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do because that is one of my first assignments I will be carrying out as a teacher!

Everyone’s responses/reactions to their partner’s activities are all really positive and no negative comments, only constructive advice and recommendations. For example, my instructions could have been more clear, but then once I clarified what I was asking specifically it was easily understood and fun!

Chapter seven from About the Authors reinforced the importance of working in groups and utilizing conversations with others. As a teacher, some goals to strive for with your students should be to learn new concepts and apply them when writing and talking with their peers. Katie Wood Ray speaks of the importance of assessment not only short term but long term as well. In this chapter it states that there are four ways of angling assessments in order to truly get insight about what the children are learning. The four assessments are the following:

  • Looking closely at individuals pieces of writing
  • Watching and listening as children are engaged in the process
  • Asking children to be articulate
  • Looking across the work of a single child over time

The assessment that I would like to highlight is watching and listening as children are engaged in the process. One great ways to achieve this observation is through group communication. The students being able to bounce ideas back and forth, helps a teacher gauge what the students have taken from the lesson. Giving the students the space to practice communicating and expressing their ideas, helps them evolve with the inspiration from their group members. We want students to initiate conversation about a topic, and their partners hold the ability to teach the information, are examples of why group discussion is important. Teaching students when to utilize tools, they have learned, like peer conferencing, is what teaching is all about. Giving students the tools to succeed is the name of the game, it is not only a matter of giving them the information but the tools to process the information. Once the tools are under their belt then they can use them to help their creativity blossom.

Bailey Nicole’s goal in her activity really encompass the idea of enabling their creativity.

“My goal for this writing assignment is for children to have fun with their writing. I want them to learn that they can switch things up, everything doesn’t have to be done in the ‘normal’ way. Students need to know that their creativity is important and needed.”

I thought was great because I too like to remind the students that normal is what you make it, aiming to fuel their creativity. I loved, Peter H. Reynolds’ book, Sky Color: it’s encouragement for student’s inventiveness supports your activity perfectly: great choice Bailey.

Creating Lessons for our future classroom’s and having a trial run with our partners is a great activity when in the process of developing lessons. It allows everyone to acquire information about our lessons and iron out the kinks. I have truly enjoyed my time in this class with all of you and truly appreciate all your assistance with my development as a future teacher and student.

This week we worked on our creating our effective writing assignment by applying what we have learned in the class. However, before we dig into the three makes I found very impressive this week, I need to recap our assignments leading up to the makes.

First, we read Chapter 7 and Appendix G from About the Authors and had to think about how we would asses our future student’s writings. This was one of the things I was very concerned with. I kept asking myself, how will I know what to look for? However, this chapter taught me to look for verbal and writing cues that the children understand what you are teaching them. Then if the children are not grasping what you are teaching them, you can tailor the mini lessons in what they need more practice in.

Second, we were asked to pick a grade level, research the standards, write about what we noticed, and then incorporated the standards from the grade level chosen into a writing assignment. The grade I chose was seventh. After reading the standards I noticed that the main focal point is with conveying clear details and ideas. With having the focus be on creating a clear, detailed ideas I would give a designated writing workshop time. During this time, I would utilize both Mini-Lessons, peer evaluations and assessments, and oral presentations. With doing the Mini-Lessons I would be able to help the students with gathering enough evidence, generating the relevant information, organization, and writing structures. With doing the peer evaluations and assessments it will cover the Production and Distribution of Writing standard. Finally, with having the students do oral presentations, it would help with ensuring the Research to Build and Present Knowledge standards were covered. I would utilize the Common Core standards in my writing assignment by incorporating and focusing on each stand to ensure the students are touching on each point.

Third, was time for us to try out what we have learned and create an assignment for our partner to do. I chose to do seventh grade again because after researching the standards it seems like a challenge. I chose to create a writing prompt based on two stories, the Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. This assignment was a fun way for me to put my creative juices to the test. I was so excited to see how my partner would answer.

Finally, my partner answered the prompt. The waiting was over but the prompt she answered was not the one I wanted her to answer. That’s when I realized my awesome writing prompt was not so awesome. However, I learned a lot from this assignment. I learned that I need to be more specific in what I am asking for and, to first try out the assignment myself to see if I can answer it the way I believe it should be answered. Thank you Amanda Green for being my partner and taking the time to do the assignment. I enjoyed reading your editorial as it was very creative.

Now for my spotlight makes….

First, Ismael Munoz, I enjoyed your No, David writing activity. This was such a great way for the children to learn why we follow the rules and if we don’t why there are consequences. I have never read the book before and it was a very good book. Your writing assignment went along perfectly with it. 

The second make I chose was Alice Mylod-Vargas; her activity was based off Kobi Yamada’s book What Do you Do With An Idea? Her activity was designed to help the students brainstorm and create a short story. I loved your activity and explanation of the assignment. You were so detailed and specific, and it was very easy to understand a follow. Plus, your three key phrases, “green grass,” “rainy days,” and “chocolate chip cookies” were very cleaver. In addition to this great assignment her partner Sophia Tisdale did an outstanding job with answering her activity.

Lastly, Bailey Nicole, your idea of creating a book based on all different sky colors was very good. I thought this was a great way to get the creative juices flowing by using both illustrations and words. In addition, you could do this with multiple grade levels by increasing the difficulty. Great idea!!!

These were just a couple of the makes I thought we impressive. However, there were so many more that should be spotlighted too. Great job everyone with this make cycle!!!

Author Bio: Jessica is from Orange County and loves entertaining, hiking, and cooking. She is going back to school to be a teacher but currently works as a graphic designer/computer programmer for an outdoor display company. On top of all that she is planning her upcoming wedding and putting the finishing touches on her new home.

For this last make, we created a lesson plan for our future students by integrating our readings from the textbooks, the Common Core Standards, and our imagination. We got a taste of what it will be like when we are actually in the classroom creating lesson plans.

From our textbook About the Authors, we read Chapter 7 and Appendix G which, as always, is captivating and inspiring to the reader. This chapter basically informs readers of what to assess and how to do it, which can be hard in a classroom full of 30 students who all have difference strengths and weaknesses. There are different ways to get students thinking about their writing and initiating their own ideas without being told what to do. Creating the lesson plan and then actually doing the activity assigned to you really supported the reading by showing us that there are endless ways to satisfy standards and help students get creative with their writing.

At first, I thought it would be difficult to think of an activity that would satisfy multiple standards and then choosing a mentor text and creating an activity. I was super nervous but once I started watching some videos on Youtube, I got really inspired to have my partner recreate one of the books so I chose Are You a Dragonfly? which was a children’s story that our class had read in a prior make cycle. I decided to have my partner, Shannon Lane, recreate this book with her own favorite animal or insect, and she did a fantastic job so I would like to highlight her work.

Below is Shannon Lane’s make in response to the lesson plan I created for her:


I chose to do this activity using Storyjumper as you suggested. I really like how easy it is to create a story using this site. I think that for a 2nd grade level they can accomplish this with assistance from the teacher without too much difficulty. I think this lesson plan fulfills the common core standards that you stated:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2 which requires students to write informative/explanatory texts.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.6 with guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing.

I thought it would be interesting to explore the life-cycle of the butterfly. The images were fun to add to the information that I had researched. I did not have any trouble completing this activity as I had used Storyjumper in a previous activity.

I imagine a 2nd grade class could do an entire lesson on insects, and have the class creating books on their favorite choice. It combines and benefits multiple subjects; science and language arts to name two.

I could not think of any changes or additions to this lesson plan. I really enjoyed doing this activity and I hope you like my story.

Thank you,

Shannon LaneBook titled 'BUTTERFLIES'Read this free book made on StoryJumper

I thought she did an amazing job following the lesson plan. It was challenging making sure it was clear enough for our partners, but all of the makes came out beautifully: all the feedback was positive and constructive criticism. I loved that Shannon wrote on her response that she thinks this could turn into a segment on insects. I definitely agree; I think many of the activities are cross cutting with other subjects, like science and history. Responses like this helped students recognize what they can improve on the lesson plan they created. I think our fellow classmates felt really accomplished with both their lesson plans and their makes that they created.

I would like to highlight another make created by Stacie Beadel, who was partnered with Karla Arroyo.

Karla Arroyo had a really fun idea for students to get outside and appreciate their Earth at an early age, which in my opinion, is really important! Here is her work below:

Hey Stacie!

I picked this mentor text because this book teaches children how important it is to take care of our earth. I also feel that doing something fun and creative can be done with this book! This activity can be done as a take home activity after reading the book in class. Children can take pictures of anything based on nature to give the message to the whole school about keeping the earth clean.

What I want you to do:

Listen to the book, take some creative photographs that connects to the book about keeping the earth clean. You can take some Photographs of nature! Make sure that the overall message is to take care of the earth and write a short paragraph about the connection with the book and your Visual.

Grade intended level:

The book is a first grade level and I feel that parents can help take pictures if the student needs help doing so.

Common core standards:


Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.

What part of the school year:

I would do this assignment during earth day because the students will be able to learn about the environment while
celebrating earth day and doing a fun activity. Also students will learn how to connect books to their own writing style.

What materials are needed:

You will need a camera from your phone or anything type! You will also need to upload it on word or what works for you with the short paragraph under it!

Goals for the activity:

I hope to see students learn how to connect books they have read and use ideas from them to write on there own work.


I will asses the activity by looking at the students photos and how they made the connection with the book. For example
maybe they take pictures of things from the book and they made a connection to that specific part in the book. I expect the students to take pictures of things related to the book and to connect why that part stood out to them.

Her instructions were really clear and the book she chose was a adorable and will surely get first graders involved in caring about the Earth and excited about a lesson plan that takes place outside the classroom. Her partner created a beautiful make with pictures of a Table Mountain, which is local to Chico and likely something first graders will include if they were to be assigned to take pictures of nature. This is Stacie’s response:

This activity was fun. I’m a photographer, and enjoy taking photos of nature. I cheated a little, and decided to use photos that I took in the spring. We live in the desert forest, and its ugly here right now. That was my only challenge. This activity would be so fun to do with a class. Seeing all of their visions of what nature is, and reading their words would be so eye opening. I’m sure it would lead to future assignments on the environment, and how to take care of it.

She did an amazing job at completing the assignment and I think the idea of having students get outside and take pictures will be something new and maybe challenging but having the help of their parents will make it easier and allow the students to get introduced to something new!

This week’s makes were all wonderful and I enjoyed going through and reading the stories and passages created by my classmates. I think everyone enjoyed this make cycle; it was definitely one of my favorites.

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