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.

Month: February 2018

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 2: Julie, Brianna, Brittany, Sandra, and Rebecca

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 2: Julie, Brianna, Brittany, Sandra, and Rebecca

Julie Lafreniere: 

Last week’s bloggers are this week’s joggers; I’m in the hot seat now! So get in the car, I can’t wait to start our writing adventure together and we can’t go until all our ideas are packed in the 442, and someone screams road trip! It’s clear by our “Makes,” English 333 is on the freeway to learning success! Make Cycle 2 was filled with fuel to get our thoughts moving and writing reved, not to mention the reason we are all here: to encourage our students to drive themselves forward as well. If we are excited for their endless possibilities and capabilities, I know they will want to come. Who’s up for the experience?

Within our Make Cycle we made lists to generate ideas, talked about getting students interested in creating books and enjoyed some mentor texts to get our minds busy.  We read some wonderful mentor examples of purposeful storytelling. My two favorite readings this week were Alexander and The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day and The Ted Talk with Mac Barnett about Randolph the Whale. Mac Barnett explained the wonder of fiction. His talk demonstrated purposeful storytelling to perfection. He explained how truth and fiction meld together and even if a person (or child) knows something is not true, the belief can be powerful and add meaning to their lives. Randolph the Whale was born for my imagination. I reflect that Preschool and Kindergarten teachers use the art of imagination technique often, but somehow many teachers lose the ability to see the benefits within the older crowd. The speaker in our Ted Talk used it as he addressed his audience as well. This Ted Talk could easily be used at a high school level. It was a jump start for creative writing. I know my fifteen year old would’ve enjoyed it.  When he said, “Children have completely different views than adults do. Their imaginations go places that ours may not and by creating this sense of belief, they venture out into a whole new world.” It again made me consider: Wouldn’t a teen enjoy watching this Ted Talk and then write a letter to Randolph (the whale) about oh, I don’t know, whatever? One would have a quick student discussion after the video. The 2 min list would be generated. The scholars have formed ideas, been given mediums to create with (tech or colorful pens and poster board), they formulate ideas, 90 mins fly by for everyone and wham you are a success. Students leave your class feeling smart. If you have this fun, exciting and moving classroom who needs “behavior management”; students are learning and liking the behavior.

Alexander was a personal favorite of mine growing up. Anyone notice the 60’s Beetle that he was smashed into the center of? That was a primo vehicle at the time. I identified with Alexander so because I had undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD. I was in fact reading that book on a kindergarten, everyday, horrible, school day when I was pulled out for my first of 100’s of doctor visits. I remember being very invested in Alexander. I felt sorry for him and hoped his day got better. Sean Gamer can understand what I felt in identifying with Alexander’s character: he wrote, “We have all had an experience or something in our lives that has had an impact on us. Things that have an impact on us usually have a lesson or something to learn from and that is something to write about.” These experiences that you talk about can be positive or extremely negative.

I felt full of ideas and overwhelmed in the beginning of our Make. Some fellow students had some encouraging feedback to my frustrations. Sandra Nyland said to me, “I certainly can relate to you regarding a ‘whirling brain.'”  As an imaginative person, it is hard to focus on one particular concept or thought…especially when you are given so much cool stuff to contemplate!  The possibilities are endless. Chad Lafenhagen said something that was so relatable for me, “My daughter just the other day expressed her dislike of a pair of pants she termed the ‘pants of doom.’ I almost used that as my Make this week, but ended up going a slightly different path.” Thanks Chad. I stole the idea to describe the  administration in my son’s school, whom we did not know and who were saying profoundly upsetting things to him during his ordeal. I used them to make the correlation that my son was meaningless to them.

So here I am thinking about endless possibilities for my make when tragedy happens.  The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Community have had an experience of tragedy like no other.  My heart goes out to everyone and how  these experiences will shape each of these children’s future learning experiences and how we should use this situation as educators to promote change.  I felt I had to write about my son’s attempted suicide in high school to shed light to people’s experiences. It is my firm belief that all our children and families are victims within our public schools, full of blame and wasted spending.  I felt I HAD to write something real and raw and I chose two writings to share that exemplified other people’s tragedy. I reflect on Kellie Cabico who reminded me: “I think others are always going to be affected by your writing.  That’s not a bad thing.  We all have stories that are hard to tell or hard to hear.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be told. Follow your heart, Julie. You got this!”

Baylee Galloway wrote, “My little eight year old self had no care in the world, except what we were going to have for dinner that night. I remember playing in the freshly cut green grass and seeing my Dad drive off and wave, wondering where he was going but didn’t put too much thought into it.” Baylee’s writing directs the reader to right before and right after learning of the tragedy of her brother’s death. With a set in stone outlook she helps the reader understand how the sudden death of a loved one profoundly changes outlook. “We all pull up outside of the funeral home with a sense of anxiety. To me it felt like as soon as we get out of the car and walk in then it becomes real. It is set in stone that my brother isn’t going to come back and this will have to be the time to make peace with that fact whether you are ready for it or not.” Baylee’s loss is as real to the reader today as it was for her years ago. Thanks Baylee for sharing.

Ruben Mendoza spun a very different tale, but one no less tragic. Ruben identifies with the struggles of his mother and many other undocumented immigrants and shares his current concerns through his mother’s perseverance. He uses what I believe to be propaganda statements by political parties (our president) that incite anger instead of speaking of facts concern to demonstrate true facts of what’s really going on throughout his piece about his mother. Awesome idea Ruben!  Here’s an example:  

While there are many illegal immigrants in our country who are good people, many, many, this doesn’t change the fact that most illegal immigrants are lower skilled workers with less education, who compete directly against vulnerable American workers, and that these illegal worker draw much more out from the system than they can ever possibly pay back.


Tax revenue received from California’s 3 million undocumented immigrants: 3 billion.

Tax revenue received from the entire US undocumented immigrants: 12 billion.

Her infant brother started to lose consciousness and seemed he had a little time before his time on earth ran out. She broke through the boarded window, and instinctively knew to walk down the hill to search for her mother for help. With torn clothes and bug bites all over her skin, her barefooted self walked tirelessly towards the small town, hoping that there would be life to help her and her hungry siblings.

I reflect on Jillian’s point to Barnett’s comment, “The best readers have an emotional tie to what they’ve read.”  Ruben demonstrates this perfectly. With thoughts in mind for our future students’ success, we teachers will have to speed up with the times. We must be a voice for collaboration, innovation, and creativity. We must help create learners who want to take writing risks and enjoy it!  Thanks to all the support of fellow classmates for Make Cycle 2. I’m ready for my journey through our education system: who’s up for the adventure? If you are coming with me and are from English 333, DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR DOG!

Hi all, my name is Julie Lafreniere. I am returning to Chico State to finish a degree in liberal studies (online because I live in Campbell) that I started back in 1994. My goal is to graduate from Chico State the same year my youngest graduates from high school. 2020 here we come! After graduation I plan to enter the credential program and then on to a K-8 charter school. I can work with any and all ages and am excited to be learning alongside my fellow scholars. I love the outdoors and animals. I am especially fond of my dogs Mickey (Husky/yellow lab) and Milton (Scottish Terrier/Griffon); they seem to appreciate me more than any other two people on earth and tell me every time I leave and come home!

Brianna Carlucci

So far I’m loving all the TED Talks that we have been assigned. I don’t watch enough of them and everytime I do watch one I’m fascinated by the speakers.

I love this English class because it’s completely different than any other English class that I have ever taken. I like that it’s not structured like a typical class and that it’s not on Blackboard. This is the second class that I have had the pleasure of taking with Dr. Jaxon. I hope that you are all loving it as much as me.

Make Cycle Two was very interesting and I liked what came out of this cycle. I want to start backwards because my favorite part of this make cycle would be all the stories everyone made, but I won’t and I will start off with chapter one from About the Authors. Chapter one in About the Authors starts with a story from Josh about Mammoths. While you are reading the story, you see that even though there are spelling errors, you still notice how much Josh has learned throughout the year to be able to make a book about mammoths. After the story, Katy Wood Ray points out just how much Josh had learned over the year, which was a lengthy list and you can definitely see it in his book. The chapter also shared books made by other children and as Yorleidi Langarica said, “I really enjoyed reading this because it was insightful to look at examples of children’s work. They surely are writers and authors in the making.”

A few parts in chapter one that I found interesting were on page 18 where it talked about how the children’s normal attitude at ages five, six and seven are to go from one thing to another and only focus on the task at hand. But, when they are told that they will have book making at 9am, and it’s something that the children are able to count on, it allows for them to think about it even if they are not currently working on the task.

We were also asked to watch Mac Barnett’s TED talk and as Caitlin M said, “In terms of the top five TED Talks I have ever watched, I think this is my favorite!” He was so moving and passionate about what he felt children should feel or experience when they read a book. I really took away from the TED talk when Mac talked about children getting emotionally invested in the book that they are reading. I fell in love with the story of Nikko, a small boy that read the book Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem. On the book jacket, it has an ad that you can get a whale for a 30 day risk free trial if you send in a self addressed envelope and they will send you a whale. The children don’t end up getting an actual whale but they do end up getting a letter back from a law firm stating that due to customs the whale is being held, but would like to hear from them and a phone number is provided. Nikko called his Whale and left over 25 messages because he was emotionally invested in the story that Mac Barnett wrote. Mac Barnett also talks about how a “Story no matter how strange has a resemblance of the truth and then you are able to believe it.” This is true for children and adults. He said that

“we know these characters aren’t real but we have real feelings about them.”

This week we were also asked to go through a slide deck that had a series of questions and write down everything that came to mind. You look at the question and just allow yourself to write down everything that comes to mind for 2 minutes. The purpose for this task was for generating ideas for writing and this seemed to work for many when it came time to write their story. According to Erin Russo: “This exercise was so enlightening because I always feel like I have nothing that I could write about myself, and in less than an hour of this activity, my mind is spinning with possible narratives that I could share.” And Lisa Valdez combined two and had a perfect response to why she felt the need to do this: “Things that I know how to do, and that I could teach to others. I combined them, because I really feel that if you know how to do something, you can teach it to others.” It was a perfect way to just let ideas flow and it was an interesting take on brainstorming.

For the next phase of Make Cycle 2, we were asked to read a few mentor texts: The Dot, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. The books were perfect examples of children being children. I really like the way that Sandra Nyland put it: “wonderful example of stories of grumpy children that are dealing with real childhood problems and real childhood feelings and exemplify how a bit of encouragement can go a very long way in finding resolution to a particular challenge or struggle.” As teachers we have the ability to mold, encourage and push children to their potentials. Chelsea Peterson pointed out that “In Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day I again got the impression that your outlook has everything to do with your experience.” As we teach children, we allow for them to teach others and spread the encouragement. Samone Burge point this out: “I really loved how the story started out with a child who felt like she could not draw and by the end she was the one encouraging other children to express themselves through art.” These simple books mean so much more than a cute story just as Yorleidi Langarica writes, “It is about knowing that you can do anything if you believe in yourself.”

Last but not least the make cycle ended with us being asked to make purposeful storytelling makes. Although, all the stories were great, powerful, interesting and fun to read a few really stood out to me.

I found the The Lost Treasure by Allison House to be a perfect mix of story and illustration. This could easily be a book that you find in the bookstore for children. Allison found inspiration from the mentor text The Mysteries of Harris Burdick; after looking at different artwork, she created her own story and you could see that in her make. I would also like to highlight a few more makes that resonated with me. Salina Rodriguez shares a picture and the story behind her own Dot story. I think that it’s amazing that she keep this picture close by and the red dot in the picture are sunflower seeds in case you were wondering.

I also enjoyed reading I Just Rather Play by Hannah Hughes which was inspired by her son. Very cute and I think that those who have younger children find out that their children are picky eaters. The story was really cute to hear in the point of view of her son. The carrot page made me laugh because in her post she said that it was an exact conversation that she had with her son. The story was relatable and funny.

Book titled 'I just rather PLAY'

Lastly I found Me, My Best Friend by Jamie Xayachack’s story to be a powerful story. I know that we have men in this class, but from a woman’s standpoint at a young age, women are told to look, act and be a certain way so I feel like so many women are not their own best friend because a lot of them don’t like themselves. I assume that the last page in Jamie’s book was strategically placed and in my opinion it was perfectly done. On that last page Jaime writes, “At that moment, I realized that my friend was me and I am her. When a woman becomes her own best friend, life’s obstacles are much easier.” I just find the message about being the one to support yourself to be very significant and true.

Book titled 'Me, My Best Friend'

In my future classroom I will be using the list idea for brainstorming. It was a fun way to brainstorm and it was done with ease and unlike any other brainstorming I’ve done before. Overall, my takeaway from this make cycle would be encouragement and imagination. As I read through the posts I saw so many people say how encouragement can help children and as future teachers that is something that we will be doing every day. Encouragement is something that should be a constant for every child that we encounter. Also, as future teachers, we want to help our students to grow and be able to use their imaginations and what better way than to allow ourselves to use ours.

Hello, my name is Brianna and I’m here because I would like to become a teacher. I have a passion to work with children and I finally went back to school to pursue it. My goals beyond this semester would be to become a teacher for K-2nd grade. I love being outdoors, but I especially love to hike.


Brittany Walker

Over the last two weeks we have read from About the Authors, watched Mac Barnett’s TED talk, listened to The Dot by Peter H Reynolds and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. We also listened to and read The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and “Moving Vines” by a 4th grader named Ashley. Lastly, we told a story about ourselves for our second Make. I really liked this Make Cycle and felt that there were many things that I could personally relate to.

During the first week of Make 2, chapter one really stood out to me. One example was “will all the teaching show up in the work [students] are able to do?” I am very excited to make a difference in young children’s lives; however, this is one of my fears of becoming a teacher. Since teachers are the future of their students, I hope to do everything right and make sure I am the reason they are succeeding and not holding anyone back.

Growing up I always looked up to my teachers and always wanted to do my best and was always proud of my work. I hope that I will be a teacher that students look up to and really help them succeed in school. We also watched Mac Barnett’s TED talk. I enjoyed everything about his talk especially when he said, “I want a book to be a secret door that opens and lets the stories out into reality.” Imagination is such a wonderful thing for children to have. It allows you to take your mind off things and go somewhere else. As a kid I loved to read and would imagine myself in the book or as one of the characters. Creativity can take you many places and allowing your mind to open can put you right into a book. Being creative can also allow a person to write stories just like the ones Mac Barnett writes.

Moving on to week two, the two books I found myself relating to were The Dot and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In The Dot, I loved how the teacher handled the drawing situation with Vashti. Instead of getting mad or disciplining her for not doing the assignment, she gave Vashti advice:

“just make a mark and see where it takes you.”

This made Vashti use her creativity and then when the teacher hung her work on the wall, she really liked it and it allowed her to create her own masterpiece. I also liked that Vashti even helped other students who thought they couldn’t draw. Since her teacher was kind to her and helped her discover what she could do with art, it allowed her to pass on her knowledge on to others and I think that is very important in the classroom. After listening to the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, I thought this would be a great book to share with a younger group of kids. Sometimes people just have bad days, and no matter how hard you try, it seems like it won’t ever get better. I think it’s important to for kids to know that it will get better, but sometimes it takes patience. Also, if kids notice that someone is having a bad day, suggest they are extra helpful or nice to that person. Another thing I would also want to relay to my class is that even though they might be having a bad day, there is always something to be grateful for. Teachers help bring positivity to students’ lives and can help their bad days get better.

Now it was time for our Make 2. For our second make, we were assigned to try writing our own story inspired from an event in school like Vashti in The Dot, or inspired by our troubles and fears like Alexander, or inspired by an image, photo, or drawing. I love how what we have done during the previous week or two relates back to the Make. I think this is a great way to apply what you have already learned and turn it into something even greater. I thought that everyone did such a great job making their own stories and it was difficult only picking a few to share.

Dana C shared:

“Reality hit me and I realized the picture that was once painted for me was not exactly how things were going to happen. I had already taken out a loan for the college I was attending and becoming a resident seemed highly unlikely. I had two and a half years left at ASU which would cost me one hundred thousand dollars. CRAZY! Although it was my dream, I knew I could get that same education back home. I applied to Chico State and took two online classes at Yuba college Fall 2017. I spent months being sad once I moved home and I felt like a failure. It took me a while, but I realized I was not a failure. I had people from high school tell me I was one of the few to take that leap and venture out. I had family telling they were proud of me because that was something I always wanted to do. I was not a failure just because I could not afford that kind of tuition. I was not a failure because I had to move back home. I promised myself that I would join one of their Master’s programs in the future and possibly settle in Arizona. I fell in love with Arizona even more after living there those six months. It does upset me from time to time, but I smile looking back at all of the things I experienced and learned on my short journey.”

I loved the detail of this story and I think many people can relate to it; I know I can. What really stood out to me was when she said, “but I realized I was not a failure.” Sometimes in life things don’t go as planned, but we can learn from everything we do whether it went how we wanted or was different. I also think it is great to pursue your dreams and to set goals for yourself. Things that happen in our lives shape who we are and it is up to us to make the most of it.

Kayla Blaylock:

You’re packing up your last few boxes of pictures and memories ready to start a new beginning for yourself

You look around your now empty childhood bedroom wondering where the past 18 years went

You think about how different it will be living on your own without your parents attached to your hip

You realize now that you can’t just yell their name from across the room when you need something anymore

Ten steps away turns into a hundred miles away

You wonder what it will be like to share a box sized bedroom with someone you’ve never met before

You look at your dad’s silver Toyota truck full of flashbacks from day trips to week long vacations, now filled with more Tupperware bins than you can count on your fingers

You take one last look around your house like it’s the last time you’ll ever see it again

You hug your dog for thirty minutes wishing you could somehow sneak her into your dorm without anyone finding out about it

You go from living in a small town where you know everyone to a town full of fresh new faces

You say bye to your parents and your little sister as they drive away

You can see your mom crying from the front seat of that silver Toyota truck

You look down at your phone, it’s a text from mom saying “Miss you already honey”

It’s a month later now and you find yourself adjusting to this new life style

You’ve met a solid group of friends. You’ve gotten used to the community showers and walking through the hallway with just a towel on. You eventually got used to the dining hall food even though it will never compare to a home cooked meal. You’ve managed to find all of your classes, and this new town is finally starting to feel like your new home.

I really enjoyed Kayla’s “Freshman Year” story. I liked how the descriptions really painted a picture of what was going on. I think stories that people can relate to are great and I’m sure most people in this class can relate to this one. For younger students when they can relate to a story I think it helps them understand it better. Becoming a future teacher, I hope to find books that students can picture themselves in or books that they are excited about because a similar thing happened to them.

Alma Rosa Lopez:

Summer of junior year is when I went out to the tennis courts and gave tennis a try. However, I had no clue how tennis is played or what I needed to play tennis. After this vibe of not having a clue, I felt like I would just embarrass myself. At first, I struggled, but with four hours of practice five days a week I was feeling like the next Serena Williams. This year made me realize that tennis is my new sport and the sport that suites me. Who knew I would be ranked four in my first year playing tennis. At the end of the season, a tournament took place and that’s when I won league in my singles match and almost took league in my doubles match with my partner. However, most importantly our whole team won sections. This was a good year! Best of all, senior year was the same thing as junior year, instead, I moved up a rank. I didn’t win league again but our team did win sections and were pretty close to going to state. I’m bummed that I wasted my time trying to get on the soccer team, but I’m happy that I got to find my sport. Despite all the rejections and disappointments, in the end, I found my sport and proved others that I could not know a thing about a sport and still be able to succeed.”

I also liked this story and think it would be a good one to share with students because it shows them that trying a new sport that they may be skeptical of or never thought of trying can be a great thing. Hearing a positive story like Alma’s could help other students feel comfortable trying a new sport or club at school. I thought her story was really great, showing that sometimes things are meant to be but they can lead you to something else.

Overall, I enjoyed this Make Cycle and reading everyone’s stories. Many of them had great detail and I had a vivid image of what was going on. It’s great when you can feel the emotions from a story someone has written. After reading these stories it also gave me insight on how to incorporate feeling and strong detail into my own writings. I also found that adding dialog really brings the story to life. I thought it was inspiring that reading a few children’s books allowed others to either relate to a story or make their own similar one. As a future teacher, I can’t wait to take some of these ideas such as having the students reflect on readings and creating their own stories.

My name is Brittany and this is my second semester at Chico State. I hope to become an elementary school teacher and improve the minds of our future generations. I go to school fully online and love the atmosphere that teachers have created to allow myself to be involved with other students. I spend my free time with my family, going on hikes, and going on trips.


Sandra Nyland

Wow!  We have such a wealth of creative literary talent in our group.  It’s amazing and wonderful how we can get such a sense of connectedness through our stories and writing. 

The first week of this cycle we focused on “purposeful storytelling” and ventured in to our professional book About the Authors, “Writing Workshop: A Happy Place Where We Make Stuff” and also read literary works created by children in these workshops.  Children were learning to use language to craft literature and making something.  We saw the depth of knowledge, emotion and creativity of these works. There is always so much going on in young minds and we could sense how exciting and fulfilling it will be as an instructor to elicit these ideas from our students.  A quote from About the Authors states, “The curious exploration children do when they are trying to make something, the trial and error, the joyful messiness of it all…” really sums up this segment and how learning to write shouldn’t be exclusive of this. 

We also made lists this first week to generate ideas for writing. We were given a slide deck to use to start the process, which was helpful for those of us that need a bit of structure to get the neurons firing for effective brainstorming.  A suggestion was given to set a timer for two minutes and that proved to be effective and a good way to allow ideas and words to flow more easily.  We learned so much about each other through this fun list-making exercise!

Finally, this week we watched Mac Barnett’s TED talk…simply awesome! His talk about creativity and wonder showed us how we as adults can be more like children where imaginations are set free to explore and create.  We could imagine being in that place in the middle of the Venn diagram, the place that is wonder and where it is so much harder for adults to get to than children.  That place where we could cast aside rigidity of thought aside where imagination, creativity and wonder can thrive.  A place where we can set up “secret doors” in a classroom where children can go to visit a pirate ship, circus or sit around a make-believe campfire and share stories.  We need not place limits on our creative selves.  

The second week in this cycle, we explored The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. These stories gave us wonderful examples of grumpy children that are dealing with real childhood problems and real childhood feelings and exemplify how a bit of encouragement can go a very long way in finding resolution to a particular challenge or struggle.  Vashti in The Dot, learned so much about herself and her capabilities just by the supportive gestures of her teacher.  The beauty of this story is the full circle effect of positive encouragement as Vashti then in turn, encourages a little boy to have confidence in his abilities. One simple gesture can have such a ripple effect. As educators and storytellers, we are reminded to keep the positive ripples going. Alexander, in the Judith Viorst story, receives encouragement in a subtler way. In his mind, he truly is having a horrible, terrible day, but he can express these feelings without anyone else in the story invalidating them. The repeating of the desired land of “Australia” throughout the book was effective as it is likely each one of us has that idealistic place in our mind where we would run-away to and life would be so much better. Also, it was a humorous way to break up the story line while we wait for more musings by Alexander. We find at the end of the story, in the encouraging words of his mom, that even in our idealistic place we are going still going to have bad days sometimes.

The final text we read this week was The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and the related “Moving Vines” by 4th grader, Ashley.  This story nicely related to the concepts we discussed last week. The drawings were so intriguing and gave rise to much imaginative thought – just a wealth of writing material.  Ashley’s vine story is compelling in that one can surmise she used the one line “He warned her about the book, now it was too late,” as impetus to tell a story where there is not a happy ending.  We can just imagine all the ideas that were floating around in her author’s head and appreciate her ability to pull everything together so effectively.  Children in a supportive environment can be so creative and insightful.

The culminating Makes this week were incredible in both depth and breadth.  Impressive.  Literary creations ranging from the poignant, heartfelt true stories to the imaginative children’s short stories, I am grateful to be able to be able to learn, share and connect in this community. 

It was a real challenge to narrow my focus down to a few to comment on here.  Truly. 

Salina’s writing that was inspired by The Dot, very much resonated with me.  I have a sentimental heart so her story about the drawing made when she was 5 years old really impacted me on several levels.  First, that her detailed and vibrantly colored picture still hangs in her dining room is awesome. Secondly, that Salina writes her story in such a way eloquent, yet simple, manner to convey the meaning behind the painting starting from her initial happiness with her painting then spiraling down to discouragement, embarrassment and self-doubt about the work of art.  Then some encouragement comes to the rescue from her Mom. Great use of this make’s cycle material.  

I know personally, that it can be challenging, if not impossible, to share personal stories.  The ones that are so deeply personal to us that letting them out is like a delicate bubble being let go and we need to have trust that they will go where they are most needed.  Although difficult, we need to tell these stories…especially as educators.   Julie’s, A Smart Owl Life’s Research, does just this.  She took an incredible leap of faith to share a very profoundly personal story on a subject that is not easy to convey.  Her prose was very effectively broken up with specific quotes to transition the written thoughts and give emphasis to the reader.  The use of capital letters for emphasis and the creative descriptions of people such as “medic pants” and “bubbling sports pants” added additional character to an intense story.   

Me, My Best Friend by Jamie was told a huge life story in a graphically simple, eye-pleasing way.  I love the graphic of “the best friend” and how it is shown with her as an infant and as she grows up and gains confidence with herself and the world around her, her best friend gets smaller and smaller until Jamie realizes her best friend is inside her. Powerful in it simplicity. 

I truly could on and on about the stories we shared this week.  I’m in awe as we are in our fifth week of class…looking forward to more learning, growing and sharing!

Mom of three and “G” of two

Senior at Chico State University majoring in Liberal Studies in hopes of making a career change from banker to teacher – has accumulated approximately 190 college credits over the past 40 years on this extended and adventurous journey toward a bachelor’s degree

Longtime resident of Salinas, CA

Resilient, empowered by learning, believes in laughter and a positive attitude, loyal friend, and appreciates the beauty of sunrises that give hope for a new day

Rebecca Lee

As a class, we began our second make cycle exploring About the Author by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa B. Cleaveland, watching Mac Barnett’s Ted Talk, and creating lists to gather ideas for writing. Chapter one of About the Authors had us analyzing Josh’s story about Mammoths. At first reading, several of us noticed his varied spelling of the word “mammoth,” his love of mammoths shown through detail, and his dedication to writing through his research of mammoths and his varying fonts. Upon further reading and analysis we discovered that Josh’s writing had many hidden examples that we had overlooked. This was due to our lack of understanding all that Josh had learned in his writing class. As the chapter continued we learned that students get many of their ideas from other books they have read. For example, Josh took an idea from some books he read where they had two title pages, Maggie and Larke created a series books based on their friendship like the Frog and Toad book, and another boy took an idea from Fred Asch where he drew a picture in a circle on the back of his book. After chapter one we read studies A and B where we learned how effective it is to just tell the kids we are going to make stuff and show them their supplies. This gets the students excited, it gets them thinking, and eventually it makes them see themselves as writers. We also learned techniques to help keep ideas flowing and to encourage the students even if their stories are a little different or their writing isn’t the best. As Dr. Jaxon said, “If the first thing a child sees on her writing is lots of corrections and red pen marks, she’ll stop writing so much. It’s all about picking the things to correct and knowing that over time you’ll see growth.” Keeping this in mind I believe we will take all that we learned in our readings this week and let it guide us as we begin our careers teaching writing to children. As our week continued we watched Mac Barnett’s Ted Talk and learned to inspire children’s sense of wonder through made up stories, humor, and even a sneak store bought melon. As we inspire children and help them embrace their imagination and creativity, they begin to see themselves grow and develop as writers and dreamers and they have fun during the process. Lastly, to wrap up our first week of our 2nd Make Cycle, we created many lists based on topics from the “Finding Ideas to Write About” slide deck. Some of our lists were things we think everyone should do before they die, things about our family and friends, and most commonly, things we like to do. With these lists we thought of ways to use them in writing and discovered how creating lists can inspire and lead to new ideas and scenarios to write about.

As we began our second week of the Make cycle we got to listen/read mentor texts starting with The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, then Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, and concluding with The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and Moving Vines by Ashley, a 4th grader. One of our biggest realizations with The Dot was how much the teacher helped Vashti by just being positive and not getting angry with her. The teachers actions taught us that when we are teachers in the future we need to decipher different situation and realize which ones require a positive helping hand and which ones need a corrective behavior discussion. Next, as we listened to Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, many of us came to the realization that if you keep reminding yourself that you are having a bad day your going to continue to have a bad day. Instead you need to have positive thoughts and turn your day around. The connection was made that both Vashti and Alexander needed a change of thought and perspective. Vashti accomplished this and eventually even changed someone else’s perspective whereas Alexander continued to be miserable all day long. As we continued the stories seemed to take a dramatic turn but perspective really was still the main focus. With The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, the class was fascinated and intrigued about Harris’ disappearance. We scrolled through drawings with titles and captions created by Harris Burdick and learned that these pictures have inspired many many people to write their own stories based on them. One of these stories was Moving Vines by a 4th grader named Ashley: in this story Ashley uses her incredible imagination and creative details to write a compelling mystery that gave me chills. After reading and listening to all these interesting stories, many members of the class were inspired and anxious to see what the use of encouragement and providing pictures to write stories about could do for their future students. Many of us are so excited to see the potential in out writing students.

To conclude our second Make Cycle we created stories. Everyone’s stories were so wonderful and unique and I chose a few of my favorites to share in excerpts and links below.

“Joy of laughing and smiling to the point that your cheeks feel sore. Joy of finally sneezing after you’ve felt the urge to do it ALL day. Joy of compliments. Joy of seeing the blue sky after a stormy week because the sun somehow makes you happier and energetic, whereas cloudy days make you want to curl up in bed and listen to Adele on repeat. Joy of getting a decent grade on an exam that you were almost one hundred percent sure you failed. Joy of flipping your pillow over after one side gets too hot. Joy of listening to music.” –by Adia Munoz

Adia was inspired to write her story by “The Fears of Your Life” by Michael Bernard Loggins. The reason I chose Adia’s story to feature is because I can truly relate to all that she says and many parts of the story made me laugh out loud. I also love that she took her inspiration and flipped it around to be the joys instead of fears in life.

The next story I chose was “On an Island” by Chelsea Peterson.

I chose Chelsea’s story because it made me laugh out loud and reminded me of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I also liked that she wrote this story based on her own family experiences and used the writing idea lists from last week to create it.


Last but not least, I chose Kellie Cabico’s story about her grandpa’s last day because it was so very personal and filled me with so many emotions. Her story was very well written with breaks throughout filled with memories of her grandpa. I also liked that she was inspired to write the story after seeing the picture of her grandpa, which is similar to what Harris Burdick wanted from his drawings.

“I knew he was sick when he came to live with us last year.  Dad had said that the doctors had only given him a couple of months to live.  But he’d felt so much better when he came home with us.  His spirits had immediately improved and he’d regained some of his old vim and vigor.  He resumed his daily walks, joking that he walked all the way to Barcelona (which was actually just the name of the street two blocks over).  He taught Chris and me how to make all of his favorite dishes, and told us stories about coming from France with his siblings near the turn of the century with bags of French bread because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to get it in America.  He’d taken to watching wrestling and roller derby and he’d shake his cane at the TV whenever he didn’t like the ref’s calls.  He was just so damn feisty and cute.”

Throughout our second Make Cycle I believe we learned so much about ourselves and each other. We shared our excitement and worries about teaching writing to children and shared personal stories inspired by all the great things we learned these last two weeks. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the semester had in store for our incredible class.

I am a junior at Chico State; this is my second semester as a distance learner. Before I started at Chico, I graduated from Lassen Community College in Susanville, CA with my AA in social science. I am attending Chico State in hopes of getting my BA in Liberal Studies then going on to get my multi-subject credential and hopefully begin teaching by fall of 2019 at just 22 years old. Currently, I am a paraeducator at a middle school in Susanville where I work specifically with special education students. When I’m not working, I can usually be found spending time with my family and two amazing dogs, or reading.

Weeks 5 & 6

Weeks 5 & 6

Howdy everyone,

Yay storytelling! You did an incredible job: I love the range of approaches you took to storytelling from playful to poignant.  Make sure you included a description of your process and why you made certain choices for your stories in your post. I look forward to reading them all more carefully tomorrow and giving feedback. I will send a grade update tomorrow too. Writing stories is hard!

Make Cycle 3: Engaging Expositions is now up on our site. You can find the link from the “Make Cycles” drop down menu (and in this email in the previous sentence). Make Cycle 1 has now been archived to the Make Cycle page.

We’re reading chapters 2 & 3 and appendix C & D for this week in About the Authors. Then, moving to expository writing mentor texts and makes. Video update below; I give you some more ideas for makes in these video updates in case that’s helpful.

Thanks for your efforts! You gave our featured bloggers this week such great stories to choose from!

Weeks 3 & 4

Weeks 3 & 4

Howdy nice people of English 333,

Oh my gosh: I loved loved loved reading your insights into the About the Authors chapter and the 1st grader’s writing! Sounds like you are enjoying the book as much as I do and your responses were so good! Seriously. So good.  I just finished up feedback on the first Makes and on your responses to About the Authors, chapter 1 and just feel really inspired by the ideas you are working with.

One thing that was interesting if you read through all of your posts is how many of you noticed spelling on first glance at Josh’s Mammoth story. Some of you talked about the impulse to correct all the spelling and how you realized that may not be the most helpful approach. I really appreciate how much you are all puzzling over the challenges of writing with little kids and noticing the interesting thinking they are doing. Josh is doing such interesting work with spelling and clearly is starting to understand that words are made up of patterns. You might find this article helpful for thinking about spelling specifically: we really do gain understanding over time. If the first thing a child sees on her writing is lots of corrections and red pen marks, she’ll stop writing so much. It’s all about picking the things to correct and knowing that over time you’ll see growth. But they must be writing for you to see growth, so the amount is important. It’s also about knowing which things to address in a mini-lesson with the whole class and which things to address with an individual student. One rule I follow when responding to any writer (a fellow scholar or a first-time freshman or a 4th grader) is that I want the first thing they see for feedback is something positive. It is a brave act to share our writing. Once we build community and trust, we can start pushing a writer more and more.

Up next: you’re reading mentor texts this week (The Dot, Alexander…, and Harris Burdick/Ashley’s “Moving Vines”) and thinking about their structures you might borrow for your stories (response due Tuesday, Feb 13). And then writing stories! Make 2 due next Sunday, Feb 18. Please remember to write about your process too when you share your make.

I didn’t comment on all the lists posts, but I did check them off and I really enjoyed reading them! Hoping the lists are inspiration for your story ideas. *Note: if you see that you got 5/10 on the Lists/Barnett Ted talk response, it’s because I only saw your lists and not the response to the talk. If you want to go back and add that, let me know and I’ll update your grade. You might have just missed that second part of the prompt.

Our featured curators for this cycle–Make Cycle 2–are Samone, Brianna, Julie, Rebecca L, Sandra, and Brittany. They’ll be reading through our work and highlighting our cool ideas and stories (I sent the six of you an email a few days ago with some info). If you have not yet read the featured blogs from last week, you should. Many of you were highlighted! Thanks again to Christina, Ruben, Kellie, and Chad!

Thanks everyone. This is a great group of humans in this class. Appreciate your work.


Featured Curators Make Cycle 1: Ruben, Christina, Kellie, Chad and Rebecca

Featured Curators Make Cycle 1: Ruben, Christina, Kellie, Chad and Rebecca

As I mentioned in this week’s video update, we are starting to introduce our “featured curators.” At the end of each two week Make Cycle, a handful of students will highlight and feature the amazing work of their peers. These bloggers will also summarize for us the ideas we have been working with in the course and our “take aways” for that particular Make Cycle. Generous thanks to Ruben, Christina, Kellie, and Chad who agreed to go first! So grateful for the work they did in reviewing all our makes! Enjoy their write ups below and thank you to everyone for providing such great makes and insights for the curators to work with.

Ruben Mendoza

image of Ruben

Vernacular is spectacular and so is our Google Plus community space! With that in mind, our community has provided a digital space that illustrates the values and contributions of my colleagues, capturing their intelligence and insightful thinking while critiquing assigned articles and videos that discuss generational literacy practices. Our group has read and watched key mentor text that challenged our methods of thinking, speaking, and writing by breaking recurring assumptions of students’ literacy practices. For instance, here is section of my response to one of the mentor texts we watched in the first week:

As I watched John McWhorter’s TED Talk, Txtng is Killing Language. JK!!, I could not simply help but realize how our society continues to claim that our current generation is losing the ability to write. What I wondered is what constitutes as good writing and is there a fu***ng manual that I need to read somewhere where I can be told by some “experts” how I should be writing? What technical techniques in writing do I need to learn to be a functional citizen within our society?

This section that I wrote for our class discussion board can be characterized as a tangent from a dumb millennial (That is me!). However, this section that I wrote truly aims to challenge students and educators ideas on this recurring and negative rhetorical trope that continues to plague my generation: students are losing the ability to write! After watching the TED talk, I began to feel that the current generation has begun to fight against this implicit metaphoric military warfare: War on writing. I begun to wonder… Can students please have the freedom to generate their own ideas by producing work in any written form that they prefer? Or will students continue to be stifled and forced to generate text that is meaningless to their lives? After reading and watching researched studies that investigate this periodic trope, I began to wonder how our class will utilize these mentor text in their future classrooms. As I noted in the first discussion post for our online community, reinforcing this false idea about what constitutes as great writing confuses and places false notions to students to aim to produce formulaic writing. Those assumptions about writing can become ideologies that prevent students from producing in different genres. This can possibly allow students to have no creative control over their writing practices, which will allow students to not have agency over their education (Horrible thought… I know).

As our second week began, my colleagues and I were introduced to a variety of texts that illustrate narratives that were both meaningful and powerful. A mentor text that stood out to me was Second Daughter’s Second Day by Jacqueline Woodson, which illustrated a story that captures an important idea. The idea and notion from the text is that there is so much going on before and after an individual is born into this world. There is an overwhelming idea that the mentor text conveyed, which is that when a child is born there are individuals who are not personally or physically related to them that are fighting for that child, including equal rights and so forth. The author also references within the text that during the birth of her life, there were several key elements that were happening in that time period, including Martin Luther King preparing to March in Washington. The narrative that Woodson illustrated provided intricate details and the notion that reinforces this idea that there are people fighting for individuals lives, even before they exist within this world.

Our Makes: Some Highlights

Cece Somera

Cece artAfter being inspired and mesmerized by these mentor text, we were assigned to create and produce our own narratives. For example, my colleagues and I were offered the opportunity to write a poem about our own birth. For my assignment, I created a nonfiction story about the relationship between my mother and I, including defying societal norms (Click here if you are interested in reading the story). However, what is more important is celebrating the creativity and innovation that my colleagues created with this first make cycle of the semester. For instance, when I looked over our digital space on Google Plus, I saw that one of my colleagues created a Multimodal poem that truly captivated my attention. Cece Somera uploaded an image of a creation she made at home. In her reflection, Cece states, “ I wanted to represent myself as best I could and I didn’t think creating something digital would achieve that for me. I decided to make a mini poster that I crafted myself which adds another personal element to it.” What I don’t think Cece realizes is that this poem is rhetorically powerful by reinforcing this repetitive element within her text by beginning each new sentence with I am. The repetition highlights an intricate part to her life and characterizes her perfectly, especially by concluding the final clause with “I AM CECE.” Not only is this artifact simply stunning with the visual appeal, but I continued to imagine how this artifact could be reproduced in a educational classroom. This simplistic design is a brilliant idea and really shows that homemade artifacts are as amazing as digital artifacts.

Graciela Pablos

Another example that instantly captivated my attention is this idea of using one’s name as an acronym. For instance, Graciela created an artifact at home that is aesthetically appealing on so many levels. However, the most intriguing part of her assignment is how she used words that were meaningful to her life. In her reflection, Graciela states, “At first I had trouble thinking of what to write, although there was a plethora of things I could do, I wasn’t sure, but for this activity I decided to incorporate “My name Is…” into it.  I used words that family and friends use to describe the type of person I am.” This idea to incorporate words from family and friends that describe who she is as an individual is brilliant because it emphasizes the true characteristics of herself. Furthermore, as with Cece’s design, I believe that this could also be duplicated in a classroom and allow young students to try to generate words that their loved ones would best characterize them, which will allow them to critically think how there are various words that can describe an individual. Both Cece and Graciela illustrated that these types of artifacts can be aesthetically powerful by using multimodality to create awesome projects.

Lizette Dolmos

As I continued through our Google Plus community page, I arrived at an image that seemed to reflect a close bond between a mother and daughter. What I found most interesting about the post is that Lizette incorporated a simplistic poem that detailed her close relation to her mother, which emphasized on so much detail. One, I was truly fascinated at the idea that a daughter and mother could have such a powerful dynamic relationship with one another. Two, I was slightly jealous that I did not possess the same relation with my own mother. Three, this text really employed vulnerability that is not often expressed by many students. However, what really captivated me with this poem is the honest and powerful words that were conveyed through the text. I truly enjoyed that over time and change that there relationship stayed the same. Furthemore, this raw and detailed poem is extensive and truly shows the effort that was placed to create such a meaningful project. Once again, truly captivating.Lizette picture

Final Thoughts

These past two weeks in our course have felt like we have been in school for over 10 weeks… I am kidding! Although, what is so prevalent within this English 333 course is that we continue to challenge these preconceived notions and thoughts that we all have about writing practices in academia. Academically, this course is providing various examples on how writing can be produced in various genres and how there are many ways to make writing extremely meaningful to an individuals life. As I looked over my colleagues’ work, I realized how a simple poem like Lizette’s can provide so much context and meaning about an important aspect to a person’s life. Or how a poster can become an aesthetic piece of art that provides rhetorical power and characterization of an individuals life as well. As we learn more and more from this course, I cannot wait to see what we will further learn about advanced composition and how to create more meaningful writing practices within our future courses.

Author Bio: Ruben Mendoza is an undergraduate student at California State University, Chico, majoring in English Studies. As Ruben completes his final semester, his objective is to complete his Senior Honor Thesis: The Rhetorical Effects of Military Metaphors and Tropes During the Early AIDS Epidemic, which aims to highlight the binary opposition during the early AIDS epidemic by using a social semiotic approach. Ruben has served as a mentor in several English 130 courses (Freshman Composition) and a Teaching Assistant in English 332 (Introduction to Literacy Studies), focusing on providing access and equity to underserved students. Furthermore, his mentor position has contributed to students writing by supporting students with their academic writing practices. More importantly, Ruben will continue his graduate studies at San Diego State University by pursuing a degree in Rhetoric and Writing. And he loves pizza and beer…

picture ChristinaChristina Barbaccia

During the first week of class, we joined our G+ community and introduced ourselves to the class.  Many students did an excellent job of introducing themselves in an interesting way and provided us with snapshots of their lives.  This exercise also was a good reminder that people view the world from different perspectives and allowed us to learn new things about each other.  Although this is an online class, I already felt a connection to my classmates.  I can tell that everyone has the drive and focus to become an educator.

Make Cycle 1 began with three texts, which focused on how and why people share their ideas. In our first reading, What Do You Do with an Idea?, by Kobi Yamada,  the main character had an idea; however, he didn’t share his idea with anyone out of fear that the other kids would make fun of him. Brianna Carlucci experienced this hesitation and shared: “Your brain runs through so much before you actually decide”…because the fear is real!  I think the quote, “”It is good to have the ability to see things differently” (Sean Gamer) really resonated with a lot of students because it’s those who have the confidence to share their way of thinking with the world who help keep society moving forward.  Technology has changed the way we communicate with one another and many people today use social media and texting to keep in touch. In our second reading “Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast” by Andrea Lunsford, the author explains that there are many benefits to people communicating using social media. Many students are more “adaptable” (Walker)  to changes in literacy because technology is always innovating and changing language. Rayn Buford shared that she adjusts his message depending on the recipient: “Although I do in fact have a Facebook and Instagram account, I would never email one of my professors using hashtags or submit an application without revising it.” Lunsford’s ideas helped shed some light as to how technology has played a positive role in improving communicating with others in today’s world and I feel that the the response of students clearly showed agreement.

Finally, in the Ted Talk, “Txting is Killing Language, JK!” by John McWhorter, he further explained how technology has helped society encourage young people  to communicate more often than ever before.  He explained in the article that texting often gets a bad rap because texting is loose in structure and there is often no regard to grammar, punctuation and spelling rules. However, many of us learned that this loose structure can be a good thing. Texting allows us to be able to “Write the way we talk” (McWhorter, 5:33) and texting is encouraging more people to reach out and communicate with others.  Many classmates pointed out that when we are speaking we don’t “think about punctuation and capital letters” (Brianna Carlucci).  McWhorter pointed out that throughout history, college professors and adults have always had issues with communication styles of the youth.  Lizette Dolmos stated, “I had always heard the perspective of how texting is ruining how the younger generation writes today.” The article showed a lot of us that writing is “flexible” (Alice Thurber) and has evolved into something new. Texting is a new language that helps people focus more on the message being sent rather than a focus on the correct form of written words.

The second week shifted our focus to the way repetition, structure and italics can influence the meaning and impact of a piece of literature. I was excited that our class jumped into actual children’s literature so quickly, and I felt that the responses from my classmates echoed that enthusiasm. Rather than only reading what a professor had to say about these pieces, it was interesting and enlightening to read different reactions and responses from my classmates. Repetition can help create structure in the story. Erin Russo explains: “The repetition on certain lines made the story easy to follow.” One important aspect of the book that resonated with many students was the bullying aspect in Chrysanthemum.  

Throughout the book, a mean girl named Victoria made fun of Chrysanthemum’s name; these insults made Chrysanthemum feel embarrassed and uncomfortable about her name. Lisa Valdez explains that this repetition represents “how vulnerable and stripped Chrysanthemum felt when her name, the thing that makes her unique herself, was attacked.” Chrysanthemum also taught us to learn how to embrace our uniqueness and that one good teacher can make a difference in the world of a child.  Brittany Walker explains “when Victoria and the other girls made fun of Chrysanthemum’s name in Mrs. Twinkle’s class, Mrs. Twinkle had turned something negative into a positive.  Instead of allowing a student to make fun of another student, Mrs. Twinkle intervened and made Chrysanthemum realize she had a great name.” This part resonated with a lot of students because it’s important for teachers to intervene when bullying is going on and try to stop bullying in the classroom.

Another text that we focused on this week was a poem called A Girl named Jack, which focused on the use of italics. This poem captured the tension between the new parents and the in-laws, debating on a good name for the newborn. This tension was emphasized because the story is dialogue, and the author wants the reader to pay attention to the tension. One of the things that stood out to many students was the reasoning the father used to explain why he wanted to name their newborn daughter Jack; he believed that Jack would help his daughter “grow up strong… And she’ll make that name her own’ (Woodson, Lines 16-18).

This line stood out to Hannah Hughes who says, “I think the passion the Dad showed about naming his daughter shows the investment he has in her and that is beautiful.” The parents want their daughter to be confident in herself and want her to grow up and be tough; however, the mother already knew that as their daughter grew, she would be teased for having a boy’s name.  Another line that resonated with a lot of students was ““Jacqueline, just in case I grew up and wanted something a little bit longer and further away from Jack” (Woodson, Lines 42-46).  Yorleidi Langarica explains that the reason this line stood out was because “her mother was already thinking ahead of time. She wanted her daughter to have a choice since, well, you can’t choose your name when you’re born.” Using italics in the dialogue helps the reader understand how parents can put so much energy into picking the right name.

 Our last text for this cycle was another poem titled Second Daughter’s Second Day, which describes the author, an African American baby who was born in 1963 when the Civil Rights Movement was taking place. The poem explains that there were African American activists who fought for equality and the author italicized her inner thoughts concerning her potential to change the world. A lot of students found this poem to be inspirational because it shows that no matter one’s age, anyone can change the world.  Shelby Baccala offers, “This poem is powerful because it discusses the potential we all have from birth to change the world without even knowing.”  This poem inspires a feeling of hopefulness.  Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin points out the poem is a “reflection of how a baby would feel coming into this world, and what the possibilities are to change the future.” These readings teach us that using a certain structure and italics for certain parts helps the author’s’ main message stand out. My classmates and I enjoyed these readings because these topics are relatable to us and we have learned a lot about using simple techniques such as italicizing certain words to help the reader see the message of the author clearly.

Our last assignment was to create our first make, an artifact, which could be either a poem about ourselves or a personal story using a computer program called Storyjumper. Storyjumper is an online service that allows anyone to create their own children’s book. These poems or story books could be about how we got our name, the story of our birth, or anything else about the individual.  For example, one make that stood out to me was from Malena Hawks:

I am from a place where fruit is always growing,

   Almond trees blossoming and agriculture booming.

I’m from downtown filled with places to eat,

    The most amazing taco trucks and refreshing drinks.

I am from Thursday and Saturday markets with people constantly walking,

     People jamming, and locals selling.

I am from a place filled with history,

     Engaging museums, and a million adventures.

I am from beautiful parks with people jogging,

     Dogs swimming, and kids screaming.

I am from raging college students when school is in session,

     And quiet summers that are as hot as death,

     But winters filled with rain and cold.

I am from a place where Alergees get angry,

     Blossoms bloom, and colorful falls.

I am from your “home away from home”,

     A “small” town north of Sacramento..,

     A place you love,

     A very happy community…

I am from…

I am from… Chico, California.

Hawks wrote about where she was from and I noticed that she used some descriptive words in her writing to help the reader visualize this place. She also did a great job incorporating the text structure of Chrysanthemum by using repetition in her writing.  She wanted to make sure that she is standing out in the poem. Also, Hawks used repetition in her poem to provide consistency in her structure and in her writing.  

Another book that stood out to me was a Storyjumper book written by Riley Rogo titled “A Teacher in the Making.” The story was about how her life experiences have influenced Riley to pursue teaching as a career:

“Riley and her sister Sydney couldn’t wait to get home from school to play teacher.

What’s two Plus Three? She would ask her sister.

Hold on Mrs. Rogo. I will get it Mrs. Rogo” she replied.

Riley never knew she was a teacher in the making.”

Riley uses italics and repetition in her story to provide structure just like in this week’s mentor text Chrysanthum and in “A Girl named Jack.” Repetition provides structure in the story, making it easier for the young reader to follow along. In this example, she also italizces the dialogue to make the reader visualize the voices of the characters and focus on the conversation.  Also after every paragraph she would tell a little bit about her life and the last sentence would be “Riley Never knew she was a teacher in the making.”

The last Make that stood out to me was a Storyjumper book titled “Who Am I,” by Brittany Walker. She tells us the story of how she got her name and how she has learned to embrace who she is.  One line that stood out to me is:

“With billions of people in the world, you may have the same name as someone else, but you are what makes your name yours” (Walker, 7).

One important theme from this week’s cycle is everyone is unique in their own way.  Every individual has different backgrounds and different talents but if we learn to use our unique talents and abilities, we each have the potential to help change the world.  This week’s cycle one went well, and I can tell that everyone put their best effort into these assignments.  I feel that we learned a lot this week and I can’t wait to see what else is in store in this semester.  

Author Bio: Christina Marie Barbaccia was born in Yuba City, CA in 1996. She graduated this past year from Yuba Community College where she received her Associate’s Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences. She transferred to Chico State as a junior this past spring where she is working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies. Christina is also aiming to get a Master’s Degree in Education. She currently volunteers at Adventure Church of Yuba City as a Kindergarten Sunday School teacher assistant. She also enjoys creating art and she hopes that when she’s a teacher, she will be able to share her creative spirit with her students.

image KellieKellie Cabico

Phew!  Make Cycle One is done.  We had really great learning opportunities in this make cycle and everyone worked really hard. Well done everyone!  

The first week we learned about different views on what counts as writing and about embracing and nurturing our ideas. In Andrea Lunsford’s Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast” and John McWhorter’s Ted Talk, Txtng is Killing Language. JK!!,” we experienced two takes on how technology has impacted writing. Lunsford’s focus is on how today’s rapidly developing technology and the increasing number platforms for writing have given everyone more opportunities to develop their literacies through emails, texts, blogs and social media. And although many complain that these platforms are the downfall of writing as we know it, according to Lunsford’s research, the mistakes we are making in our writing may be different, but they are by no means more numerous. McWhorter focuses on texting in terms of linguistic evolution and calls it “fingered speech,” rather than “writing.”  Speech has changed throughout history and has evolved into how we speak today and since speech itself evolves, it only makes sense that communication does too. And finally, Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do With an Idea? explores the nurturing and protection of our ideas until we are brave enough to share them without regard for what the world thinks.  

In Week Two, we learned about some tools that make different kinds of writing effective and beautiful through three touching and powerful mentor texts.  In the poem, A Girl Named Jack, we experienced the back and forth rhythms of whispered dialogue in a family’s efforts to name their newborn baby girl. Second Daughter’s Second Day is also a poem about a newborn that uses its own back and forth rhythm with the alternating voices of the newborn and history to explore the mystery of the newborn’s future. Perhaps my favorite of the three, Chrysanthemum, is the story of a little mouse named Chrysanthemum whose love for her name is impacted by the opinions of the mean girls at school. It uses repetition, clever word choices and really lovely imagery to demonstrate Chrysanthemum’s feelings of being wilted or blooming about her unique name. The adults in Chrysanthemum did such a great job of handling a tough and all too common problem without humiliating anyone and yet Karma still managed to catch up with the mean girl. There was beauty and justice. All three of these stories painted really lovely word pictures using tools that we all hoped to attempt in our own writing.

The most amazing thing about this make cycle is that we didn’t just learn about writing. We learned about each other. We learned about each other through our first week introductions.  We learned about each other through our reactions to the the learning materials we watched and read. And we learned about each other through the rich and wonderful “makes” created by each of us.

Between Ruben Mendoza’s honest and powerful memoir, Pretty Hurts, Alice Thurber’s trip through Wonderland, the clever Storyjumper books, and the really wide variety of poems posted by my peers in week three, it was a really difficult task to pick just a few.  However, I was struck in particular by Lexi Mitchell’s poem, Small Town to Salty Sea.  The story of her journey to independence is beautifully told using dialogue, rhyme and the repetition of the line

Not with he or with them but with no one but me” and its variant “Not with he or with them but with no one but you.”  

I was also struck by Riley Duff’s poem, Roots, where she compares her own personal growth to the growth of a tree. Her comparison is beautifully done with branches reaching for independence and roots representing family and where she came from. The poem is wonderfully structured with rich imagery and repetition. Likewise, Julie Lafreniere’s Screech Owl paints a heartwarming picture of a six week old’s homecoming to her adoptive brothers with repetitive numbering of their faces, hands and toes, and also in her wide owl eyes. Perhaps my favorite is Catherine Strang’s untitled poem in which she gives the recipe for herself.  It’s an incredibly clever poem that combines, melts, and mixes dollops of places and people that make her who she is.  

With that said, every single make that was posted in this cycle spoke to me on some level.  And, while we each need this class to learn about writing in order to continue in our learning and career paths, I feel fortunate that we have such a wonderful opportunity to learn about ourselves and each other through this process.  Thanks, everyone.  I’m looking forward to Make Cycle Two!   

Author Bio: Kellie Cabico is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies in hopes of eventually becoming an elementary school teacher.  She lives in Tracy with her husband and two children, without whose love and support this next step in her life wouldn’t be possible.  

picture of ChadChad Lafenhagen

While reflecting back on the last two weeks of our first Make Cycle the things that stood out most for me were Kobi Yamada’s What Do you Do With An Idea?, John McWhorter’s speech “Txting is killing language. JK!!” and the poem A girl named Jack by Jacqueline Woodson. During the first week we were able to watch a video reading of What Do You Do With An Idea? which is a whimsical tale that takes you on a journey with a child and their idea that they eventually decide should be shared with everyone. As you progress through this story the idea brings more and more life to each page illustrating its almost magical effect on the surrounding world. The great illustrations coupled with an enlightening storyline are what made it stand out to me during make illustration

I think the main point of the book is to follow your own path regardless of the opinions of others. Many ideas do not come to fruition because of overly critical viewpoints. The only one holding us back from achieving our dreams is typically our self. I feel that those who can healthfully manage both positive and negative criticism have the best chance at achieving goals others may deem “too weird,” “a waste of time” or that will “never become of anything”. Writing is one way we can express our ideas and allow your inner self to become visible. I think this revealing of one’s inner self is what scares me and perhaps others from writing more than we do. It sort of leaves you feeling vulnerable allowing others that close to your inner self. Without writing, stories, ideas, and human history would be lost to future generations. Writing allows for the passing of vital knowledge that can benefit future generations.

Next, John McWhorter captured my attention in his witty, yet comical, Ted talk. He educates you on his atypical conclusion that texting is a new form of writing. Basically, speech put into words. One supporting fact given by him is that we don’t tend to check our spelling or grammar on spoken words during an informal conversation. I think that the idea here is that sometimes adjusting the way we look at something helps us to see it from a different, sometimes atypical, perspective in which you might find value in an object, idea, or even person that you might not have perceived before. I like to try and look at things from multiple perspectives so this speech stood out to me for Make One.

I think McWhorter is right about micro-literacies being a new form of language. Through my online gaming social interactions, I’ve actually had to be taught how to understand some of the texting language by the younger gaming members. Perhaps similar to how the British view the way Americans speak English, people get the misrepresentation that it’s a butchered form of the language instead of viewing it a an entirely new language or derivative. I also believe texting was formed out of the advance of technology. If you look at coding language or formulas for Excel, many abbreviations are used. So, perhaps the explosion of technology into society spilled some of this mindset over into written informal communication. People also communicate more frequently with each other and with more people than they did in the past. Writing a letter took time and effort, and then you had to mail it while waiting for days, if not weeks or months, for a response. In today’s society people get mad of they haven’t gotten a response after ten minutes. So maybe the increased frequency of writing developed the need for a less formal texting language. In the Japanese and Spanish languages there are both formal and informal styles of speaking. Both languages also have their own style of texting language, similar but different than what we use for English. For example, Spanish use “jajaja” how “lol” is used in English. Another thought is that we can read much faster than we speak or hear words. If language was used to represent speech, it would have to be less lengthy than written speech to retain the speech pattern. So I completely agree with McWhorter. The point is to use the correct form of speech in the right setting; just as you wouldn’t speak informally in Japanese or Spanish when the occasion calls for a more formal speech. Written speech should follow this pattern as well I feel.

During the second week, we had the privilege of reading the poem by Jacqueline Woodson. Not only was this an interesting poem, but hat stood out to me most were the comments made about it by the rest of the class. I found it interesting that everyone sort of pulled their own conflict out of the lines of freeform. There was certainly a healthy dose of female equality comments about the negative viewpoints of a girl receiving a name typically identified as being for a boy. I’ve witnessed similar archaic social beliefs as, right up until her death, my own grandmother complained about my daughters’ ear piercings by saying, “They don’t need any more holes in their head than the ones they were born with” and “They’re beautiful enough the way they came, why would you do that do them?” Similar to ideas presented in the book What Do You Do With An Idea?, I believe one needs to have enough confidence with their idea, despite nay-sayers, even if that idea is wanting to name your daughter Jack, Bob, or maybe even Bruce. However, you should also take into consideration the taunting your child might get with your idea. After all, they are the ones who have to live with the name.

Woodson’s poem touches upon a family’s viewpoint of naming a new baby girl the name Jack. The father wanted to name her a strong and bold name that was typically a male’s, but one she could make her own. I felt this idea sounded similar to the comment I made for Chrysanthemum about a person growing to fit a name, or the name growing to fit the person. I thought it was unfortunate the father didn’t get his choice to name her Jack, and that the mother went as far as even changing Jackie to Jacqueline so as to prevent the “ie” from being dropped and her ending up being called Jack later on. That’s some serious foresight or fear of her being given a name typically given to a male.

Everyone did such a great job on this project that I found it really difficult to single out just a few people’s first Makes, but to keep this from being too long of a post I had to settle on a few. That being said, I’d like to thank everyone for their hard work and creativity on this project; everyone should be extremely proud of what they worked on. The first Make that I would like to highlight is Rayn Buford’s poem “Rain Rain Go Away”

No sunshine outside, it is such a gloomy day.
Everyone is feeling bummed, a storm is headed this way.
Rain is so annoying, and although I found this to be true,
What people forget, is that rain doesn’t always have to be blue.
Rain provides the puddles that make children feel happy.
And rain is even where couple’s kiss, which is a positive type of sappy.
Rain can even be a name, which always catches people off guard.
My parent’s thought it was the perfect fit, which made Kindergarten hard.
School was new and exciting and definitely the place I wanted to be,
But I grew tired of my classmates chanting and laughing at me.
Today I stand tall, as I know I am beautiful and unique.
But when you first meet someone, never let yourself critique.
My name is “Rayn” and I am filled with sunshine, happiness, and laughter…
On those sad rainy days, there might just be a rainbow soon after.

Inspired by the book Chrysanthemum, Rayn decided to share her memories of being teased by other children for her beautifully unique name. Her post first caught my eye because of the wonderful picture she included with her poem. I loved her use of the somber feelings people commonly gravitate to on rainy days, and how her personality reflects the opposite of those emotions. Her own story was nearly a mirror image of the bullying Chrysanthemum endured for owning such a unique name. She expressed her own feelings of frustration and sadness at the torment along with her change in perception of her name and pride of it.

The next Make I wanted to mention was by Catherine Strang. It stood out for her creative use of a recipe to describe her family as a whole.

Begin with 2 parents and then add 2 more
Add 3 sisters and 1 brother
Combine to make 4.
Mix in 2 goofy uncles and 2 beautiful aunts
Melt 1 heart by a Rose
Then stir in 1 Gran and 1 Gramps
Substitute 1 table and half a dozen chairs
For a kitchen full of people
And dollops of ocean air
Bake these memories for 21 years
And now you have got a Caty or Cate

I loved the recipe idea. Every ingredient is vital when baking. So I loved how her poem made everyone in her family of almost equal importance in the overall creation and development of the individual that Caty has become today. This poem sort of evokes memories of your own family as she describes the ingredients that make up her family. There is a real sense of warmth that exudes from lines of her poem. I felt you get a great image of the closeness of her family and clearly determine how much her family means to her.

Cori Hale’s “The Path of Love” was also really creative. I liked the use of repetition in her poem and felt you could use it as a piece to inspire kids to write their own repeating poem about their families.

Born the name
Robin Reynee Roberts
Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr
Clumsy and awkward
Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr
Strong and stronger
Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr

In love and engaged
Married the name
Robin Reynee Hale
Rrrr Rrrr Hhhh…
Not so funny

Full hearts and baby belly
A name needed
Original and new
Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm
Family and girly
Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm

Born the name
Cori Christine Hale
Cccc Cccc Hhhh
Loved and different
Cccc Cccc Hhhh
Clumsy and awkward
Cccc Cccc Hhhh

In love and engaged
Married the name
Cori Christine Koranda
Cccc Cccc Kkkk…
Oh so funny

Cori’s poem also used methods from the book Chrysanthemum. I thought it was ironic that after growing up being teased about the initials of her name and eventually marring out of it only to have her own child married into another initial conundrum. Again, I really liked the repetition used with the initial of the family members and felt that if this poem was read to a group of children, that it could be a good tool to read to kids and let them model their own poems off of it.

Since all the Makes that I have mentioned thus far have been poem I thought I should also include someone who used Storyjumper to make a book. “How to Get a Name” by Raenni Pilgrim caught my eye because I have two daughters and they love horses, especially with wings.

I liked how in the story the name traveled around before finding the person it belonged to. The book seems to instill pride into the reader about their own name. I thought this book was great because many kids can be insecure about their names at an early age, especially if it’s different or rhymes with something children can tease them about. The story follows the name as it travels similar to how you travel with the boy and his idea in What Do You Do With An Idea? I also felt it borrowed from the techniques of Chrysanthemum, where the child is meant to feel proud about their name. The artwork and storyline I felt were really captivating for those of all ages.

Author Bio: Chad Lafenhagen was born in Illinois but moved with my family to San Diego, California when he was 6 months old. He considers himself more of a west coaster than a mid-westerner. He is most curious about different cultures and enjoys getting to know their customs and languages. He is conversational in Spanish and is working on teaching himself how to read Japanese. He is pursuing his multiple subject credential at Chico State and appreciates the broad range of subjects the major affords. 

Rebecca Barragan

I honestly loved seeing the students and the work they produced and how their makes turned out. Our makes could be made from different things or follow an exact format from the mentor texts or could be something completely different that worked for us. I really love how people post on a community and see their creativity and all the works that they have done and I love seeing the assignments that look so amazing once they post it. What I find the most interesting is when everyone shares their ideas in the comments and I love that that happens and when people share what think and if the post can be better. When I read through my colleagues makes I remembered that I loved what they had posted and I loved the postures that came along with it.

I honestly was really impressed and that was only make cycle one!

I will share below with you guys on the work that was posted and show you the work that people posted that stuck with me and showed me that they really took their time to post something great!

Born the name

Robin Reynee Roberts

Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr


Clumsy and awkward

Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr

Strong and stronger

Rrrr Rrrr Rrrr

In love and engaged

Married the name

Robin Reynee Hale

Rrrr Rrrr Hhhh…

Not so funny

Full hearts and baby belly

A name needed

Original and new

Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm

Family and girly

Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm

Born the name

Cori Christine Hale

Cccc Cccc Hhhh


Loved and different

Cccc Cccc Hhhh

Clumsy and awkward

Cccc Cccc Hhhh

In love and engaged

Married the name

Cori Christine Koranda

Cccc Cccc Kkkk…

Oh so funny

Cori Hales: I loved Coria Hales the path of love because it was super creative and honestly she did a great job with the repetition. This would be an awesome poem to show kids so maybe one day they can make a poem that repeats some stuff and flows nicely.

I love that Cori’s poem used the same methods from the book Chrysanthemum. I found this poem to be written very nicely and she was made fun of because of her name but then she got married and her name changed and then her child had to deal with another name thing. This is a great poem to be a model for other kids.

I would also like to point out how great of a job Rayn Buford’s poem was and that poem was called “Rain Rain Go Away”

No sunshine outside, it is such a gloomy day.

Everyone is feeling bummed, a storm is headed this way.

Rain is so annoying, and although I found this to be true,

What people forget, is that rain doesn’t always have to be blue.

Rain provides the puddles that make children feel happy.

And rain is even where couple’s kiss, which is a positive type of sappy.

Rain can even be a name, which always catches people off guard.

My parent’s thought it was the perfect fit, which made Kindergarten hard.

School was new and exciting and definitely the place I wanted to be,

But I grew tired of my classmates chanting and laughing at me.

Today I stand tall, as I know I am beautiful and unique.

But when you first meet someone, never let yourself critique.

My name is “Rayn” and I am filled with sunshine, happiness, and laughter…

On those sad rainy days, there might just be a rainbow soon after.

She used the book Chrysanthemum and wanted to share her memories of when she was teased with by some other kids for her name. Her story was just like Chrysanthemum’s story and she had her feelings hurt a lot because of her name.

Graciela Pablos made an acronym. Out of her name and she really did an awesome job! I agree with Graciela because I had trouble thinking of what to write as well for this one but she did a wonderful job!

She used words that her family and friends used to describe her and I found that a great idea!

Final thoughts: These past weeks have been great!!

Author Bio: Rebecca Barragan is getting her undergraduates degree at California State University Chico, majoring in Liberal Studies. She has two more semesters left until she graduates. She has a husband and a one year old boy who she loves dearly. She wanted to be a teacher but now she is thinking she might want to be an officer in the Air force after she gets her degree!


Looking ahead to weeks 3 & 4

Looking ahead to weeks 3 & 4

As I have said a couple times now, I am incredibly impressed with your responses and your conversations with peers in our G+ community. Makes me very excited about the things you will write and make this semester.

Here are a few things to notice as we move to Make Cycle 2:

  1. First of all, Make Cycle 2 is now posted: Purposeful Storytelling. You can find the page in the drop down menu under Make Cycles. I look forward to generating ideas for stories with you.
  2. I’ve highlighted the work of your peers from the mentor text assignment this week. You all are doing such great work, but thought it would be nice to have some examples that model some thoughtful approaches to writing about the mentor texts. Thank you to Samone, Christina, and Lisa! You can find examples under the Example Student Work page at the top of our course site.
  3. We will start our work with the book About the Authors. Up first: reading chapter 1 and Units A & B and noticing the interesting thinking that small kids are capable of with writing.
  4. Grading: I use GradeBook Pro for my grading app. On Monday (2/5), you will receive an email to your Wildcat mail with a grade update for the work in Make Cycle 1 and then you can expect weekly or bi-weekly grade updates. Grade updates are always sent to your Wildcat Mail.
  5. Featured Curators: On the assignment page (and below), you should notice the Featured Curator assignment now lists your names. Please check to see which Make Cycle and week you are assigned to be our featured bloggers. Thank you to Christina, Kellie, Chad, Ruben, and Lisa who agreed to go first!  When your time is near, I will send a more detailed email to that week’s team.

Here is your bi-weekly video update where I try to expand on the reminders and work that is coming up:


Look forward to reading and viewing your first Makes! Due tomorrow night and remember to include a description of your process and goals for the make. Check assignment on the Make Cycle 1 page.

Assignment: Featured Curators (25 points)

During one of the Make Cycles, you (and several classmates) will read, respond, and celebrate your classmates’ processes and product. Once the make projects have been posted to the Google+ community, you will write a post about your observations of the writers and the work they produced, featuring a few of the projects to show particular attributes that you find compelling, innovative, or otherwise interesting. These featured blogs will also share with an outside audience the reading we’ve been doing and the discussions we’ve been having.

You’ll write this summary and reflection in a Google Doc and share with me: I will post on our course website as a featured blog. These will be due by Mondays following a make cycle.

There really is not a wrong way to do this. The task is to look over the “makes” from your peers and choose a few to highlight (3-4?). Explain why you’ve chosen those peer’s examples: what is interesting or compelling or innovative? Then reflect on the work over the last two weeks: what ideas have been interesting and stuck with you from the readings or discussions? What are our take-aways for this make cycle that we might want to keep in mind for our future classrooms?

Make Cycle 1 (write up due Feb 6): Christina Barbaccia, Kellie Cabico, Chad Lafenhagen, Ruben Mendoza, Lisa Valdez

Make Cycle 2 (write up due Feb 20):Samone Burge, Brianna Carlucci, Julie Lafreniere, Rebecca Lee, Sandra Nyland, Brittany Walker

Make Cycle 3 (write up due March 6): Shelby Baccala, Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin, Rayn Buford, Jillian Barsotti, Chelsea Peterson, Rebecca Spears, Alice Thurber, Jamie Xayacheck

Make Cycle 4 (write up due March 26; after break): Rebecca Barragan, Cheyenne Boles, Adriana Cea, Hannah Hughes, Sean Gamer, Alma Lopez, Erin Russo

Make Cycle 5 (write up due April 10): Maritza Caceres, Lizette Chavez, Yorleidi Langarica, Caitlin Micko, Josue Nava, Salina Rodriguez

Make Cycle 6 (write up due May 1): Dana Curiel, Nancy Diezmo, Karen Fawns, Janette Herrera, Bianca Nava Guevara, Veronica Oregel, Raenni Pilgrim

Here is the example from Make Cycle 1 last semester