Weekly Video Updates

Make Cycles

Our course is organized by two week “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. We will read, discuss, and write based on the mentor texts we’re reading. 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. Peter Kittle’s class will be joining us too.

Month: February 2018

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 Make Cycle 1 has now been archived to the Make Cycle page.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: Ruben, Christina, Kellie and Chad

Featured Curators: Ruben, Christina, Kellie and Chad

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 one.book 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. 

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: kjaxon@mail.csuchico.edu. 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