Make Cycles

Our course is organized by “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. You can find the 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: March 2018

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 4: Hannah, Cheyenne, Samone, Adriana, Alma, Erin, and Sean

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 4: Hannah, Cheyenne, Samone, Adriana, Alma, Erin, and Sean

Hannah Hughes

Hello everyone! I truly hope you all had a lovely spring break! Now that we have sprung forward with the time change, and in this class, we are that much closer to becoming teachers in our own classroom! Being part of this google community and sharing with all of you the last couple months has been extremely inspiring! Each new discussion and make cycle has added a new layer to our writing repertoire that will help us as we learn how to teach our students how to write. We started the week off by discussing the 4th and 5th chapters of our book, About the Authors: Writing Workshop With Our Youngest Writers. Then we looked at some great mentor texts to help develop our idea of what compelling argumentative writing looks like. And finally, we created our own persuasive works to share with the community.

Chapter 4 really begins to take an overall look into the steps it takes for students to write books. One of the big ideas expressed in this chapter is that writing must be an enjoyable process that helps students find their own writing strengths as they learn to create. Students need to feel they are already adequate with their skills they arrive with so they can learn to build off of where they are at. I really appreciate the book allowing us as future teachers to see this viewpoint because often students who feel they can’t meet the expectations of being a “good” writer won’t even try. Dana C touched on this matter in her response and said, “A six-year-old’s writing differentiates from an experienced writer. We cannot expect so much from them at such a young age when they are still learning and growing. We must be there to support them. This was a lot of help when I began to think about myself as a future teacher. I want to teach first grade, so I know now that I have to start slow and let my students show me what they can do when it comes to their writing then slowly bring in tips and tricks in order for them to gain knowledge upon their writing.” I love how she acknowledges and summarizes in her own words how she now has a better understanding of how to teach her future students to write because of this chapter.

Chapter 5 takes a look at what connections are being made when we look at texts and then imagine them into our own ideas. I love how Lisa focuses on teaching her students strategies for writing instead of giving the ideas to write about. On page 84, a quote that really stood out to me was

“We keep coming back to this point of identity again and again because we just can’t get away from how significant it is to the learning we see.”

When children have an identity about their work, they feel like they can take on and expand their own ideas, as well as others. A technique I know many of us found really neat in chapter 5 was the fishbowl strategy. Lisa Valdez points out that “The ‘fishbowl’ conferences are also a great way to have the children learn what to expect in their own conferences, as well as minimize any anxiety they may feel. It also can help them to see what is expected of them, so that they can make their own adjustments prior to their own conferences. It reinforces the idea that the conferences are not punitive, but constructive.” We all know peers are one of the biggest influences children have in their lives. That reaches to all areas including school work. Of course, I think that making sure that as teachers we make the effort to process these “conferences” with our students will make a huge difference to how effective the fishbowl strategy will actually be.

After learning a bit about the writing process, we took a look at some mentor texts to help inspire us with our makes. A text I really enjoyed was I Wanna Iguana, by Karen Kaufman Orloff. This is a story about Alex who wants to adopt his friend’s iguana. I found it interesting how the book is told from both his and his Mom’s perspectives as they write notes to each other. Alex doesn’t just whine and beg to get the iguana, but carefully constructs persuasive arguments why he and this iguana belong together. Veronica Oregel shares her thoughts on this mentor text saying: “The authors expressed their opinions through the characters in their stories and did it very well. For example, Alex was not faced by his parents telling him no he could not have something. Instead he got creative and found different ways of asking until a compromise was met between parents and child.” I think this is great way to help students understand why creating such thoughtful argumentative writings within the context of their own life can be useful. All of the mentor text assignments we have done thus far have been really easy to imagine how they might translate into assignments I can use with my future students. However, the use of these argumentative texts seems like such a fun way to get creative and help students learn how to develop and organize their own ideas about what they want in life.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin was a very funny and cute picture book that uses the argumentative writing style to tell the story. It was really neat to be able to see it from the side of the cows and I loved how the animals were coming up with their arguments of what they needed in order for the farmer to comply. Brittany Walker touches on the personification used in this text. She says, “The author gave human characteristics to the animals. Obviously, cows can’t talk or type on a type writer, however the author really made the reader see the side of the cows and their wants and needs. For instance, the cows told the farmer that the barn was very cold at night and they wanted some blankets. I also liked how the animals were coming up with their arguments of what they needed in order for the farmer to get what he wants. This would be a great writing assignment for students to take to role of someone or something else. They could write an argumentative piece in character that has wants or needs that they need to convey to someone else.” One of my favorite things to read about in our discussions is when others comment on ideas of how they might implement some of these strategies into their own classrooms. I am always taking note of these amazing ideas you all have shared!

My favorite part of the weekly cycles are the makes of course! There are always so many makes that surprise and inspire me! These personalized projects really allow us the opportunity to practice what we want our students to do, which is to create works that are meaningful, compelling, and well thought out. For the assignment this week, we had many options to choose from: an advice column, a series of posters, a flyer, an advertisement, a book etc. Many of these projects were compelling because of the message they were conveying, while others were interesting because of their visual appeal.

Quite a few of our makes this week touched on some topics that were not quite as light hearted as wanting an iguana, but conveyed extremely important messages about mental health that are so relevant and necessary in our world today! It meant a lot to me that so many of our future teachers shared this message. One I took notice to immediately was a series of posters that was created by Raenni Pilgrim. Her posters used a pineapple as a message of positivity to help students with self esteem. The second poster, in her series of 3, she used an alphabet poem with the word pineapple, which is visually appealing and helps to get across the message in a fun way. I really love what she had to say about why she wanted it to be so bright and colorful even though the topic can be dark. “I created an anti bullying campaign that is geared toward positivity and encouraging students instead of telling them don’t bully. When you google anti bullying you usually see a big red circle with the word bully crossed out in the center. I wanted my posters to motivate higher self esteem in students or to at least start the ball rolling on helping others.”

Another make that caught my eye right away was Grace Pablo’s posters on homelessness. The images combined with message on the posters were extremely moving. I loved how she was able to have such a strong message with so few words. Grace was able to touch on the stereotypes these people face regularly: “When thinking of homelessness many automatically think of people who end up on the streets because of drug or alcohol abuse. It is easy to judge and criticize them based on what they look like.” Immediately a thought that comes to my mind, is that one day, we may have a child in our classroom who is homeless, or have family who are homeless. Our attitude in the classroom towards others will create the atmosphere they thrive, (or don’t thrive) in. Lexi Mitchell commented on Grace’s make saying “’s so easy to pass judgement on anyone, but especially the homeless. I really like how your make gave them a voice.” The notion that our writing can be a way to give someone a voice, who otherwise might not have one, whether it be a cow on a farm, or a judged homeless man, is a powerful thing.

A really fun make to read this cycle was the story jumper book “Happy, Healthy, Super Teeth” written by Beatriz Salazar. She used a style of writing to make a topic that is actually important and serious feel accessible to students. She used really adorable images along with great information to express the importance of taking care of your teeth. Just like our mentor text Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type, Beatriz did a great job using personification to tell her story. The different teeth all take turns explaining who they are and why they are important to take care of! It was very cute.

The last make I want to touch on that I connected with was Alma Rose Lopez’ Autism Awareness flyer.

This is a subject I am extremely passionate about myself. I work in the field of early intervention for children under the age of 3 who are having social and communication delays and are possibly at risk for Autism. I also have a child of my own who is 4 and has special needs. As awareness is spreading, in both the school setting and in society in general, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to have Autism. On her flyer she puts “Awareness is a step closer to breaking stereotypes that get drawn to everyone but mostly get drawn to those that are considered “disabled” on not being able to make a living or contribute to society.” Alma did a wonderful job of highlighting important information about people with Autism, as well as including in large print when World Autism Awareness Day. This gives us a way to act on what we have read, or even just learn more about it. I love how she says this about her make, “I also included pictures to get a visual perspective on the don’ts and the overall meaning of Autism in people. Honestly, I think I was influenced by all the mentor’s texts on trying to prove a point. I guess I kind of combined all the mentor’s meanings and created a new type towards my work.” We want our students to be able to use ideas from many different resources and use what works for them and I think Alma did a great job showing us how that can be done.

Honestly, there were a lot of powerful and amazing makes that I did not mention. I know with Spring Break it may have been easy for us to put reading through them all on the back burner, but you will not regret taking the time to read not only the ones mentioned on the blog, but everyone’s! We had Professor Kittle’s class join us for this make, so we have even more inspiration and knowledge to add into our teaching buckets than usual! I know mine is overflowing with ideas right now!

Author Bio: My name is Hannah, I am 30 years old. I am from the Bay area but have lived in the Chico and surrounding area for the last 12 years. I am a very busy lady! I work full time, am a mom to four-year-old with special needs, a wife to a disabled vet, and I am finally in my last year of college! I love to hike and just take random (day) road trips as a little family. I also like reading, cooking, or watching Netflix, as well as watching/listening to podcasts and Ted talks. I have worked in the community for the past 10 years directing local after school programs, but about two years ago I switched from after school life to early intervention, where I found my love of working with special needs kiddos. That inspired me to get back in school to finally reach my goal of being a teacher. I can’t wait!

Cheyenne Boles

I am so happy to have a chance to write about make cycle four because it has so far been my most favorite. I love anything that’s trying to persuade me just because it feels like a test.

We started out these last couple weeks with Chapter 4 and 5 from About the Authors. Both of these chapters honestly made me a little nervous about becoming teacher just because how truly difficult it can be to really teach children the essence of preplanning and brainstorming before creating a story or even a simple homework sheet. In Chapter 4, there was an example that hit home 100% with me: a young boy was writing a short story on snakes; he changed the word mistake to “missnake.” When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade I did this exact thing (different word of course) and the teacher turned it down just like the boy in Chapter 4. I think things like this is so important to allow children to do even though it may not be the most grammatically correct. Chapter 4 really pushed this because taking the imagination away from our students also allows them to lose their motivation when creating these future stories.

Chapter 4 also talked about letting children feed off of each other’s work and to not see it as copying. Allowing them to choose their topic and take an idea that their friend did the week before and make their own is the foundation of an amazing short story! This really provides some self help not to mention the inspiration from their peers instead of the teacher.

Chapter 5 had just as amazing viewpoints as Chapter 4; in fact, some that I can’t wait to use in my future classroom. The first one being, bringing in books that inspire your students to make one just like it, or a book that has a format that you would love to see some of your students try. When reading these books, it would be really good to point out “look at this, look at what this writer is doing, this is so cool, maybe one of you could try this next time”: just some boosts of knowledge without fully telling them what you’re wanting them to do. The thing I loved most about Chapter 5 was that it provided the insider knowledge of a “walk through,” this being, take a book and read it aloud while having the students point out the things they noticed or might like to use next time with their own story line.

The next section we were asked to tackle was Appendix E. This section really focused on text structures and how creating them can make six year old work that much better as simple as it may be. On pages 180 and 181 it gives actual examples of text structures of a book about sea creatures, and although it may not flow like a college level essay, it has the basic idea of things that live in the ocean such as Octopi, Sharks, Dolphins and Whales. Something as simple as different text boxes helps the students really learn and understand what they’re writing about as well as preparing themselves for a flowing essay just by adding the transition sentences.

Then for my favorite part of this make cycle, the mentor texts! These children’s books were funny, cute, and had a lot of great ideas for future adult and children writers. The first one was I Wanna Iguana and it was so fun and totally relatable. I really liked how many of these texts used the illustrations to make the letters come to life. The arguments between the characters (mother and son) were so much like the conversations I used to have with my mom at that age. The young boy’s points to his arguments made me wonder why I never thought of that when I was trying to win over a puppy in the 3rd grade.

The second book we read was Click Clack Moo; this book was one I have read before and I think it’s a really fun one for the kids because what isn’t fun about animals coming to life let alone knowing how to argue and type! The repetition in this book was strong and really helpful to follow along even when the animals changed from cows to ducks, etc. My favorite out of all the books we read was The Day The Crayons Quit. I have never seen something so cute and original in my entire life! The illustrations were amazing and I love all the little details! The letters were the color of the crayon writing the message and some of the illustrations drifted over into the other page to make it more realistic and fun hearted. The author did an amazing job on this book and I really look forward to using it in my future classroom.

The last story we read was I Want a New Room. This book was written by the same author of I Wanna Iguana; he put such hard work and creativity into his stories I would definitely recommend them to anyone.

Our final step to Make Cycle 4 was our “makes.” We had the option of many different things such as campaign posters, argument passages, Advice columns and many more. I personally chose to make three campaign posters on empowering women, but I chose a few of my favorites to share with you created by my fellow classmates.

Raenni Pilgrim did the first one I want to share with you. She decided to make some hand drawn posters, which I loved! Her focus was anti bullying and her posters promoted positivity and encouragement to not bully. The thing that made me notice her posters was the fact that they are much different then the typical anti bullying poster (red circle with a line through it). Also she targeted the victim rather than the bully; her focus was to build them up and not allow harsh actions tear them down.

Erin Spranger did the second one I chose to highlight. Erin chose to do a rant, which I found quite funny. She rants about slow walkers and how they are so distracted by their phones. This couldn’t be more true! People get so caught up in social media, a text message or an email, and although it may be important it is so annoying for those around them! I really enjoyed Erin’s post and I thought you might also.

Dear slow walker,
I understand that you might not want to go where ever it is that you are going, but at least try to walk in a straight line. By not walking in a straight line, it is preventing me from passing you. It is also causing me to be later to my destination than I was originally planning. When you choose to not walk in a straight line and I try to pass you, it causes you to almost run into me because you start drifting over to the side I’m trying to pass you on.
I also understand that whatever it is, maybe a text message, that is making you to stare at your phone, causing you to progressively slow down, may be important. But if you are going to slow down because you are trying to not run into anything while you stare down at your phone, step off to the side. Don’t cause everyone else who is in a hurry to get to where they are going to walk slower because you aren’t being considerate. Or just wait to look at your phone until you get to where you are going. Nothing is that important to cause you to hold up people trying to walk because you are trying to read the message that was sent you.
So please, I’m begging you slow walker, either walk in a straight line to allow people to go around you or step off to the side to read that, “It’s too important to wait” message on your phone.

The annoyed person behind you

The last “make” I wanted to share with you was done by Baylee Galloway. Baylee wrote an advice column from a girl wanting advice about moving in with her boyfriend. I love how personal she made it by really seeming like “Confused Caty” needed some serious advice. The response given to Caty was very professional and helpful! I really do think that if anyone in our class was going through a similar problem, they could totally take her advice.

Baylee’s Post:

Ask Amy, I am in desperate need of your help!
My boyfriend I have been with for about a year now asked me to move in with him!! I don’t know if me moving in with him will be too fast or if I should just do it. But moving in with someone is a big deal. I mean I like him love him maybe but this is a big commitment. What if he just absolutely drives me crazy if I move in??? Sometimes I just want to be alone and have my own space you know? I’ve lived by myself a long time what if I can’t live with anyone else?
Please help I have no idea what to do!
Sincerely, Confused Caty

Dear Confused Caty,
You’re right moving in with your significant other is a big step in any type of relationship. But him asking you shows where he wants your relationship to go. It seems like he is in it for the long haul. Write out a pros and cons list of living with your partner, write down all of the potential problems and issues that you two might encounter. Ultimately you have to ask yourself if you are ready to take that next step in your relationship with him. If you are talk to him about all of the things that you are weary about. Talking and letting your partner know where you stand and how you are feeling is always important. It shows that you care and want to talk through your feelings.
I hope this helped!!
Sincerely, Ask Amy

All of these stories and texts for this makes cycle were so interesting and super enjoyable so I was very excited to get to be a featured blogger this week. I hope you enjoyed!

Author Bio: This is my first semester at Chico State to get closer to my ultimate goal of being an elementary teacher. I am 20 years old and am a momma to the cutest fur baby, Pongo. He is a pit-bull that just turned one year old and is totally named after 101 Dalmatians. I love all things Disney and, of course, shopping!

Samone Burge

For Make Cycle 4 we read chapters 4 and 5, along with Appendix E. We observed the argumentative letters from our mentor texts, and even had the opportunity of creating our own form of persuasive writing.

For the first the About the Authors portion of Make Cycle 4, the response that stood out to me the most was done by Dana C. think that I was so intrigued by her response style because it sort of reminded me my own. Often times I want to write something short and sweet but can never seem to complete an assignment without sharing all that I have learned and observed from the book. In reading Dana’s response, I felt like she must be the same way as she had so much insightful content to share and I am so glad that she did. While both of our responses had a lot of information, Dana gave me a new perspective on the same topics and delve deeper into topics of the chapter that I barely scratched the surface of.

Chapter 4 took us deeper into teaching even the youngest students the process of writing.This chapter of About the Authors showed us how students can use the writing process to write books. They begin with prewriting. Prewriting includes finding ideas for writing projects, so based on the instruction of the teachers, students will choose what topic to cover within that introduction. It also includes growing ideas for a writing project, for a young author this means learning to take the time to think and talk about the idea they want to write about, before they actually begin to write it down. The final step of the prewriting is planning and drafting. The chapter then goes into the details of revision, editing, and publishing.

The most interesting part the author shared was how they don’t wait for students to learn the rules of writing before allowing them to write. They have students write first and uncover the rules of writing along the way. I was drawn to Dana C.’s response because she seemed to notice the same thing. Dana C really underlined the importance of allowing the children to learn to write through writing:

I learned quite a bit. Many of those things were eye opening and made me realize I cannot rush students into the writing process. Each student may have their own process, but the main thing is to get them writing first then later focus on the rest. As teachers, we have to learn from our students and see what works best for them” (Dana C).

I was really intrigued by her interpretation of the chapter because in her response she pointed out how as teachers we must start slow and have realistic expectations for young writers. Through Dana’s response I learned that we can teach children through their own knowledge of writing (allowing them to build upon prior knowledge of writing and simply get started first) and still expect their best efforts without pressuring them to produce the work of professional writers at this point: “A six-year-old’s writing differentiates from an experienced writer. We cannot expect so much from them at such a young age when they are still learning and growing. We must be there to support them” (Dana C).

Chapter 5 was all about the whole class lessons the author gives young students to help them explore the possibilities of writing. They expose the students to different styles of writing and allow the children to uncover differences and similarities and to begin to realize that they can try and incorporate these different forms of writing into their own work. I thought this was brilliant because it helps children to naturally build up a knowledge of writing skills through learning first hand from experienced authors. Dana couldn’t have put the ideas behind the mini lessons better when she said, “…it shows us different ideas on how to teach students to write rather than what to write. The students already have their own ideas on what it is they want to write about, but we must just help them find ways to write about those certain ideas” (Dana C).  

Appendix E was about teaching children to structure texts in interesting ways.  The author teaches the children to recognize the structure of texts by helping them see the same structures used by different authors in different books so that they understand that the particular structure is not limited to one particular author or one particular text.  Dana helped me understand this lesson in a new way: “Appendix E taught me that structured texts are very important. As teachers, we should make sure our students know that each and every one of their ideas or thoughts can combine in order to make one big idea” (Dana C). Her perspective really opened my eyes to how important helping children to understand and compare and contrast structure of others’ writing is in developing their own writing. These are the types of responses needed to really learn from others!

The Mentor texts this week were from the books: I Wanna Iguana, The Day the Crayons Quit, Click Clack Moo, and I Wanna New Room. Each of these stories gives a riveting demonstration of argumentative writing. When I began observing the responses to the mentor texts, the one that stood out to me the most was from Karen Fawn. Where I think my brain mostly focused on simply the arguments and bright illustrations of each persuasive story, Karen noticed so much more:

“I did notice that all four of the books used quite a bit of figurative language like personification, hyperboles, alliteration, and sarcasm” (Karen Fawn).

Karen taught me that I Wanna Iguana used a lot of hyperboles like when the mom said nobody would marry him with a six foot reptile. I also noticed that Karen and I were both drawn to the fact that each story was shared in a way that appeared like real handwritten or typed letters on each page. She pointed out to me that Click Clack Moo was full of personification because the cows are doing so many human things like typing. She also taught me about pathos and logos by informing me about how these are used in The Day the Crayons Quit, as the crayons play on the reader’s emotions and facts and demonstrations in order to persuade them to their point. What I loved most about Karen’s response was that it was educational but in a very entertaining and humorous way. With each sentence I could feel myself smiling from what she said and found myself wanting to read on and learn more. This is what is needed in a teacher!  

The final part of Make 4 was the most exciting. It was where we students got the chance to create persuasive work of our own. I chose to do a letter inspired by The Day the Crayons Quit to myself written from my over worn black boots, but my favorite make was also inspired by this story from Chelsea Peterson. In her make, “The Great Toy Rebellion, the toy cars write a letter to Nicholas about how they don’t like to be smashed by big trucks or rolled through mud. The dragon is tired of having to play the bad guy and the firetruck is depressed about being replaced by Batman. The favorite toy, Batman, has no complaints and no sense of modesty. He loves being the top toy and believes everyone else is just jealous. This was such an awesome read and a beautiful demonstration of argumentative writing. This is what is needed in an author!  

Each of these Make 4 curators taught me so much about our learning process this week. I learned to observe our readings, mentor texts, and make assignments in a new way that will force me to think harder and dig deeper for future assignments.

Author Bio: I am Samone and I just turned 29 years old. I have been happily married for 9 years, and I have four children ages 10, 7, 5, and two. I have been working as a preschool teacher at my former community college for about 3 years and I love it. I lie awake at night because I am woken up with new ideas about fun ways to teach children. I have a hard time focusing because I have so many things I want to do in arts and crafts and teaching but they all revolve around children. I have always known I wanted to be a wife and mother and have always had the feeling I was meant to teach. I love preschool but am excited about exploring the kindergarten age. My goal is to spread the joy of learning like wild fire, so no one and nothing will ever be able to put it out.  

Adriana Cea

Hi everyone. I just wanted to say that the quality of work that everyone has produced is amazing. When we started this class I truly was intimidated by writing and having such “broad” guidelines. I think that our text does a good job of making writing simple and enjoyable. When taking these methods into our writings, it really does make our work so much better and it is clear with all the work that everyone is producing, so good job!

When taking a step back and looking at all the Makes it was really difficult to pick just a couple. I think one thing that all the Makes have that made them stand out to me is the fact that people wrote about something personal or issues that are currently in the spotlight. Chapter 4 and 5 really breaks down making writing simple and creating a routine in which students always know what to expect. Chapter 4 talks about each and every break down of writing like brainstorming, closing, and editing for punctuation and spelling. Chapter 5 also gives use more examples of how to combine writing into everyday activities. I think the most important aspects that we take away from both chapters has to be routine of writing and embedding writing into every day. To create quality work we must change the way we go about writing.

Here are some of my favorite makes this week from our peers:

Ashley Evans and her argument about banishing Child Leashes: Ashley immediately grabbed my attention with her interesting argument and catchy title. I personally hate leashes but I wanted to see what kind of arguments can be used so that we can get rid of those things.  I have always thought that the leashes make the children look like pets, which they clearly aren’t, but I never really thought much about any more arguments. Ashley states, “Parents exerting excessive control: Young kids need direction and in most cases that comes from their parents setting guidelines. It’s not overboard to make a child with a bad temperament do some things they don’t want, but strapping a leash on them is not one of those things. There are cases, and most people may have witnesses a situation similar, when the child is showing strong disdain towards wearing the “child harness.” I think that the about of information Ashley gave is important because it gives us logic. She accurately defended her reasons and gives us more logical explanations, such as the fact that a child harness can create certain feelings with the children. She also did it in a way that was easy to understand and it wasn’t filled with confusing science.

Yorleidi Langarcia’s arguments on DACA really hit close to home. Over the weeks of our course, our work has proved that if it comes from a personal places, it makes out writing so much better. I was drawn to Yorleidi’s arguments because of the tension there is regarding DACA and immigration reform. I think Yorleidi did an amazing job about giving us all of the information over DACA and giving us helpful tips. I believe that it doesn’t matter what side of the argument you are on, but we have to find a way to fix the current situation. Your Tapatio salsa is also pretty funny and brings a little bit of laughter into an intense situation. I also think that adding links with important information made her posters stand out. She is not only giving her argument but adding supplement information about DACA. I could definitely see her posters being distributed to people. I know many people who are documented and are still afraid of police and ICE. I think a chunk of this comes from misinformation and lack of information about their rights. I think having this information is important. Good job getting all this information together.

Janette Herrera’s argument on the Nation’s Walk Out Protest and gun violence in schools was refreshing. I really enjoyed reading information by someone who actually experienced the protest. I think right now we have a lot of misinformation going around that will stun the solution. I think the simple slogan of “Thoughts and prayers aren’t bulletproof” is powerful. I live a few minutes away from where a man went on a rampage killing his wife, making his way to a school while killing people on his way and then opening fire on campus while children were going to class. The shooting at Rancho Tehama really changed everything for us. Schools now are doing lock down drills every week and the police presence at schools have increased.  While I don’t think that banning guns will fix the issue, giving our youth a chance to give their opinions in situations that are impacting them will be the change that we needed. I have students that start freaking out over the sound of a book dropping on the floor. Having people start the conversation is the beginning of all the change.

Good job everyone! It was hard to pick out work so keep up all the good work!

Author Bio: My name is Adriana Cea and I just transferred over from Butte College. I hope to finish completing my bachelors at Chico State in the next couple semesters. I love working on my art and expanding my knowledge in the arts. I love spending time with my many siblings and just getting out of my regular routines. I am constantly curious about education and new information and techniques.

Alma Rosa Lopez

After reading chapter four, I liked that there are ways to discover a variety of processes students use on their writing. I like how the writing processes are based on the students needs and how their mindsets may process writing overall and how they can use their own writing. I like the idea one of the  the authors had on allowing the students to write first that way they can write however they are used to writing before a process is established on them. This is a way to kind of observe and see where a student stands before creating a process that doesn’t suit them at all on their development of writing. Giving students a step by step process can be difficult for them to focus on or even remember! So I believe it’s best to just focus on one thing at a time until they have improved that skill, at least when students are beginning to learn about writing. Also, before students start to learn about errors, I think they need to focus on their thoughtful writing and why it’s important to create a piece of writing that has some thoughts before learning about revisions among minor edits and errors. Once they have achieved that they then will receive guidance in increasing their development and adding a couple more steps at a time. The authors make a great point on how important it is to help students develop their skills and increase their ability. Also, when students are set on one step they will feel confident to move on and won’t forget the step due to them fully understanding it.

After reading chapter five, I got to learn a lot on what’s appropriate on operating mini lessons with students. I liked how the lessons are based on “sharing control” and allowing students to lead, discuss, or even operate a certain part of the lesson. It can be stressful and discomforting at times for a teacher or students based on reactions and quality given. Giving the students the ability to run a lesson or lead a certain part of the lesson is giving them an opportunity to express their knowledge and look forward to it. It also is giving students an opportunity to learn from each other, such as how Kayla taught and expressed her book idea to the whole class. Students can learn a lot from each other and get lots of practice on how to help one another and express their knowledge to the whole class. Before connecting students works with other mentor texts it’s important as a teacher to learn and teach about the author’s texts beforehand in order to help students make connections of those texts with their own. Overall, the ideal goal is to give and guide students towards some techniques they can use on their writing, instead of teaching them what to write. The overall concept of the lessons is to get students to thinking about how they got their ideas and illustrations from. This gets them to thinking like future authors and understanding and connecting with how the authors are inspired.

In the Unity Study E,  I was able to learn the importance of text structure and how important it is to include it and teach it. By teaching students text structure you are allowing and guiding students to think in a “tangible way” on how they write. This helps the students get to focus on how they write in a thoughtful process, while creating less errors and revisions. I like that the authors included text structure as being important and something that teachers should observe and connect them to examples on which can be very helpful for students. This also will help students on learning different types of text structures and how to examine them among others works. For example, Kayla had a structure of repetition among her informative text  on showing us what animals are capable of doing. Overall, text structure is important to establish and observe the structures there are out there Once someone is able to find text structures in other texts they then will know how they might establish their own structure.

The interesting discussions we had about the ideas this week in our G+ Community was on how powerful mini lessons can be for students on being able to “share control” on the lesson being taught or discussed. This allows students to look forward to leading the lesson and getting to  share and express their way of thinking and feeling that they are having throughout the lesson. Another interesting discussion we had was on how important it is to help students get on the right direction with guidance but without discouraging their thoughtful process they have on writing the way they do.

After looking at all the makes in make cycle four, three stood out to me. One of them being Raeni Pilgrims’ make. She created a great make on a way to help students reflect on themselves and on others. Her idea on creating an anti bullying poster is needed for students and in a classroom setting to create awareness. I like her different take on her posters: instead of telling students right away what they shouldn’t do, she creates a motivational message on helping students see how they can build up their self-esteem and towards others. Students look at these posters and learn to understand and think about the actions needed to take place to create a safe environment. Overall, I like her intent on focusing on another issue that occurs in bullying besides it being a physical aspect, instead it also is an emotional abuse. This make Raeni made reflects on chapter four what the process is offered instead of including a set of steps. This allows students to know what direction to choose from by looking at the poster and get to choose from one of those actions provided. This also leads to chapter five on creating a formal approach to help students understand the main message on how to prevent bullying by reflecting on themselves and get guided in the right direction.

The second make that caught my attention was Taylor Roberts make on the awareness and prevention of suicide. I loved how powerful her posters are on connecting with her audience on giving a sense of understanding their struggle and letting them know that they are not alone.  I also love how informative her posters are on providing statistics and the types of signs to look out for on those who are struggling with their emotions. These posters are designed for people to not be afraid or feel alone to reach out for help from anyone. I believe this kind of topic should be incorporated into some type of mini lesson for a group of students that are age appropriate to understand and reflect upon. This also would be a great way to connect and be able to express feelings with one another while receiving a sense of support and resources on reaching out for help.

The third make I chose is Rebecca Barragan’s classroom rules. She focuses on an awareness of how important it is to create a safe caring environment with the spread of kindness. I like her take on these posters on providing a visual and informative piece with the quotes provided, which allow students to see and decide upon how they should address their actions in the classroom and around people in general. This kind of make reminds me of the readings where students decide their path. However, as future educators we have the ability to redirect students to the right path and help them make wise choices on the type of action(s). As well, as helping students understand the different types of settings and situations and how that shouldn’t reflect on having a negative environment and actions.

Author Bio: Hello everyone! My name is Alma Rosa Lopez, but everyone calls me Alma for short. I’m 20 years old and I live in Orland, CA. This is my first year at Chico State as a transfer student. I transferred from Butte College and ended up in Chico State due to the great Liberal Studies program they offer.  I plan to receive my BA in spring 19 and then plan to enter the credential program in the fall. After all that, I plan to continue my education by finishing it with a Master’s in education. The interests I have are that I love all music, the outdoors, traveling, and animals. I also love to hike beautiful places and get crafty. I’m also a huge fan of all things Disney. I want to teach general education and special education, however, I’m more interested in teaching for special education. I want to teach children in K-12 for special education and those in general education I would like to teach those in 2-12 grades. I want to be a teacher because I love children and their amazing outspokenness and curiosity. I also want to make a positive difference in children’s lives and in their education. Most importantly, I want to break the stereotypes that get labeled and defined as individuals with disabilities. I want to inspire our society that children with disabilities can have the same abilities as others and can create new abilities. Overall, I want society to stop defining individuals with labels and instead of noticing their abilities instead of their disabilities and get treated the same as an individual without a disability.

Erin Russo

For make cycle 4, we had the opportunity to explore compelling arguments. What I like most about this genre of writing is that it provides a platform for opinion.

We began this make by reading About the Authors: Chapter 4 & 5 and Appendix E and posting about what in these chapters spoke to us, was interesting, or perhaps even confusing or unclear. Chapter 4 in About the Authors reiterates the importance of getting little ones writing before we instruct and fine tune the writing process. Karen Fawns says, “In chapter 4 I find it intriguing that to begin a writing workshop you don’t teach students a process or give them steps to follow at first, for you just give them some paper and a pencil and ask them to make something with writing.  At first, I was thinking that is crazy chaos in the making, but as I read on it says that through observation you can see what the children already know or don’t know, so you build upon those foundations it made sense.” It can seem counterintuitive to begin anything in the classroom without explicit instruction and Karen does a great job explaining the importance of using this tactic when getting our students writing.

As Rebecca Lee sums up, “In chapter 5, (we) learned about all the things I can teach in a writing workshop. These include techniques, strategies, understandings, conventions, and questions.” In our mini-lessons, we will use a variety of texts to help give students ideas for “how” they can write their books. I love that students will be able to absorb and apply this information more effectively because we will have instilled a writing identity upon them. One idea that educators can use with their students that resonated with many of us was described by Christina Barbaccia as “having a class study published writing.  Having the class involved in the study of a particular author can benefit students in their writing.” Christina also provided a great example of how this would look in a classroom, saying “when reading a particular text, you can ask the students what they notice in the book’s structure, and then the teacher can write the student’s comments on a chart. Once the students are finished with their analysis, the teacher then can go over these features and encourage students to replicate any of these ideas in their own books.” Learning from mentor texts in this course to create our own work is a great way for us to practice studying and applying the tactics used in other authors’ writings.

For this weeks mentor texts, we first looked at I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff; these adorable children’s books were written as a series of convincing letters back and forth between parent and child. Cheyenne Boles captured many of our feeling this week when she said “I LOVED the mentor texts this week. They were cute, funny and had a lot of great ideas for future adult and children writers. I Wanna Iguana was so fun and totally relatable. I really liked how many of these texts used the illustrations to make the letters come to life.” We also read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, which also used the letter writing format, which can be very useful in argumentative writing to persuade an audience. Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type by Moreen Cronin was the other mentor text this week. This was a book about animals that used a typewriter to convey demands to the farmer. I like how Brittany Walker was able to see how this story could be used in her classroom one day. She said, “this would be a great writing assignment for students to take to role of someone or something else. They could write an argumentative piece in character that has wants or needs that they need to convey to someone else. I think this would be a fun way to write and bring out creativity in students.” I agree with her, and I think that this is evidence that Brittany is already beginning to think like a teacher.

The options for creating a compelling argument make this week were many. The choices included writing an advice column, making convincing posters, creating an advertisement or funding pitch, letter writing, an educational blog, or writing a children’s book. I’ve chosen a few of my favorites to share.

Erminia Gonzalez:The Day Money Quit”Book titled 'The day money quit'

The first make that really spoke to me was The Day Money Quit by Erminia Gonzalez. This story was so much fun to read. Erminia chose to write about a topic that everyone in our class can relate to… money. I like how this story was modeled after the mentor texts and used letter writing. She appeals to the readers logos by demonstrating the flaws of digital money. Because of the relatabillity and use of tactics that grab the reader’s attention, I fully enjoyed reading this short story and was totally convinced that cash money is the superior currency.   

Allison House

This was super cute. Through letter writing Allison does a great job convincing the reader that Summer is best! I thought it was very smart how she began by addressing the shortcomings of Fall, Winter, and Spring and ended with the many reasons why Summer is the best season.

 I also like how she borrowed the use of a creative sign-off (The Amazing, Fun, and Best Season of ALL) to further her argument. Creative, convincing, and delightful to read.

Beatriz Salazar

Happy, Healthy, Super Teeth!

Book titled 'Happy, healthy, super teeth!'

This children’s book was great because it used information about the four different types of teeth to convince you of the importance of keeping them clean. Knowing the significance of each of the teeth we have provides the strongest argument for why it is ever important to have adequate oral hygiene. I love that Beatriz was able to incorporate expository writing into her argumentative piece this week, because it adds to the story and as we’ve learned, rarely is a text only one genre. The pictures are also very cute and help the reader understand the content. Well done Beatriz.    

Author Bio: My name is Erin Russo. I’m a returning student with hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. I’m passionate about education, and hope to have the opportunity to give all children in my classroom an opportunity to find joy in learning. My husband and I are raising our two young daughters in Lincoln, CA where we enjoy walking to our neighborhood park, home improvement projects, and hosting our family and friends.  

Sean Gamer

“While they are in this living-with-an-idea part of the process, they grow their thinking about the idea by collecting all sorts of related, random thoughts and sometimes by writing reflectively and extensively about the idea” (About The Authors 64).

Our make cycles this week were inspired by argumentative writing. It was our challenge as students to explore the ways to persuade an audience to think a certain way. As future educators, it is important to understand the art of argumentative writing because it is apart of California’s standards as well as Common Core.

The students in our class were asked to examine Andrea Lunsford’s article “Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast” (something our class has used in the past), I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff, Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.

As future teachers, it is important to keep on the lookout for new writing ideas for our students. I think these books create a sense of activism for students. Teaching students skills to negotiate and see other points of views can build argument and encourage research for students’ personal ideas and beliefs. There so many wonderful makes in this make cycle. At first, I did not understand what argumentative writing was. Then after reading the mentor text and the chapters from the textbook, I began to understand. Seeing my classmate’s makes also helped me understand as well.

It is an honor to be apart of this online class. Our Google+ community is creative and informative. Sometimes I learn more from looking through classmates’ makes. Learning independently and later collaborating with others makes digesting information easier. Raenni Pilgrim’s Pineapple ads caught my eye. Her idea behind the pineapple of being aesthetically appealing to viewers and having a positive message of anti-bullying is revolutionary because we are a society of saying no and keeping all the sad things in our world under the rug and never talking about them. Thank you for creating this Raenni!

I also enjoyed Hannah Hugh’s Smore campaign on giving less homework. She explained to our classmate that she was happy to use Smore instead of defaulting to StoryJumper. I loved the reasons she used to justify her reasoning behind giving less homework and she created an outstanding compelling argument. The pictures she used also added emotion to readers when they read the reason behind why teachers should give less homework. Good job Hannah! 

Author Bio: My name is Sean Gamer. When I am not in the classroom, I love to be outside playing tennis with friends, hiking the trails of Upper Park in Chico, and reading books. I am a senior at Chico State and plan on entering the credential program and becoming an elementary school teacher. I love animals and someday want to go to Australia.


Heading to Spring Break: Reminders & Updates

Heading to Spring Break: Reminders & Updates

Hello nice people of English 333,

Moments ago, you should have received a grade update that takes us through to tonight’s Make (Compelling Arguments). I loved reading your insights into chapter 4 & 5; thank you! I appreciate how much all of you are noticing that there is a time and place for pushing and playing with structures and forms, editing and revising, and precision…but not as the first thing. The first thing with writing is to have something to say and someone to say it to: words on the page. Importantly, we should ask writers, even our most nascent writers, about their own composing practices before imposing ours on them. We do not need to teach every kind of writing as if it’s a five paragraph essay for a timed writing exam: that’s school writing, not the kind of writing done in the world. When you teach those structures, help students to notice that timed writing is a certain kind of thing, not THE way the write. Yep. Loved reading your responses.

Make Cycle 5 is up, but feel free to go on spring break and not think about it until you return. 😉 You have a response due March 30 on chapter 6, so plenty of time. I did go ahead and post it though because Make Cycle 5 is about multimodal composing and one option for the Make is to create your own website, perhaps your teaching portfolio. Some of you might find it fun to play with this over break when you have more time or fewer course assignments (I realize many of you have other jobs and/or are parents, so “more time” might not be a thing in your life). Here’s my short version of my website and my fuller version: two different sites that I use for different purposes. The shorter site is more like a virtual business card that I share when I give talks. It takes a long time to curate a digital identity as an educator and this Make Cycle invites you to get one started if you haven’t already. But there are other ideas for this cycle too….you don’t have to make a site. It is an invitation.

Make 4: Compelling Arguments Make is due tonight, but honestly, if you need until tomorrow night then that is fine too. I most likely won’t have a chance to do another grade update until after break…I have some writing deadlines of my own. Featured bloggersRebecca Barragan, Cheyenne Boles, Samone Burge, Adriana Cea, Hannah Hughes, Sean Gamer, Alma Lopez, Erin Russo–your blog is due when we return, the evening of March 26th. Sending earlier is great too, of course. See the previous email I sent y’all (subject line for email has YOUR TURN in it if you search) for instructions.

Appreciate the conversations we are having about teaching writing. Y’all rule. Hope you do, in fact, get some downtime next week.

Best, Kim


Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 3: Rayn, Shelby, Jennifer, Jillian & Chelsea

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 3: Rayn, Shelby, Jennifer, Jillian & Chelsea

Rayn Buford

Through the process of Make Cycle 3 we had the opportunity to read chapters 2 & 3 from About the Authors. In chapter 2, we were introduced to writing workshops within the classroom and just how important it is to set aside writing time for children. The best way to support students as they practice writing is to set them up for success by allowing them to choose where they want to sit to create their story, adjusting how much time they are allotted, and encouraging them to share their work among their peers. Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland do an excellent job at demonstrating just how important it is as future instructors, to understand how work, space, and time go hand-in-hand. In chapter 3, the importance of writing workshops was extended throughout the reading as we touched base on how you can correspond your classroom and daily routines to help your students understand literature. My favorite part about chapter 3 is the amount of information I was able to take away as a future teacher. I found the Environmental Support section to be the most interesting (40-41). I found myself nodding as I read these pages, as I agreed with the reasoning behind environmental support in a classroom: “We don’t underestimate the power of environmental print to support language learning either.” It is true that print can cover the room in various ways for the children to use it as a reference for their own writing, and even reading: “The walls, desks, tables, sides of bookcases, even the floors-basically, every flat surface in a primary classroom classroom-can be filled with print that children can look at, wonder and talk about, and use as a reference when they need it to help them with their own writing.” I think it is an excellent idea to have alphabet charts, number charts, color charts, pictures, calendars, signs, labels, name tags, word walls, class charts, and alphabet strips. I also enjoyed the idea of “talking into our routines” (42). Example: “If the name of your favorite ice cream starts with v, you can get in line now…” there are just so many insights with each reading. In our Google+ Community we spent all week discussing the assigned chapters and what we were able to gain from each additional assignment. I would say the hot topic for discussion was the analyzation of Edward Gorey’s ABC book. This book was one of the mentor texts that we reviewed in Make Cycle 3, but over 50% of the class thought it was a creepy, dark, and unusual text. Another interesting discussion was expository writing itself. The purpose of this Make Cycle was to learn about expository writing and most of my peers were able to come to the realization that although expository writing is informational, it can be happy, playful, and fun!

We were lucky enough to experience two amazing mentor texts for Make Cycle 3. Are you a Dragonfly? by Judy Allen and The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. Both authors are teaching children through a story format in a way that is unforgettable. Judy Allen takes an informative but fun approach to teaching a lesson about Dragonflies and how they live and adapt to nature. By having the dragonfly be “you” (the reader), it easy for children to use their imaginations and then the information they retain is almost hard to forget. Edward Gorey’s version of the alphabet is very creepy, but it is such a creative way to relate letters to the real world!

For our “makes” at the end of Make Cycle 3, we had to construct an expository text, infographic, piktochart, ABC book, or video to demonstrate that we understood the purpose and different approaches behind expository texts. Cori Hale’s “make” was by far one of my favorites because of how brave she was within our google community. She actually made a tutorial video that was very informative on how to style hair and “make it look pretty” even after not washing it for a few days.

I actually recently learned that you are not supposed to wash your hair everyday (whoops, I have been breaking this rule for years) mainly because I have thin-ish hair myself that tends to build oil quickly. Her “make” was one that I can actually log on and watch again one of these days to style my hair. I am so happy she found a way to make an “informational” video fun, and changed it up compared to our usual scenery of posts. I would assume she was most influenced by the book Are You a Dragonfly because she gave information in a way that had the viewer completely intrigued, much like Judy Allen did.

Many of my peers seemed to be inspired by Edward’s Gorey’s ABC book, as they came up with some sort of alphabet book themselves. Not all of the inspired “makes” were creepy and dark like Edward Gorey’s story though! Some “makes” were cute and happy such as Maritza Caceres’ story. Maritza gave each letter a theme with a human characteristic, much like Edward Gorey did. She used kid-friendly words and even made her illustrations with all shapes, which made it even more resourceful. I really liked how her overall theme was connecting vegetables and fruits too; usually kids avoid new foods so it could be a great tool/idea to put a positive twist on fruits & vegetables, learning the alphabet, and studying shapes! Another alphabet approach came from Josue Nava in his make, which was a story about animals eating humans! Still not as scary as Edward Gorey’s, but in the eyes of the first grader it is probably a little creepy even though it has a silly twist. Each letter A-Z was represented by an animal and he did an excellent job at describing each animal. It was so fun to review everyone’s “makes” and I love how we all always take different approaches.Book titled 'ABC's of getting eaten by unusual Animals'

As future educators it so important that we remember how to think outside of the box! When the standards tell us to teach our students about expository writing, we can teach them with confidence that you can write an informational story that is fun and engaging. In a nutshell, my peers and I have enjoyed the About the Authors book, and Make Cycle 3 because of the unlimited insights it offers to us as future teachers.

Author Bio: I am a sophomore at Chico State. My ultimate goal is to pursue my dream of becoming a Special Education teacher. I’ve always had a love for children so I am super excited to become an educator and even a mother someday. I have four (animal) babies (two dogs and two cats) that are my whole world! My favorite movie is “Tomorrowland” and my life pretty much revolves around school and being a full time nanny. 

Shelby Baccala

I love that chapter two of About the Authors introduced the way a writing workshop should be introduced to students and how one is organized. I found this to be very helpful as a future teacher who may incorporate writing workshops into my classroom. The sections “Understanding Space” and “Understanding Time” are things I may have never thought of on my own. Providing supplies in easy to access areas for children is something I try to do in my current preschool classroom but is not something I considered when thinking about the writing workshop. Having both prepared books and blank paper available to students is a great way of scaffolding. Having all of the tools available will result in unimaginable creativity from students as they create their books. Creating a time frame that students must be working on a specific task the whole time and then stop when the time is up is a daunting task in its own. Slowly increasing the time they sit and work on their books and providing a five minute transition window is a great idea! Lisa commented, “The progressively longer time periods also help children to not be frustrated trying to ‘fill’ their time, as it helps them to get used to shorter time periods first, and then as they get better and more involved, that time will fly by and they will soon transition to a longer time period without even noticing it.” I think this is such an important idea! Children can get bored and frustrated when they are first starting a task. The progressive increase in time intervals allows for students to gain more confidence before diving all the way into the task of making books for an hour a day. It is definitely something that can be used in all areas of teaching, not just writing. Math stations can have a steady increase in the amount of time children spend at each station. Science, history, and arts can be done this way as well. Children will enjoy and be able to get more out of their school day when they are confident in their abilities to conquer the subject.

I appreciate the units of study because they are something I can look back on as a teacher and create lesson plans from. Unit C providing texts and the techniques to help children pull from them is beyond helpful. I was also very impressed by Autumn’s story, Rainforest Adventure. It incorporates so many techniques she has probably seen time and time again. I love the “Enter Here” on the door to invite readers into her story. Cheyenne said, “I loved how the teacher included the ‘not so perfect’ books as well as the ones with illustrations that flowed. It’s so important as future teachers to make sure we are making all students feel like this is a safe place and a no judgement zone.” What an important idea that I did not even realize while reading the text! Children realizing progress is a part of learning and that everyone starts somewhere is incredibly important in building confidence. They have to feel like they are a part of a judgment free community that is open for them to learn and grow.

As a future teacher, it can feel very daunting and stressful to consider the fact you must try to incorporate every subject throughout the entire day in a way that reaches every student. Katie Wood Ray and Lisa B. Cleaveland make it seem like an irrational stressor in chapter 3 of About the Authors. They explain how simple it can be to find everyday situations where writing can be incorporated. In center time, there may be centers where children work with letters and words. Reading aloud is something I love to do and never occurred to me as teaching writing even though it should have. Classroom environments that are rich in text help with writing and songs and games can even be incorporated to help teach writing. I remember a lot of the writing I did as a young child was my “Weekend Journal” and the packets where I had to copy the same words over and over again into different spaces. I thought I was bad at writing because I simply did not like it. I loved books though. I was always buried in a book and in my free time, I often attempted to create my own novels. If I had a classroom similar to the one Ray and Cleaveland describe in chapter 3, I may have loved writing. I would have known what to do with my ideas and how to channel them into a story. I love the example word study provided in figure 3.7 because children are given the option to practice their words in a way they enjoy. I also appreciate the fact that Ray and Cleaveland explain how to explain a writing workshop to parents. Many parents are very involved in their children’s lives and want to know exactly what you are doing for them and why. Being able to explain your teaching style in a simple and easy way makes this confrontation a lot more bearable. Christina said, “Encouraging kids to be aware that there is language all around them is a great way for them to think about language.  Students can incorporate new words into future stories and projects which can add more personal elements in their stories.” Incorporating language constantly throughout the day can be an intimidating task but just making them aware of it does not seem so bad. Having them writing explanations in math when they are older is a great way to incorporate language and a very important skill for them to have. For young children, asking for a verbal explanation of things is another way to bring language into mathematics. Including different stations that incorporate language and using cross curricular lesson planning makes this much easier as well. Doing a quick touch base after every lesson to make sure children are understanding the objectives is another way to make them aware of the language incorporated into their lesson.

I listened to several of Mem Fox’s books on Youtube but I am going to focus on I’m Australian Too. This text would make an interesting mentor text for children because there is an interesting rhyming pattern, a continuous structure and a repetitive question throughout the story. It is a relatable story and something children could easily mimic in their own writings. The entire story goes through different people in Australia saying where they and their families are from and how they are Australian. The continuous question throughout the story is “How about you?” Mem Fox brings in people from every background during the story and the final person is a refugee who has not gained citizenship yet. The story ends with

                                         “We open doors to strangers.

                                          Yes, everyone’s a friend.

                                          Australia Fair is ours to share,

                                          where broken hearts can mend.

                                         What journeys we have travelled,

                                         from countries near and far!

                                         Together, now, we live in peace,

                                         beneath the Southern Star!”

I love that the story begins with two children whose parents were born and raised in Australia and shifts to children from all backgrounds. I suggest listening to some of Mem Fox’s books whenever you get the chance. Possum Magic is a fun story about a grandmother who makes her granddaughter invisible and the adventure they take to reverse it. Where is the Green Sheep? is story that relies heavily on the images and the use of blank space which would be fun to show children. Her website is if you want to check out her books.

For our makes, Hannah Hughes’ ABC’s of the Special Needs Classroom caught my attention right away. After reading it, it has my attention even more. I expected this story to be directed towards children in a special needs classroom and to show them around. This story was not like that at all! This is an ABC book for teachers to learn about disabilities they may experience, guide them through teaching special needs students and encourage them along the way. I think this story is incredible because special needs can be very daunting for teachers. I know I am very intimidated by the idea of it but a book like this is a perfect reminder that we, as teachers, have all the skills necessary to teach every child. “J is for Just Learn About It” is a line in her story. She goes further to explain that we should take the time to just learn about any disability we are unfamiliar with that we come across. I wanted to highlight this make because I love the spin on it. An ABC book can be a great way to break down something so complex for adults too. Book titled 'ABC's of Special Needs in the Classroom'

I also want to highlight Kellie Cabico’s Easy as 123 because of the fun narrative along to accompany the expository writing. This story is about how to clean up your room; it’s as easy as 123. You follow a young girl as she conquers the task of cleaning up her room. Her mother continues to remind her that it is as easy as 123 but it definitely does not seem that way as she looks at it. The girl breaks down her room into three steps and then shows it off to her mom. The tone makes a story about cleaning rooms actually very fun and energetic. The story has a smooth rhyming pattern making it memorable as well, “‘I’ll do it!’ Abby shouted. ‘But it won’t be much fun. I better get started with step number one.’” Kellie uses pictures of her daughter Abby (I’m assuming) which makes the story even more fun and relatable. Reminding children to start in one place before moving on to the next is important and this story does a great job of that.

Book titled 'Easy As'



Author Bio: My name is Shelby Baccala and I am a junior Liberal Studies student. I started my college career at Cal Poly three years ago as a biomedical engineering student. After a year and a half, I realized engineering was not for me and made the transition to liberal studies. I was first placed in a first grade classroom, which was very overwhelming to me. I ended up really enjoying my time there and am currently a preschool teacher. I love working with the younger children but I think I still would like to teach 3rd or 4th grade.

Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin

I have really enjoyed this class so far, so of course, Make cycle 3 would be no different. Let’s start with Chapter 2 and appendix C from About the Authors. I really thought it was a good idea setting the students up with mini lessons at the beginning of the writing workshops, laying the framework for what is expected as well as providing young minds with ideas to work off.  The idea of the teacher going over past students projects and showing those to the current students can ignite creativity among them and show them something that was accepted as a complete project at the same time. I also feel it is very important to explain and show your students that not everyone has the same writing style, and by providing multiple examples of student work as well as the teachers work, the chances of a student being insecure or feeling that their work is insufficient could be minimized.

In Chapter 3, I found the statements regarding how the environment around the student can facilitate their imagination and also provide them cues and information if needed helpful. For example, the alphabet strips on the desks is a great idea: if they are thinking of a letter but can’t exactly remember what it looks like, there it is just waiting for them on their desk.  Teaching the students what a text is supposed to sound like sounds difficult but through being read to and reading themselves they will build an understanding for flow. When my middle son is writing sentences and brings them to me for corrections, I have him read the sentences out loud to start, that way he can see if he is making mistakes. He can pick them up fairly quickly and say “that doesn’t make sense.”

I enjoyed the post from Chad Lafenhagen, “visit to a japanese bathhouse” instructions.  My immediate reaction was….”How Gross!” I was intrigued to read the instructions just to satisfy my own personal reaction. After reading through his instructions, prior to getting into the community bath water, you must wash yourself completely, although there are still germs from the community members. Also as a fan of The Wizard of Oz I enjoyed the reference in regards to removing all of your clothes: “That’s right Toto; we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  

Book titled 'Visit to a Japanese Bathhouse'

My kids would really enjoy the post from Josue Nava and “ABC’s of getting eaten by unusual animals” (see above). It definitely turned into a good alphabet book: for each letter there was a child’s’ name chosen, an adjective, and then an animal all with the same first letter.  It definitely took some time and is giving the reader additional repetition with the letters in an attempt to make them stick. Sometimes thinking outside the box and getting the students more into the story helps them retain the information.  

I was most drawn towards the post “How to make the best pozole” by Azucena Cuevas.  I wanted to read into this post and take notes step by step just to see how pozole is made.  I love pozole and so do my children. I have tried to make other authentic dishes, such as tamales, and failed even after repeated attempts.  She does a great job of giving step by step instructions, yet I can see this plan going south in my kitchen. I have, however, just recently found an idea that could make the shredded chicken much easier.  We have began cooking with a digital pressure cooker, and about 15 minutes on high cooks roughly 3 lbs of chicken breasts. Remove the breasts from the pressure cooker and put them in a stand mixer bowl with a paddle wheel on low and perfectly shredded chicken awaits.  I was skeptical at first but it works great and is easy.

Author Bio: Hello My name is Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin and I am a Senior at Chico State. I am a Liberal Studies major with a minor in Special Education and Child Development. My education has been a long journey and I am so excited to be nearing the end. I am a wife to an amazing husband and a mom of four wonderful kids. We are a very busy and active family. My favorite things are my family, vacations, outdoors, my animals and just making amazing memories. I can’t wait to finish school and the credential program. My ultimate goal is to work in a TK or Kindergarten classroom.

Jillian Pearson

Make Cycle 3 was full of new discoveries! We focused on chapters 2 and 3 from About the Authors, written by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland, as well as Mentor Texts: Are You a Dragonfly? and Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies. We then dove right into creating our own versions of expository texts and/or videos.

Chapters 2 and 3 focused on how and when to start a writing workshop and how to incorporate more language-learning opportunities. I absolutely loved the idea of talking into our routines; it’s such an easy way to add more thinking for our students. “When we embed talk about language into our routines of the day, we really help our young students become people who just love to talk about language and are fascinated by how it all works.” Page 42 has great examples of what kind of talking can be added to your routines with students. I definitely questioned how students are supposed to write when they’ve never done so, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the authors describe writing as both a noun and a verb. The teachers give them writing tools and paper and call whatever they do with them, writing. I think that gives each student independence and creativity. I really liked how the authors noted that writing is generating text and that it takes a lot for a child to overcome that challenge:

“It’s deeply intellectual work we ask them to do when we ask them to write on their own. To put it simply, children need time to write so they can use all the separate bits and pieces of information about written language we are giving them to actually generate text” (53).

It’s very apparent that we allow our students enough time to write so they can continue to gain experience. I also found it very important to learn that writing really isn’t just about conventions, but a whole body of knowledge that students need to be exposed to.

Rebecca Spears generated great thoughts from chapters 2 and 3: “Another idea that lit a spark in my mind dealt with why making sure that children are writing as much as possible is so important even when they may not know much about it. With this in mind, we want children to write as much as they possibly can so that they know what writing is actually for and what writing can do in this world. In my future classroom, I can definitely see myself using many of these ideas whether it be the songs and games that I can have my children participate in or even if it is just sitting down and writing in the classroom. I am definitely excited to have a classroom of my own some day and spread knowledge and inspiration into the world.”

Chelsea Peterson pointed out some key features from our assigned chapters: “There was so much information in Chapter 3, it’s exciting to just read it. I find that there is so much I want to incorporate in the future that it tends to get a little overwhelming. I love that they immerse the students in language learning all day, not just during formal teaching times. On page 39, it tells us that it is important to not just be identifying writing themes during writing workshop but we must address it in all activities we do in order to ‘wrap strong arms of teaching about how written language works’ (Ray, 39). I also love the idea of making the classroom full of printed words, giving the children plenty of exposure to written works, and all sorts of actual published writing like books, magazines, and songs. This fully coats the room in a learning rich environment.”

Yorleidi Langarica did a wonderful job at summarizing our Mentor Texts: Are You a Dragonfly? And The Gashlycrumb Tinies: “Are You a Dragonfly is a very interesting book because it is written in the 2nd person. It used a lot of ‘you’ and ‘you’re’ which is very uncommon to find. Another feature that I liked was at the end where it basically asked us questions about who we are. I can easily use this text as a model for my writing because it gives me the idea to write in 2nd person, which isn’t something I’m comfortable writing but would be fun to explore. The authors had to do a lot of research for this book because they had to state the facts right. I feel like my writing would need a lot of editing because of the different type of view and quick facts about what I’m writing about. The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey was creepy to me. He used the alphabet to write his book, everything seemed to rhyme with the letter he was using. The only idea I got from this type of writing is that I don’t want to do it if its meant to be read by small children. This book would’ve given me nightmares if I read it when I was little. I feel like the author had to play a lot with words to create a sentence that rhymed and sounded creepy, which I believe is what he wanted. The article gives an insight to the time of work Edward Gorey was going for. This book is very old, so I believe that at that time, the children were into this sort of genre. I can see a similarity between Edgar Allan Poe because they both used dark genres to a new level, but Edwards was meant for kids who wanted to learn the alphabet.”

Our Mentor Texts gave us detailed examples of what expository writing is and tips on how to format the information in a captivating way for students to learn. Are You a Dragonfly and The Gashlycrumb Tinies inspired many of us for our Makes this week!

It’s clear that Josue Nava is a pro at using Story Jumper! His take on learning the abc’s, “ABC’s of Getting Eaten by Unusual Animals” was both comical and creative! Josue definitely put a lot of time and effort into this make, and that shines throughout. I loved that each person was being eaten by an animal; children can have lots of fun with this, especially if a student shares a name with one that is listed.

Erin Russo’s “Are You an Elephant” was adorable! She did a great job of providing facts about elephants and the illustrations she got from Storyjumper were perfect. Erin depicts the perfect example of what a factual, yet entertaining expository writing should look like.Book titled 'Are You an Elephant?'

I can confidently say I can now build a scarecrow or snowman out of pallets! Allison House took a different route and used to demonstrate her “Scarecrows and Snowman Pallets.” Her instructions were clear and easy to follow, and not to mention how cute the outcome is!

Final Thoughts: Everyone in this course has such great ideas, creativity, and insights into their future teaching goals. I am sure that all of us will become wonderful teachers. I look forward to the rest of the semester learning and growing alongside of all of you!

Author Bio: My name is Jillian Pearson. I am a junior at Chico State and am hopefully finishing in the fall of 2018! Unfortunately, it took me awhile to realize that I belong in the classroom, but am thrilled that I took the plunge to go back to school and now that goal is not far away! I live in a small farming community, so my love for agriculture and livestock runs deep. You can find me outside with my cows, laughing with my husband, friends and family!

Chelsea Peterson

Make Cycle 3 is complete and I feel that our class is getting into the swing of things. We are pushing what we thought were our limits in writing and discovering new ways to convey our thoughts to our audiences. In this make cycle, we focused on expository writing with mentor texts from Are You a Dragonfly? and The Gashlycrumb Tinies as well as some informative charts on education and writing cycles. We also read chapters 2 & 3 and Appendix C & D from About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland.

In our reading from About the Authors, we were introduced to getting started with our writing workshops. We learned how to set up our classroom so our students can focus on their writing, helping themselves to supplies and really being able to “make” their work in their own fashion. We also learned how to give our students the guidance they need in our ten minute introduction to be able to become writers in both the physical and mental realms. The authors immerse the students in language learning all day, not just during formal teaching times and it is important to not just be identifying writing themes during writing workshop but to address it in all activities we do in order to “wrap strong arms of teaching about how written language works” (Ray, 39). I also love the idea of making the classroom full of printed words, giving the children plenty of exposure to written works like books, magazines, and songs. This fully coats the room in a rich learning environment. For our posts we were to also choose a mentor author from a list and look up that author to become more familiar with their style of writing. I chose Cynthia Rylant for my mentor author. One thing I have noticed about her books is that she does lots of lists using ‘and’, ‘or’, and ‘but’ with very long sentences as in Snow:

“And while the snow is here this brief moment, let us take a walk and see how beautiful the world is and then come back to our white, quiet homes and make something warm to drink and maybe read or play a game or tell each other all that we’ve been thinking” (Rylant, Snow).

This use of ‘and’ reminds me of how children naturally talk and I think it would be an easy thing for the children to incorporate into their own writing.

Our mentor texts this week helped us to use informative or expository writing in a fun and unique manner. Are You a Dragonfly? speaks directly to the reader, helping you to be drawn into the text. The book is almost like an instructional “How-to” guide, leading you through the steps like when the authors tell you to “Creep upon your prey, then shoot out your mask and grab it” (Allen and Humphries, 7). We are learning how to be dragonflies when we read this book. I also liked the drawback to reality at the end: if you look like this then you are a child and “you can’t fly,” which helps the children come back out of their imagination (Allen & Humphries).

I believe that The Gashlycrumb Tinies was either a hit or a miss for most of our class. I felt that it is a humorous adult book, but I am not sure that it would be something I would be reading to my class.  However, I do like the story approach to the ABC’s, like The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg, which is a favorite of my five year old son. I also like the two line rhyme, which helps the kids to anticipate what the next page might say. However, like an article about the book stated, The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a bit too “antithetical to the very premise of the genre” and make the children think more about the bad things happening than the learning one would hope the children might get from an alphabet book. But that is just my opinion. Many of my fellow classmates really enjoyed the book, as Lisa Valdez stated in her post:

“I LOVED “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” so much that I shared it on my Facebook for my friends to enjoy. It made me laugh out loud, and I think that kids would really be thrilled to read this”

And she wasn’t alone, so I will agree to disagree on this book and appreciate it for its dry sense of humor and excellent illustrations.

It was extremely difficult to choose only a few examples of the wonderful work being made and posted on our G+ community. Everyone has put so much time and effort into each make, as well as a piece of themselves; it really is incredible and an exciting experience for us all.

The first work I chose was Lisa Valdez’s storyjumper book, ABC’s of Farm Life. The mixture of fun sentences focusing on a letter and the more in depth informational box make this book an excellent choice for both younger and older children. For younger children who tend to lose focus and, like my two year old, want to flip the pages before you are done reading, you can stick with the basic alphabet sentence. And if you have an older child that wants to learn more about the farm animals, you can go into more depth. I also like the highlighting of words that begin with the letter being focused on, something that I did in my book as well. This helps the children to search the page for the letter being addressed on that page.Book titled 'ABC's of Farm Life'

The second “make” that I chose was by Kellie Cabico who made a book to teach her daughter how to clean her room called Easy As 123 (see above). This is an excellent ‘how-to’ book on cleaning your room for kids. I wish I had this for my kids! I really enjoyed the incorporation of both repetition and rhyme, it makes the book fun and gives it a cadence on which you can rely helping you to focus on the information presented in the book. It is a very fun way to help kids get through the enormous task of cleaning their room, which is every child’s nightmare!

The third piece that I enjoyed was Rayn Bufford’s abc poem called “Younger Years of Fears.” It was an excellent expository on popular fears for children. I like the rhyming and the use of color to emphasize the letter and the correlating word in each line. It makes it pop! I also liked the repetition of “is for the” at the beginning of each sentence; it helps to focus on the exciting part of the line, and also helps me imagine the droll tone that a narrator would use to make the reading a bit creepy and humorous at the same time.

The final piece I chose to highlight was Erin Russo’s Are You An Elephant? (also see above) I loved the images used in this book; they gave it a very authentic quality. The information on elephants was perfect for children and the use of talking to the reader really draws you into the text. I also like how we were drawn back to the fact that we are humans, not elephants!

Author Bio: I am a returning student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with the hope of becoming an elementary school teacher. I live in West Point, California with my husband and four children and I enjoy gardening, reading, hiking and coaching soccer.


Update: Grades, Gorey, and Other Things to Share

Update: Grades, Gorey, and Other Things to Share

Hello everyone and happy Sunday,

Grade Update: I just spent the last few hours reading through your awesome work with Make Cycle 3 and I look forward to viewing the rest of your Makes tomorrow! I gave feedback on Make 2, many of the About the Authors posts, and all of the mentor text posts. Next, you’ll get a grade update. Here are a couple of things to notice when you look over your grade update (please read carefully):

  1. I gave some 7’s and 8’s this time on some of the posts, which I really don’t like to do. But some of them were just too short for full credit. I’m hoping that you will slow down, grab more than one idea from the text, point to specific places in the chapters, and when possible, make connections to your own writing habits or classrooms or future ideas. As we continue to norm ourselves, I put more examples that may be useful to you on our Example Student Work page from Kellie, Chelsea, and Christina. If you are wondering what I am looking for in these posts, you might check out the examples. I think sometimes you simply have a week where you have to do one post quickly and I understand. Just hoping that is more the exception…and overall, you really are writing such thoughtful responses to the ideas.
  2. A couple of you got a 5 because you forgot part 2 on our second discussion post: appendix D (researching an author from page 176). Feel free to add that if you forgot and let me know when you do. I will update the grade.
  3. I also sent a reminder to a few of you about giving feedback to peers. Some of you are just so generous in your comments and end up having full conversations with others, which I really appreciate. Others are not giving feedback at all. As future teachers, giving feedback to writing is one of the most challenging things we do. I see feedback to others as part of your professional growth in our class. Please leave enough time to respond to at least one other person when you share your response. Thank you.

Mentor Texts: I got a kick out of reading your responses to the mentor texts. Glad you liked the Dragonfly book! Not all of you were a huge fan of the Gorey book. So sorry! But, I didn’t mean for you to read it to kids or put it in your class library! I’ll put a disclaimer next time. 😉 I do think it appeals to the Tim Burton fans out there…in fact, Gorey is known as the “Tim Burton of his day” and the “Edgar Allen Poe after his time.” As Lisa Valdez mentioned in her response: “this reminds me of the type of book that you could picture a young Edgar Allan Poe or Wednesday Adams reading as a bedtime story. Some of the scenes made me laugh out loud, and some revisited my childhood fears, such as poor Una who was sucked down the drain. My grandmother had a bathtub that made a HORRIBLE loud, slurping, sucking sound, and I was always afraid of it, even when I knew I was too big to fit down the drain.” While I offer a ton of children’s books as mentor texts in this class, I also sometimes have grown up stuff too. Thanks for hanging in there with that one!

Resources beyond our youngest grades: Julie asked in a few posts about resources for older grades. Here are some of my favorite authors and resources from my response to Julie (you might consider bookmarking these for later):
  • My favorite middle school and high school writing authors: Penny Kittle (especially Write Beside Them), Kelly Gallagher (Write Like This and Readicide)
  • I also really love this edited volume with many, many leading scholars in adolescent literacy
  • You might also consider subscribing to any of the NCTE journals, such as English Journal or Language Arts (student prices are really reasonable). And subscribing to the NCTE newsletter is free.
  • And finally, the National Writing Project has so so many resources for educators across grade levels

Make Cycle 4: Compelling Arguments is viewable on our site now. No Wednesday response this week, but a longer one is due Friday on chapters 4 & 5 and Appendix E. I’ll post a video update tomorrow.

Our featured bloggers for Make Cycle 3 will be spending time with your expository texts. Shelby Baccala, Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin, Rayn Buford, Jillian Barsotti, Chelsea Peterson, Rebecca Spears, Jamie Xayacheck–I’ll send you a reminder email tomorrow. Your blogs are due by Tuesday night.

Thanks everyone!