Make Cycles

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

Google+ Community

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

Featured Curators Make Cycle 3: Kendall, Laurence, Alyssa, Bertha, & Estefani

Featured Curators Make Cycle 3: Kendall, Laurence, Alyssa, Bertha, & Estefani

Kendall Eagleton

“We have to work to maintain a balance between having expectations the children feel they can successfully meet and having expectations that challenge children to do better and better work as writers, and we have to do this while thinking about children at many different developmental levels.” –Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland, About the Authors

I found that this sentence alone is so powerful within this chapter from About the Authors. I think that it is so important that children feel like they are challenged in whatever they do, in this case writing, but also that they feel they can reach these goals. From experience with myself, kids who I have worked with, but also my own children, if they feel like they can’t succeed then they tend to give up because the challenge is too much.

I also like the idea of holding onto each piece the children complete. This is a great way for them to reflect or even to just go back and read some of the stuff they have written. Allowing these children to write about whatever interest them instead of using a single topic a day keeps them interested in creating. This chapter was useful for describing work, space, and time within writing workshops.

How to read like writers was interesting. I can see how reading like writers may be important later, although I am just confused on why young children need to know this. I feel like they are learning so much everyday that needing to know the word choice and approach of someone else’s approach. I guess I am just also looking from the perspective on a young child, like kindergarten to 2nd grade. Is this really something that they need to know at this young age, or is this something geared more toward the older kids?

Chapter 3 was also very insightful for me this week. Some things that stuck with me was that fact that language is learned all day long. It isn’t something that a child is learning when they are in school or in the writing workshop: it is happening everywhere. Wood Ray and Cleaveland discuss how when we are reading aloud to children, we are also teaching writing. I guess that this might be a reason why it is beneficial for infants to hear writing, so they are ready when it’s time to learn all of this stuff. “We know that learning to hear how a text sounds will grow to be one of the most important revision tools they will use as more experienced writers.” But the one thing I mentioned earlier is that language just doesn’t stop. No matter what a child is doing, they are being exposed to writing and language.

As part of our assignments this week, I chose to work with Eric Carle. I am extremely familiar with his books, my kids love them, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more about this author. I know that a lot of his books are about animals, which I think that is something that children really enjoy learning about. For example, there are animals that see each other, there is a book about what different animals can do, and to see if we could do it to, etc. One of his most popular books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and although his story is about the progression of how a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly, the food he eats is inaccurate. But this is what Mac Barnett discussed during his TED talk video we watched previously. This gives the children a sense of WONDER. It allows them to know that a caterpillar wouldn’t be eating such foods, but at the same time they believe it’s true. I want the kids in my class to be able to get lost in that WONDER. So, using books like that one can allow children to do just that. Another great thing that Eric Carle does in his books is provides a tremendous amount of color. Color brings adventure out in children and gives them something to look at. I want my students to enjoy books just like the ones similar to Eric Carle.

During week 6 we also read some fun, different and even educational stories: Are You a Dragonfly? and The Gashlycrumb Tinies along with two infographics. These are all different ways to pass along information. The two infographic pages were filled with information but was creatively places to pull a reader in. The dragonfly book was perfect for children to read, it showed wonderful pictures that really would interest children, but it also was filled with factual information about the life of a dragonfly. Stories like this one has the ability to interest a range of readers; from children to adults.

With that being said, the make for this cycle was to create our own expository writings. Here are some of my favorites:

Amanda Sanders created a scary ABC expository book with a theme of Halloween. For each letter Amanda used words that began with the same letter. I thought this was a really creative touch to the book. I can tell she spent the time to really think about it and created something that is an eye catcher. Not only that, but Amanda also used creative pictures to illustrate her writings.

Krystal Bandith created an infographic page about Halloween. I thought that the way the information was sectioned and had different fonts and colors really made this page so aesthetically pleasing. Krystal had so many pieces of factual information that even I had no idea about. It was nice to see that someone created an infographic page is share.

Estefani Galarza created a book called Did You Know?  I thought that this story was really creative and informative about the sunflower. The first page in the book asks a question, “did you ever know that sunflower is the only flower that has flower in the name?” I thought that was the perfect way to start her book. I also thought that the illustrations that Estefani chose were also really beautiful.

Author Bio: My name is Kendall Eagleton I currently live in Rohnert Park. I have two little boys whom I adore. I am a senior here at Chico State, next semester will be my very last. I was actually born and raised in Chico and lived there all my life until I was about 21. I received my AA right out of high school and then I took a break from school when I had my boys (5 and 3). I enrolled back into school when I was pregnant for my child develop courses and then decided that wasn’t it for me so I am pursuing my credential. I enjoy getting outside and hanging out with my family, going to parks, being busy. Don’t get me wrong though, weekends are my favorite times to sleep in although it’s not like it was before kids. I enjoy getting out and trying new restaurants because I hate to cook, and I am not very good at it. I enjoy bike rides, park visits, and anything sports.


Laurence Gammell

In make cycle 3, we viewed and discussed some readings from About the Authors, watched a couple of videos and responded to a question of our choice. In the chapter 2 and 3 we discussed how we viewed the readings, if we were confused, something interested us or if we just liked something specific about what we read. I myself choose to pick something I liked from the chapters and responded to that. I’ve always been a person who enjoys learning something new, whether it be a new fact, word, concept or any other useful information. For the videos responses we watched two completely different videos: one was Are You a Dragonfly and the other was The Gashlycrumb Tinies. The dragonfly video gave specific facts about the life of a dragonfly and then compared the dragonfly to something more relatable, so young children could have a better understanding. I thought this was an excellent book to inform children on the topic and having books like this in the classroom will be a good secondary teaching tool. The Gashlycrumb Tinies was something I didn’t expect. It was a neat story with an initiative take on the ABC’s., with a dark context to it. 

In a response to chapter 3 reading, Olivia Najera picked to write about environmental support, which I thought was a important topic from that chapter:

 “Something I really liked in chapter 3 was the environmental support portion. I thought it was cool to see what a room with rich environmental print looks like and took me back to my elementary school days. I chose this because I remember having alphabet strips and pieces of writing on the wall of my classrooms and how helpful it was.”

 I liked this concept from chapter 3 as well and feel it’s important to set your classroom up in away where your maximizing student learning. This means labeling everything from the floor to the ceiling so your exposing students to words. Students will see these words and make connections by associating the words to the labeled item or picture. This is a good way to reinforce learning of the classroom environment and to build on prior knowledge.

Krystina Hockman had the perfect response to The Gashlycrumb Tinies video reading of the book. I don’t know if I would have to the same thought approach on the topic, but after reading her response I agree with her. It’s an informative book on the many ways of death and would be a good classroom read around Halloween. Although talking about death with young students can be a touchy subject but this book is a good way to enlighten them. I would, however, send letters home to the parents letting them know that the class is going to be covering this book. The last thing a teacher wants to deal with is an irate parent who is unhappy because they didn’t want their student to learn about death at such a young age.

The next text, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, was the perfect macabre story to read to children who are already aware of death but who might benefit from knowing all the ways humans could pass. The book is entertaining and perfect for Halloween, but the vital part of this book is that it was informational. This story would open the discussion of death and students would then have the opportunity to learn about new words such as “ennui” or “awl.” The “ABC” format is engaging and easy for children to follow. I could see another book follow this style, but perhaps the “ABCs” could be based on the names of diseases or ways to die rather than names to provide even more information. I think this book would have to be carefully timed and presented to the right age of students. I loved the book and wished I had come across it sooner!

Krystina covered all my worries and made me understand that it’s ok to teach students about death if you do it at the right time, and that it can be a positive learning tool that can spark conversations in the classroom. (*Dr Jaxon’s note: I love this Edward Gorey book as it reminds me a lot of Tim Burton’s work, who was to follow later. However, I don’t necessarily intend this book to be used with kids; some of the books we read in class are for grown-ups. And I love the dark humor for October especially.) 

Rebecca Carney’s ABC book is a good response to add to the curator project. Rebecca choose to use the ABC book to teach the students about rough situations at school. This is a good teaching moment because it can spark conversations about how to handle such situations in a positive way. I feel the students could relate to a book like this and it flows smoothly from letter to letter. Rebecca did a great job and I want to highlight her book:

Author Bio:  My name is Laurence Gammell, and I am in the last semester of my senior year at Chico State. I plan on going into the credential program in the spring of 2019, to gain my academic credentials to become a teacher. I currently run an after-school program for a local Chico charter school and have been doing so for a quite a few years. The students have been a joy to work with and my staff has been very supportive. I look forward to taking my next steps in working with students and taking on a new role.


Alyssa Dettloff

With Make Cycle 3, we continued with our discussions using About the Authors for inspiration. A section that I found interesting in chapter 3 was on environmental support for reading and writing. Classrooms are always filled with all types of print for students, but I didn’t realize how useful this can be for students. The walls, desk, tables, sides of bookcases, even the floors can be filled with print for the students to interact with. These prints can include alphabet charts, number charts, calendars, signs, lists of students names, and word walls for students to look at, wonder and talk about, and use as a reference when they need help writing on their own. A good idea in kindergarten is to have alphabet strips on the tables where children are working so they can use them as reference on how the letters are formed. Rather than just hanging up print around the classroom and never using it, teachers can talk about the prints to make sure students are using them as they work on their reading and writing skills.

Chapter 2 highlighted ways to help guide children into being successful writers! Lisa, a teacher, shared what works in her classroom. At the beginning of the year, she establishes that to be finished with a book, you must meet all of these guidelines:

  • All of my pages are full of writing and illustrations and are about the same big idea
  • All of my illustrations go along with my words
  • I have a date stamp and my name on my book
  • I have shared my writing with someone who would be interested in it

I feel that this is a great checklist to have on a poster in the classroom. This would 1) help guide students to what the teacher expects of their writing and 2) help stop questions like “Am i done yet?” because students will know they are done writing when they have completed the checklist. As the year progresses, Lisa notes that as students get more writing experience, she adds more steps to the guidelines, such as:

  • I can read all of the words I’ve written
  • I can tell you the genre of the piece
  • I have edited my writing for high-frequency spellings I should know

This idea of a guideline for writing in a checklist type of way is great to build upon as students gain more writing skills and the teacher starts expecting more from the students.

During this make, we also read two mentor texts: Are You a Dragonfly and The Gashlycrumb Tinies. These are both well crafted to convey the author’s intended theme to the reader. In Are You a Dragonfly, the author presents a ton of information about dragonflies in a way that is interesting to children. If a child had read that information in a science textbook, they would be much less likely to retain the information than reading it in this fun story book form! Some of the facts that the author introduced seemed slightly complex for young children to understand, such as shedding off skin and having many more layers underneath, but the illustrations helped to convey these ideas in a visual way. For the author to write this book, they must have done a ton of research on dragonflies to ensure that all of the information presented in the book is scientifically correct. The Gashlycrumb Tinies was very creepy to me, but this is the tone that the author intended. The content and pictures of the book are creepy, but what made it the scariest for me was the tone the reader read the book in and the music being played in the background. This shows us that the reading of a book has a huge impact on the themes and tones that are felt by the reader or listener, so it is important to put a focus on how we are reading aloud to our students. A message I received from both of these model texts to use in my expository work is that theme has a huge impact on how the work is received. Choosing a central theme or tone and sticking with it throughout the work makes a story much more capturing to a reader or listener.

I absolutely loved Natalie Gomes’ make “The ABCs of Traveling.” The idea is engaging and relatable to kids. I also loved all of the different colors and pictures in her book to keep it interesting! She defined each of the terms in the book, such as “D-Destination: The place to which someone or something is going or being sent.” Having definitions in a fun book like this is a great way to have students expand their vocabulary without even realizing it.

I also really enjoyed Krystina Hockman’s make. She created a fun list of how to write effective instructions. This isn’t something we often think to teach children but it is so important! Krystina took her own experience in elementary school of a lesson on how to write effective instructions and build upon that to make her own graphic organizer that she could use in the classroom to teach students.

Author Bio: My name is Alyssa Dettloff and I am a senior at Chico State. I transferred to Chico after earning my Associates Degree in Liberal Studies at a community college. After attending my community college, I had several CSUs I was looking into transferring to and I choose Chico because of its adorable town and quality teacher’s education program! My major is liberal studies but I plan to work towards a single subject English credential because after volunteering with many different age groups, I found that I will be the most effective as a middle school teacher. I work at Dutch Bros in Chico and absolutely LOVE my job and all of the awesome people I get to interact with. I spend all of my free time hanging out with my friends, taking my dog on hikes, and going to music festivals!


Bertha Gallardo

I wanted to talk about chapter 2 of About the Authors, which I found interesting in that this is the second time I have read about writing workshops. When you have young children, it’s hard to imagine that they will be able to sit down and be able to write for an hour. I think that it was interesting that the first few days the authors set kids up to write for only 15 minutes so that the students can feel like they have been working the whole time and feel successful. This is very smart because they give the students confidence to thrive with their writing. From appendix C, we learned that teaching writing by teaching how to read helps students understand different types of literature and helps with their writing development. This idea matters for us as future teachers because it helps us develop new ways of teaching students how to write than the other basic form of worksheets and fill in the blanks.

For the mentor texts my favorite was The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey: I like creepy things and stories. This is not a kid’s book, but it is something I would read to an older group of students. I like the way the alphabet is used for the name of the kids in the story. I feel like this was very challenging for the writer to come up with a name for each letter that related to the theme of the book. For my expository text I feel like I need to be more creative in the story telling and what themes to write. One of my classmates commented on my posting about The Gashlycrumb Tinies: “I thought it was interesting that I like this book” because of how creepy and strange it was. I saw that same discussion in other post and comments within our classroom. I think you either like scary or creepy stories or you don’t. 😉

The first make I would like to highlight is Miriam Rodriguez and her book “ABC’s of Halloween Night.” I think this writing piece highlights the creativity in trying to find phrases or words that go with the alphabet like the author Edward Gorey. I really enjoyed reading this story and all different words that relate to Halloween night. One of my favorite lines was “H is for Hocus Pocus. A classic movie we all need to see.” I think that this style of writing can be difficult when you focus on one specific subject but when it is done it can be very entertaining.

The second make is Bailey Hunn, her version of “ABC’s of Halloween” is kid friendly. Unlike Edward Gorey who I would not read to my daughter, this book I would. I think the use of the art clips with the writings in the book make it easy for younger kids to read. I would used these books and type of writing in my classrooms, especially during holidays because it is easier to write about things you enjoy like Halloween.

The third one I would like to highlight is “If I Were a Butterfly” by Ruthann Ford. This make has the same writing style as Are You a Dragonfly? For this book, the writer needed to find out facts about butterflies and translate them into words that could be understood by a younger crowd. This type of writing style is good because you are teaching students something in a fun way. I would like to use this writing style in my future classrooms so my students can learn about different things in a first person perspective.

Author Bio: Hello my name is Bertha Gallardo. I live in Riverside, CA. I want to teach elementary, hopefully 4th or 5th grade. My favorite subject in school has always been history. I love reading holiday children’s books, for example, Halloween books or Christmas books.


Estefani Galarza

For make cycle 3 we read Are You a Dragonfly?, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and an article about The Gashlycrumb Tinies. We also went ahead and looked at the two infographics that were provided for us. My favorite text was Are You A Dragonfly? because it helped me realize that there are many ways you can write an expository text that a young child will understand. Also, I learned that if we want to write an expository text, then we have to be well informed about anything we are writing about. One of my peers made a great point on her discussion post: “Some features that I noticed from the first book Are You a Dragonfly? was that it was very informative. It went on and talked about the stages of the dragonfly’s life. This would be a good book for students to read when learning about dragonflies maybe in a science class.” (Natalie Gomes) She pointed out something that I did not realize until after: This book teaches students how expository writing should look and also teaches them about the different stages of a dragonfly. We can incorporate so many things by just doing one. For example, Are You a Dragonfly? teaches them an English lesson and a science lesson! Cool right?!

In all honesty, The Gashlycrumb Tinies was the one I did not enjoy as much. At first I didn’t really get it but after reading my peer’s discussions it helped me get a better explanation about the story. My peers also pointed out different important things about the book. For example: “it still gave a creative outlook and the big letters at the beginning of the word helps the word to stand out. This helps the alphabet to be learned for young children.” My peer Krystle Duggins pointed this out in her discussion post and I totally agree with her. Any little thing can help students learn something new. Another interpretation that there was on the book was, “ This novel also had to be researched on the deaths that has happened to children. I am also not sure if I do or do not like this last novel, since it was spooky” (Miriam Rodriguez). It was totally spooky and maybe that is why I did not enjoy it as much. 😉

Author BioMy name is Estefani Galarza! I am a transfer student from Victor Valley College where I got my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts/ Arts & Humanities. I transferred to Chico State to continue my education in Liberal Studies. My goal is to graduate from Chico State with my Bachelors in Liberal Studies and a minor in Spanish.

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