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.

Friendly Reminders: Day 2 (Jan 3)

Friendly Reminders: Day 2 (Jan 3)

From the email I sent Thursday, Jan 2:

Hi everyone!

I am absolutely enjoying reading your responses already. Loved the introductions and your insights into your literacies. I left comments on all the things from yesterday. Thank you for the thoughtful work!

I don’t think updates will always be this long, but since we’re just getting started I have stuff to tell you. Please read carefully:

  • Preferences for G+ notifications: If you teach the class, like me, then you might like getting an email every time someone posts or responds in our G+ community. But if not, here’s a super short video that shows you how to turn off email notifications: Link HERE (And, you can always simply Google: “How to I turn off the email notifications in G+?” Also known as LMGTFY.)
  • Composing offline and pasting in G+: You might consider composing your responses in Word, Pages, Google Docs or whatever you use regularly. You can then copy and paste the response in our G+ community just in case a browser times out or something awful like that. And you can always edit posts in G+ by clicking on the 3 small dots in the right hand corner of your post.
  • Grade updates: After I finish this email, I’ll be sending you each a grade update from yesterday’s work. Like I said, I don’t use Blackboard for anything, so you’ll get an email to your Wildcat Mail with your grade summary. I’ll try to do this daily, but it might be every couple of days. As much as possible, I try not to nickel and dime grades with things like 8/10. So, if you give me your best effort, then I’ll give you all the points. That said, I expect some in depth responses and will continue to share examples (see Meagan and Arika’s examples below; nicely done!). And we are moving way too quickly to take late work as you probably noticed. Y’all are doing some great work so far.
  • Respond to a peer each time: Post one; respond to one. Most of you are doing a great job commenting on your peer’s ideas. I’ll reach out to a couple people who are not commenting yet. We’re building a writing community, so thank you for your support of each other’s ideas.
  • Today’s tasks in a nutshell:
    • Read Chapter 1 from About the Authors & Unit of Study A and B. Respond to prompts about this reading in G+.
    • Read/watch 3 “mentor texts.” Respond to some prompts to generate ideas for your own writing (in G+).
    • Prompts can always be found in the Make Cycle page. Link HERE too.

It is so strange to only have 20 students! I’m used to 140 in a semester, so this is kind of awesome for me. Thanks again for jumping in. Here’s to a great couple of weeks thinking about writing.


Examples from yesterday:
Meagan’s response 
Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do With An Idea?
I am curious about and inspired by many ideas. I keep a physical calendar where I write down my daily tasks, appointments, thoughts, and plans. I keep track of quotes that move me, names of people who inspire me, and thoughts that make me reconsider how I do things. I write down what I see and want to change, what I want to do better, and what I want to work towards (usually on different color post-it notes). Listening to Yamada’s What Do You Do With An Idea? particularly moved me. Recently, I have been playing around with an idea that wakes me up in the middle of the night. I related to Yamada’s main character, “I decided to protect it, to care for it. I fed it good food, I worked with it, I played with it, but most of all I gave it my attention.” I had never considered humanizing an idea – to bring an idea to life and make an idea a priority – and now I can visualize the power and significance of doing so.
Writing is a powerful way to revisit profound thoughts, moments, or memories. When I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea that can’t wait until morning, I make a quick note that I read the next day. I have not always been the type of person who writes down their thoughts or ideas, but I regret when I do not write them down. I have restrained myself from following through on some of my ideas because they seemed too big or too time consuming. There are times I wish that someone would tap me on the shoulder and ask me what they can do to make my ideas come to life because I know they are good ideas. I am not afraid of hard work, but the amount that I don’t know is overwhelming. Reading improves our writing by building vocabulary, introducing new ways to convey messages, supporting proper grammar and punctuation, and, when reading aloud, informing pronunciation. Reading is also a vital component of learning. When I need or want to know something, I generally have to research and read to learn more. There is a saying that some teachers use, “ask three, then me,” which encourages students to engage their critical thinking skills – use the textbook, ask a friend, or do a Google search. Reading and writing are important skills that inform our ability to interact in our culture.
Andrea Lunsford’s, “Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast”
I want to begin by announcing that I will be incorporating the word “twaddle” into my vernacular, mostly because I laughed out loud while reading Lunsford’s introduction. I have heard many adults, often far-removed from their own academic experiences, express concern for the future. To pick apart the first narrative, teenagers have not changed as much as adults like to think. Research on childhood development provides evidence that teens are beginning to view the world through a different lens, often resulting in the need for privacy and independence, want of separation from their parents or authority figures, thinking more about themselves and how they fit into the world, and development of new interests. I was like that and you probably were too. If an adult were to have told me when I was a teenager that my thoughts or feelings were “narcissistic twaddle,” I likely would not have known how to respond. A more logical argument is that adults have changed (think “can’t teach an old dog new tricks”). Teens continue to experience similar adjustments and growth during this stage of development, but the experiences that inform how adults think and interact are complicated; sometimes riddled with misunderstanding, disappointment and indignance.
Lunsford’s argument is for teachers to take an active role in the digital revolution and adjust to the changes of a technological world, “What students need in facing these challenges is not derision or dismissal but solid and informed instruction.” Remaining informed and relevant is an enormous task for a teacher. Learning occurs both inside and outside of the classroom, through assigned work and self-interest missions, on digital and physical mediums. I consider myself to be digitally literate, although I do not have Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. I like to learn and, when I don’t know about something, I read to learn more. I also try to practice what I’ve learned to improve my practical knowledge.
John McWhorter’s, “Txtng is Killing Language. JK!!”
I appreciated how McWhorter articulated, “Language is speech. Writing is reflective. Texting is writing like we speak.” In making distinctions between speaking and writing, we are better able to discern the value of each form of communication. As he pointed out, teachers across the ages have been concerned with language development. The prevalence of text messaging can be the platform of a great and valuable lesson plan. Why not have students print a page of (appropriate) text messages between friends and decipher in formal writing? Why not have students consider the different ways in which they can convey the same message – casual, formal, or speech? Teachers have the opportunity to celebrate and embrace how students are using language. My husband recalls a business management class he took in college that focused on writing emails. There is value in teaching students how to shift from casual to formal and consider their audience in their writing.
Arika’s About the Authors Chapter 1 response (one of today’s discussions)
Make Cycle 1: About the Author 1
I am currently working in a First Grade classroom I have been able see this age range of writing for a few months now. However, there are a few students in the classroom that write quite a bit, but if her majority of students write like in the book then that is amazing. I did notice that the students’ writings in the book were very well thought out and they truly enjoyed writing about their topic. The things that really surprised me about the examples was the use of labels and the alterations to the fonts for emphasis. The final thing that surprised me was the obvious attempts at sounding words out rather than asking how to spell the words. The students in my classroom are always asking how to spell words. As I was reading the first chapter it made me want to send a text to the teacher I work with and tell her we need to change how she does things, but I resisted. She does the daily journal with the writing prompts. All I could think about is that the handful of students who do not do their journals would probably benefit from this “making a book” idea so much! This has made me extremely excited about teaching writing to little kids. I have also been tutoring my aunt’s grandson for a while, focusing on reading and writing, and as I reflect back I realize that when I had him write his own book he was much more motivated to work with me than practicing spelling words, writing random sentences, etc. I guess this comes naturally to me, which would be why I fell in love with this idea of “making a book”.
I am embarrassed to admit that I barely noticed only two of the bullet points. I found myself going back to the pages and looking specifically for those things. I was impressed. A teacher needs to know how to read like a writer and write like a reader to be able to notice all these significant details in a student’s writing. The teacher has to have confidence in herself to be familiar with the many different types of books these children will be reading. The teacher has to carefully choose her examples to share with students so she knows exactly what to notice. I am concerned with my ability to notice all these things. I know as time goes and the more I do it, it’ll become second nature to me. That does not stop me from being concerned about failing those students beforehand. I would probably have a “cheat sheet” with me as I read them to remind myself of all the details to look for rather than just reading a book.
As a first time Para-educator and a future teacher, I was drawn to the first paragraph where it states that “unassisted” writing is required by the county to assess grades K-2. I was unaware of this major assessment at such a young age. One thing that really interested me was how just saying the term “making a book” changes the whole outlook on writing in general and it is the perfect way to draw these younger students to want to write. Having the ability to not only write and draw a picture, but to choose the topic all together and to be able to take which ever part of any book and multiple books to make their own is empowering for them. The entire time I was reading this chapter, and still as I am reflecting on this chapter, I kept thinking about the “what if’s” for the handful of students who do not participate in the journal writing every morning in my class. I love the personal experience examples the authors share, such as, the students talking about their books hours later because they are so interested in it. It makes my heart happy to hear such young students being fully involved in their writing and genuinely wanting to write. I am sincerely thankful for the side notes under the images stating what is truly being said in the books also.
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