Weekly Video Updates

Make Cycles

Our course is organized by two week “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. We will read, discuss, and write based on the mentor texts we’re reading. You can find the weekly tasks for each cycle in the drop down menu above.

Google+ Community

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



Our course will be structured around a series of Make Cycles that will help us understand our own uses of narration, exposition, and argumentation, and become more metacognitive about our own writing processes. Each Make Cycle will be a 2-week period during which we will read and talk about ideas related to writing and teaching writing, and then make text-rich projects in a number of forms and genres, for a variety of purposes and audiences.

Course Assignments: brief descriptions below

Note: I will provide more instructions and explanation in the bi-weekly Make Cycle instructions. You can find the Make Cycle information by clicking on the drop down menu under Make Cycles at the top of our course site. I’ll post a new Make Cycle every two weeks with longer explanations for the assignments below.

Course Outline (subject to revision)

Make Cycle 1Weeks 1-2 Assumptions and Stances
  • Who we are and what we believe
  • Changing landscape of literacy
  • Mentor texts introduction
  • Authors and craft
Make Cycle 2Weeks 3-4 Purposeful Storytelling
  • About the Authors
  • Mentor Texts
  • Invention Strategies
  • Focus on narrative writing
Make Cycle 3Weeks 5-6 Engaging Expositions
  • About the Authors (continued)
  • Online Readings
  • Reading Like Writers
  • Mentor Texts
  • Focus on expository writing
Make Cycle 4Weeks 7-8 Compelling Arguments
  • About the Authors (continued)
  • Online readings
  • Mentor Texts
  • Effective Conferences
  • Focus on persuasive writing
Make Cycle 5

Weeks 9-10

Multimodal Composing
  • About the Authors (continued)
  • Online Readings
  • Mentor Texts
  • Strategies for Revision
  • Integrating narrative, exposition, and argument
Make Cycle 6

Weeks 11-12

Creating Effective Writing Assignments
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Lesson Design Principles
  • Mentor Texts
  • Making and Responding


Weeks 13-15

Reflecting and Planning
  • Reflective Thinking: revisiting the work of the semester
  • Strategic Planning: What will writing look like in your classroom?

G+ Community Discussions (12@10 points: 120 points total)

Most weeks, I will pose a couple of prompts connected to the reading we are doing. You’ll write a response and share the response in our Google+ Community. Note: I will have a subheading on the left hand side of our Google+ space to help keep our posts organized. Please post under those categories (i.e. Week One: Introduction). The responses will typically be due on Wednesdays and Fridays. You’ll also respond to your peer’s posts.

Make Cycle Projects (6@25 points; 150 points total)

Each Make Cycle will offer you at least two choices to make a writing-based project. There will be two parts to every project:

  • The “make” itself (be it a story, a poem, an infographic, a nonfiction report, etc.), which will incorporate at least one writing craft move drawn from a mentor text.
  • A brief reflection on the make, explaining what you were trying to do with the make and the techniques and processes you used in creating it.

Due on Fridays at the end of the two week make cycle. Share in our G+ Community: look for the category heading on the left hand side of our G+ page. We’ll also use mentor texts as a way to support our makes and write about these mentor texts a few days before our “makes” are due.

Points breakdown: a) 5 points for mentor text prep (discussion post); b) 15 points for the make itself; and c) 5 points for reflection and process explanation. 25 points total.

Featured Curators (20 points)

During one of the Make Cycles, you (and several classmates) will read, respond, and celebrate your classmates’ processes and product. Once the make projects have been posted to the Google+ community, you will write a post about your observations of the writers and the work they produced, featuring a few of the projects to show particular attributes that you find compelling, innovative, or otherwise interesting.

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

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

Make Cycle 1 (completed): Jessica Maldonado, Alice, Rafael, Bailey, Caleb

Make Cycle 2 (write up due Sept 18): Tamara, Elizabeth, Grace, Sophie, Jake

Make Cycle 3 (write up due Oct 2): MacKenna, Cori, Jessica Medrano, Lisa, Marissa, Stacie

Make Cycle 4 (write up due Oct 16): Samantha, Mayte, Michelle, Brittney, Jaycee, Ismael

Make Cycle 5 (write up due Oct 30): Annie, Kristine, Bianca, Deanna, Kaia, Bianca

Make Cycle 6 (ends Nov 17: write up will be due after Thanksgiving break, Nov 27): Karla, Amanda, Jessica G, Hannah, Shannon, Alison

Here is the example from Make Cycle 1.

Reviews of Digital Tools: (10 points)

You’ll choose from a list of digital tools that are intended to support writers. We will write reviews of these platforms/tools for each other. I’m hoping we then end up with a great list of resources for your future classroom.

  • Some questions you could answer in your reviews: Who is the intended user? What does the platform or tool say it can do? Try it out: was it useful? Why or why not? Would you recommend it?
  • Make sure you share a link to the platform or tool and an example of something you tried to write/make using the tool.
  • I’m hoping that you’ll do double duty by trying one of the tools out for one of your “makes.” And then you can review how it worked for you. I’ll have a subheading in our Google+ Community called “Digital Tool Reviews” starting in week 2 or 3. You can complete this assignment any time before Thanksgiving break.

Manifesto on Teaching Writing (including two Revised/Remixed Make Cycle projects (50 points)

This is the culminating assignment for the class. In it, you will write a manifesto that describes your beliefs about the teaching of writing, and articulates your intentions as a future teacher to implement those beliefs. In it, you will use two revised, remixed, or otherwise refined projects from the class’s Make Cycles to exemplify your ideas about writing and writing pedagogy.

Total Points: 350

(Grade: 95-100%=A, 90-94%=A-, 85-89%=B+, 80-84%=B, etc)