Google+ Community

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

Author: kjaxon

Golden Lines

Golden Lines

Here are some of my favorite lines from your reflections and other responses this Winter:

I would want my future students to have the same opportunity to share their writing with their classmates, family and friends, and to receive encouraging, positive feedback from everyone, including the teacher, so that they will feel encouraged to keep learning and growing and taking risks as writers.” -Miranda

“Ask questions and make connections to what the child is saying as you try to help them feel the fullness of what they know about the idea.” -Madison 

Motivate students to improve their spelling with, ‘I’m not afraid of my words!’”–Jannette

Children tend to learn best if they are interested in the topic itself.” –Amanitveer

“My peers have also taught me new things that I did not catch and I think that is also something awesome because we each have learned so much from each other.” –Brenda

“As teachers, I think it’s so easy for us to get caught up in lesson planning and processes, so it’s important to remember that ‘management hoops’ aren’t always the best way to teach.” –Monica

“One of the things I will carry with me forever is to always let your students jump in and start writing. Do not force them to write any particular way and see what they are able to come up with.” –Kendall

“The Google+ Community made me proud because everyone made comments there that were very encouraging and helpful…when reading the comments that I received, it made me feel as if my work was appreciated and even had meaning to it as well.”–Addie

“Kids can write texts, blogs, yelp reviews, etc because it is all writing. They can move from style to style and be aware of audience just like digital writing demands.”–Michelle

“Students should be able to write about topics they have an interest in and actually want to talk about instead of boring topics that are forced upon them. So giving students the choice to pick their topics and then giving them plenty of time to think about what they want to write about their topic is a must. This way they have time to think deeply about it and not just make something up last minute.” –Andrea

“I would say the most significant part I took away from this class is not to teach the students how to write, but to teach them how to become better writers.” –Erika

“I read these children books with different eyes in this class though. I read them with writer’s eyes.  I noticed all types of writing elements that really engaged the reader. This really interested me and I saw these books in a whole new way.” –Suzanne

 “Help students become confident enough to step out of their comfort zone and write things they may never have written before.” –Lori

 “A huge factor in effective writing is challenging them and not sending them away discouraged. We do not want to tear down their work and leave them feeling hopeless. I want my students to act as writers, talk like writers, and think like writers.” –Alexis

 “It is important for children to begin to write and see examples of writers because when students begin to see a connection between their work and those of the authors, everything they see in books becomes a possibility they might use in their work, because after all, they see themselves as doing this kind of stuff too.” -Alondra

 By having students go off and write, it gives us teachers a chance to observe and catch them in the act. We can then see if they are truly understanding everything we are showing and teaching about writing. This is a great idea that made me think about photography. I say this because my grandfather was a press photographer and he loved candid pictures. Those are the best. I think of this writing like candid writing. It might be the times we see the kid’s best ideas at work.” –Anna

To know when to encourage students to look closer at their writing and try to recognize their mistakes is challenging because as we learned in the chapters we do not want to discourage students from writing with all the mistakes.” –Andreina

 “I think the world is a giant playground of knowledge but the tricky part is being able to recognize the possibilities and actually make it a good learning experience for kids.”-Mario


Almost there!

Almost there!

Y’all did a great job working through your peer’s assignments and providing thoughtful encouragement and feedback to the teacher; thank you! As many of you mentioned, creating assignments and activities is so challenging! One of the things I often do is try out my own assignments. I learn a lot when I try to actually do the thing I created. I also look at my assignments and deconstruct the elements, asking “what are the parts of this assignment: what are the various things we’ll need to know how to do?” I then backwards design activities, discussions, mentor texts, etc to scaffold the elements. With larger assignments, I often make portions due for feedback along the way, leading up to a draft. Once I have first drafts, I read them and go back to class with some mini-lessons based on their drafts: the goal is to give ideas about what we might do next in revision or support editing work. AND, lots and lots of mentor texts, models, examples…

Before the end of the day today, you’ll reflect briefly on how your assignment went (as a comment in your original post). As part of that, be sure to tell your “student” how they did! What did you like about their writing? What suggestions might you have to the writer? I included examples from Miranda and Suzanne below who both did a great job talking with each other about the work (thank you!). This is good practice for all the feedback you’ll give throughout your career, so I would take every opportunity to try on this feedback practice.

Due tonight: Respond to two prompts for Chapter 8 and Appendix K in G+

And, you can submit your Reflection & Manifesto any time before tomorrow night (share in Google Docs to my google account email: (Just like your Wildcat email.) Note that this is slightly different from the one I typically email with (

A couple of you are already done with everything! I’ll submit official grades first thing Saturday morning, so I’ll need everyone’s essays by Friday at midnight or soon thereafter. Thank you!

In a nutshell today:

  • Your reflection on your activity you designed (as a comment in G+ under your original activity post). Say something nice to your student writer.
  • Respond to two prompts for Chapter 8 and Appendix K in G+

Examples of responses to the activities:

Hey Suzanne! Wow, great job! I loved your book, the illustrations were awesome – I loved how you used different characters in Storyjumper to work for your story, like how at the end there are so many different looking kids, and also how all the girls in princess type dresses were talking about the striped shirt and glasses. The storyline was great, and I love your conclusion! I like how you used the striped shirts to represent how the character was unique, and how the next day she wore stripes again in a different color. I love how the story encourages us to embrace our uniqueness.  Great message, great illustrations, great conclusion. Thank you also for sharing how this was inspired by your daughter’s story. I think it is important to tell stories to show how we can turn around something difficult into something that is good. Your story exceeded my expectations for the assignment! And, yes I think you are right about the part where I could add in to encourage the students to use fun illustrations to help their story. Thanks for the suggestion!

Hi Miranda, I LOVED your story “The Guitar”. It was amazing!  I felt like I got to know the character a lot. And I could tell this event truly did make it’s mark on those involved. You created a beautiful story with great illustrations and definitely exceeded my expectations. Way to go!  I don’t think I would change anything, except maybe a link to hear the band or some of Mira’s guitar playing =)  Other than that it was great.  Thank you for taking the time to make this book and sharing such a beautiful story.

Thanks again everyone!


Writing Activities: Ready For You To Try Out

Writing Activities: Ready For You To Try Out

Hi everyone,

You’ve made some really cool prompts and activities for your peers. Love the book selections as your mentor texts…such a great range of books and ideas. You can see where you’ve incorporated ideas from About the Authors too. Well done.

For today:

  • It’s now time to write the activity your partner designed for you by tonight. You’ll post your response/writing as a comment to their post. You can upload an image, just type in the comment box, link to a Google Doc or Storyjumper, add a slide to the end of their slide deck…whatever makes sense given the task they created for you to try. REMEMBER: you are also telling the “teacher” (your partner) how it turned out for you: what did you like about doing their assignment? Any challenges or things they might change, add, revise?
  • Later today or tomorrow (once your peer has tried out your activity), you can write a short reflection on how things went overall. Did the partner’s writing turn out like you imagined when you designed the activity? Again, post as a comment on your original post.

Our last Make (!) called Revise & Reflect is now live on the site. Link here too. You’ve done such lovely and creative work!

Look forward to seeing how the writing based on the activities works out!


Writing Design Day!

Writing Design Day!

Hi nice people,

Today is the day where you share an activity for your partner to try out. My favorite part of teaching (besides students, of course) is course design: I just love pouring over ideas and books, thinking about what we might do together in class, and knowing that I’ll learn from students. I’m excited to see what you come up with for your partner.

Of all the things we’ve done together this winter session, it is crucial that you DO NOT MISS this assignment tonight because a partner is depending on you to leave one for them to try out. (You will all try out each other’s activities tomorrow.) If for some crazy reason something happens, then PLEASE email asap so I can make sure your partner has someone else to work with. Since you’ve all been doing such great work, I am confident that this is not a concern. Thank you so much for your professionalism this winter session.

One small note: You don’t have to find the pages of the book for a mentor text and include images of those pages like Tamara did in her example (as you work with #1 from the assignment I’ve pasted below): you can also simply link to a YouTube video with someone reading the book like I’ve done with our other mentor texts. If you happen to have the pages, then great, but not necessary.

Here is the assignment all by itself from the Make Cycle 4 page so it’s handy:

  1. Start by choosing a mentor text (a children’s book) from one of the authors in THIS LINK. You can often find their books in YouTube videos or on the author’s website. Or feel free to use one of the mentor texts from a previous Make Cycle. Include a link to the book for your “student writer” in your activity.
  2. Create an activity/prompt based on your mentor text (something based on the theme? Based on a structure or favorite line?). YOUR “student” should know what they are supposed to write, so do your best to make your goals and instructions clear for the student writer. What might they write about? Create a prompt or description of your writing activity.
    • If helpful, return to your responses and one of the ideas for a focus study in About the Authors (from the chart on 105-106). Create an activity or mini-lesson from the ideas in their chart using your mentor text. What element of writing do you want to focus on in this activity?
  3. Intended grade level: xxx
  4. Common Core Standard(s): you can choose one or more as your target standard. Note: I would create the prompt and then return to the standards. You can almost always find one that fits with your goals for the activity.
  5. What part of the school year do you imagine this taking place and why?
  6. What materials are needed?
  7. Goals for activity: what do you hope students learn about writing from trying your assignment/activity?
  8. Assessment: how will you assess the activity? What would you expect to see in students’ writing if things go as expected?

Happy writing activity designing!

Last Week of Winter Session: Jan 13 reminders

Last Week of Winter Session: Jan 13 reminders

Hello everyone,

Friendly reminders for today:

  • Response to Chapters 6 & 7 and another response based on your impressions of the Common Core standards due tonight. Prompts on Make Cycle 4 page.
  • If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to fill out the Student Evaluation of Teaching for our course. You should have received an email from Chico State and/or you can find this information on the front page of Blackboard. I won’t see your responses until after grades are submitted, but faculty find these very helpful as we reflect on our teaching.

Tomorrow: writing activity due for your partner to try out. Find your partner on the Make Cycle 4 page as well.

You. Got. This.

Supplemental Video for Make Cycle 4

Supplemental Video for Make Cycle 4

Make Cycle 4 is now available. This video should give you some additional or clarifying info. Thanks everyone!

Jan 8: Reminders & Updates

Jan 8: Reminders & Updates

Hello everyone,

Here are your friendly, daily updates and reminders:

Due by tonight:

  • Response to the expository mentor texts (Dragonflies, new non-fiction children’s books, etc). What elements might you borrow? (see full prompt on the Make Cycle 2 page)
  • Make 2! You can see a few options in the Make 2 Cycle instructions. Remember to add your short reflection that explains the why and how behind your Make.
  • Respond to peers

quote from Big LebowskiMake Cycle 3: Compelling Arguments is now up on the site under the “Make Cycles” tab

You. Got. This.

Happy Wednesday!

Make 1 info and other updates

Make 1 info and other updates

Hi everyone,

Really beautiful work yesterday with the first chapter and the mentor texts. I updated grades in Blackboard and now need to finish commenting on your posts. I made a video this time with updates so that I could talk through the Make 1 plans. (video below)

In the video, I mention a link to Battle Bunny so I am sharing that here: LINK. You might bookmark and check out the Educators tab on their site. Another great way for your students to participate in writing communities is through International Dot Day: Link here This event takes place every September and is based off Peter Reynolds’ book The DotI actually love all of his books, particularly since most of my family does art and his books typically have an art focus.

Finally, I added Make 2 to the drop down window in case some of you want to get started earlier than Monday.

Two things due by Sunday night:

  • Watch Mac Barnett TED talk and write response/ Work with the “list” prompt and share a couple
  • Make 1: a story about you! And, remember to add a reflection about your Make (Alondra and Miranda have good examples already up in G+)
  • Respond to a peer each time; you’re doing a great job with this!



Thanks everyone and happy Saturday!