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.

Author: kjaxon

Welcome to English 333 spring 2018!

Welcome to English 333 spring 2018!

Hello everyone! I am so excited to write and work together this semester! Please check out our site and the various pages. I’ve created a welcome video (below) that I hope offers some insights into our course and how we’ll work together. I will update the weekly video each week(ish) on the main page.

One book to buy for our class: About the Authors: Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland.

You should also check out:

  • The Syllabus page
  • The Make Cycles page, which also has drop down menus outlining the tasks for various weeks. I’ll update those “Make Cycles” every two weeks from that Make Cycles drop down menu. Make Cycle 1 is there now or HERE. Please notice that our first Intro post has two parts. And again, you can find the prompts and instructions under the Make Cycle 1 page.

Your first assignment is due by Wednesday night (Jan 24): post an introduction to our group in the G+ community. *Note: Instructions for joining the G+ Community can be found on the Make Cycle 1 page.

This intro has two parts: 1) your introduction to us and 2) some thoughts about your literacies. Some things you could tell us: 

Part I:

  • Who are you and why are you here?
  • How did you end up at Chico State? What are your goals this semester and beyond?
  • What are your interests?
  • What are you curious about?

Part II

  • Think about your own literacies: what do you read and write? What purpose does writing serve in your life? What counts as writing? What about lists, social media, texting, emails, amazon reviews? In what ways do you use writing in your day to day life? How does this writing connect to writing you do for school?

Important: Once you’ve shared your post, respond to a peer, make connections to another human.

Post in our G+ Community. Look for the category called “Make Cycle One: Introductions” on the left hand side of our G+ page. Hoping you’ll share an image or even a video! Again, and always: Once you’ve shared your post, respond to a peer, make connections to another human.

Let me know if you have questions and I look forward to seeing you online!


Final Stretch: Make Cycle 7 Posted

Final Stretch: Make Cycle 7 Posted

Hope you had a chance to relax this past week. I know many of you simply work more hours at other jobs, but I’m hopeful that you grabbed a few moments with friends and family.

Our last set of assignments is posted under Make Cycle 7: Revise & Reflect. This will take us through to final’s week.

Note that our last assignment is a Reflection & Manifesto that will be shared in a Google Doc and not in G+. The reflection is due on Wednesday of final’s week by midnight: Dec 13. Also please pay attention to my email for sharing with me in google since it is slightly different than my faculty email. Instructions for sharing with me can be found with the assignment.

First up: response to final chapters of About the Authors due Friday (Dec 1) in G+.

I look forward to reading your reflections and seeing your revised makes!

Featured Bloggers Make 6: Shannon, Karla, Amanda, Hannah, Jessica, & Alison

Featured Bloggers Make 6: Shannon, Karla, Amanda, Hannah, Jessica, & Alison

In this week’s Make Cycle, we got busy reading and learning about assessments, Common Core Standards, and establishing better peer conferences.  We also got the challenging task of creating our own writing lesson for our peer partner to try out as well as completing the lesson that was created for us.

In chapter 7 of our texts we learned about why it is important to assess our student’s writing and what are some ways in which we can do that: “the main purposes of our assessment are to find evidence of the children using these ideas to make decisions about their writing work each day” (Ray, Cleaveland pg. 120).  We need to know what is working or not working for students and then make changes to our lessons if needed.  One point that the authors made is that our students can usually demonstrate a task or activity when asked to do so, but it is far more important to catch them deciding to do it on their own.  This tells us that the student is taking charge of their writing and making use of the lessons we teach.

The authors listed four ways that we can assess writing:

  •         Looking closely at individual pieces of writing.
  •         Watching and listening as children are engaged in the process.
  •         Asking children to be articulate.
  •         Looking across the work of a single child over time.

I think to successfully assess our students we must first build a relationship with them.  We must really know our students to be able to assess their work.  When we have their trust, they will openly discuss the work they are creating which is especially important for younger students whose writing may be limited in the beginning.  Key things to listen for when discussing their writing are: Is the student decisive in their writing? Are they using language from the lessons?  What is the student able to demonstrate but not able to explain?

Also from our text we read Appendix G.  Here we got some insight on how to help the students develop their ability to have better peer conferences.  I loved how they described role playing how the peer conference would go so that they would better know what it looked like.  I think it was a great point that they focused on the individual writer’s needs rather than the response of the peer; giving help rather than criticism.

This week we got the chance to review the Common Core Writing standards for a grade level of our choosing.  Common Core got a rough start about eight years ago.  I think over the years it has been more widely accepted or maybe we are just getting the hang of teaching to the standards.  It was interesting to see how each grade level supports the next level; building on the standards from one year to the next.  I think having the Common Core Standards will guide us in developing lesson plans and in assessing our student’s work.

 Our writing assignment for Make 6 came in two parts.  In Part I we were to create a writing assignment for our assigned partner following the guidelines of the Common Core Standards and basing it from our previous mentor texts.  We could also choose a work from a list of authors.  I’m glad that we have had many excellent examples of writing prompts from our previous Make Cycles.  Part II of our writing assignment had us completing the writing lesson that our partners developed and then writing a reflection about the activity and what we found that worked or what we thought was challenging.

There were many lessons that were fun and creative.  One of my favorites was Grace Taylor’s lesson for her partner Marissa Willits.  Grace chose to base her lesson on the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.  Grace asked that her partner reflect on what makes her unique.  Once her partner brainstormed some ideas about her unique qualities, she was asked to write a book about it.  Marissa created a wonderful story and included some pictures.  She was able to complete the activity as Grace had intended.  What I liked about this lesson, was that students will get to showcase their unique qualities.  I think it is a terrific way for students to get to know each other.

Another lesson that really stood out for me was by Caleb Johnson.  

Caleb chose his lesson based on the story by Peter H. Reynolds, The North Star.  The lesson was for his partner Ismael to write a short story about a character going on their own personal journey.  I think this type of storytelling could be very fun and creative, or as Ismael chose to write, a story that works through some personal issues.  Children need an outlet for what they’re feeling or experiencing and often cannot talk about.  Writing gives them this opportunity.  I enjoyed reading the story Ismael wrote.  I think he did a fantastic job completing the writing activity.

The final lesson that I found interesting was by Jaycee Singleton.  She chose to base her lesson on Chapter 6 from our textbook, About the Authors, regarding mini lessons.  Her activity was to have her partner, Elizabeth Salazar, create a book about safety rules including illustrations.  I thought this was noteworthy because we have been talking about having our students start making books by simply stapling paper together and then writing and illustrating their ideas and that is exactly what Elizabeth did.  The way this lesson is created will help students have a deeper understanding of safety rules because not only are they writing the rules but creating an illustration that will be a visual aide for them to follow.

Clever work from all on our lesson plans and the work we created.  It was challenging, but I think we all did an amazing job!

Author Bio: Shannon Lane lives in the central valley and attends Chico State via the online Liberal Studies program. She is a senior and will graduate in December 2017.  She hopes to obtain a multiple subject credential and go on to teach at the 3rd grade level.

In Make Cycle 6 we went into detail on assessment and how to assess our students as future teachers. We read from About the Authors chapter 7; I imagine borrowing the idea in section “Watching and Listening As Children Are Engaged in the Process” because as we watch them we learn the way they are learning. Also the section explains how watching and listening we can catch the little things like Levi’s process. When watching him, the authors noticed his process and the pictures he drew. They noticed that Levi was growing in his writing with the way he wrote the poems and the process he did to do so. I feel like this chapter helped me become more informed about assessment in children’s work; this is not something I thought about but realize how important it is. We also looked over Common Core Standards and tried to blend them in with ideas from chapter 7 we read before. Some of the ideas I noticed that pair well with About the Authors is the pictures being labeled by the student. 

We also had an assignment to make an activity for another classmate to try out. We were able to borrow from the past reading or assignments we have done in order to make an activity. This was very fun and engaging activity to design. We were able to then see what worked and what didn’t after we let a classmate try out our activity. We then tried to assess the work they did like we would with our future students. This really helped me figure out how to assess assignments and to be able to explain myself in a way students will understand want I expect on the assignment.

The overall ideas of these past few weeks have been on assessment and Common Core standards, as well as how we can blend them both as future teachers; it is important to see what works best for the students in order to grow their abilities.

These are some of the highlight work from the Makes 6 assignment:

I really enjoyed reading Jessica Maldonado’s activity. What really stood out to me is that she made a worksheet assignment and did a great job connecting it to her mentor. Her partner on this assignment gave great feedback on ways to revise the activity.

Here is Jessica’s work below!

Writing Activity Part 1: Jessica Medrano

I chose to use the book “Chrysanthemum,” by Kevin Henkes, for my writing assignment.  This one page writing activity is intended for 1st grade and would be a back to school/first week activity in the classroom.  I chose to do this because being so young, it can be scary for kids to meet other kids, and now a days, children have unique names.  I felt this would be like an ice breaker activity for students to get to know their peers.  This would be a homework assignment after reading the book in class, with parents or guardians helping the child answer the questions.  I would then welcome the children to share with the class in a group their responses to the questions and a picture if they drew one.  The goal for this assignment is to start learning how to research and get input from their parents/guardians about their name and why it was chosen. I would expect this page to have a lot of spelling errors, besides their name, very few sentences, and some pictures drawn of their family. I would hope that each child would be able to do this assignment and get the help that is required for them to answer these questions, and I would hope that this assignment would be a good start for the kids to learn how to research.  This activity would focus on CCS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.2, 1.5, and 1.8.    

My next highlight is Alice Mylod-Vargas: her work was very organized and thought out. Her activity connected with her mentor and it was very creative as well. She had lots of great detail and explained her activity being done in a classroom. Her partner did a great job as well and gave Alice great feedback.

This is her work below!

I chose to do my activity based off of Kobi Yamada’s book What Do You Do With An Idea? This activity is intended for third graders and is chosen from the 3.3 Common Core standard. The theme of this activity is to allow children to share their ideas no matter what they feel about them which is portrayed in the book. By doing this, they will allow their imagination and creativity to take over without anything stopping them. I imagine this activity taking place in the beginning of the year in order for the students to open up from the start of the school year. The materials needed would be a piece of paper and a pencil for all students without an eraser. Through this activity, I hope children learn that any idea is valuable and important in writing. I will access this activity by hearing them explain to their groups their ideas and also by reading their writing. If things go as expected, I hope to see creativity and originality in their writing. I hope to see many different outcomes that is unique to each individual.

For this activity I will first start off by reading the book out loud to my students. After that, I will have them talk about the main theme of this book. If my students don’t pick up on this theme I will guide them to come to this conclusion as a class. By doing this, they will all be introduced to the concept that all ideas are accepted and that there is no judgment in my classroom. After this, I will put three topics on the board. I will explain that they will have 1 minute to write as many phrases or words they can think of about each topic. After this minute they will move on to the next topic and same as the third. The three topics will be green grass, rainy days, and chocolate chip cookies. I chose very different topics because I hope that the outcome will have very unique and different responses. After this, I will hand out a piece of paper to each student, along with a pencil without an eraser. I will explain how they are not given an eraser because the point of this task is to write ANYTHING that comes to mind when thinking about these words. No ideas need to be erased or hidden.

After they finish writing phrases or words that come to mind when they think about these topics, I will have them get into groups and share their lists they came up with. This will allow them to be less embarrassed about sharing personal ideas. If my students feel accepted with their ideas, their writing throughout the year will improve and they will be able to fully use their imagination and express it in their writing. Next, I will then have them chose one of the three topics they just wrote about. They will be passed out an addition piece of paper and be given ten minutes to include 5 or more of the phrases they wrote down under their desired topic in a short, one page story. I will also include that this short story should be descriptive and detailed. After the ten minutes is up, I will give them an addition five minutes to explain why they wrote about the topic and what meaning of the phrases that they associated with that topic. After this, I will have them turn in their papers to me and I will get to read over their creative and original writing!

Down below are the step by step instructions that I would like you to partake in. Let me know if you have any questions. These instructions are a little different than my in class activity because this activity is online but there are only a couple of differences!


  1. Read Kobi Yamada’s book What Do You Do With An Idea? Down below is the link to the book.

  2. After this, think about the theme of the book. If you are unsure, read the paragraph above where I include the theme of the story I want my students to get out of the book.

  3. Next, log into your email and open a new google docs sheet and title it “Alice’s Activity”.

  4. Next, type “green grass” , “rainy days”, and “chocolate chip cookies” at the very top of the page.

  5. Set a timer for a minute and type out as many phrases or words that you associate with the first word at the top of the page. Start with green grass. Repeat this step for rainy days and chocolate chip cookies.

  6. After you are done with this choose one of the words (green grass, rainy days, chocolate chip cookies) and set a timer for ten minutes and write a short story (5-10 sentences) incorporating 5 of the words you came up with from one of the three words you just wrote about. Write this short story underneath your three lists.

  7. After this, set a timer for five minutes and explain why you associate these 5 words or phrases with the word you chose to write about. Write this underneath your short story.

  8. Next, post your lists and your story + reflection in google plus.

Author Bio: Karla Arroyo is from Southern California and loves nature. She loves working out and being apart of endurance sports like triathlons. She wants to travel around the world and experience cultures. She wants to work outdoors after college and pursue working in ministry as a second job or hobby.

This week’s make was without a doubt one of my favorites because it gave us the freedom to have a feel for what it is like for teachers on an everyday basis when making lesson plans. For example, my partner this week Jake Muck gave me a blast from the past. His assignment was to write about an experience I had over summer and it was intended for when we just returned after summer vacation. I absolutely loved this assignment because it had guidelines but was still broad enough for me to explore my creativity.

From what I saw on the Google+ page there was a lot of thought and effort put into each assignment, especially for Michelle Rodriguez’s make how she came up with a worksheet which was really interesting, because it exercised different common core standards for the kids too! Designing the lesson plan was definitely underestimated by many though, however, because I thought it would be easier to come up with an activity, but I looked around the internet for a while and really didn’t like any ideas so when I remembered back to the ABC’s book I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do because that is one of my first assignments I will be carrying out as a teacher!

Everyone’s responses/reactions to their partner’s activities are all really positive and no negative comments, only constructive advice and recommendations. For example, my instructions could have been more clear, but then once I clarified what I was asking specifically it was easily understood and fun!

Chapter seven from About the Authors reinforced the importance of working in groups and utilizing conversations with others. As a teacher, some goals to strive for with your students should be to learn new concepts and apply them when writing and talking with their peers. Katie Wood Ray speaks of the importance of assessment not only short term but long term as well. In this chapter it states that there are four ways of angling assessments in order to truly get insight about what the children are learning. The four assessments are the following:

  • Looking closely at individuals pieces of writing
  • Watching and listening as children are engaged in the process
  • Asking children to be articulate
  • Looking across the work of a single child over time

The assessment that I would like to highlight is watching and listening as children are engaged in the process. One great ways to achieve this observation is through group communication. The students being able to bounce ideas back and forth, helps a teacher gauge what the students have taken from the lesson. Giving the students the space to practice communicating and expressing their ideas, helps them evolve with the inspiration from their group members. We want students to initiate conversation about a topic, and their partners hold the ability to teach the information, are examples of why group discussion is important. Teaching students when to utilize tools, they have learned, like peer conferencing, is what teaching is all about. Giving students the tools to succeed is the name of the game, it is not only a matter of giving them the information but the tools to process the information. Once the tools are under their belt then they can use them to help their creativity blossom.

Bailey Nicole’s goal in her activity really encompass the idea of enabling their creativity.

“My goal for this writing assignment is for children to have fun with their writing. I want them to learn that they can switch things up, everything doesn’t have to be done in the ‘normal’ way. Students need to know that their creativity is important and needed.”

I thought was great because I too like to remind the students that normal is what you make it, aiming to fuel their creativity. I loved, Peter H. Reynolds’ book, Sky Color: it’s encouragement for student’s inventiveness supports your activity perfectly: great choice Bailey.

Creating Lessons for our future classroom’s and having a trial run with our partners is a great activity when in the process of developing lessons. It allows everyone to acquire information about our lessons and iron out the kinks. I have truly enjoyed my time in this class with all of you and truly appreciate all your assistance with my development as a future teacher and student.

This week we worked on our creating our effective writing assignment by applying what we have learned in the class. However, before we dig into the three makes I found very impressive this week, I need to recap our assignments leading up to the makes.

First, we read Chapter 7 and Appendix G from About the Authors and had to think about how we would asses our future student’s writings. This was one of the things I was very concerned with. I kept asking myself, how will I know what to look for? However, this chapter taught me to look for verbal and writing cues that the children understand what you are teaching them. Then if the children are not grasping what you are teaching them, you can tailor the mini lessons in what they need more practice in.

Second, we were asked to pick a grade level, research the standards, write about what we noticed, and then incorporated the standards from the grade level chosen into a writing assignment. The grade I chose was seventh. After reading the standards I noticed that the main focal point is with conveying clear details and ideas. With having the focus be on creating a clear, detailed ideas I would give a designated writing workshop time. During this time, I would utilize both Mini-Lessons, peer evaluations and assessments, and oral presentations. With doing the Mini-Lessons I would be able to help the students with gathering enough evidence, generating the relevant information, organization, and writing structures. With doing the peer evaluations and assessments it will cover the Production and Distribution of Writing standard. Finally, with having the students do oral presentations, it would help with ensuring the Research to Build and Present Knowledge standards were covered. I would utilize the Common Core standards in my writing assignment by incorporating and focusing on each stand to ensure the students are touching on each point.

Third, was time for us to try out what we have learned and create an assignment for our partner to do. I chose to do seventh grade again because after researching the standards it seems like a challenge. I chose to create a writing prompt based on two stories, the Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. This assignment was a fun way for me to put my creative juices to the test. I was so excited to see how my partner would answer.

Finally, my partner answered the prompt. The waiting was over but the prompt she answered was not the one I wanted her to answer. That’s when I realized my awesome writing prompt was not so awesome. However, I learned a lot from this assignment. I learned that I need to be more specific in what I am asking for and, to first try out the assignment myself to see if I can answer it the way I believe it should be answered. Thank you Amanda Green for being my partner and taking the time to do the assignment. I enjoyed reading your editorial as it was very creative.

Now for my spotlight makes….

First, Ismael Munoz, I enjoyed your No, David writing activity. This was such a great way for the children to learn why we follow the rules and if we don’t why there are consequences. I have never read the book before and it was a very good book. Your writing assignment went along perfectly with it. 

The second make I chose was Alice Mylod-Vargas; her activity was based off Kobi Yamada’s book What Do you Do With An Idea? Her activity was designed to help the students brainstorm and create a short story. I loved your activity and explanation of the assignment. You were so detailed and specific, and it was very easy to understand a follow. Plus, your three key phrases, “green grass,” “rainy days,” and “chocolate chip cookies” were very cleaver. In addition to this great assignment her partner Sophia Tisdale did an outstanding job with answering her activity.

Lastly, Bailey Nicole, your idea of creating a book based on all different sky colors was very good. I thought this was a great way to get the creative juices flowing by using both illustrations and words. In addition, you could do this with multiple grade levels by increasing the difficulty. Great idea!!!

These were just a couple of the makes I thought we impressive. However, there were so many more that should be spotlighted too. Great job everyone with this make cycle!!!

Author Bio: Jessica is from Orange County and loves entertaining, hiking, and cooking. She is going back to school to be a teacher but currently works as a graphic designer/computer programmer for an outdoor display company. On top of all that she is planning her upcoming wedding and putting the finishing touches on her new home.

For this last make, we created a lesson plan for our future students by integrating our readings from the textbooks, the Common Core Standards, and our imagination. We got a taste of what it will be like when we are actually in the classroom creating lesson plans.

From our textbook About the Authors, we read Chapter 7 and Appendix G which, as always, is captivating and inspiring to the reader. This chapter basically informs readers of what to assess and how to do it, which can be hard in a classroom full of 30 students who all have difference strengths and weaknesses. There are different ways to get students thinking about their writing and initiating their own ideas without being told what to do. Creating the lesson plan and then actually doing the activity assigned to you really supported the reading by showing us that there are endless ways to satisfy standards and help students get creative with their writing.

At first, I thought it would be difficult to think of an activity that would satisfy multiple standards and then choosing a mentor text and creating an activity. I was super nervous but once I started watching some videos on Youtube, I got really inspired to have my partner recreate one of the books so I chose Are You a Dragonfly? which was a children’s story that our class had read in a prior make cycle. I decided to have my partner, Shannon Lane, recreate this book with her own favorite animal or insect, and she did a fantastic job so I would like to highlight her work.

Below is Shannon Lane’s make in response to the lesson plan I created for her:


I chose to do this activity using Storyjumper as you suggested. I really like how easy it is to create a story using this site. I think that for a 2nd grade level they can accomplish this with assistance from the teacher without too much difficulty. I think this lesson plan fulfills the common core standards that you stated:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2 which requires students to write informative/explanatory texts.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.6 with guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing.

I thought it would be interesting to explore the life-cycle of the butterfly. The images were fun to add to the information that I had researched. I did not have any trouble completing this activity as I had used Storyjumper in a previous activity.

I imagine a 2nd grade class could do an entire lesson on insects, and have the class creating books on their favorite choice. It combines and benefits multiple subjects; science and language arts to name two.

I could not think of any changes or additions to this lesson plan. I really enjoyed doing this activity and I hope you like my story.

Thank you,

Shannon LaneBook titled 'BUTTERFLIES'Read this free book made on StoryJumper

I thought she did an amazing job following the lesson plan. It was challenging making sure it was clear enough for our partners, but all of the makes came out beautifully: all the feedback was positive and constructive criticism. I loved that Shannon wrote on her response that she thinks this could turn into a segment on insects. I definitely agree; I think many of the activities are cross cutting with other subjects, like science and history. Responses like this helped students recognize what they can improve on the lesson plan they created. I think our fellow classmates felt really accomplished with both their lesson plans and their makes that they created.

I would like to highlight another make created by Stacie Beadel, who was partnered with Karla Arroyo.

Karla Arroyo had a really fun idea for students to get outside and appreciate their Earth at an early age, which in my opinion, is really important! Here is her work below:

Hey Stacie!

I picked this mentor text because this book teaches children how important it is to take care of our earth. I also feel that doing something fun and creative can be done with this book! This activity can be done as a take home activity after reading the book in class. Children can take pictures of anything based on nature to give the message to the whole school about keeping the earth clean.

What I want you to do:

Listen to the book, take some creative photographs that connects to the book about keeping the earth clean. You can take some Photographs of nature! Make sure that the overall message is to take care of the earth and write a short paragraph about the connection with the book and your Visual.

Grade intended level:

The book is a first grade level and I feel that parents can help take pictures if the student needs help doing so.

Common core standards:


Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.

What part of the school year:

I would do this assignment during earth day because the students will be able to learn about the environment while
celebrating earth day and doing a fun activity. Also students will learn how to connect books to their own writing style.

What materials are needed:

You will need a camera from your phone or anything type! You will also need to upload it on word or what works for you with the short paragraph under it!

Goals for the activity:

I hope to see students learn how to connect books they have read and use ideas from them to write on there own work.


I will asses the activity by looking at the students photos and how they made the connection with the book. For example
maybe they take pictures of things from the book and they made a connection to that specific part in the book. I expect the students to take pictures of things related to the book and to connect why that part stood out to them.

Her instructions were really clear and the book she chose was a adorable and will surely get first graders involved in caring about the Earth and excited about a lesson plan that takes place outside the classroom. Her partner created a beautiful make with pictures of a Table Mountain, which is local to Chico and likely something first graders will include if they were to be assigned to take pictures of nature. This is Stacie’s response:

This activity was fun. I’m a photographer, and enjoy taking photos of nature. I cheated a little, and decided to use photos that I took in the spring. We live in the desert forest, and its ugly here right now. That was my only challenge. This activity would be so fun to do with a class. Seeing all of their visions of what nature is, and reading their words would be so eye opening. I’m sure it would lead to future assignments on the environment, and how to take care of it.

She did an amazing job at completing the assignment and I think the idea of having students get outside and take pictures will be something new and maybe challenging but having the help of their parents will make it easier and allow the students to get introduced to something new!

This week’s makes were all wonderful and I enjoyed going through and reading the stories and passages created by my classmates. I think everyone enjoyed this make cycle; it was definitely one of my favorites.

Week 13 Reminders

Week 13 Reminders

Hi all,

Please remember that your posting your writing and response to your partner as a comment under their original assignment description. You can create the response/activity in a Google Doc and share a link too as a comment to your partner’s post. Make sure the share settings are set to “anyone can view.”

Also, make sure you’ve at least checked out your partner’s plan so you can clarify any confusion with your partner before the assignment is due Tuesday.

Here is a great example of what we’re doing from Alice and Sophie. Both the activity description from Alice and Sophie’s response are great models for this make cycle.

Writing and response to partner’s activity due Tuesday. Don’t be late since you all can’t write your reflections on the assignment until the writing partner has completed the partner’s assignment. If you both get your response done early, then you could write your reflection and be on break for our class (with the exception of the featured bloggers). Just sayin…

FEATURED BLOGGERS (Karla, Amanda, Jessica G, Hannah, Shannon, and Alison): I hope you will write up your blogs before you leave for break. See email from Nov 2 from me.

The last Make Cycle (which takes us to final’s week) will be posted Sunday night or Monday morning after break (Nov 26 or 27). I know we’ll read chapter 8 and Appendix K from About the Authors and you’ll be revising one of your Makes from this semester, so if you wanted to get ahead, you could read and think about which make you might want to return to as part of the Manifesto assignment.

Make Cycle 5 Featured Bloggers: Bianca, Kristine, Jessica, Kaia, & Deanna

Make Cycle 5 Featured Bloggers: Bianca, Kristine, Jessica, Kaia, & Deanna

I really enjoyed the information in chapter 6 of About the Authors. I liked how Wood Ray describes a unit as a series of mini lessons. Basically, you take a big topic that you as a teacher think is relevant and you teach it over a period of time in your writing workshop. I like how she explained how you could choose a unit to teach in your workshop. Besides following the states standards, I always thought about “how would I choose my mentor texts?” In the beginning of chapter 6 it talked about how Lisa (the first grade teacher) helped Forrest get out of his comfort zone when she had them write poetry. This goes along the lines of your vision of how you want your students to be as writers. Lisa took poetry, which she as a teacher had an interest in and thought it would be beneficial for her students to experience and learn. Through this, Forrest learned he had a passion for poetry. From the chart on page 105 I really liked “an overview of the kinds of writing that exist in the world, or a look at a specific kind.” This one stood out to me the most because it is important to teach students different forms of writing. I thought this one was relevant too because throughout this course we have been exposed to numerous forms of writing and then applied what we have learned to make out own stories, poems, compelling arguments, etc.

Throughout this course we have also been exposed to many mentor texts. A lot of these I personally would like to use in my own workshop one day. This is my first English class that I have taken that is tailored to future teachers and the ideas I have been learning from About the Authors and from our instructor have been so helpful. I took a theater class and one of the assignments we learned about was story mapping. I think this would be really useful in helping students learn to comprehend what they are listening to and reading. By making a story map they are starting out by talking about the characters and their stories. Then, you go into the climax and the ending. Their map would be a diagram of events and they can even add illustrations.

I also enjoyed reading “Homer to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing through Painting, Performance, and Poetry.” I thought this mentor text was full of great ideas and Ms. Gilrain had a lot of examples of work she had done in her classroom. I loved the examples she had of the students learning about Odysseus. I liked the way the teacher asked the students who the Sirens are in the story and the students told her and said they are bad. The teacher would then ask if the students wished they were Sirens and Kiara said no because they were evil, but, then Ellen said yes because then she would be able to fly. Ms. Gilrain was about the get Ellen to think outside the box by making them think if they would want to be one or not. Ms. Gilrain asked Miguel how he related to Odysseus and he related his experience of traveling to go see his father who he missed very much to Odysseus trying to get home to Penelope. We learn about a student who had recently lost her father and her mother told her teacher that she would never speak about her fathers sudden death on Christmas ever. This student was introduced to poetry and was able to express herself. Her teacher showed her mother her work and she was in shock. Thanks to poetry I think she was able to grieve her father’s loss. After reading this article I want to use art in my class because thanks to the art that Ms. Gilrain used her students showed a passion and interest in poetry. Not only did they find their passion, some of her students had tragedies in their lives and art helped them through the grieving processes. I also believe that due to Ms. Gilrain’s teaching style the students had an easier time understanding the materials that were being taught.

Make Cycle 5 has to be my favorite: not only did we get to create our own website or calling card but we were also assigned to make our own meme to reflect writing workshop. One of my favorite memes was by Rafael Sevilla. I thought his was hysterical and spot on. I wish growing up I had writers workshop.

For Make Cycle 5, my favorite project was by Kaylee Dashiell. She did a story all with memes about the typical day of a server. I thought this was really creative and funny. You can tell she took her time in making this project. She started with a meme of a sad looking bear at the beginning of her shift then ended with a crazy picture of Christian Bale for her closing shift.

Amanda Greene did a website make from Weebly and it was absolutely perfect. He teaching metaphor was gardening and how she was planting little seeds of knowledge. She had a calendar on her website that showed how many months till she was in the credential program. Very Creative!

I have learned so much in this class the last few months and I am so excited to be able to run my own writing workshop and inspire my students to want to be writers. There are so many mentor text that we have used in this course that I would like to use in my own classroom.

Author Bio: Bianca DeRee is 23 years old and commutes to Chico State from Live Oak, CA. She will be graduating with her BA in Liberal Studies, December 2018 and starting the credential program January 2019. Her hope is to become a 1st grade teacher: working with the younger kids has always been her passion.

Over the past two weeks, our class has really dug deep and written some really great responses to our mentor texts, and created some awesome makes of our own. In our fifth make cycle, we started looking at multimodal texts and learning about how we can create our own and get students more involved in learning. We all got the chance to have a lot of fun with this make cycle, especially with the addition of making memes.

My favorite reading from this make cycle was the multimodal article, “From Homer to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing through Painting, Performance, and Poetry.” This article had over 10 different types of writing and was a really unique way of understanding this particular classroom, and how the students were learning. I thought reading all of the different forms would be tedious and annoying, but I enjoyed it a lot. With so many different forms of writing, the students were able to thoroughly express themselves and their feelings and the teachers were able to showcase what their students can do. The mural conversations were a great way to see that the children really understood the story they were reading and how they related to the characters. In the mural with the Sirens, I like how the students were able to explain what was happening and how the characters were affected. I also loved how the students, Miguel in particular, were able to emphasize with the characters and could point out what they had in common. I really want to incorporate art like the murals from the article, to get students to understand the stories they read and what they are learning. I have learned a lot about teaching multimodal writing from About the Authors, especially about poems. I also loved the section on teaching poetry to students and how some students at first hated it, but soon came to love them and even start to write them in their own free time. I really appreciate how multimodal writing gives students so many different opportunities to find a way to express their feelings and have fun while doing it.

In addition to reading this great article, we also learned a lot from this week’s reading from About the Authors. When reading Chapter 6, I really liked the idea of using a “big topic of interest to people who write” when creating lesson plans and how we need to understand how important it is for the children to see themselves as people who write. I also appreciated how these different ideas for studying the writing process and products can be used for any age, from first graders to freshmen in high school. I also loved how the author told us the story of Forrest and how at first he was absolutely sure he could not write poetry, but after he started writing he became comfortable and started using poetry as his form of writing for other assignments as well. This example shows us how important it is to have different units of study and to make sure each student tries their best when writing something they might feel uncomfortable with.

Our class had so many great posts and discussions about ideas from this week’s readings. I feel many of us were a little overwhelmed at the multimodal article, such as Elizabeth Salazar pointed out in her response: “there was far too much in one article. It would have been nice if she broke it down into different articles.” On the other hand, many of us were excited about how many different forms of art was used in the classroom, as pointed out by Bailey Nicole in her response, “I liked reading in all the different forms. It keeps you more interested and excited to read because it is so different from what I am used to.” While we all felt a little differently about this article, I think we can all agree that this make cycle started to get us really excited to start teaching.

Finally, our makes for Make Cycle 5 were so interesting and so much fun to create. I want to point out a few that really caught my eye. I really enjoyed Jaycee Singleton’s Prezi presentation on different styles of teaching writing. This presentation was very informative and also had links to youtube videos as examples of what she was talking about. I believe Jaycee really used our mentor text, “From Homer to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing through Painting, Performance, and Poetry,” as inspiration and also some elements from our textbook, About the Authors.

Second, I found Bailey Nicole’s reflection of our About the Authors reading through Disney Princess memes to be so creative and fun to read. I really enjoyed how she specified each chapter and made a meme to express the overall idea of each chapter. Bailey definitely knows the reading from our book and this make showed us just that, in a fun and exciting way.

Finally, I loved Bianca DeRee calling card website! Personally, I had a little trouble creating a website for myself, but Bianca’s website is so well done and professional. I believe Bianca really took her time and figured out all the tricks to designing a website and she really blew it out of the water. I also really enjoy how she has reflection blog posts from her child observation classes; it really gives visitors a look into her education and her goals.

Overall, this was a really great couple of weeks for English 333 and my peers all did an awesome job with these multimodal makes.

Author ​Bio: Kristine Cowan is a sophomore at Chico State, majoring in Liberal Studies and hoping to one day become a second or third grade teacher. She lives in Crescent City, CA and enjoys being outdoors and by the beach. She is excited to finish up her degree and credentials and get into the classroom with students.

Hello everyone, my name is Jessica Medrano. This is my junior year at Chico it has been exciting and challenging. Exciting because I feel closer to my goal of finally getting a Bachelors Degree, making me the first in my family to achieve such a goal, but challenging because I had to go through some family problems while trying to stay focus on my studies. This was a difficult time and I’m still trying to get ahead, but I know that getting through stress can be achieved. So, we are all close to the finish line of Fall 2017, some of us are tired and others, well, maybe crazy, but we are all in this together. Good luck guys, we can do it!

Creating multimodal text was a fun and creative project, like Dr. Jaxon said, “really, you have been creating multimodal texts all semester via StoryJumper, with the images you’ve added to your writing, and in your posters, videos, and audio files. ” I enjoyed merging text, storytelling, and video, all in one, to convey an idea. This is the future of literacy, really, merging video and literature, more and more, todays students are fascinated with telling a story using digital media. Memes are the best thing that come out of Facebook; they can be funny, clever and rude. In a few words a meme can tell a big story. Memes are about using the right image to convey a message using minimal words, if possible. Some of my favorites for this make cycle:

Chapter 6 from About the Authors, introduces us to units of study, and how we can create lesson plans based on the units of study. What are units of study? Author, Katie Wood Ray explains, “ Simply image an extended series of lessons happening over period of days and weeks, with all the lessons focused on some big topic of interest.” Big topics of interest are broken into two sections, Process Studies, how to write, and Product Studies, studying the written work. The chart that is provide is an excellent resources for new teachers on creating “mini-lessons” or units of study. I agree with Marissa Willits choice on creating a unit lesson from the Product Studies on coauthoring; she explains:

“The focus of study that I chose was how to coauthor with other writers. If I were to create a lesson on this subject, I would find some mentor text where two authors wrote a book from a wide area of different authors and subjects, so they see that if you work together you can come up with amazing ideas. I would ask my students to pick a different partner after each book that they write so that way they can work with different people and have different shared ideas.”

The makes for cycle five were clever and entertaining. I hope that everyone considers on making learning how to write a joyful and creative experience. Students will be eager to learn if we use the current tools that they love using; for example, using memes and gifs, as a writing tool is excellent for a story.

Rhiannon Edlund, your story and gifs were incredible: “I put my make into kinetic form by going new-school and including GIFs and memes that I thought depicted sorority life perfectly, since that was of course the topic of my last make cycle.” I really liked your story because you were writing about something you know and love. In fact, I shared with my kids the stories that were written using gif and memes, they enjoyed so much, that I challenged them to write one too.

Overall, we are learning about writing in a new era of technology by using the latest digital media that is popular with the kids to get them to write. Dr. Jaxon has made our makes entertaining and a bit challenging, but the result are always amazing. I can attest that I feel more like a writer every day and look forward to Friday’s deadlines to turn in our latest creations. I have to admit to checking my email daily just to see if Dr. Jaxon has commented on my make; it makes me excited.

Make cycle 5 has been one of my favorite makes we have done this semester! I have really enjoyed learning about writer’s workshop and the benefits of using art to teach reading and writing. We also learned about multimodal texts and how they can help engage your students in your lessons. These ideas are ones that I hope to use in my future classroom because I find them very beneficial for the students. Writer’s workshop helps the students build confidence in their writing and become better and more experienced writers. It is a time where the children get to generate new ideas and focus on their work.

From this week’s make cycle I picked three of my classmate’s work that I thought were great responses to our prompts.

The first one is Marissa Willits who made her own websiteHer work was very well done and impressive. In her website she included her own pieces of work from our make cycles to share. I really like that idea because it gives future employers a look at her work. Her website was also beautifully laid out and very organized. Great job Marissa!

The next piece of work that I enjoyed reading is by Grace Taylor. She made a Prezi on many broader topics we have talked about this semester. Her Prezi is a great recap on some of the ways of teaching writing that we have learned this year. It was very helpful to go back and review some of the great things we have learned! Her work was very thoughtful and organized. Keep up the good work Grace!

The last make I would like to share is done by Jaycee Singleton. She also made a Prezi resource: Her Prezi is about the different styles of teaching writing that we have learned. I loved how she included youtube videos for us to watch that help explain and support her work. This would be a great thing to look back on when I become a teacher. I thought it was very helpful that she gave us a  description about each style of writing and then provides us with examples. Awesome job Jaycee!

Author Bio: Kaia Enstrom is a sophomore at Chico State. She is majoring in Liberal Studies, in hopes of becoming an educator. She volunteers with CAVE and works in a classroom twice a week. This summer she hopes to be a part of Camp Adventure and work with kids in a US military base across the world. She will graduate in Spring of 2020 and then work towards her teaching credential.

Over the last two weeks, I have learned a lot from Chapter 6 in About the Authors, and the article “From Homer to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing through Painting, Performance, and Poetry.” What stood out to me the most from chapter 6 was the explanation of why you should organize mini lessons into units of study. I liked the idea of taking a big topic and breaking it into smaller lessons to ensure deeper understanding of a big topic of interest. In stretching out a big topic, it allows you to come at it from different angles. If one mini lesson on a big topic wasn’t really suited for a child, then maybe the next one will be. Instead of a child saying, “I didn’t like that topic” altogether, hopefully they will realize that one bad mini lesson doesn’t mean that the entire topic is also bad.

In the article “From Homer to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing through Painting, Performance, and Poetry,” I thought the multimodal format was interesting. At first, I really didn’t care to read through all of the changing formats. I’m just not used to that, but once I got into it, it wasn’t bad. I like the idea of art integrated instruction, but it’s hard to imagine myself teaching it because it is so unlike the any way I have ever been taught. Art wasn’t integrated much into the curriculum in my schooling, but sometimes it was set aside as a separate project. I’m not used to the idea of it integrating art into instruction, but the kids in the article produced work that was well thought out, and seemed to display a deep understanding of what they were learning. So, I definitely think this format can be beneficial to children. I’ve learned that visual arts, as well as theater arts, can enhance a child’s learning in the classroom.

From the compelling argument makes, one that stood out to me was “Letter to the Lunch Lady” by Cynthia Curiel. This make stood out to me because it was funny and relatable, but it also made a good argument.  This make was a letter from a student who is unsatisfied with her school lunch. In the letter, the student makes a plea to the lunch lady to make changes to the lunch because it is basically not edible. Not only does the student bring light to the issue, but she also offers solutions to the problems, so the lunch lady can solve them. The lunch lady listens to the student, and agrees to make changes. If I were a parent, and I knew my child, as well as many other children at school felt that way about their lunch, I would feel compelled to do something about it, so I felt her work was a great display of a compelling argument.

Another peer’s work that stood out to me was Tamara Ligon and the flyers she made about fire safety. I chose her work because I thought it was smart to write about the subject of fire safety when there were huge fires spreading over California. Because of the fires going on at the time, it was one of the first set of flyers that caught my attention. The topic was very relevant, and I think that is important in persuasive writing. It’s hard to be persuasive about a topic that is not relevant to an audience. My friend had to evacuate from Sonoma at 4 in the morning, and she said it was absolute chaos! So, I especially found the flyer about making an escape plan to be particularly helpful to know.

The third make I chose to highlight was the advice column by Alice Mylod-Vargas. I chose this make because I thought it was posed in a fun way. Using Disney characters made her work stand out. It made immediately interested in what she wrote about, and it made me care what she was writing about. I think that is important in persuasive writing because if I don’t care about what you are writing about, then it is probably not going to be very persuasive to me. I also thought the content had a great message for children about finding a compromise. I thought that was a great lesson to embed into the assignment.

Author Bio: Deanna Dumas a transfer student from Sacramento State University. This is her first semester at Chico State, and she is now a senior. She currently works with adults and children with developmental disabilities, and hopes that experience can serve her in the classroom after she graduates next fall.

Updates: Week 11

Updates: Week 11

Thanks for your patience! Make Cycle 6: Creating Effective Writing Assignments is now posted. Link here too.

Please note that you have a partner for this cycle who will try out the writing activity you create and provide some feedback to you about how it went for them as the writer. You’ve all been good about timing all semester, but just know that it will be crucial that you meet assignment deadlines so that you don’t leave your partner hanging.

First prompts are about assessment (reading Chapter 7 and looking over the Common Core standards in the next week(ish)). I made the chapter 7 response due on Saturday instead of Friday this week since I am late getting things to you.

Finally, I have one final conference this month: giving the Keynote address for the California Association of Teachers of English Yosemite Conference this weekend, along with my colleague Peter Kittle. I may be delayed in email responses this weekend, but will do my best to get back to you as quickly as possible. Remind me not to do three conferences in a four week period again. I look forward to things slowing down a bit after this.

I am thrilled with your multimodal makes that I’ve peeked at so far. Such creative work and I’m glad so many of you took the opportunity to start your professional websites!

Thank you again for your work!


Make Cycle 4 Featured Bloggers: Ismael, Jaycee, Michelle, Mayte, & Samantha

Make Cycle 4 Featured Bloggers: Ismael, Jaycee, Michelle, Mayte, & Samantha

photo of IsmaelIsmael Munoz

We should all feel proud now that we are half way through the semester and becoming more knowledgeable and ready to become future teachers. I really enjoyed reading chapters 4 and 5 and Appendix E from About the Authors as it gave lots of great information that can help future teachers understand a child’s writing process better. In chapter 4, the authors talk how to help students find ideas that will help them with their writing projects: this is also where we’ll expect students to begin in their book writing. Children can write just about anything from everyday life events such as families, pets, friends, play time, and school. As a student starts writing their ideas in the story book, it’s important to TALK and ask questions about where they got their ideas for the book they’re making and the ideas behind it. By talking, we encourage all students to share their thoughts and ideas with their peers and this might also help other students who are struggling find their own ideas through the class discussion.

One of the ideas I really liked was on page 63 as it talks about ways to help struggling students to get started; it says: “When a student is struggling to get started with something, we might encourage her to walk about the room and see what other children are working on in their books. This often helps get ideas going for writers.” I found this to be very true as I seen many times a student who doesn’t know how to get started in their writing projects, but if they see some of their classmate’s work, it might spark an idea. It’s important as teacher to always encourage and motivate our students that way they can become successful in writing their story books. In chapter 5, Wood Ray talks about mini lessons and the importance of having students feel like “professional authors.”

“Remember that one of the first things we help young writers realize is that they make books, too. We staple the paper together so it looks like a book because right the start we want them to think of themselves as people who make books.”

By having a student feel like a professional author, this will motivate them more and encourage them to try their best when it comes to their writing abilities. I liked the idea of doing a “walk-through”: this will have the entire class participating and sharing their ideas about the book that is been discussed. By asking question such as “What do you notice about how this is written?” “What do you notice about the picture?” has students really analyzing each page that is been presented by teacher. I also thought it was very helpful that the teacher kept a chart in the classroom to record all the main things that were discussed during the “walk-through.” This will also help student visually see what other have said, as well as compare their ideas with those of their classmates. I loved how the chapter ended by saying “Our words matter, maybe more than we’ll ever know. And in mini lessons, where we do so much of the talking, we try our best to choose words both carefully and purposefully, knowing how much our talk supports the work of the young writers in the room.”

When responding to our mentor texts I chose to focus on The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywelt and Oliver Jeffers. This story was very interesting and unique in the way that each crayon shared their point of view on why and how they were being used. I liked how the story started by saying: “One day in class, Duncan went to take out his crayons and found a stack of letters with his name on them.” Each crayon writes a letter to Duncan, voicing out their concern or opinion about the way a particular color is been used. Some of the elements I see in the story is the way each crayons shows its emotions differently but go through the same process of writing a letter. I liked how each single crayon shared their silly stories in a fun way that will keep the reader entertain and wonder, what will the next crayon complain about. This story can really relate to kids who always grab their favorite colors and ignore the ones they don’t like. I enjoyed the way the story ended by saying “Poor Duncan just wanted to color…and of course he wanted his crayons to be happy. And that gave him an idea.” By listening to all the letters written by the crayons Duncan decided to use ALL of them and make everyone happy, a win win for everyone. This story can effectively encourage students to be more open minded when grabbing their crayons, and more importantly, is a great model for argumentative writing.

Finally, in our Compelling Arguments “Make” we had many different options to choose from. I chose to create posters with the help of Smore.com. The goal of creating the posters was to attempt to convince the people who see them to act, think, or behave in a particular way.

I thought all the Makes were awesome but here are some of my favorites:

Grace Taylor did a great job in her Make. She got inspired by the story The Day the Crayons Quit. In her Make, the Ugly Duckling is writing a letter to the Fair Godmother asking for help because he feels uncomfortable in the way he looks. The Fairy Godmother writes back ensuring the duckling that he has qualities that surpass looks and his kindness to others will take him far. I love the statement she uses: “A bright mind and a kind heart are much more important than good looks.”

The second Make I enjoyed was created by Karla Arroyo. Karla created posters that informed the public about earthquakes and advice on what to do when one strikes. I think this Make is very helpful for us to know, especially since we live in a state known for earthquakes. Kids need to also be aware of the dangers of earthquakes and understand what procedures to take. Karla states, “As future teachers we must be prepared for natural disasters like Earthquakes, Floods, and Fires.”

The the third and final Make I enjoyed reading was by Jillian Wright. She created a book that talked about the importance of taking care of some of our organs and body parts such as our brain, stomach, liver, and feet. The story informs us how alcohol can affect those organs in a very negative way and convinces the reader of making better choices when going out for drinks. She was inspired by the Crayon Book to format her own story. I loved how she used animated pictures to keep the reader engaged in the story. I thought it was very humorous when the brain tries to convince the reader not to drink by saying “Just remember, I, the control freak mind, will be back in the morning with vengeance as I make you recount every detail of even mild stupidity.” I thought it was a very informative, yet fun story to read.

Book titled '“No, we DON’T want to go out tonight':'Read this free book made on StoryJumper

Author Bio: Ismael was born and raised in Salinas, Ca and graduated this past May from Hartnell Community College where he received his Associates Degree. He transferred to Chico State as a junior this fall where he is working toward his bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. Ismael currently works full time with special needs children, as well as the extended school program. He loves knowing he can make a difference in a student’s life and looks forward to becoming an elementary teacher soon.

photo of JayceeJaycee Singleton  

I think that this Make was a success for everyone. For this Make we were asked to create a compelling argument text which could be done in many different ways. I saw a lot of posters, which were amazing and a few other different presentations.  The main point to get a cross to the reader was to argue a particular topic in either a letter, poster, write up, or a few other ways. Each one that I read was outstanding, and while many of us did made posters, they were very powerful. A few people chose topics that have been on everyone’s mind lately and I thought the way they were shown through the images were great.  

For the first week of this Make Cycle, we read and discussed chapters 4 and 5 and appendix E in About the Authors. I thought these topics that we covered were important for our future teachers to know. I found them to be very helpful and it pushed us forward in how to teach children the importance of reading and writing. Most of us talked about how we enjoyed and would use these skills, particularly the use of writer’s workshop, in teaching. When children write stories, their revisions are the most important. It gives them the chance to look back at what they have written and a chance to critique it. It is also a great time for the teacher to sit one on one with the student to talk about their thinking process and how they may want to change and correct spelling or wording. Also, that starting to write is always the hardest for the children (and us!). Finding that perfect topic to write on will get them started and sometimes all they need are some hints and they come up with their own plot. This is all shown in these two chapters and the appendix examples of how these are implemented in real writing from children. I very much enjoyed reading the post from Bailey Nicole. She talks in great detail about these topics. For example, she points out the “Planning for a Draft” section. She mentions that book says “most children go straight from having an idea, to announcing that have it, to beginning the first page.” This is what we talked about being that first barrier for young writers to get across.  

For the next part of our Make Cycle, we read four mentor texts that all did a great job in demonstrating compelling arguments. We read, Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Day the Crayons Quit, and I Wanna New Room. Someone I would like to point out is Grace Taylor. She discusses the story of Click, Clack Moo and how each side of the argument could be great to discuss, the cows versus the farmers. She gives the idea to split your future class up and have each side argue from the side of the cows and then the farmer. This would be such an effective activity for children to participate in.  

Lastly, I enjoyed our Makes most of all. Each one portrayed a topic that could be argued and many of us chose ones that we are currently discussing in our government and communities. For instance, Rafael Sevilla made three great posters. He went for the topic of “immigration, equality, racism, freedom of expression.”  This was great because it is a huge controversial subject going on right now. My favorite poster from Rafael was the poster of Kapernick kneeling down during the National Anthem. This was a big issue going on, but it really should not have been because it has been going on for years.  Rafael's social justice poster

Compelling arguments are great for children to engage in because they get exposed to both sides of the stories. They see different points of views and or they can be differently seen by everyone.  Many of us related to projects and activities we could use in a classroom and or already have used it before. It is helpful to see how these have played out with our own personal stories. It is a great practice in the teaching of these compelling arguments. I would like to comment on Tamara Ligon, who showed her son’s classroom, which she is involved in. She was able to show what we were talking about in class and reading about, in a more personal way. This was an excellent thing to add to her discussion post.  

Overall, this was a great Make Cycle and I want everyone to know they did a great job. Keep up the great work!

Author Bio: Jaycee is 19 years old and is the Chico State Class of 2020. She will graduate early with her certificate in Liberal Studies to go on and become an Elementary School Teacher. She currently lives in Chico, working at Starbucks and is a full time student. For fun, she plays tennis and works in an After School Program. She cannot wait for the exciting adventure in teaching that awaits her.

photo of MichelleMichelle Rodriguez

We started off week 7 with the continuation of chapter 4 and 5 from the book About the Authors along with the appendix E. The following is a summary of weeks 7’s reading and some interesting things I found.

Time after time in the chapters I have seen that doing writing workshop goes on even outside of the classroom such as the student Cauley, who was thinking about his book the night before, mentioned in the beginning of chapter 4. I enjoy reading about how meaningful the writing workshops are for the students.

I like the idea of not giving students a set of rules or even give them steps, but instead, giving them paper and writing tools and asking them to make something with writing. Later on, when students have started writing, we start refining their writing. The important thing is to get them started on writing. Some students might need help getting started. The book suggests to help student who are struggling to get started by encouraging them to walk around the classroom, look through their folder, or even hold a conference with them to get them inspired for their next book.

Another thing I liked was to give or even have the students make a little notebook they can always carry to jot down ideas as they go on about their day because ideas don’t always come when they are sitting down to write. When we are guiding the students in mini lessons, we want to show them how to write envisioning their books. When reading other author’s books, we want to point out things they could use themselves in their books. Chapter 5 talks about great ways of teaching and introducing new techniques into the students’ toolbox as does appendix E

During week 8 we read the mentor texts and worked on Make Cycle 4, compelling arguments. I think Make 4 allowed a lot of freedom to be able to talk about real issues that are going on today and really matter to us. Many peers were able to share and bring awareness to issues they are passionate about. There was a variety of topics given importance to; for example, driving under the influence, fire and earthquake safety, bullying, sea life, law enforcement, and many other important topics. One that really stood out to me was Kristin Fondersmith’s print, which brought awareness to veganism. Kristin shared great reasons and statistics on why being a vegan is a good idea. The reason why this flyer stood out to me was because I myself have started my journey to eating and leading a healthier lifestyle.

Another make that stood out to me was Kaylee Dashiell’s about ocean life. I loved her make because I love the ocean and I of course want to do anything I can to keeping it clean for its inhabitants and for other future generations to enjoy as well. Kaylee shared things we can all do to create a safer environment for all sea creatures.

Author Bio: Michelle is in her fourth year of college, first year at CSU, as a transfer student. She looks towards being an elementary school teacher. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and being creative.

Mayte Rendon

During the past two weeks with these posts and this week’s make, it was very interesting and went by pretty fast. I do honestly enjoy making them because it is pretty fun and I get to learn more about future teachers. I really liked how we started off by introducing each other to the whole class and communicating with each other.

The last two weeks, we read about ideas on how to teach kids to start writing. There were some pretty impressive “taken away” ideas that I liked personally. Some ideas were letting kids write about their favorite things and just keep writing about it and why they like it. Also, let the students walk around and talk to their classmates and use conversations to start thinking of ideas on what they can write. Playing some fun writing games would be a good idea too. Have kids go into teams and let them write on the board and have like a spelling bee challenge.

One of the peer’s argument that I liked is by Jessica Maldonado:

Every child would love to have their own room, and when Alex couldn’t have his own room, he made a very compelling argument, and compromises were made for everyone to be happy. In the story The Day the Crayons Quit, I was very amused.  It was very cute and different for the crayons to be writing letters to Duncan telling him that they were being overused or underused.

I chose these quotes because I agree with her post and also think it was cute how the writer put the characters suggestions/arguments into letters. I liked how she related these stories to her past and it is pretty cool that I can also relate to her by saying that I also wanted to have my own room when I was young and should have used my crayons evenly and not just mostly used my favorite ones all the time. Overall, our peers did some thoughtful work with arguments. 

Author Bio: Mayte is from Live Oak, California and came to Chico to attend Chico State to study and graduate with a bachelor’s degree to become an elementary teacher. This year is her third year attending the University.  

Samantha Prosser

This class has brought me so much inspiration and joy over the course of the last couple months. It is so inspiring to watch future educators write such amazing stories and ideas. This last make we talked a lot about the readings in chapter four and five of About the Authors. Both of these chapters had some great ideas and strategies to use in the classroom to help children with writing and their creative process.

One of my favorite ideas and statements in chapter 4 is the line that says:


“essentially the goal is for writers to find a process that helps them go from an idea to the best piece of finished writing they can possibly produce, not for them to jump through management hoops we’ve set up in the name of process.”

From chapter 5 I liked the idea of coming up with strategies. Wood Ray argues, “strategies offer students possibilities for how to go about doing something while they’re in the process of writing.” Teaching multiple different strategies to children to help them to process, understand, and succeed in writing is a tool that they will be able to carry through life.  I also really liked the idea of studying published writing with the children. Seeing “real” writing might help to inspire them and get them thinking about new ideas for their writing.

We also studied a variety of different stories. One of my favorite mentor texts was Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Heidi Vargas did an outstanding job of really showcasing the uniqueness of the story. She said, “instead of repeating the exact same phrase, the writer has the character use multiple ways to convince the audience to let him drive the bus.” I loved how this story was interactive with the children in the sense that it allowed the audience, or the children, to help the driver.

At the end of Make Cycle 4 we talked about and practiced writing compelling arguments. My favorite make from this section was one made by Jaycee Singleton. Her argument was about recycling. I think recycling is an easy and fun concept to add into your classroom!

Author Bio: Samantha is a 23 year old preschool teacher attending Chico State with the hopes of earning her BA in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Child Development. After obtaining her degree, she plans on attending the credential program and eventually becoming an elementary school teacher.

Make Cycle 3 Featured Bloggers: Stacie, MacKenna, Marissa, and Cori

Make Cycle 3 Featured Bloggers: Stacie, MacKenna, Marissa, and Cori

picture of StacieAs a group, we totally kicked it up a few notches with Make 3. We are really getting into the groove, and hitting our stride. This Make we worked on expository writings, and learned more of the process for Writing Workshops.

Chapter 2 from About the Authors gave a detailed, almost step-by-step on how to run your writing workshops. Katie Wood Ray explained that keeping the schedule uninterrupted until the routine is down is vital in the beginning. Centers are usually a huge part of Kinder and 1st grade, but centers don’t work for this type of workshop. Writing takes thought and planning, and trying to do that in 5-15 minute increments is stifling to the process. It doesn’t allow for the “rigorous teaching” that is part of their writing workshop. The author says they also miss out on the “support you feel when surrounded by a whole bunch of others who are learning to do the same thing you’re learning to do.” This encouraged me as I try to write with my kids when we have a writing lesson. They know how much I don’t love the process, so I think it makes us all work together knowing I am willing to try. The authors stressed that a “really, really important” thing in helping them to write is to show them many, many types of other writings that other kids have done. It is supposed to give them the idea that “hey, I think I could do something like that.”  Showing the students so many types of works also inspires them to realize how many stories they have inside of them; they are full of writing ideas. They just need a way to realize it. I think this is the part that matters as a future teacher. It’s teaching these kids that have something to say, and we can help them reach in and find a way to say them.

Jessica Medrano summed up chapter 3 be saying,

“Chapter Three answered my question, how will I teach students the written language? By reading aloud, songs and games, demonstrations, and writing to support other work. These systems will become daily routines that we as future teachers will become comfortable teaching.”

Then, we moved onto our Mentor Texts. We read a cute little book about a dragonfly. The story was intriguing for kids, but it also gave lots of facts about the development of the dragonfly. Our second text was a rather macabre story with 26 ways a child could die, all in a witty A-Z style.

Now for the fun part, our expository texts…

book cover

Daisy Ronquillo wrote a lovely story about flowers from A-Z

She included great descriptions with beautiful photos. I enjoyed reading the book, and learning a bit more about flowers.

Shannon Lane added interesting educational tidbits to her Tardy Turtle book.

“The shell of a turtle is made up of 60 different bones all connected.” “Many, but not all, species of turtle can hide their head in their shell.”

I think these types of writing are wonderful for kids. A fun story, but with some education mixed in. People love to walk away with a quick and memorable fact.

Book titled 'Tardy Turtle Finds a Friend'//www.storyjumper.com/book/index/43741326/59ba29e8a95e3

And lastly, my absolute favorite, How to Strive…The Chico State version by Alexis Guerra. This quick read really did a great job of summarizing all things awesome about Chico State. I think it gives a great insight into people who may not know Chico, it gives locals something to bond over, and for someone like me (someone who left Chico 4 years ago, and misses it dearly) it gives them some great memories to ponder.

Author Bio: Stacie Beadel is a married, home schooling mom to 4. She will graduate in December, and head on to the Credential Program at National University. She hopes to one day work as an Educational Specialist at Inspire Charter School in Southern California.

picture of MarissaI loved chapter 2 from About the Authors because it was all about how to start children with the writing workshop. It brought a lot of things that I was wondering about to light. Katie Wood Ray went step-by-step into how to get children excited about writing and how it all worked. One thing that did puzzle me was I was wondering how she picked which kids to share during the share time. The kids were not allowed to talk to her during this time unless they were in conferences. One thing that I found very interesting was how she started off them by letting them choose what type of book they wanted to write. One of the books she said did not even have a space for words. I guess she was just hoping that they would slowly move up to writing sentences. This just really interested me because I would think that the whole point of this time was to write down a story. I guess with little kids they learn to draw a story first then are able to put words to it.  This matters as a future teacher because it is a different perspective one writing. With just drawing picture they are not learning writing skills, but in the end they are learning how to formulate a story so that way later they can actually write their stories with both pictures and words.

In chapter 3, the first part that I found important for future teaching is on page 38 where Wood Ray talked about the boy who thought that sea anemone was spelled with a k because they went over how to sound out words for spelling. It was also great that she did not correct the child. I think that as a teacher I am going to have a hard time not correcting every little spelling error but I need to remember that it is the content of the writing not that they spelled everything right. The child logic behind it to was great because he used the skills that he learned in class and actually applied them to his work. I also really enjoy how this chapter is all about how writing is in almost everything that we do in school. Another part that is interesting is the point about sings with the kids on page 46. I use to love songs as a kid in school because it made it a lot easier to remember things. I really want to be able to do this as a teacher because now a days there is so much more out there that way almost every lesson can have a song with it to remember.

We also worked with mentor texts again this week to support our own ideas for expository writing. All these texts are informational texts about a certain subject. In the Dragonfly book it was all information to know about dragonflies and in the end it related the book back to the child reading the book. In “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” it was all about learning your ABC’s but in a different way. Some features that I noticed was that in both the dragonfly book and “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” they used rhyming to help move the book along. Unlike with the “Education Around the World” and “Writing,” these two were just informational posters that laid out what was happening. We could use these texts as models for our writing because this week we made an informational book about a subject. These are prime examples of what we could do and how to lay them out. Just like with the Dragonflies book, I could make an informational book about an animal or something and use the text as a template for my writing. The authors of these texts had to do research on their topics. In “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” there may have not been much research done on it but the author probably had to use a thesaurus for some of the words to figured out what rhymed with them. All they other texts had to have a lot of research done as to find the facts about their subjects. 

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

Kristine Cowan’s book “Are You an Elephant?” was great. It was just like the mentor text “Are You a Dragonfly?” She created this book for little kids that was all informational about an Elephant but was still exciting to read. I really liked her story because it wasn’t all about an elephant, she related it back to the child that would be reading the book.

Alice Mylod-Vargas made a book on the “ABC’s of Fall.” This book was very cute because it was a different way to learn your ABC’s, while also creating a colorful book that shows all the great things about fall. The mentor text that she used would be “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” were the author create a scary version of the ABC’s. Instead of scary ideas, Alice kept her story upbeat.

Finally, Jaycee Singleton made a great book about the “ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables.” I really liked her book because not only was it the ABC’s it was also about how each of these fruits or vegetables can help our body. It would be a very educational book for kids. The mentor text she used was also “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” but she made it fun. 

Author Bio: Marissa Willits is from a small town in the mountains called Taylorsville, CA. She grew up there and went to the local junior college. She received he AA in Liberal Studies and transferred to Chico State in Fall of 2017 to get her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and become a elementary teacher. Marissa hopes to eventually receive her master’s degree.

picture of MackennaIt is amazing to see so many people able to make such beautiful works of art. It’s even more astonishing to have this amazing group of people write stories that are mostly facts and yet still very interesting. Some are funny, some are creepy, all are informative. These last two weeks we have read two amazing chapters. Chapter three from Katie Wood Ray really intrigued me in this make cycle reading. I was baffled by the idea it was putting forth: that kids as young as kindergarten could learn to write and make stories by pretending to write and copying the actions of their peers. This is before any formal introduction of letters. This means that before they learn what letter make what sound and how to make those letters they can start learning to write stories. After another classmate talked to me about how her grand-daughter pretends all the time and how it helps her learn, it finally started to make sense. Kids pretend to do things all the time; they imitate the actions they see on a daily basis and try to do the same. They are learning every time they do something.

For the second part of our make cycle we had to read the mentor texts, “Are You A Dragonfly?” by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries as well as “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” by Edward Gorey. “Are You A Dragonfly?” was a fascinating story that reads in first person. The moment you start reading it fully emerges you into it. Plus, it’s a very fun way to learn about dragonflies. “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” is an ABC book; however, it’s not your everyday ABC book. It’s dark and daunting. As an adult, I found the book to be very funny and intriguing, but as a possible children’s book I found it to be very inappropriate. Each letter it names a child or a Tiny and how they died.

For this make cycle this time, the class had to write expository writings. We could make them like Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries book or like Edward Gorey’s book. You could create them as an infographic or a video.

The first make that I fell in love with this week was Bianca DeRee’s book “ABC’s of Disney Characters.”

Book titled 'ABC'S of Disney Characters'//www.storyjumper.com/book/index/44300656/59cf0e372b346

This book was full of color that made every page and picture pop. Each page’s background matched the character, from C is for Cinderella being a very close match to Cinderella’s blue dress to T is for Tinker Bell in green matching her dress. On each page, there is a fact about the Disney character. This includes what movie they are from and who they are in the movie.

The second make that I really liked was Lisa Valdez’s “ABC’s of Farm Life.” Each page had an animal or an everyday chore of farm life that corresponded with a letter of the alphabet and an interesting and sometimes funny fact about that animal or everyday chore. On the next page was a picture of the animal. My favorite page was “B is for the Bronco whose body was too big.” The picture on the next page had me laughing. While reading her book, I also happened to learn a lot about farm life.

Book titled 'ABC's of Farm Life'//www.storyjumper.com/book/index/44311676/ABC-s-of-Farm-Life

The last make I want to draw attention to is by Ismael Munoz. He wrote a story called “Our Heart” this make is all about our heart. It gives you location of the heart, how big your heart is and how to find that out, as well as what the heart does and at the end gives some interesting facts about the heart. I really liked this book because it wasn’t an ABC book. Most of the makes were ABC books and finding one that wasn’t was intriguing in and of itself. 😉 

Book titled 'Our Heart'//www.storyjumper.com/book/index/44214666/59cc7566590c7

Author Bio: Mackenna Paige Gott is a transfer student from the College of the Siskiyou’s and this is her first year at CSU, Chico as a Junior. For the last two years, she ran an after-school program for ages K-8th grade through SCOE. She is now working for the BCOE as a college tutor in their after-school program. She hopes to get her teaching credential and teach any grade between 2nd -5th grade.  

picture of CoriExpository writing was interesting because we had the option of incorporating information into an existing story, creating an ABC book, a how to or anything else you could come up with. I really like how so many people took different approaches to creating ABC books: they are all so great! I really enjoyed Elizabeth’s, Alice’s, and Matthew’s ABC books because I felt that they were different from the normal ABC books I read to kids.

I really enjoyed how original Matthew’s idea was and I like that it has a serious topic but would still be informative and practical for kids learning their ABC’s.

Elizabeth’s story was very cute and creative. I like the vibrant colors she used throughout the book.

Book titled 'Dia De Los MuertosABC's'//www.storyjumper.com/book/index/43926246/59cc884fc1335

I think Alice’s book is so perfect for this time of year: it can be hard to teach kids about the seasons and here we can teach them about fall while utilizing the ABC’s. I think that most kids would enjoy these books because they spark interest in a specific topic so there is something for everyone to relate to.

I also liked Kaia’s how-to video on baking cookies. I can totally relate since I used to bake cookies with my mom all the time when I was little.

I thought Shannon also did a great job on her expository writing; this style is nice because it can stand alone as a story but has added elements to it. These expository texts are almost like two books with one cover, you get a story and then also facts about the topic of the story. It’s interesting to think about expository writing because there are a lot of them out there that we don’t think about being informative.

I would like to add that I love StoryJumper! The books turn out so cute, the site is very easy to navigate, and the visual makes all the difference in the world. This will be a tool that I will use in my classroom and share with colleagues. I really enjoy the product it creates!

Author Bio: Cori Hale just started her senior year here at Chico State. She is majoring in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Math. She is looking forward to graduating so that she can get into her own classroom and start teaching!

Weeks 7 & 8 Update

Weeks 7 & 8 Update

Make Cycle 4: Compelling Arguments is ready to go for weeks 7 & 8! We have one less response this next week since I am off to a conference. You’ll read a little more, but one fewer post in the first round of this make cycle.

As I said in the introduction to this cycle, we’ll be focusing on argument, but I don’t think any text can be found in some pure form: hard to find a text that is only narrative, only expository, only persuasive, only whatever. However, it can be useful to focus on some elements over others and do some intentional work in a genre. For that reason, we’ve focused on elements of writing also found in Common Core in order to help you think about how to teach a variety of approaches to writing. My hope, however, is that you recognize that while you might help students focus on an area that you also help them see how texts are typically made up of many elements (using a story to make an argument, for example). I’m also hoping we maintain our playful approach to teaching writing, so you’ll notice that our argumentative mentor texts include some great children’s books that you can use to talk about arguments with your students.

I’ll add a video here tomorrow (Monday) with some further ideas and explanation for this cycle. And featured blogs coming soon too! Thanks everyone for your continued fabulous work. Kim

Featured Bloggers: Tamara, Grace, Sophie, Elizabeth, and Jake

Featured Bloggers: Tamara, Grace, Sophie, Elizabeth, and Jake

image of Tamara and her familyWhat an exciting couple of weeks we’ve had here in our Google + community! English 333 students really stepped it up a notch and showed us what they are made of! In week one of our second make cycle we read chapter one plus two studies in our book About the Authors, watched a hilarious and inspirational TED talk from Mac Barnett, and then followed them up with one post about our readings, and one post about writing ideas and Barnett’s talk. Some amazing stories were then created by our fellow students.

One of the main ideas in our readings that resonated with me was about how to help instill in a child the ability to read like a writer and to think of themselves as people who make books. While reading chapter one, a passage stuck out to me like no other:

“thinking of themselves as people who make books is the starting point for students learning to read like writers, the most important habit of mind for writing they will develop all year. Reading like a writer means that when you read, you think about more than just what a text is about, its meaning. When you read like a writer, you also notice and think about how a text is written, because you write yourself and you just notice things like that” (Wood Ray)

This passage helped me realize that if we nurture this idea in children at an early age and continue it on throughout their schooling, then we as teachers are likely to help our students grow into readers and writers that do more than just read and write, but analyze and comprehend on a higher level. The text we read were truly exceptional readings.

The next week was filled with such an incredible variety of stories and idea inspiring texts. Reading The Dot, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, really inspired so many students to make some incredible stories of their own! There were so many excellent stories made by my fellow classmates that I found it hard to narrow it down to just three. But I did my best!

I’d like to start off with Caleb Johnson’s “Tap Tap Tap,” a story of Matty, a young blind boy. Though he had stated it was unfinished, I felt as if what he had written was so wonderfully done. He made you feel as if you were walking right next to Matty, understanding his struggles, his insecurities, his hopes.

“Tap Tap Tap, Matthew walked down the street to school. He liked to walk, just to prove he could…Tap Tap Tap, it was a while before he made it to school. Once he was inside he counted the doorways with his hand. One, two, three, four, his classroom was the fifth one on the right, Ms. Chedwick’s Fifth Grade class.”

The story continues as Matty is urged by his favorite teacher to go and try out for the Academic Decathlon. I think deep down, his teacher knew the struggles he must be going through and thought that this opportunity could really help him branch out and get to know others, and himself. The ending was my favorite part. I felt myself smiling and my heart felt so warm as I read the last two sentences, and that’s how I knew Caleb was going to be my first feature: “That night at dinner Matthew’s dad asked him what happened at school that day. ‘I think I made my first friend,’ Matthew said, and he smiled.” You get the sense throughout the entire story and really toward the end, that it must be really hard for this child to make friends. Being different can be really hard on young children when it comes to the friend-department. The way Caleb made his character come to life was amazing. If you haven’t read it yet, go do it! Trust me.

Moving on, I’d like to praise Amanda Greene on her take of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’s photo “Just Dessert.” She brought to life an incredible precursor to the classic Cinderella fairy tale. I loved how she tied in this tale to her story, which just so happens to be a subject I had just written about in our professor’s other English class! Amanda ends her story with: “She knew this pumpkin would help her do something great one day, but for today she tucked it away in her magical room filled with enchanted objects.” The ending was great, truly great! She left it open for more should she choose to continue writing on it, but as it is, it is such an incredible set up for the carriage scene in Cinderella. Great job, Amanda, really great job!

The last story I chose to highlight was a great little child’s story called “What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?” by Mackenna Gott.

Book titled 'What do I want to be when I Grow up'Made on StoryJumper

It starts out with a teacher asking her students to think that night about what they want to be when they grow up, and when they come to school the next day, to share with the class. Simple, right? Not so much for little Chloe. She spends her night bumbling over ideas of who she will be when she grows up. A policewoman, a sailor, a doctor? Not for her. Maybe a ballerina, or a rockstar, who knows, maybe a knight! Nope, not for her either. She sleeps on it and comes to such a powerful conclusion when her teacher calls on her to share. Chloe says something that I found to be powerful, she tells her teacher, “I am going to be me when I grow up. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be when I grow up. But I know whatever I choose will be right for me.” Boom. Right there. THIS is what it’s all about: empowering children through stories like this. She knows that she could grow up to be any one of these if she puts her mind to it. But right now, that’s not what she is going to do, and that’s okay! Deciding so early on just didn’t seem right to her, but she knows that when she does choose, it will be what SHE wants, not her parents, or her teacher, or her friends, but her. Her choice. I remember finishing Mackenna’s book and with a nod said, “right on!” I love that her story actually had me vocalize my appreciation. I spend most my days tapping at a computer, my nose in a book, with all my thoughts bouncing around silently in my mind. And when something actually moves me to break my silence (silence is so rare for me having three boys), you know it’s good! Absolutely amazing, Mackenna.

Though there were many great makes out there, these were the ones that touched something within me. If you haven’t read their makes, please, I implore you to do so! This was such a great make cycle and I am so honored to have read all of your stories and posts! Great job everyone!

Author Bio: Tamara is a Liberal Studies online major at CSU Chico. She loves kids (obviously, she has three!) and cannot wait to teach them in the elementary level. She went back to school after a seven year break when she started and grew her family and is in her final semester of her Junior year. After graduating from CSU Chico, she will pursue her credential/masters program through CSU Fullerton closer to her home. In her spare time (wait, what’s spare time?) she is a wife, a mother, a student, a soccer and baseball coach, a disney employee, a classroom volunteer, and a budding writer. Her life is busy, but her life is full.

picture of GraceNow that the introductions are out of the way and we have gotten a grasp on the format of this class, this week was about diving into the material. We started this week out by reading the first chapter in our book About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland. Reading this chapter seemed to be enjoyable by all. It’s so exciting and also nerve racking to begin to see what your teaching career will really be like and what you can do to make it successful. This first chapter was primarily about how children begin to write stories, and in what ways. It also gives examples about how a teacher can encourage creativity and what activities support doing so. The class expressed a lot of excitement towards the text and how well written it is. There was also a lot of excitement about becoming teachers and using these strategies in a classroom, but some nerves were also expressed.

Samantha Prosser commented about being a bit intimidated by how well the teacher could identify features of her students writing. She said, “Though I was intimidated by this, I feel that this class will help me to feel more confident in doing close reading in children’s work.”

A lot of students pointed out how even though the sample stories written by children in our textbooks had many spelling errors, they were still able to decipher the meaning of the word. I found it really incredible how even though a child doesn’t always know the exact spelling of a word, they have the confidence to spell it out and give it their best shot. All in all, everyone seemed eager to have this book as our textbook this semester, and excited to find out what Chapter 2 holds.

The next thing that we did was brainstorm our own lists to begin thinking of ideas for stories. We looked over some google slides, and each had a category such as “things you fear” or “things that you love.” We gave ourselves about two minutes and wrote down everything that came to mind under that category. This strategy worked great! Definitely something that would be useful when in a classroom and attempting to get creativity flowing among students. We each shared a couple lists with the class that we felt the most connected to. Among our class, the most popular lists chosen were “Things that are important to me” and “Things everyone should do before they die.” I feel that these being the most popular lists is not surprising because they are both very positive, and are a happy thing to think about. Lists such as “Things I fear” and “Things that annoy me” were less popular, probably due to them being less pleasant things to think about. Alice Mylod-Vargas was a fan of the activity and wrote: “I believe that by doing this type of brainstorming your improving your writing by just letting yourself write whatever comes in mind, even if it sounds like it doesn’t make sense. As you keep adding to your ideas your writing gets better each time.”

We also watched a TED Talk this week by Mac Barnett. Barnett is an author who explains what writing to children means to him and what elements go into good writing. He explains the idea of “ wonder” and how important it is to be whole-heartedly dedicated to a story you are telling and believing every word. This is what gets children excited about stories, and begins to grow their love of writing. He also shares that he wrote a story about a whale, and he continues this story into the real world by creating a telephone line with whale noises on it that children can call. And they do. The class really seemed to love both the list making activity and the TED talk.

We read four stories this week. The first one The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, was about a little girl whose teacher proved to her that she was a good artist, despite her previous beliefs. The next story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Voirst, was about a young boy whose day was just getting worse and worse, and nothing seemed to be going right for him. These two stories were writing from a child’s point of view, making them relatable to children, and also quite humorous. They were very well written and used elements such as repetition to get their point across. We next read a story entitled “Moving Vines” written by Ashley, a 4th grader. This story was quite interesting to read knowing it came from the mind of a elementary school student. Following her train of thought was fascinating and she did a great job of capturing the audience’s attention. And the final piece we looked at was a book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg. This book was a collection of different pictures all with usual events occurring. They each had one line on the back followed by “…”. This book is an excellent way to prompt creative story writing, and is a book I had many teachers use in my own elementary school experience. Michelle Rodriguez noticed an interesting feature among the stories and wrote: “Some features of these texts that resonated with me was that all the stories started with a small idea and ran with it. The book The Dot is all about a dot; they took a small idea adding a moral and making a whole book on it.” Sophie Tisdale also commented on the structure of these stories, but rather on the repetition of it: “I think this is a good way to work with writing in children’s books because repetition makes the overall message easier to understand.”

Finally this week, we got the chance to write our very own stories! This was such a fun project to have and it was so exciting to get this opportunity after all of the example stories we have read. We could write about anything! We could also use our previously mentioned lists to get ideas. We could also portray our stories in the way of our choice. We could use the Storyjumper website, use a google doc, write the story out, or any other way of our choosing! Our class really succeeded in doing this make. The stories shared this week were so interesting and well written with so much creativity. I personally used my “fear” list and wrote a story entitled “The Worst Nightmare Ever.” Alice Mylod-Vargas wrote a stand out story this week. painting of mother catching a childHer story was inspired by a painting that her grandmother had bought her daughters, and her mother had bought her. She used this family token to write her own story! A line that really stood out was

“Nia took a deep breath in, and looked into her mother’s teary eyes knowing the strong bond they will always have. Then, they embraced in a tight long hug, looking out into the distance at the top of the hill with all the colorful leaves, wondering what their future holds.”

This line had beautiful detail to it, and painted a lovely image that really brought her story to life. Also, you could really see Alice’s passion and dedication to the assignment this week.

Elizabeth Salazar also wrote a beautiful story about her own personal life. She wrote the story “My Bad Baby Brother” and also introduced the class to the Storyjumper website.

Book titled 'My Bad Baby Brother'Made on StoryJumper

This story really stood out because she used a clear structure, had strong sentences, and also created a very relatable story. Her story would appeal to children because if they had little siblings, they would be able to relate to it. All in all, it was a very successful week and we got some great work done!

Author Bio: Grace Taylor is a sophomore and a Liberal Studies major. She is from Santa Cruz, California and has lived in Chico a little over a year. She hopes to one day teach second grade. She speaks Spanish fluently and is on the Chico State Dance Team!

picture of SophieOver the past two weeks, we have accomplished some amazing work as a group. We read and discussed the beginning of the assigned course book, About the Authors: Writing Workshop With Our Youngest Writers, created lists to better our imagination for writing children’s books and read a few additional readings/watched a Ted Talk, which in return helped stir ideas for our own makes at the end of the second week of our “make cycle.”

For me, the class book’s assigned reading was the most powerful and helpful tool from this section. After fully emerging myself into the first chapter, I became even more excited about becoming an elementary school teacher. I think Katie Wood Ray has a very open-ended mind about working with students and helping them learn. This is important to me because I have similar beliefs in allowing children to learn without setting limitations. To make more sense of this, I think we can all recall being taught to write a certain way in grade school. For instance, I was taught the basic five paragraph essay:
– Into
– Body Paragraph #1
– Body Paragraph #2
– Body Paragraph #3
– Conclusion

When in reality, essays can be written in many different forms and still get a message across to the reader in a proficient way. In comparison to Ray’s teachings, I think she is more about giving children the freedom to write in whichever way they believe works. This allows children to grow and form their own opinions and ideas. For me, this was my biggest take-a-way and something that I 100% agree with. (*Note from Dr. Jaxon: Sophie makes such a great point here. For a thoughtful critique of the 5 paragraph essay, I recommend reading Mark Wiley’s “The Popularity of Formulaic Writing (And Why We Need to Resist)“)

In addition to going over how to efficiently allow children to write in a classroom setting, we also had some preparation for our own writing. We did this by creating several lists on different topics like things that are important to us or things that are special to us. We made upwards of about ten to fifteen different lists and chose two to three of our most popular and talked about them a little bit. The lists I chose to share were as follows…

Things I Care About/Things That Are Important To Me:
– My family/friends
– My religion/faith
– My health
– My family/friends health
– My animals
– Coffee
– Children’s education
– My job
– My personal feelings/stability
– Staying active


Things That Are My Favorite:
– Grilled cheese and tomato soup
– Country music
– Going to concerts/events
– Nicholas Sparks books
– Elf (the movie)
– Crisp Lake Tahoe air
– Disneyland
– Being in any given place with my loved ones
– My Nana’s cookies/ice cream cakes
– The sound of crashing waves

The reason I chose these two lists from all the others is because these things are what I am passionate about and things are most important to me. They help make up who I am and give me insight on what I could write about in a children’s story or even a basic writing assignment.

Overall, I think my FAVORITE assignment so far in this course is the children’s books we got to create. Before taking this course, I would have never imagined being able to be creative enough to write a children’s book. However, with the help of each homework assignment and video we watched, I was able to do it and so were YOU, my peers. I was amazed by all the effort and work we put together in these things. I enjoyed each and every single one I read. The two that caught my eye right away were “My Bad Baby Brother” by Elizabeth Salazar (see above in Grace’s reflection) and “Tardy Turtle Finds A Friend” by Shannon Lane.

Book titled 'Tardy Turtle Finds a Friend'Made on StoryJumper

Lane’s short story told a tale of a turtle who felt lonely as can be. He then went out to venture and look for someone to be his friend. He stumbles upon many different animals including a dog, a couple cows, fish, birds, racoons, ducks and even bunnies. However, he still felt like he didn’t fit in with them. After awhile, he started to feel discouraged so he moped home when all the sudden he bumped into another turtle. He found his friend! I enjoyed this book SO much!! I think Lane’s use of vocabulary and imagery would easily relate to children. She used pictures on every page that showed the Turtle’s journey. Personally, I think this really made the story come to life.

On the other hand, Salazar’s children’s book was just as relatable. Her short story tells a cute tale of a young sibling (I am assuming an older brother) who is introduced to his baby brother for the first time. The older sibling is faced with a little jealousy and feeling left behind within the first few days because all he wanted was his parents attention, but they had to take care of the newborn. Soon his feelings of jealousy turned into resentment and wishing he never had a baby brother. He even tried getting his parents to take the baby back to the hospital! However, after the older brother visited with family, he realized that having a younger brother isn’t so bad. He found that since he is older, he will be able to take charge, be a “boss” and show his younger brother what to do while growing up. I loved reading this book because I think it can relate to many children too. I assume being an only child for a few years is awesome! They get ALL their parent’s attention and love. However, I imagine being told that the family is going to have another child would be hard to hear. This book brings out a wonderful and cute lesson to families who are adding on another kid and would be good to read to those kiddos who are soon to be big siblings. In all, I really enjoyed reading through everyone’s stories – they were AWESOME!! I am so excited to see what the rest of the semester will bring.

Author Bio: Sophie Tisdale is a brand new student to CSU, Chico. She started her first two years of school at a community college in her hometown near Sacramento, California. Her goal is to graduate from Chico State with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies to become an elementary school teacher.

picture of ElizabethThe purpose of this recent two week make cycle was to learn all about storytelling. We began by reading chapter 1 from About the Authors, “Writing Workshop: A Happy Place Where We Make Stuff” (p. 1-22). After reading chapter 1 and the A and B units of study, I have gained a better understanding of the writing process especially for young students. The writing workshop is an activity that a teacher does in her classroom. She gives her students blank stapled paper that resembles a book. She then asks the children to write stories. Sure there are a lot of spelling errors and missing punctuations, but there stories were all incredible.

Along with the textbook reading we also had mentor texts to read. They were really helpful in making that connection to storytelling. The mentor texts included were: The Dot, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. All of these stories can resonate with any reader. I loved how the stories were all from a child’s perspective. The authors all had their own style but they had a lot of similarities such as: positive/negative attitudes, children’s point of view, and repetition. If you are a future teacher, I highly recommend any of these stories for read alouds.

Lastly, for this week’s make cycle Professor Jaxon gave all of us freedom to write a story about whatever we wanted to. She assisted us with the writing process by having us fill out lists that she provided such as things to do before you die or things that scare you. There was also few restrictions on how we shared our stories. My classmates created some incredible stories. Many which were inspired from the mentor texts and personal experiences. It was difficult to narrow it down to a few because they were all so great.

The first story is, “My Good Day,” by Ismael Munoz. This story is about an adorable little boy that despite all of the negative things that occur throughout the day, he choses to focus on the positive. Ismael stated that he was inspired by Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I did notice he used repetition as well as having a child’s point of view. The issues that arose through the character’s day are definitely relatable for any child. He did a great job writing his story.

The next story I’d like to highlight is, “Talbot the Terrible Troll,” by Kaia Enstrom. In Kaia’s story the character is a mean troll that refuses to be nice. I loved the story and the use of alliteration. Just as the book, The Dot, Kaia decided to end her story with a happy ending. I also liked how she was inspired from her own heritage to write this unique story.

This was a fun and engaging make cycle! I really enjoyed learning all about storytelling. It has really opened my mind to the writing process and how I will go about teaching it to my future students. I will remember to strive for progress and not perfection. I will also remember that writing should be fun and I should not limit the writing topics but instead give my future students free choice: they might just be the next J.K. Rowling!

Author Bio: Elizabeth Salazar is happily married with two amazing boys. She resides in Yuba City where she was born and raised. She’s a Liberal Arts major and hopes to become a primary grade teacher. She currently works for an after school program as a para educator.

picture of JakeI thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Make 2 Cycle, as well as having the opportunity to read over the Makes of my fellow classmates. One of my favorite aspects was they way people drew inspiration for their stories. Some used personal experiences, while others used images to build a creative tale. It can be difficult writing out a story and even a little nerve-wracking.  I think the course material provided for the Make 2 Cycle such as, Mac Barnett’s TED Talk, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, The Dot, and the images of Harris Burdock helped to get people to produce some very creative posts. There were so many awesome stories that I got to read over, and here are a few that I wanted to share:

The first is by Leslie Franco

SO much to hate

I hate Monday’s and the sounding alarm that jerks you awake from sunny, sheep, filled pastured dreams.

I hate traffic, when someone with a busier and much more fulfilled life than yours, needs to cut you off or run you off the road to get to their busier, more fulfilled life, two minutes earlier.

I hate not having 5 minutes alone with the bitter sweet smell of coffee and croissants.

I hate stubbing my toes and chipping last night’s perfectly done pedicure. Now having to walk with a throbbing fat pinkie toe.

I hate making sure my husband packed his lunch, then forgetting my own lunch, only to decay on the counter for the next 12 hours.

I hate showing up 5 minutes early only to see the meeting was cancelled and now you have 2 hours free, 2 hours away from your coffee, 2 hours away from your fluffy bed, and 2 hours without snacks.

I hate how the browser only has article after article of traumatizing news on their headlines.

I hate how when you don’t try to look decent you run into an old classmate.

I hate being unprepared and I hate preparing. I hate how all that I hate is in the morning. I hate that I hate, hate.

I love cool crisp mornings and my husbands “quiet” giant feet puttering around the house trying not to wake me.

I love calling my family and hearing their voices in the morning. I love eating last night’s dinner for breakfast and a croissant on the go.

I love getting a coffee for brunch and sitting under the trees, reading my new favorite fixer upper book.

I love seeing that the dollar is up just in time for our trip to Italy.

I love seeing the amount of volunteer work that gathered to help fellow Americans in the news article.

I love messaging my friends about the hilarious conversations we had over our pedicure date last night.

I love seeing a familiar face that reminds me of simpler times.

I love the smell of flowers as you pass them, the surprise of raindrops, and the laughter of strangers on their way to school.

I love receiving a thank you note

I love receiving a smile on the awkward elevator ride

I love when I realize there is so much more to be happy and grateful for than there is to hate.

I love when I don’t hate on hate so much.

When I first started reading this story, I thought it would be heading along the same lines as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It had some very relatable and detailed descriptions of those “not so great moments” that we all face throughout the week at one point or another. As I continued reading, the story took a positive turn and referenced all the lovable moments in life. This brought a nice sense of balance to the poem. Something that stood out to me was how the author used some of the same topics in the poem with different emotional filters. For example: “I hate stubbing my toes and chipping last night’s perfectly done pedicure. Now having to walk with a throbbing fat pinkie toe” and “I love messaging my friends about the hilarious conversations we had over our pedicure date last night.” The pedicure is the common ground, but can be put under different emotional lenses.

Another story that caught my attention was:

“Another Place, Another Time” by Kristine Cowan

image of Harris Burdick bookFour children, all hurting from the effects of WWII, fathers gone to war, mothers constantly working. They all wondered why the world had to go through this, why it had to ruin their lives. The children just wanted to escape from life, with no other outlet, they turned to the power of their imagination.

“ Where should we go next?” asked Christopher.

“How about Europe?” suggested Lily.

So off they went, to Europe in their make-believe land, escaping the cruel world of reality. When all four children were done playing in their imaginary land, they discovered something quite strange, they were unable to return to reality. They were actually stuck in their imagination, with no way of escaping. Christopher, Lily, Joseph, and Drew, were completely puzzled and were starting to worry about how they were ever going to return home. They searched high and low for some sort of portal or way out, but they found nothing. The four children decided to split up into groups and search, Christopher and Lily were to go north, and Joseph and Drew to go south.

The children searched for hours, when finally, someone made a discovery.

“I think I found something!” Joseph exclaimed.

Drew ran over to Joseph and discovered him standing in front of a small cart with a sail, set up on a sort of train track going over a lake.

“Lily! Christopher! Come here, we found something!” Yelled Drew.

Christopher and Lily came running down the path.

“What is it?” Asked Lily.

“I’m not sure, but I believe it may take us where we need to go” Joseph said.

So off the four children went, riding down the track. If there was an answer, they would find it there.

I think that this story is a great example of how Harris Burdick’s pictures work to inspire creativity and help develop a narrative.  It is difficult to look at any of those photos and not have your mind automatically start trying to construct some kind of story or explanation as to the origin of the contents of the image. Sometimes creating a story out of thin air seems like a daunting task, because it can be difficult to find where to start and what to write about. Kristine used the picture “Another Place, Another Time” as a great jumping off point and was able to expand from there. Using the image as inspiration, lead to a nice expression of creativity. The use of dialogue was a nice choice because it made you feel more connected with the characters and their plight of being stuck in their own imaginations. The cliffhanger ending of the story gives off the same type of mystery that the image does.

Author Bio:  Jake Muck is the oldest of four siblings and a transfer student from Southern California. He is majoring in Liberal Arts and works as a manager for Vans at the Chico Mall. He has one year and a semester left at Chico State.  He is not entirely sure what he plans to do after graduation, but most signs are pointing towards joining the Airforce.