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

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 5: Lisa, Maritza, Yorleidi, Caitlin, Josue, Jamie, & Salina

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 5: Lisa, Maritza, Yorleidi, Caitlin, Josue, Jamie, & Salina

Lisa Valdez

This week was packed with so much information, yet most of it was extremely valuable for us, as future teachers. In Chapter 6 of About the Authors, many of us expressed how overwhelming the concept of lesson planning seems, as we haven’t had much experience with it. I appreciated the idea of breaking down the lessons into “mini-lessons” where we fine-tune student’s work in depth. One idea for successful lesson planning was shared by Adriana Cea, who described the method used by a teacher she knew who did not mind lesson planning as much as the other teachers. The reason for her lack of stress? She stayed organized, and stored her most successful lesson plans each year in a filing cabinet where they were easily accessed for modification to fit new standards. This is a great tip for future teachers to keep in mind, right from the start. I also think that notes kept on how to improve the not so successful plans would help avoid similar pitfalls, especially since they could be made while the “lessons learned” for the teachers were still fresh in their minds. Taking a model from this chapter, working on improving our lesson planning in “mini-lessons” throughout the year could help teachers with the overall process planning as well.

In Chapter 6, I noticed that many of us, myself included, were impressed by the way Forrest was able to change his skepticism about his ability to write poetry into a new passion – a way for him, as a “lover of facts and information” to share his amazing observations and vivid descriptions of the birds it was obvious that he had spent some time watching in nature. What a change from his NBA poem the year before! This perfectly illustrated one of the major points of this chapter – that students incorporate and build upon the units of study for long afterwards. Brianna Carlucci’s meme perfectly captured this point from the chapter, specifically, a unit of study is never really over; we need to push through with projects sometimes, even when we think we aren’t capable of them. Her meme also captured Forrest’s reluctance to write poetry, even though he apparently learned to enjoy it, and turned out to be very good at it.

From Appendix F, I liked the concept of helping students to find ways to illustrate and capture something — an image, a feeling — from their writing, and let the reader feel that through their work. I really like the idea of small-group study of illustration techniques in the mentor texts, as others often view things differently than we do, and can point out things we might have missed. Many of us were inspired by the idea of reading a picture book without showing students the illustrations, and many different approaches took root from this suggestion. Veronica Oregel’s idea to “apply this in a mini lesson to get children to understand the meaning of words. We can show them how crucial specific words can change a meaning of a story” was somewhat different than the one that came to mind for me, but is just so true. I could see her approach prompting discussions about different results and how the illustrations might change along with the words. Rayn Buford had another good point: “I would want my activities throughout the week to be revolved around how there can be a story happening in pictures that isn’t necessarily happening in the words.” This is another great way to study a picture book that had not occurred to me – studying the pictures to “guess” the story without the words.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jane Gilrain’s article, “From Home to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing Through Painting, Performance, and Poetry.” I especially love how the progress of the children, and the effect of the artwork and expression on their work was illustrated through side-by-side comparisons, allowing us to see for ourselves the impact the teaching method has had on the children. They were free to express themselves, including making their monsters female in order to empower girls, if they chose, or to let hidden feelings out. Especially touching to me were the stories of Miguel, separated from and longing for his father in Puerto Rico, and the little girl from the Emotional Support Unit whose father had died a year prior and who had never spoken about it, even to her mother. Her poem “Journey” and the results of her pre-and post-program evaluations speak volumes. She has found a safe and therapeutic outlet in which to express her pent-up grief. Kelly Cabico perfectly describes my feelings in reading this article: “This article hit me right in my ooey gooey heart. Seriously, I was teary eyed from about the halfway point through to the very end. I love that these children were learning about writing in a unique and dynamic way, but I loved most that they were connecting with their work in a way that was therapeutic; that it gave them characters to identify with and helped them outwardly process things they hadn’t been able to prior. That’s some powerful stuff!” Very powerful stuff, indeed.

I was also especially impressed with the “Allegory of the Troubled Kingdom,” as the children’s reactions to the visiting artist reminded me of the reactions of the students to writing workshop in Lisa’s classroom in our professional book. When they are encouraged to get out of their plastic seats and move around the classroom, their learning truly begins, and like the students in this article, they also begin writing. Sean Gamer had a very good take on why we should get these kids out of their desks: “A teacher can have outdoor classes for part of the day and let students do painting and reading outside. The significance behind the way I think this way is that every time a student walks by the spot they painted a picture of a flower or some outdoor project they will remember why they were outside instead of being cooped up in the classroom.” Along these lines as well, Caitlin M’s Yoda Meme made me laugh, as I found myself reading it in his voice! It also accurately captured the feeling of what happens in writing workshop, as well as when using multi-modal methods as described in Gilrain’s article.

There were so many great makes this week, I wish that I could highlight each and every one of them. It was so hard to only choose a few, but I will definitely be taking some notes from the great ideas this week for use in my future classroom. Some of the more memorable makes this week for me included Shelby Baccala’s professional website, which was very well done. I love that she highlighted not only her experiences in English 333, but also her volunteer work, and her teaching philosophy, which I absolutely agree with: “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.”

Some of the makes this week revisited mentor texts or projects that we had done before, and I loved Christina Barbaccia’s Storyjumper book, “The Bronson Collection.” In this amazing little book, she has captured not only sweet images of her gorgeous furbaby that capture just how much he is loved, but I can also see the inspiration from some of our other makes in there, especially the pages in which Bronson is advertising his “Yellow Lab Security Co.” and the comparison between his thoughts on dinnertime, and the human perspective, which reflect Make 4’s compelling arguments. I can also see the influence from Make Cycle 2 in the recipe for “Bronson Blondies.”  Great job!

This week had so many new skills to practice, and stretched my tech brain, but I really enjoyed learning to make memes, and I was inspired to start a personal webpage for my make, something that I have long planned on doing but never got around to doing. While the page I have managed to create so far is far from what I have envisioned, it can only improve as my sorely-lacking web publishing skills improve. It is a start, and for that I am grateful!

Author Bio: My name is Lisa Valdez, and I am a junior at CSU Chico, having transferred from Santa Rosa Junior College with an AA Transfer degree in History. I am an RN, but am no longer able to work due to an injury, and now have the opportunity to work toward the teaching career that I discovered I loved doing while developing school health programs through the hospital’s wellness center. I am pursuing a double major in Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and plan on obtaining a teaching credential with the goal of being able to teach in whichever school needs me in my small rural area. I live with my husband Joe in McArthur, California, and have a farm where we raise Scottish Highland Cattle, dairy goats, pigs, and poultry, who are guarded by our very large Spanish Mastiffs. I do volunteer work for local veteran’s organizations, as well as working with several animal rescue groups, as well as cat rescue and livestock rescue during the local wildfires. My hobbies include knitting and yarn-crafts, dying fabric and yarn, and making homemade cheese and preserves from our farm products. I am a grandmother of four, three boys and a girl, ages 4 months to 9 years, and enjoy spending time with them and taking trips to Tahoe and Disneyland with them as often as I can. They are remarkably tech-savvy and we face-time frequently. We also send snapchat videos to each other — the babies really love the cute filters on snapchat! The profile picture above is my husband and I on my 50th birthday, cutting up for the camera and having fun at the Dungeons of San Francisco, such a fun outing!

Maritza Caceres

Welcome to Make Cycle 5.

Rebecca Spears’ Meme

On week one of this make cycle, the class read Chapter Six from About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland. We had to write our take from the chapter. My take in Chapter Six was that behind the mini lessons there are big concepts, which are units of study. Those concepts are based on the process and product studies of writing a story. The process studies are the way the author creates the book such as revision and editing. While product studies are the traits found in the book such as the genre of the book. In the unit study, the teacher is able to go into detail to explain the concepts. There are various ways to determine the concepts to teach kids about writing. For example, the teacher can use the state and local curriculum. They can focus on the basic punctuation, capitalization, spelling and complete sentences. It can be part of the process studies. Also, teachers can envision the kind of writer they want their student to become in the future. The second part of the assignment was to create memes based on ideas from the textbook. We used imgflip site to create the memes. Memes are a widely used in today’s society. It is a modern style to use writing. The class did an amazing job coming up with unique and funny memes.

On week two of this cycle, the class read the article “From Homer to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing through Painting, Performance, and Poetry”; we had to write our take on the article as well. My take on the article, by Jane Gilrain, used multimodal composing to tell her class’s writing experience with art. She begins with a letter that lets reader know what to expect of the article. She explains that she would be giving examples of her student’s work with art, poetry, and drama. Then she writes a poem for the reader to join her in the journey she experienced with her students through art. Gilrain mentions that she obtains the idea of the letter format from Billy Collins and the poem from Robert Frost. Afterwards, Gilrain created a fairy tale story about the situation that made the project possible to occur in her classroom. When I finished reading the three multimodal approaches of Gilrain, I thought about the information I learned in About the Authors. Gilrain is reading like a writer. She found writing mentors to create her article. She uses different writing formats to intrigue readers. After Gilrain introduces the topic in three different ways, she moves on by giving examples of her student’s work. For example, there is photography of Miguel acting as the son of Odysseus. He is performing the vocabulary word yearn. Overall the class did well in conveying their thoughts about the article and having discussions with classmates. Students uplift each other through our chats.

Below are Salina Rodriguez and Jillian’s comments on Jamie Xayachack article reflection:

Salina Rodriguez commented, “Jamie, I really enjoyed your reflection of the article. By realizing that as teachers we can refrain from the stuff structure that has been implemented for so long is a hopeful way to look into our future. I have always had a sense of worry in knowing that my classroom will be one that makes positive impacts on students not realizing how many ways I can make learning more hands on. I love that you mention that art is what shapes the world around us, even a student who does not thing they are good at drawing can find relaxation in painting or expressing their thoughts in a way other than writing. I have always heard that teachers learn from their students and I think this is where I will be learning from my students, for ways to present curriculum that students will enjoy. Great post!”

Jillian Pearson stated, “Hi Jamie, great reflection! I truly think that by implementing art, performance and poetry it really does open students up to the opportunity to make connections with the material being taught as well as with their peers. Students can have a better chance of expressing themselves or showing their knowledge if they’re given a more of a variety to do so.”

On Sunday, students posted their creations. We used multimodal texts for our projects and showed the skills we’ve learned in class. There were many awesome creations.

Let’s start with the first book “Guide to Picking the Right One” by Grace Pablos. The book was about selecting the right family member for certain activities. She would ask a question about a certain situation that only one of her family members could help her. Under the question, she had a picture of the family member that was perfect for that job. On the following page, she gave the name of the person and reason they were right for that job and she had a list of their qualities. I could tell that she took a lot of time creating her book. She wrote the book pages with black pen. While for the title, she used markers. The title page is colorful with different colors of flowers with a yellow sun and blue clouds. Also, she used sky blue and pink construction paper and envelopes for the pages. Grace did a great job incorporating multimodal composing in her book.  

The second book is “Marathon Motivation Book” by Emily Sall. The book inspires pace runners to run a marathon. In the book there are six note cards with stages of running a marathon: the stages are start, mile 6, mile 13, mile 19, mile 23, and mile 26.2. When the runner completes the mile listed in the book, they read the note card to encourage them to keep running. Also, the notecard includes tips to remember during the race. At the end of the book, it includes pages with topics that the runner can write about their experiences. The pages of the book are note cards and they are glued to purple, blue, or orange construction paper. The reader can take out the note cards from the book because they are inside envelopes. The notes cards writing and title are written on with a black pen. It is a neat way to read a book with note cards.

Lastly, I found interesting the book “Having A Little Sister” by Cyrill Somera. In her book, she describes some flaws of having a younger sister. At the end of the day those problems don’t matter: she will forever have a friend. She uses moving memes that go along with the topic she is writing about in her book. The title page has a green stripe going through her name and it seems she used the same font for all the pages. 

Great makes all around.

Author Bio: My name is Maritza Caceres. I am the sixth out eight children. When I had graduated from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in school. My family encouraged me to continue my education. Therefore, I attended a community college. While I was attending community college, I got a job as a tutor. After I graduated college, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. Now I am attending CSUChico and my goal is to become a teacher.

Yorleidi Langarica 

Make Cycle 5 has certainly been a very interesting one and a hard one in my opinion. Over the past 2 weeks we have focused on trying to understand multimodal texts because we have to start getting ready as future teachers. We have to be able to know how to do them and in what type of environment we can use them. I think that it is a great tool to use in the classroom especially for students who are visual learners. The first discussion was about chapter 6 and appendix F; the best part about this assignment was creating my own meme about study units. This chapter really made me think and appreciate the work teachers must put in for their students. I think that the smaller the grade level the more time it takes to learn something new, which means more mini lessons to be planned! Yay. One thing that really caught my attention was when the author wrote: “If they are not organized over time under an umbrella of a bigger topic of interest to people who write, the our whole-class teaching can have a very hit and miss- feel to it.”  This, without question, is something every teacher must have in mind because we can teach, but will the students learn? Will they remember it later? We need to teach with a purpose, which is getting our students excited over learning new material that they’ll remember late on in life.

By Tuesday April 3, we read an article from Language Arts called “ From Homer to Hip-Hop: Teaching Writing Through Painting, Performance and poetry.” This article was all about multimodal composing; it used different types and explained them although some were confusing. It didn’t focus on one thing at a time. I had to read it a couple of times to understand what was going on especially in the beginning. I think that the part that got to me the most was about the little girl and how much she missed her father. It was as if I could feel her pain through her words. This was and will be a hard moment in her life but art did save her. She found a way to express her emotions without speaking a word of it. She expressed it with art. This is what art is all about, seeing and believing what nobody else does. Being creative and expressing what we feel in another way.

We then turned in our final make for this cycle. We had to use examples of multimodal texts to discuss or show our progress and understanding. This make was about showing our skills and how well we understand what multimodal is and how useful they can be. Here are some of my peers best work:

Book titled 'The Bronson Collection'
By Christina Barbaccia

I really liked this make because she used her dog as an example of multimodal text. Her text were very well represented and funny. She used last weeks reading of Language Arts as inspiration as you can see by the variety of text like art and poetry. My favorite part was the Bronson Blondies recipe because she had to use “only 1 teaspoon of ferociousness.”

I also really liked Emily Sall’s make (see above) because you could tell she had fun making it and it was a form of inspiration towards others. I feel like this make was more based of the article we read because the text in this case the book which made her feel better, it motivated her. My favorite thing about this make is that she actually created it by herself and showed us the creativity and passion she possess.

What caught my attention in Madison Honegger’s make was the fact that it was based of the mentor texts “always a bridesmaid” and “ The Story of Every Mom’s Typical Day.” What I really liked about it was that it could relate to anyone living in a dorm. It is the funny things in life that you remember the most. The best meme was when the fire alarm went off because it is hilarious that this situation could happen just because someone forgot to add water to their noodles.

Author Bio: I am 20 years old and it is my second year at Chico State. I was born in Jalisco, Mexico but moved to California when I was 7. I currently live in Corning, CA with my family. I have 3 brothers and am the only girl. I want to become a 2nd grade teacher.


Caitlin Micko

When reflecting on Make Cycle 5, the creation of those memes to go along with our textbook reading assignments were daunting to me. I am not going to lie, the thought of a meme puzzled me to no end! However, when I thought about what a meme can tell as a way of expression, it made the process a bit easier. By the conclusion of the assignment, I ended up loving the meme I made! I think memes are something I want to even incorporate in my future classroom.

I thought the overall theme of my meme ended up making much more sense than I thought I would have the ability to make. I am also pleased with my meme because it expresses an idea from About the Authors that has really stuck with me throughout this course. In About the Authors, Wood Ray and Cleaveland discuss how students learn by “making stuff” (Ray and Cleaveland, 6). I couldn’t express how much I agree with Ray and Cleaveland! I teach by the philosophy that students learn by creating and getting their hands dirty. So, the ideas in About the Authors resonates with me.

Throughout this course, About the Authors has inspired and challenged me about teaching. I love that it is about writing workshops and related topics, but many of the lessons and tips can be applied to teaching in general. I am so pleased that I bought this book (I usually rent textbooks) because I want to keep it as a reference guide and as inspiration for my entire teaching career. For this Cycle, the idea on page 108, where Ray and Cleaveland write, “We find the guidance to make this decision each year in a number of different places: Our vision for how we want students to be as writers at the end of the year….” I think this is an extremely important idea and an inspirational quote. I think it is logical, smart, and brilliant to think about where you want your students to be at the end of the year when lesson planning. I often think, ‘Is this lesson fulfilling a development need for my students and is it preparing them for x, y, and z in Kindergarten?” However, when getting lost in preparing a whole unit, I think the idea of asking oneself if it is setting up the students to be good writers, artists, mathematicians, and so on is important. I think it is important, also, to make sure they are prepared for the next grade level. However, I think what is also lost often is reminding oneself about how the lesson(s) is/are preparing the student for their general future.  

In connection with the readings for About the Authors, I enjoyed the exercise of thinking about lesson plans. I was intrigued to read more about different types of lessons from Cleaveland and Ray: When I read about units of study, I instantly thought of my preschoolers and one of their favorite books If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. I have read this book to them a handful of times and one day we did an extension project that stemmed from the book. We took a poll to see who liked chocolate chip cookies, who liked sugar cookies, and who liked peanut butter cookies. Lastly, we counted up our categories and formed totals. The kids and I entitled it, “If You Give a Preschooler a Cookie.” After reading chapter six of About the Authors, I realized that I could take this small step that I took with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and extend that into a unit.

I feel that Numeroff’s story really focuses on the action of the story moving forward and pacing the story in a fast-pace sequencing sort of manner. I feel that the book really carries the reader through a beginning, middle, and an end that comes full circle. In younger grades, the idea of a story having a beginning, middle, and end is essential to beginning reading and writing. So, I think this would be a good focus for a writing unit for students with applying this as a mentor text. On page 105, Ray and Cleaveland, write that “an overview of the process of writing” is a “process studies”and I think it fits well with the pace and focus of Numeroff’s book. The “process of writing” could include making sure the students’ stories have beginnings, middles, and endings. Perhaps students could pick their own animals to star with a human character in their own stories. The students could employ Numeroff’s book as inspiration for a beginning, middle, and end to their stories as well as pacing and playing with sequencing like coming full circle.

By extending out this idea into a full week, I think it would be fun and impactful to read stories of a similar style. Luckily for us educators and for kids everywhere, Numeroff has written several different stories in the style of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. For example, the mini lesson on parts of a story could include studying If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Mouse a Muffin, If You Give a Dog a Donut, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, and so on. There are a series of wonderful books that perfectly, in my opinion, show the flow and parts of a story clearly for younger readers. I think these books would be fantastic mentor texts for students to write their own stories focusing on and playing with sequencing and having a beginning, middle, and end in the story. I also think these books could work well for a “product studies” focus on “how to make illustrations work with text.” These stories all have fun illustrations that marry well with the stories they are paired with. I feel that the more I learn about these topics, the better I do at my current job and the more I will be prepared for my future job as a primary school teacher. In addition, I can better understand how students learn.

In terms of the Makes for this Cycle, I want to start off by talking about Cori Hale’s wedding website. I think that this is a wonderful way to do this assignment because she is including both words and photos, which makes it multimodal. In addition, she also chose an assignment that lets the reader learn more about her on a personal level. By getting to see Cori’s website, I felt like I got to know her a bit more. Lastly, I felt that Cori’s work was well written and clear, which, when it comes to teaching, are always essential to effective lessons and classroom time.

Next, I want to discuss Rayn Buford’s Make for Cycle 5. I thought her memes presented ideas in such an informative way, but with such humor! I love when individuals take learning and make it humorous. I feel by making it humorous, one is much more likely to take it in and reflect on it because they are enjoying it. I think Rayn’s memes do just this! In addition, I love how Rayn included some personal reflection on how she viewed writing as a child and how she can teach differently than how she was taught as a child. For example, I particularly liked her discussion on how “….it is OK to focus on the depth our students are embracing instead of deadlines or the chapters that still remain….” I couldn’t agree more with Rayn and I think this is such a wonderful way to approach writing and education!

Lastly, I want to speak about Samone Burge’s write-up and meme. 

I was interested in Samone’s Make because she related it directly to the About the Author reading from Cycle 5. Since I found the ideas about lessons interesting in this Cycle, I was drawn to Samone’s work. I think Samone’s work perfectly represents the ideas presented in Cleaveland and Ray’s discussion on lessons and how to incorporate, as Samone puts it, “reading the writing of others.” I think her meme perfectly reflects the concepts written by both herself and Cleaveland and Ray. In addition, her meme, like Rayn’s memes, employ humor to be engaging and to drive the point home. 

I also think that Samone’s write-up that is paired with her meme is clearly written and concise. I think both attributes, as a teacher, are important to have. In addition, like Rayn, humor is always a good asset to have the classroom as well.

Author Bio: Hello to all! I want to start my biography off with some information about me: My name is Caitlin and I live in Anderson, California. I am currently a preschool teacher. I live for those moments where I see a concept click with a student or they talk through a process or question. I adore seeing their wheels turn and watching them grow in their academics and as little people! When I am not teaching preschoolers, I love spending time with my loved ones. My Monday night softball watching with my fiance, Kody, and our black lab, Beau, is the highlight of my week. I enjoy reading, writing, being outdoors, photography, watching baseball, traveling, cooking, and baking. I am also a student at Chico State University and am working towards my degree in Elementary Education.

Josue Nava 

I had a lot of fun working on projects during the 5th Make Cycle.  It’s not everyday you get to turn in a meme as part of an assignment.  The multimodal composing was definitely something new. It was so much information all at once.  I have to admit I was a bit lost when I began reading the article from Language Arts: I don’t know if I was expecting something other than what I was reading. After a short break I can back and read the article again and it made sense sort-of. I could tell apart all the sections, but I felt it was all thrown together; it felt like chaos on paper so to speak.  Apart from the way it was organized, the content was awesome. I feel like this may be a little too much for me to do my first year, but maybe the third year I’ll be ready for a multimodal form of teaching. The way it was organized was the most challenging thing for me because I like structure and organization and this article was far from it.  I don’t think I would want to teach this way.  I promise I will give it a chance –it may be the best thing I ever do– but for now, I’m going to stick to what I know.  I for sure don’t think I will be able to use this type of system for students in special education (SPED). I feel it may be a little too hard for them, but I would sure love to make a poster or flyer similar to this article in which I can show parents/guardian the student’s progress.  This multimodal approach taught me a new method, one in which it could help students think outside the box.

Now to the nitty gritty of this cycle.  The best part: making my personal calling card.  My own website. I was so excited I emailed my sister and told her about it.  She was confused at first but then I explained why I had made it. She told me everything that needed to be fixed. Making a website is something I thought I would never do.  It was challenging since I thought to myself that this is something I will be using to communicate with parents and students in the future so why not start now.  As time goes, I will improve it and add better features so everyone can check it out. I will send you (Dr. Jaxon) a link to my website a few years from now so you can critique me and maybe give me a few pointers on what I can do to make my website user friendly and cool over all.  

Here are my favorite makes from my peers in make cycle 5:

The first one is by Rebecca Lee; I thought her design was so beautiful.  The website was well made and it had everything a teacher in training should have.  The second one I chose was by Salina Rodriguez; her website was really cool.  I like how simple it was but at the same time sophisticated. Well planned and designed. And last, I really liked Jamie Xayachack’s website too.  She was really clever and it was funny and the layout I thought was really cool.

Here is a screenshot and link to mine.

Author Bio: Josue is from Hamilton City, a small town 10 miles west of Chico. Before attending Chico State, he was at Butte College as a mechanical engineering transfer. While living with a family whose young boy wasn’t speaking yet, he went out of my way to work with him much like he had with his own son. A few weeks later the young boy spoke for the first time. Josue had discovered how much he loves working with kids. 

Jamie Xayachack

Top 3 Cycle 5 Makes

The makes that I gravitated towards most were the teacher portfolios of Jillian Pearson, Janette Herrera, and Sarah Roberts because I also chose to make one for this cycle. Sarah’s Make was enjoyable to look through as she had multiple blog posts that explain the reasons why she’s pursuing the career that she’s chosen. The layout that she chose for this multimodal make was simple and easy to navigate around.Jillian’s portfolio was filled with a variety of pages which were very interesting to scroll through. I like how she suggested a few websites that both students and educators could utilize. Janette’s portfolio also has a simple layout: her whole blog about Creating Writers was most compelling to read as her views of creating writers are like mine.

“Offer mini lessons each day before writing workshop and then let them go to work. To ensure that each student’s progress is being monitored you can have conferences during the workshop time and offer any assistance that is needed. Remember the most important thing here is create a classroom full of students who think of themselves as writers and this should be encouraged as much as possible.” – Janette Herrera

This whole paragraph resonates with me because I’m experimenting with this approach with my students this semester in having them be the curators of their own stories and handmade books. It’s so important for us future educators to assist students into thinking of themselves as writers because they are imaginative and fantasize about situations through made-up stories. That’s already a huge part of story-writing and the only part we really need to help them with is figuring out how to spell words and structure sentences.


Ultimately, Cycle 5’s article from Language Arts (see link in Lisa’s post above) made me realize how explorative one can be through teaching. It is possible to refrain from traditional and stiff structure in the classroom and Jane Gilrain made that point clear in the allegory, which was presented at the beginning of the article. Gilrain made me realize that it is quite difficult to break away from norms because society tends to adhere to what works or what has worked in the past and most fear change because it is usually accompanied by an onslaught of intuitive and complex ideas to be dealt with. Art is what shapes the world around us. Everything from the design of a car to ceramic mug has been through a creative process engineered by team of people. This article brought light to how students can learn through collaborative work with others so that they can articulate what they would like to say through various multimodal approaches. Through a multimodal approach to teaching, students can utilize their seemingly never-ending free-flow of energy by projecting it towards projects that require movement and drama. I would love to explore this approach through some theatrical work with the students that I have currently. They are all very invested in creating interesting and unique art projects with me and it would be such an awesome experience to have them hone into their skills in the arts by having them do some theater activities with a theater artist.

Cycle 4 Reflection

Karen Kaufman Orloff expertly conveyed her point of views to her young audience by incorporating didactic, yet simple messages as well as other elements through her books I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room. It’s apparent that Orloff chose to write in first person to let the audience have a better understanding of the personalities within the main character as well as other characters in the book. These books are informative, but the dialogues between characters are persuasive as the main character, Alex, attempts to persuade his parents through letters stating how grown up he is or how great his grades are in school. When children read these books, they are given ideas of persuasion to reciprocate their style of writing from when writing letters to whomever they may concern. These texts aim to convey two major points for children to begin understanding, which are compromising and problem-solving. Both stories lead to happy endings and children can see that through the arguments and information being relayed between Alex and his parents. The instances of bias constantly occur as viewpoints of a young boy and older perspectives (Alex’s parents) write letters to each other as they stay strong in their position of arguments.

Both books are vivid and illustrative with humorous drawing and scenes that easily captivate young eyes. The element of putting the texts in graphic paper was an excellent idea as it gives children an example of what a letter should look like and what a letter should contain. From a more mature perspective, the issues presented in the books may come off as trivial, however, children between the three to eight are dealing with these issues and these issues are so important for educators, parents, or guardians to acknowledge and guide children so that they can develop from them. Utilizing this book would help us in educating children of the importance in confronting personal conflicts and to understand the value in gaining new perspectives of things in life.

This make cycle was interesting to do and it was even more fun to look through other classmates work to see the variety of interpretations of this assignment. With that being said, this assignment also brought light into the fact that students all learn and interpret things differently. There must be a variety of ways for students to approach an assignment to create something to the best of their potential. I really liked how everyone used different sources to create what they made. Having a variety of choices also broadened everyone’s perspective on approaching the assignment.

Author Bio: Jamie Xayachack is a third-year Liberal Studies student at CSU Chico. She is currently working in the Enterprise Elementary School District as an ACE Aide, as well as a Classroom Aide. Having the opportunity to be surrounded by students and other educators at work all day has made her excitement and motivation to become an elementary school teacher grow more with each coming day. Jamie’s overseas volunteer experience as a McConnell SAILS Scholar in classrooms in Asia is what made her choose teaching as a career path she would like to venture on. A few hobbies of hers include hiking and playing Super Smash Bros with friends.

Salina Rodriguez

Erin Russo made a website for herself that I found exceptional.  She found not only different fonts and colors to write about herself in, but she also found pictures that made the reader of her website be able to picture her as a soon to be teacher.  There was just the right amount of color and font without making the website too busy or childish. While it is difficult to present yourself on paper, Erin made it seem flawless with her straight to the point examples of her road to being an educator.  Adding on a video by Carol Dweck to help back her teaching philosophy I found creative and powerful for her overall website.

Taylor Roberts Make 5 I found to be done exceptionally well because she challenged herself.  Taylor challenged herself to create a lesson plan and fulfill it herself. I found this to be extra special because it is not even something I am yet to challenge myself with, yet what better way to practice?  She took pictures of her actual work that included information about the sun and the moon along with drawings. I thought this was a really great way to practice mini lessons with students. This allows students to first be able to learn about the subject and then be able to present what was learned in the way they find most comfortable.  I like she started with basic topics because as teachers we can learn to grow as the topics and age of the student grows; however this was a really great way to practice a lesson plan along with mini lessons and have a physical example that can even be used in her future classroom.

Shelby Baccala’s Make 5 was the most impressive Make I could find.  The reason I found hers so impressive was because I felt that her website could be up and looking for hiring districts right now and she would certainly beat me out at any job.  Her way of presenting not just herself and her philosophies, but her way of presenting her experience with pictures to support her past made her website outstanding. Shelby used different colors, fonts, and pictures to keep whomever is reading about her interested and wanting to read on.  This website I see being done so well that she could use it tomorrow to apply for a job. Great job Shelby!

Week 11 Updates

Week 11 Updates

Hi everyone,

Grade Update: Moments ago you should have received a grade update that takes us through to tonight’s multimodal make. I left comments on the chapter 6 discussion and memes: you all have some great ideas for lessons in your responses that you could build upon for our next make cycle. I’m glad you are able to take so much away from these chapters. I highly recommend other books by Katy Wood Ray too: she has a whole book simply called The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts. Many of you also mentioned the use of notebooks, so I wanted to point you toward a couple resources for using notebooks in your classrooms:

I hope you are keeping a Google Folder or something that works for you to save resources and ideas for your classrooms. 😉

Make Cycle 6 (Now With Partners): Our next make cycle is up on our course website–Make Cycle 6: Creating Writing Assignments. This is a three week make cycle since you will be creating your own writing assignments/activities and trying them out together. I have placed you with a partner: you will write an assignment for your partner to try, she/he will try it by writing the assignment and giving you feedback and visa versa. Your partners can be found on the Make Cycle 6 page and below. It will be crucial to complete work on time in this cycle so that you don’t hold up your partner; I have no doubt you’ll be respectful to each other. I also have a couple of examples for this make on the page as well.

Featured Curators for Make 5 (Maritza, Yorleidi, Caitlin, Josue, Salina, Lisa, and Jamie): your blogs are due to me by Tuesday, April 10 in a shared Google Doc. I’ll send a follow up email tomorrow after the makes come in tonight and you can also see the previous email I sent with information. You’ll also send me a bio and a photo for the blog. Thank you in advance!

Partners for the make for Make Cycle 6:

  • Kellie/Julie
  • Christina/Rebecca L
  • Chad/Lisa
  • Jamie/Brittany
  • Janette/Sandra
  • Erin/Jillian
  • Chelsea/Rebecca S
  • Rayn/Salina
  • Shelby/Samone
  • Ruben/Hannah
  • Sean/Dana
  • Jennifer/Rebecca B
  • Cheyenne/Maritza
  • Brianna/Alma
  • Adriana/Nancy
  • Karen/Caitlin
  • Raenni/Josue
  • Veronica/Yorleidi


Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 4: Hannah, Cheyenne, Samone, Adriana, Alma, Erin, and Sean

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 4: Hannah, Cheyenne, Samone, Adriana, Alma, Erin, and Sean

Hannah Hughes

Hello everyone! I truly hope you all had a lovely spring break! Now that we have sprung forward with the time change, and in this class, we are that much closer to becoming teachers in our own classroom! Being part of this google community and sharing with all of you the last couple months has been extremely inspiring! Each new discussion and make cycle has added a new layer to our writing repertoire that will help us as we learn how to teach our students how to write. We started the week off by discussing the 4th and 5th chapters of our book, About the Authors: Writing Workshop With Our Youngest Writers. Then we looked at some great mentor texts to help develop our idea of what compelling argumentative writing looks like. And finally, we created our own persuasive works to share with the community.

Chapter 4 really begins to take an overall look into the steps it takes for students to write books. One of the big ideas expressed in this chapter is that writing must be an enjoyable process that helps students find their own writing strengths as they learn to create. Students need to feel they are already adequate with their skills they arrive with so they can learn to build off of where they are at. I really appreciate the book allowing us as future teachers to see this viewpoint because often students who feel they can’t meet the expectations of being a “good” writer won’t even try. Dana C touched on this matter in her response and said, “A six-year-old’s writing differentiates from an experienced writer. We cannot expect so much from them at such a young age when they are still learning and growing. We must be there to support them. This was a lot of help when I began to think about myself as a future teacher. I want to teach first grade, so I know now that I have to start slow and let my students show me what they can do when it comes to their writing then slowly bring in tips and tricks in order for them to gain knowledge upon their writing.” I love how she acknowledges and summarizes in her own words how she now has a better understanding of how to teach her future students to write because of this chapter.

Chapter 5 takes a look at what connections are being made when we look at texts and then imagine them into our own ideas. I love how Lisa focuses on teaching her students strategies for writing instead of giving the ideas to write about. On page 84, a quote that really stood out to me was

“We keep coming back to this point of identity again and again because we just can’t get away from how significant it is to the learning we see.”

When children have an identity about their work, they feel like they can take on and expand their own ideas, as well as others. A technique I know many of us found really neat in chapter 5 was the fishbowl strategy. Lisa Valdez points out that “The ‘fishbowl’ conferences are also a great way to have the children learn what to expect in their own conferences, as well as minimize any anxiety they may feel. It also can help them to see what is expected of them, so that they can make their own adjustments prior to their own conferences. It reinforces the idea that the conferences are not punitive, but constructive.” We all know peers are one of the biggest influences children have in their lives. That reaches to all areas including school work. Of course, I think that making sure that as teachers we make the effort to process these “conferences” with our students will make a huge difference to how effective the fishbowl strategy will actually be.

After learning a bit about the writing process, we took a look at some mentor texts to help inspire us with our makes. A text I really enjoyed was I Wanna Iguana, by Karen Kaufman Orloff. This is a story about Alex who wants to adopt his friend’s iguana. I found it interesting how the book is told from both his and his Mom’s perspectives as they write notes to each other. Alex doesn’t just whine and beg to get the iguana, but carefully constructs persuasive arguments why he and this iguana belong together. Veronica Oregel shares her thoughts on this mentor text saying: “The authors expressed their opinions through the characters in their stories and did it very well. For example, Alex was not faced by his parents telling him no he could not have something. Instead he got creative and found different ways of asking until a compromise was met between parents and child.” I think this is great way to help students understand why creating such thoughtful argumentative writings within the context of their own life can be useful. All of the mentor text assignments we have done thus far have been really easy to imagine how they might translate into assignments I can use with my future students. However, the use of these argumentative texts seems like such a fun way to get creative and help students learn how to develop and organize their own ideas about what they want in life.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin was a very funny and cute picture book that uses the argumentative writing style to tell the story. It was really neat to be able to see it from the side of the cows and I loved how the animals were coming up with their arguments of what they needed in order for the farmer to comply. Brittany Walker touches on the personification used in this text. She says, “The author gave human characteristics to the animals. Obviously, cows can’t talk or type on a type writer, however the author really made the reader see the side of the cows and their wants and needs. For instance, the cows told the farmer that the barn was very cold at night and they wanted some blankets. I also liked how the animals were coming up with their arguments of what they needed in order for the farmer to get what he wants. This would be a great writing assignment for students to take to role of someone or something else. They could write an argumentative piece in character that has wants or needs that they need to convey to someone else.” One of my favorite things to read about in our discussions is when others comment on ideas of how they might implement some of these strategies into their own classrooms. I am always taking note of these amazing ideas you all have shared!

My favorite part of the weekly cycles are the makes of course! There are always so many makes that surprise and inspire me! These personalized projects really allow us the opportunity to practice what we want our students to do, which is to create works that are meaningful, compelling, and well thought out. For the assignment this week, we had many options to choose from: an advice column, a series of posters, a flyer, an advertisement, a book etc. Many of these projects were compelling because of the message they were conveying, while others were interesting because of their visual appeal.

Quite a few of our makes this week touched on some topics that were not quite as light hearted as wanting an iguana, but conveyed extremely important messages about mental health that are so relevant and necessary in our world today! It meant a lot to me that so many of our future teachers shared this message. One I took notice to immediately was a series of posters that was created by Raenni Pilgrim. Her posters used a pineapple as a message of positivity to help students with self esteem. The second poster, in her series of 3, she used an alphabet poem with the word pineapple, which is visually appealing and helps to get across the message in a fun way. I really love what she had to say about why she wanted it to be so bright and colorful even though the topic can be dark. “I created an anti bullying campaign that is geared toward positivity and encouraging students instead of telling them don’t bully. When you google anti bullying you usually see a big red circle with the word bully crossed out in the center. I wanted my posters to motivate higher self esteem in students or to at least start the ball rolling on helping others.”

Another make that caught my eye right away was Grace Pablo’s posters on homelessness. The images combined with message on the posters were extremely moving. I loved how she was able to have such a strong message with so few words. Grace was able to touch on the stereotypes these people face regularly: “When thinking of homelessness many automatically think of people who end up on the streets because of drug or alcohol abuse. It is easy to judge and criticize them based on what they look like.” Immediately a thought that comes to my mind, is that one day, we may have a child in our classroom who is homeless, or have family who are homeless. Our attitude in the classroom towards others will create the atmosphere they thrive, (or don’t thrive) in. Lexi Mitchell commented on Grace’s make saying “..it’s so easy to pass judgement on anyone, but especially the homeless. I really like how your make gave them a voice.” The notion that our writing can be a way to give someone a voice, who otherwise might not have one, whether it be a cow on a farm, or a judged homeless man, is a powerful thing.

A really fun make to read this cycle was the story jumper book “Happy, Healthy, Super Teeth” written by Beatriz Salazar. She used a style of writing to make a topic that is actually important and serious feel accessible to students. She used really adorable images along with great information to express the importance of taking care of your teeth. Just like our mentor text Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type, Beatriz did a great job using personification to tell her story. The different teeth all take turns explaining who they are and why they are important to take care of! It was very cute.

The last make I want to touch on that I connected with was Alma Rose Lopez’ Autism Awareness flyer.

This is a subject I am extremely passionate about myself. I work in the field of early intervention for children under the age of 3 who are having social and communication delays and are possibly at risk for Autism. I also have a child of my own who is 4 and has special needs. As awareness is spreading, in both the school setting and in society in general, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to have Autism. On her flyer she puts “Awareness is a step closer to breaking stereotypes that get drawn to everyone but mostly get drawn to those that are considered “disabled” on not being able to make a living or contribute to society.” Alma did a wonderful job of highlighting important information about people with Autism, as well as including in large print when World Autism Awareness Day. This gives us a way to act on what we have read, or even just learn more about it. I love how she says this about her make, “I also included pictures to get a visual perspective on the don’ts and the overall meaning of Autism in people. Honestly, I think I was influenced by all the mentor’s texts on trying to prove a point. I guess I kind of combined all the mentor’s meanings and created a new type towards my work.” We want our students to be able to use ideas from many different resources and use what works for them and I think Alma did a great job showing us how that can be done.

Honestly, there were a lot of powerful and amazing makes that I did not mention. I know with Spring Break it may have been easy for us to put reading through them all on the back burner, but you will not regret taking the time to read not only the ones mentioned on the blog, but everyone’s! We had Professor Kittle’s class join us for this make, so we have even more inspiration and knowledge to add into our teaching buckets than usual! I know mine is overflowing with ideas right now!

Author Bio: My name is Hannah, I am 30 years old. I am from the Bay area but have lived in the Chico and surrounding area for the last 12 years. I am a very busy lady! I work full time, am a mom to four-year-old with special needs, a wife to a disabled vet, and I am finally in my last year of college! I love to hike and just take random (day) road trips as a little family. I also like reading, cooking, or watching Netflix, as well as watching/listening to podcasts and Ted talks. I have worked in the community for the past 10 years directing local after school programs, but about two years ago I switched from after school life to early intervention, where I found my love of working with special needs kiddos. That inspired me to get back in school to finally reach my goal of being a teacher. I can’t wait!

Cheyenne Boles

I am so happy to have a chance to write about make cycle four because it has so far been my most favorite. I love anything that’s trying to persuade me just because it feels like a test.

We started out these last couple weeks with Chapter 4 and 5 from About the Authors. Both of these chapters honestly made me a little nervous about becoming teacher just because how truly difficult it can be to really teach children the essence of preplanning and brainstorming before creating a story or even a simple homework sheet. In Chapter 4, there was an example that hit home 100% with me: a young boy was writing a short story on snakes; he changed the word mistake to “missnake.” When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade I did this exact thing (different word of course) and the teacher turned it down just like the boy in Chapter 4. I think things like this is so important to allow children to do even though it may not be the most grammatically correct. Chapter 4 really pushed this because taking the imagination away from our students also allows them to lose their motivation when creating these future stories.

Chapter 4 also talked about letting children feed off of each other’s work and to not see it as copying. Allowing them to choose their topic and take an idea that their friend did the week before and make their own is the foundation of an amazing short story! This really provides some self help not to mention the inspiration from their peers instead of the teacher.

Chapter 5 had just as amazing viewpoints as Chapter 4; in fact, some that I can’t wait to use in my future classroom. The first one being, bringing in books that inspire your students to make one just like it, or a book that has a format that you would love to see some of your students try. When reading these books, it would be really good to point out “look at this, look at what this writer is doing, this is so cool, maybe one of you could try this next time”: just some boosts of knowledge without fully telling them what you’re wanting them to do. The thing I loved most about Chapter 5 was that it provided the insider knowledge of a “walk through,” this being, take a book and read it aloud while having the students point out the things they noticed or might like to use next time with their own story line.

The next section we were asked to tackle was Appendix E. This section really focused on text structures and how creating them can make six year old work that much better as simple as it may be. On pages 180 and 181 it gives actual examples of text structures of a book about sea creatures, and although it may not flow like a college level essay, it has the basic idea of things that live in the ocean such as Octopi, Sharks, Dolphins and Whales. Something as simple as different text boxes helps the students really learn and understand what they’re writing about as well as preparing themselves for a flowing essay just by adding the transition sentences.

Then for my favorite part of this make cycle, the mentor texts! These children’s books were funny, cute, and had a lot of great ideas for future adult and children writers. The first one was I Wanna Iguana and it was so fun and totally relatable. I really liked how many of these texts used the illustrations to make the letters come to life. The arguments between the characters (mother and son) were so much like the conversations I used to have with my mom at that age. The young boy’s points to his arguments made me wonder why I never thought of that when I was trying to win over a puppy in the 3rd grade.

The second book we read was Click Clack Moo; this book was one I have read before and I think it’s a really fun one for the kids because what isn’t fun about animals coming to life let alone knowing how to argue and type! The repetition in this book was strong and really helpful to follow along even when the animals changed from cows to ducks, etc. My favorite out of all the books we read was The Day The Crayons Quit. I have never seen something so cute and original in my entire life! The illustrations were amazing and I love all the little details! The letters were the color of the crayon writing the message and some of the illustrations drifted over into the other page to make it more realistic and fun hearted. The author did an amazing job on this book and I really look forward to using it in my future classroom.

The last story we read was I Want a New Room. This book was written by the same author of I Wanna Iguana; he put such hard work and creativity into his stories I would definitely recommend them to anyone.

Our final step to Make Cycle 4 was our “makes.” We had the option of many different things such as campaign posters, argument passages, Advice columns and many more. I personally chose to make three campaign posters on empowering women, but I chose a few of my favorites to share with you created by my fellow classmates.

Raenni Pilgrim did the first one I want to share with you. She decided to make some hand drawn posters, which I loved! Her focus was anti bullying and her posters promoted positivity and encouragement to not bully. The thing that made me notice her posters was the fact that they are much different then the typical anti bullying poster (red circle with a line through it). Also she targeted the victim rather than the bully; her focus was to build them up and not allow harsh actions tear them down.

Erin Spranger did the second one I chose to highlight. Erin chose to do a rant, which I found quite funny. She rants about slow walkers and how they are so distracted by their phones. This couldn’t be more true! People get so caught up in social media, a text message or an email, and although it may be important it is so annoying for those around them! I really enjoyed Erin’s post and I thought you might also.

Dear slow walker,
I understand that you might not want to go where ever it is that you are going, but at least try to walk in a straight line. By not walking in a straight line, it is preventing me from passing you. It is also causing me to be later to my destination than I was originally planning. When you choose to not walk in a straight line and I try to pass you, it causes you to almost run into me because you start drifting over to the side I’m trying to pass you on.
I also understand that whatever it is, maybe a text message, that is making you to stare at your phone, causing you to progressively slow down, may be important. But if you are going to slow down because you are trying to not run into anything while you stare down at your phone, step off to the side. Don’t cause everyone else who is in a hurry to get to where they are going to walk slower because you aren’t being considerate. Or just wait to look at your phone until you get to where you are going. Nothing is that important to cause you to hold up people trying to walk because you are trying to read the message that was sent you.
So please, I’m begging you slow walker, either walk in a straight line to allow people to go around you or step off to the side to read that, “It’s too important to wait” message on your phone.

The annoyed person behind you

The last “make” I wanted to share with you was done by Baylee Galloway. Baylee wrote an advice column from a girl wanting advice about moving in with her boyfriend. I love how personal she made it by really seeming like “Confused Caty” needed some serious advice. The response given to Caty was very professional and helpful! I really do think that if anyone in our class was going through a similar problem, they could totally take her advice.

Baylee’s Post:

Ask Amy, I am in desperate need of your help!
My boyfriend I have been with for about a year now asked me to move in with him!! I don’t know if me moving in with him will be too fast or if I should just do it. But moving in with someone is a big deal. I mean I like him love him maybe but this is a big commitment. What if he just absolutely drives me crazy if I move in??? Sometimes I just want to be alone and have my own space you know? I’ve lived by myself a long time what if I can’t live with anyone else?
Please help I have no idea what to do!
Sincerely, Confused Caty

Dear Confused Caty,
You’re right moving in with your significant other is a big step in any type of relationship. But him asking you shows where he wants your relationship to go. It seems like he is in it for the long haul. Write out a pros and cons list of living with your partner, write down all of the potential problems and issues that you two might encounter. Ultimately you have to ask yourself if you are ready to take that next step in your relationship with him. If you are talk to him about all of the things that you are weary about. Talking and letting your partner know where you stand and how you are feeling is always important. It shows that you care and want to talk through your feelings.
I hope this helped!!
Sincerely, Ask Amy

All of these stories and texts for this makes cycle were so interesting and super enjoyable so I was very excited to get to be a featured blogger this week. I hope you enjoyed!

Author Bio: This is my first semester at Chico State to get closer to my ultimate goal of being an elementary teacher. I am 20 years old and am a momma to the cutest fur baby, Pongo. He is a pit-bull that just turned one year old and is totally named after 101 Dalmatians. I love all things Disney and, of course, shopping!

Samone Burge

For Make Cycle 4 we read chapters 4 and 5, along with Appendix E. We observed the argumentative letters from our mentor texts, and even had the opportunity of creating our own form of persuasive writing.

For the first the About the Authors portion of Make Cycle 4, the response that stood out to me the most was done by Dana C. think that I was so intrigued by her response style because it sort of reminded me my own. Often times I want to write something short and sweet but can never seem to complete an assignment without sharing all that I have learned and observed from the book. In reading Dana’s response, I felt like she must be the same way as she had so much insightful content to share and I am so glad that she did. While both of our responses had a lot of information, Dana gave me a new perspective on the same topics and delve deeper into topics of the chapter that I barely scratched the surface of.

Chapter 4 took us deeper into teaching even the youngest students the process of writing.This chapter of About the Authors showed us how students can use the writing process to write books. They begin with prewriting. Prewriting includes finding ideas for writing projects, so based on the instruction of the teachers, students will choose what topic to cover within that introduction. It also includes growing ideas for a writing project, for a young author this means learning to take the time to think and talk about the idea they want to write about, before they actually begin to write it down. The final step of the prewriting is planning and drafting. The chapter then goes into the details of revision, editing, and publishing.

The most interesting part the author shared was how they don’t wait for students to learn the rules of writing before allowing them to write. They have students write first and uncover the rules of writing along the way. I was drawn to Dana C.’s response because she seemed to notice the same thing. Dana C really underlined the importance of allowing the children to learn to write through writing:

I learned quite a bit. Many of those things were eye opening and made me realize I cannot rush students into the writing process. Each student may have their own process, but the main thing is to get them writing first then later focus on the rest. As teachers, we have to learn from our students and see what works best for them” (Dana C).

I was really intrigued by her interpretation of the chapter because in her response she pointed out how as teachers we must start slow and have realistic expectations for young writers. Through Dana’s response I learned that we can teach children through their own knowledge of writing (allowing them to build upon prior knowledge of writing and simply get started first) and still expect their best efforts without pressuring them to produce the work of professional writers at this point: “A six-year-old’s writing differentiates from an experienced writer. We cannot expect so much from them at such a young age when they are still learning and growing. We must be there to support them” (Dana C).

Chapter 5 was all about the whole class lessons the author gives young students to help them explore the possibilities of writing. They expose the students to different styles of writing and allow the children to uncover differences and similarities and to begin to realize that they can try and incorporate these different forms of writing into their own work. I thought this was brilliant because it helps children to naturally build up a knowledge of writing skills through learning first hand from experienced authors. Dana couldn’t have put the ideas behind the mini lessons better when she said, “…it shows us different ideas on how to teach students to write rather than what to write. The students already have their own ideas on what it is they want to write about, but we must just help them find ways to write about those certain ideas” (Dana C).  

Appendix E was about teaching children to structure texts in interesting ways.  The author teaches the children to recognize the structure of texts by helping them see the same structures used by different authors in different books so that they understand that the particular structure is not limited to one particular author or one particular text.  Dana helped me understand this lesson in a new way: “Appendix E taught me that structured texts are very important. As teachers, we should make sure our students know that each and every one of their ideas or thoughts can combine in order to make one big idea” (Dana C). Her perspective really opened my eyes to how important helping children to understand and compare and contrast structure of others’ writing is in developing their own writing. These are the types of responses needed to really learn from others!

The Mentor texts this week were from the books: I Wanna Iguana, The Day the Crayons Quit, Click Clack Moo, and I Wanna New Room. Each of these stories gives a riveting demonstration of argumentative writing. When I began observing the responses to the mentor texts, the one that stood out to me the most was from Karen Fawn. Where I think my brain mostly focused on simply the arguments and bright illustrations of each persuasive story, Karen noticed so much more:

“I did notice that all four of the books used quite a bit of figurative language like personification, hyperboles, alliteration, and sarcasm” (Karen Fawn).

Karen taught me that I Wanna Iguana used a lot of hyperboles like when the mom said nobody would marry him with a six foot reptile. I also noticed that Karen and I were both drawn to the fact that each story was shared in a way that appeared like real handwritten or typed letters on each page. She pointed out to me that Click Clack Moo was full of personification because the cows are doing so many human things like typing. She also taught me about pathos and logos by informing me about how these are used in The Day the Crayons Quit, as the crayons play on the reader’s emotions and facts and demonstrations in order to persuade them to their point. What I loved most about Karen’s response was that it was educational but in a very entertaining and humorous way. With each sentence I could feel myself smiling from what she said and found myself wanting to read on and learn more. This is what is needed in a teacher!  

The final part of Make 4 was the most exciting. It was where we students got the chance to create persuasive work of our own. I chose to do a letter inspired by The Day the Crayons Quit to myself written from my over worn black boots, but my favorite make was also inspired by this story from Chelsea Peterson. In her make, “The Great Toy Rebellion, the toy cars write a letter to Nicholas about how they don’t like to be smashed by big trucks or rolled through mud. The dragon is tired of having to play the bad guy and the firetruck is depressed about being replaced by Batman. The favorite toy, Batman, has no complaints and no sense of modesty. He loves being the top toy and believes everyone else is just jealous. This was such an awesome read and a beautiful demonstration of argumentative writing. This is what is needed in an author!  

Each of these Make 4 curators taught me so much about our learning process this week. I learned to observe our readings, mentor texts, and make assignments in a new way that will force me to think harder and dig deeper for future assignments.

Author Bio: I am Samone and I just turned 29 years old. I have been happily married for 9 years, and I have four children ages 10, 7, 5, and two. I have been working as a preschool teacher at my former community college for about 3 years and I love it. I lie awake at night because I am woken up with new ideas about fun ways to teach children. I have a hard time focusing because I have so many things I want to do in arts and crafts and teaching but they all revolve around children. I have always known I wanted to be a wife and mother and have always had the feeling I was meant to teach. I love preschool but am excited about exploring the kindergarten age. My goal is to spread the joy of learning like wild fire, so no one and nothing will ever be able to put it out.  

Adriana Cea

Hi everyone. I just wanted to say that the quality of work that everyone has produced is amazing. When we started this class I truly was intimidated by writing and having such “broad” guidelines. I think that our text does a good job of making writing simple and enjoyable. When taking these methods into our writings, it really does make our work so much better and it is clear with all the work that everyone is producing, so good job!

When taking a step back and looking at all the Makes it was really difficult to pick just a couple. I think one thing that all the Makes have that made them stand out to me is the fact that people wrote about something personal or issues that are currently in the spotlight. Chapter 4 and 5 really breaks down making writing simple and creating a routine in which students always know what to expect. Chapter 4 talks about each and every break down of writing like brainstorming, closing, and editing for punctuation and spelling. Chapter 5 also gives use more examples of how to combine writing into everyday activities. I think the most important aspects that we take away from both chapters has to be routine of writing and embedding writing into every day. To create quality work we must change the way we go about writing.

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

Ashley Evans and her argument about banishing Child Leashes: Ashley immediately grabbed my attention with her interesting argument and catchy title. I personally hate leashes but I wanted to see what kind of arguments can be used so that we can get rid of those things.  I have always thought that the leashes make the children look like pets, which they clearly aren’t, but I never really thought much about any more arguments. Ashley states, “Parents exerting excessive control: Young kids need direction and in most cases that comes from their parents setting guidelines. It’s not overboard to make a child with a bad temperament do some things they don’t want, but strapping a leash on them is not one of those things. There are cases, and most people may have witnesses a situation similar, when the child is showing strong disdain towards wearing the “child harness.” I think that the about of information Ashley gave is important because it gives us logic. She accurately defended her reasons and gives us more logical explanations, such as the fact that a child harness can create certain feelings with the children. She also did it in a way that was easy to understand and it wasn’t filled with confusing science.

Yorleidi Langarcia’s arguments on DACA really hit close to home. Over the weeks of our course, our work has proved that if it comes from a personal places, it makes out writing so much better. I was drawn to Yorleidi’s arguments because of the tension there is regarding DACA and immigration reform. I think Yorleidi did an amazing job about giving us all of the information over DACA and giving us helpful tips. I believe that it doesn’t matter what side of the argument you are on, but we have to find a way to fix the current situation. Your Tapatio salsa is also pretty funny and brings a little bit of laughter into an intense situation. I also think that adding links with important information made her posters stand out. She is not only giving her argument but adding supplement information about DACA. I could definitely see her posters being distributed to people. I know many people who are documented and are still afraid of police and ICE. I think a chunk of this comes from misinformation and lack of information about their rights. I think having this information is important. Good job getting all this information together.

Janette Herrera’s argument on the Nation’s Walk Out Protest and gun violence in schools was refreshing. I really enjoyed reading information by someone who actually experienced the protest. I think right now we have a lot of misinformation going around that will stun the solution. I think the simple slogan of “Thoughts and prayers aren’t bulletproof” is powerful. I live a few minutes away from where a man went on a rampage killing his wife, making his way to a school while killing people on his way and then opening fire on campus while children were going to class. The shooting at Rancho Tehama really changed everything for us. Schools now are doing lock down drills every week and the police presence at schools have increased.  While I don’t think that banning guns will fix the issue, giving our youth a chance to give their opinions in situations that are impacting them will be the change that we needed. I have students that start freaking out over the sound of a book dropping on the floor. Having people start the conversation is the beginning of all the change.

Good job everyone! It was hard to pick out work so keep up all the good work!

Author Bio: My name is Adriana Cea and I just transferred over from Butte College. I hope to finish completing my bachelors at Chico State in the next couple semesters. I love working on my art and expanding my knowledge in the arts. I love spending time with my many siblings and just getting out of my regular routines. I am constantly curious about education and new information and techniques.

Alma Rosa Lopez

After reading chapter four, I liked that there are ways to discover a variety of processes students use on their writing. I like how the writing processes are based on the students needs and how their mindsets may process writing overall and how they can use their own writing. I like the idea one of the  the authors had on allowing the students to write first that way they can write however they are used to writing before a process is established on them. This is a way to kind of observe and see where a student stands before creating a process that doesn’t suit them at all on their development of writing. Giving students a step by step process can be difficult for them to focus on or even remember! So I believe it’s best to just focus on one thing at a time until they have improved that skill, at least when students are beginning to learn about writing. Also, before students start to learn about errors, I think they need to focus on their thoughtful writing and why it’s important to create a piece of writing that has some thoughts before learning about revisions among minor edits and errors. Once they have achieved that they then will receive guidance in increasing their development and adding a couple more steps at a time. The authors make a great point on how important it is to help students develop their skills and increase their ability. Also, when students are set on one step they will feel confident to move on and won’t forget the step due to them fully understanding it.

After reading chapter five, I got to learn a lot on what’s appropriate on operating mini lessons with students. I liked how the lessons are based on “sharing control” and allowing students to lead, discuss, or even operate a certain part of the lesson. It can be stressful and discomforting at times for a teacher or students based on reactions and quality given. Giving the students the ability to run a lesson or lead a certain part of the lesson is giving them an opportunity to express their knowledge and look forward to it. It also is giving students an opportunity to learn from each other, such as how Kayla taught and expressed her book idea to the whole class. Students can learn a lot from each other and get lots of practice on how to help one another and express their knowledge to the whole class. Before connecting students works with other mentor texts it’s important as a teacher to learn and teach about the author’s texts beforehand in order to help students make connections of those texts with their own. Overall, the ideal goal is to give and guide students towards some techniques they can use on their writing, instead of teaching them what to write. The overall concept of the lessons is to get students to thinking about how they got their ideas and illustrations from. This gets them to thinking like future authors and understanding and connecting with how the authors are inspired.

In the Unity Study E,  I was able to learn the importance of text structure and how important it is to include it and teach it. By teaching students text structure you are allowing and guiding students to think in a “tangible way” on how they write. This helps the students get to focus on how they write in a thoughtful process, while creating less errors and revisions. I like that the authors included text structure as being important and something that teachers should observe and connect them to examples on which can be very helpful for students. This also will help students on learning different types of text structures and how to examine them among others works. For example, Kayla had a structure of repetition among her informative text  on showing us what animals are capable of doing. Overall, text structure is important to establish and observe the structures there are out there Once someone is able to find text structures in other texts they then will know how they might establish their own structure.

The interesting discussions we had about the ideas this week in our G+ Community was on how powerful mini lessons can be for students on being able to “share control” on the lesson being taught or discussed. This allows students to look forward to leading the lesson and getting to  share and express their way of thinking and feeling that they are having throughout the lesson. Another interesting discussion we had was on how important it is to help students get on the right direction with guidance but without discouraging their thoughtful process they have on writing the way they do.

After looking at all the makes in make cycle four, three stood out to me. One of them being Raeni Pilgrims’ make. She created a great make on a way to help students reflect on themselves and on others. Her idea on creating an anti bullying poster is needed for students and in a classroom setting to create awareness. I like her different take on her posters: instead of telling students right away what they shouldn’t do, she creates a motivational message on helping students see how they can build up their self-esteem and towards others. Students look at these posters and learn to understand and think about the actions needed to take place to create a safe environment. Overall, I like her intent on focusing on another issue that occurs in bullying besides it being a physical aspect, instead it also is an emotional abuse. This make Raeni made reflects on chapter four what the process is offered instead of including a set of steps. This allows students to know what direction to choose from by looking at the poster and get to choose from one of those actions provided. This also leads to chapter five on creating a formal approach to help students understand the main message on how to prevent bullying by reflecting on themselves and get guided in the right direction.

The second make that caught my attention was Taylor Roberts make on the awareness and prevention of suicide. I loved how powerful her posters are on connecting with her audience on giving a sense of understanding their struggle and letting them know that they are not alone.  I also love how informative her posters are on providing statistics and the types of signs to look out for on those who are struggling with their emotions. These posters are designed for people to not be afraid or feel alone to reach out for help from anyone. I believe this kind of topic should be incorporated into some type of mini lesson for a group of students that are age appropriate to understand and reflect upon. This also would be a great way to connect and be able to express feelings with one another while receiving a sense of support and resources on reaching out for help.

The third make I chose is Rebecca Barragan’s classroom rules. She focuses on an awareness of how important it is to create a safe caring environment with the spread of kindness. I like her take on these posters on providing a visual and informative piece with the quotes provided, which allow students to see and decide upon how they should address their actions in the classroom and around people in general. This kind of make reminds me of the readings where students decide their path. However, as future educators we have the ability to redirect students to the right path and help them make wise choices on the type of action(s). As well, as helping students understand the different types of settings and situations and how that shouldn’t reflect on having a negative environment and actions.

Author Bio: Hello everyone! My name is Alma Rosa Lopez, but everyone calls me Alma for short. I’m 20 years old and I live in Orland, CA. This is my first year at Chico State as a transfer student. I transferred from Butte College and ended up in Chico State due to the great Liberal Studies program they offer.  I plan to receive my BA in spring 19 and then plan to enter the credential program in the fall. After all that, I plan to continue my education by finishing it with a Master’s in education. The interests I have are that I love all music, the outdoors, traveling, and animals. I also love to hike beautiful places and get crafty. I’m also a huge fan of all things Disney. I want to teach general education and special education, however, I’m more interested in teaching for special education. I want to teach children in K-12 for special education and those in general education I would like to teach those in 2-12 grades. I want to be a teacher because I love children and their amazing outspokenness and curiosity. I also want to make a positive difference in children’s lives and in their education. Most importantly, I want to break the stereotypes that get labeled and defined as individuals with disabilities. I want to inspire our society that children with disabilities can have the same abilities as others and can create new abilities. Overall, I want society to stop defining individuals with labels and instead of noticing their abilities instead of their disabilities and get treated the same as an individual without a disability.

Erin Russo

For make cycle 4, we had the opportunity to explore compelling arguments. What I like most about this genre of writing is that it provides a platform for opinion.

We began this make by reading About the Authors: Chapter 4 & 5 and Appendix E and posting about what in these chapters spoke to us, was interesting, or perhaps even confusing or unclear. Chapter 4 in About the Authors reiterates the importance of getting little ones writing before we instruct and fine tune the writing process. Karen Fawns says, “In chapter 4 I find it intriguing that to begin a writing workshop you don’t teach students a process or give them steps to follow at first, for you just give them some paper and a pencil and ask them to make something with writing.  At first, I was thinking that is crazy chaos in the making, but as I read on it says that through observation you can see what the children already know or don’t know, so you build upon those foundations it made sense.” It can seem counterintuitive to begin anything in the classroom without explicit instruction and Karen does a great job explaining the importance of using this tactic when getting our students writing.

As Rebecca Lee sums up, “In chapter 5, (we) learned about all the things I can teach in a writing workshop. These include techniques, strategies, understandings, conventions, and questions.” In our mini-lessons, we will use a variety of texts to help give students ideas for “how” they can write their books. I love that students will be able to absorb and apply this information more effectively because we will have instilled a writing identity upon them. One idea that educators can use with their students that resonated with many of us was described by Christina Barbaccia as “having a class study published writing.  Having the class involved in the study of a particular author can benefit students in their writing.” Christina also provided a great example of how this would look in a classroom, saying “when reading a particular text, you can ask the students what they notice in the book’s structure, and then the teacher can write the student’s comments on a chart. Once the students are finished with their analysis, the teacher then can go over these features and encourage students to replicate any of these ideas in their own books.” Learning from mentor texts in this course to create our own work is a great way for us to practice studying and applying the tactics used in other authors’ writings.

For this weeks mentor texts, we first looked at I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff; these adorable children’s books were written as a series of convincing letters back and forth between parent and child. Cheyenne Boles captured many of our feeling this week when she said “I LOVED the mentor texts this week. They were cute, funny and had a lot of great ideas for future adult and children writers. I Wanna Iguana was so fun and totally relatable. I really liked how many of these texts used the illustrations to make the letters come to life.” We also read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, which also used the letter writing format, which can be very useful in argumentative writing to persuade an audience. Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type by Moreen Cronin was the other mentor text this week. This was a book about animals that used a typewriter to convey demands to the farmer. I like how Brittany Walker was able to see how this story could be used in her classroom one day. She said, “this would be a great writing assignment for students to take to role of someone or something else. They could write an argumentative piece in character that has wants or needs that they need to convey to someone else. I think this would be a fun way to write and bring out creativity in students.” I agree with her, and I think that this is evidence that Brittany is already beginning to think like a teacher.

The options for creating a compelling argument make this week were many. The choices included writing an advice column, making convincing posters, creating an advertisement or funding pitch, letter writing, an educational blog, or writing a children’s book. I’ve chosen a few of my favorites to share.

Erminia Gonzalez:The Day Money Quit”Book titled 'The day money quit'

The first make that really spoke to me was The Day Money Quit by Erminia Gonzalez. This story was so much fun to read. Erminia chose to write about a topic that everyone in our class can relate to… money. I like how this story was modeled after the mentor texts and used letter writing. She appeals to the readers logos by demonstrating the flaws of digital money. Because of the relatabillity and use of tactics that grab the reader’s attention, I fully enjoyed reading this short story and was totally convinced that cash money is the superior currency.   

Allison House

This was super cute. Through letter writing Allison does a great job convincing the reader that Summer is best! I thought it was very smart how she began by addressing the shortcomings of Fall, Winter, and Spring and ended with the many reasons why Summer is the best season.

 I also like how she borrowed the use of a creative sign-off (The Amazing, Fun, and Best Season of ALL) to further her argument. Creative, convincing, and delightful to read.

Beatriz Salazar

Happy, Healthy, Super Teeth!

Book titled 'Happy, healthy, super teeth!'

This children’s book was great because it used information about the four different types of teeth to convince you of the importance of keeping them clean. Knowing the significance of each of the teeth we have provides the strongest argument for why it is ever important to have adequate oral hygiene. I love that Beatriz was able to incorporate expository writing into her argumentative piece this week, because it adds to the story and as we’ve learned, rarely is a text only one genre. The pictures are also very cute and help the reader understand the content. Well done Beatriz.    

Author Bio: My name is Erin Russo. I’m a returning student with hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. I’m passionate about education, and hope to have the opportunity to give all children in my classroom an opportunity to find joy in learning. My husband and I are raising our two young daughters in Lincoln, CA where we enjoy walking to our neighborhood park, home improvement projects, and hosting our family and friends.  

Sean Gamer

“While they are in this living-with-an-idea part of the process, they grow their thinking about the idea by collecting all sorts of related, random thoughts and sometimes by writing reflectively and extensively about the idea” (About The Authors 64).

Our make cycles this week were inspired by argumentative writing. It was our challenge as students to explore the ways to persuade an audience to think a certain way. As future educators, it is important to understand the art of argumentative writing because it is apart of California’s standards as well as Common Core.

The students in our class were asked to examine Andrea Lunsford’s article “Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast” (something our class has used in the past), I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff, Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.

As future teachers, it is important to keep on the lookout for new writing ideas for our students. I think these books create a sense of activism for students. Teaching students skills to negotiate and see other points of views can build argument and encourage research for students’ personal ideas and beliefs. There so many wonderful makes in this make cycle. At first, I did not understand what argumentative writing was. Then after reading the mentor text and the chapters from the textbook, I began to understand. Seeing my classmate’s makes also helped me understand as well.

It is an honor to be apart of this online class. Our Google+ community is creative and informative. Sometimes I learn more from looking through classmates’ makes. Learning independently and later collaborating with others makes digesting information easier. Raenni Pilgrim’s Pineapple ads caught my eye. Her idea behind the pineapple of being aesthetically appealing to viewers and having a positive message of anti-bullying is revolutionary because we are a society of saying no and keeping all the sad things in our world under the rug and never talking about them. Thank you for creating this Raenni!

I also enjoyed Hannah Hugh’s Smore campaign on giving less homework. She explained to our classmate that she was happy to use Smore instead of defaulting to StoryJumper. I loved the reasons she used to justify her reasoning behind giving less homework and she created an outstanding compelling argument. The pictures she used also added emotion to readers when they read the reason behind why teachers should give less homework. Good job Hannah! 

Author Bio: My name is Sean Gamer. When I am not in the classroom, I love to be outside playing tennis with friends, hiking the trails of Upper Park in Chico, and reading books. I am a senior at Chico State and plan on entering the credential program and becoming an elementary school teacher. I love animals and someday want to go to Australia.


Heading to Spring Break: Reminders & Updates

Heading to Spring Break: Reminders & Updates

Hello nice people of English 333,

Moments ago, you should have received a grade update that takes us through to tonight’s Make (Compelling Arguments). I loved reading your insights into chapter 4 & 5; thank you! I appreciate how much all of you are noticing that there is a time and place for pushing and playing with structures and forms, editing and revising, and precision…but not as the first thing. The first thing with writing is to have something to say and someone to say it to: words on the page. Importantly, we should ask writers, even our most nascent writers, about their own composing practices before imposing ours on them. We do not need to teach every kind of writing as if it’s a five paragraph essay for a timed writing exam: that’s school writing, not the kind of writing done in the world. When you teach those structures, help students to notice that timed writing is a certain kind of thing, not THE way the write. Yep. Loved reading your responses.

Make Cycle 5 is up, but feel free to go on spring break and not think about it until you return. 😉 You have a response due March 30 on chapter 6, so plenty of time. I did go ahead and post it though because Make Cycle 5 is about multimodal composing and one option for the Make is to create your own website, perhaps your teaching portfolio. Some of you might find it fun to play with this over break when you have more time or fewer course assignments (I realize many of you have other jobs and/or are parents, so “more time” might not be a thing in your life). Here’s my short version of my website and my fuller version: two different sites that I use for different purposes. The shorter site is more like a virtual business card that I share when I give talks. It takes a long time to curate a digital identity as an educator and this Make Cycle invites you to get one started if you haven’t already. But there are other ideas for this cycle too….you don’t have to make a site. It is an invitation.

Make 4: Compelling Arguments Make is due tonight, but honestly, if you need until tomorrow night then that is fine too. I most likely won’t have a chance to do another grade update until after break…I have some writing deadlines of my own. Featured bloggersRebecca Barragan, Cheyenne Boles, Samone Burge, Adriana Cea, Hannah Hughes, Sean Gamer, Alma Lopez, Erin Russo–your blog is due when we return, the evening of March 26th. Sending earlier is great too, of course. See the previous email I sent y’all (subject line for email has YOUR TURN in it if you search) for instructions.

Appreciate the conversations we are having about teaching writing. Y’all rule. Hope you do, in fact, get some downtime next week.

Best, Kim


Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 3: Rayn, Shelby, Jennifer, Jillian & Chelsea

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 3: Rayn, Shelby, Jennifer, Jillian & Chelsea

Rayn Buford

Through the process of Make Cycle 3 we had the opportunity to read chapters 2 & 3 from About the Authors. In chapter 2, we were introduced to writing workshops within the classroom and just how important it is to set aside writing time for children. The best way to support students as they practice writing is to set them up for success by allowing them to choose where they want to sit to create their story, adjusting how much time they are allotted, and encouraging them to share their work among their peers. Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland do an excellent job at demonstrating just how important it is as future instructors, to understand how work, space, and time go hand-in-hand. In chapter 3, the importance of writing workshops was extended throughout the reading as we touched base on how you can correspond your classroom and daily routines to help your students understand literature. My favorite part about chapter 3 is the amount of information I was able to take away as a future teacher. I found the Environmental Support section to be the most interesting (40-41). I found myself nodding as I read these pages, as I agreed with the reasoning behind environmental support in a classroom: “We don’t underestimate the power of environmental print to support language learning either.” It is true that print can cover the room in various ways for the children to use it as a reference for their own writing, and even reading: “The walls, desks, tables, sides of bookcases, even the floors-basically, every flat surface in a primary classroom classroom-can be filled with print that children can look at, wonder and talk about, and use as a reference when they need it to help them with their own writing.” I think it is an excellent idea to have alphabet charts, number charts, color charts, pictures, calendars, signs, labels, name tags, word walls, class charts, and alphabet strips. I also enjoyed the idea of “talking into our routines” (42). Example: “If the name of your favorite ice cream starts with v, you can get in line now…” there are just so many insights with each reading. In our Google+ Community we spent all week discussing the assigned chapters and what we were able to gain from each additional assignment. I would say the hot topic for discussion was the analyzation of Edward Gorey’s ABC book. This book was one of the mentor texts that we reviewed in Make Cycle 3, but over 50% of the class thought it was a creepy, dark, and unusual text. Another interesting discussion was expository writing itself. The purpose of this Make Cycle was to learn about expository writing and most of my peers were able to come to the realization that although expository writing is informational, it can be happy, playful, and fun!

We were lucky enough to experience two amazing mentor texts for Make Cycle 3. Are you a Dragonfly? by Judy Allen and The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. Both authors are teaching children through a story format in a way that is unforgettable. Judy Allen takes an informative but fun approach to teaching a lesson about Dragonflies and how they live and adapt to nature. By having the dragonfly be “you” (the reader), it easy for children to use their imaginations and then the information they retain is almost hard to forget. Edward Gorey’s version of the alphabet is very creepy, but it is such a creative way to relate letters to the real world!

For our “makes” at the end of Make Cycle 3, we had to construct an expository text, infographic, piktochart, ABC book, or video to demonstrate that we understood the purpose and different approaches behind expository texts. Cori Hale’s “make” was by far one of my favorites because of how brave she was within our google community. She actually made a tutorial video that was very informative on how to style hair and “make it look pretty” even after not washing it for a few days.

I actually recently learned that you are not supposed to wash your hair everyday (whoops, I have been breaking this rule for years) mainly because I have thin-ish hair myself that tends to build oil quickly. Her “make” was one that I can actually log on and watch again one of these days to style my hair. I am so happy she found a way to make an “informational” video fun, and changed it up compared to our usual scenery of posts. I would assume she was most influenced by the book Are You a Dragonfly because she gave information in a way that had the viewer completely intrigued, much like Judy Allen did.

Many of my peers seemed to be inspired by Edward’s Gorey’s ABC book, as they came up with some sort of alphabet book themselves. Not all of the inspired “makes” were creepy and dark like Edward Gorey’s story though! Some “makes” were cute and happy such as Maritza Caceres’ story. Maritza gave each letter a theme with a human characteristic, much like Edward Gorey did. She used kid-friendly words and even made her illustrations with all shapes, which made it even more resourceful. I really liked how her overall theme was connecting vegetables and fruits too; usually kids avoid new foods so it could be a great tool/idea to put a positive twist on fruits & vegetables, learning the alphabet, and studying shapes! Another alphabet approach came from Josue Nava in his make, which was a story about animals eating humans! Still not as scary as Edward Gorey’s, but in the eyes of the first grader it is probably a little creepy even though it has a silly twist. Each letter A-Z was represented by an animal and he did an excellent job at describing each animal. It was so fun to review everyone’s “makes” and I love how we all always take different approaches.Book titled 'ABC's of getting eaten by unusual Animals'

As future educators it so important that we remember how to think outside of the box! When the standards tell us to teach our students about expository writing, we can teach them with confidence that you can write an informational story that is fun and engaging. In a nutshell, my peers and I have enjoyed the About the Authors book, and Make Cycle 3 because of the unlimited insights it offers to us as future teachers.

Author Bio: I am a sophomore at Chico State. My ultimate goal is to pursue my dream of becoming a Special Education teacher. I’ve always had a love for children so I am super excited to become an educator and even a mother someday. I have four (animal) babies (two dogs and two cats) that are my whole world! My favorite movie is “Tomorrowland” and my life pretty much revolves around school and being a full time nanny. 

Shelby Baccala

I love that chapter two of About the Authors introduced the way a writing workshop should be introduced to students and how one is organized. I found this to be very helpful as a future teacher who may incorporate writing workshops into my classroom. The sections “Understanding Space” and “Understanding Time” are things I may have never thought of on my own. Providing supplies in easy to access areas for children is something I try to do in my current preschool classroom but is not something I considered when thinking about the writing workshop. Having both prepared books and blank paper available to students is a great way of scaffolding. Having all of the tools available will result in unimaginable creativity from students as they create their books. Creating a time frame that students must be working on a specific task the whole time and then stop when the time is up is a daunting task in its own. Slowly increasing the time they sit and work on their books and providing a five minute transition window is a great idea! Lisa commented, “The progressively longer time periods also help children to not be frustrated trying to ‘fill’ their time, as it helps them to get used to shorter time periods first, and then as they get better and more involved, that time will fly by and they will soon transition to a longer time period without even noticing it.” I think this is such an important idea! Children can get bored and frustrated when they are first starting a task. The progressive increase in time intervals allows for students to gain more confidence before diving all the way into the task of making books for an hour a day. It is definitely something that can be used in all areas of teaching, not just writing. Math stations can have a steady increase in the amount of time children spend at each station. Science, history, and arts can be done this way as well. Children will enjoy and be able to get more out of their school day when they are confident in their abilities to conquer the subject.

I appreciate the units of study because they are something I can look back on as a teacher and create lesson plans from. Unit C providing texts and the techniques to help children pull from them is beyond helpful. I was also very impressed by Autumn’s story, Rainforest Adventure. It incorporates so many techniques she has probably seen time and time again. I love the “Enter Here” on the door to invite readers into her story. Cheyenne said, “I loved how the teacher included the ‘not so perfect’ books as well as the ones with illustrations that flowed. It’s so important as future teachers to make sure we are making all students feel like this is a safe place and a no judgement zone.” What an important idea that I did not even realize while reading the text! Children realizing progress is a part of learning and that everyone starts somewhere is incredibly important in building confidence. They have to feel like they are a part of a judgment free community that is open for them to learn and grow.

As a future teacher, it can feel very daunting and stressful to consider the fact you must try to incorporate every subject throughout the entire day in a way that reaches every student. Katie Wood Ray and Lisa B. Cleaveland make it seem like an irrational stressor in chapter 3 of About the Authors. They explain how simple it can be to find everyday situations where writing can be incorporated. In center time, there may be centers where children work with letters and words. Reading aloud is something I love to do and never occurred to me as teaching writing even though it should have. Classroom environments that are rich in text help with writing and songs and games can even be incorporated to help teach writing. I remember a lot of the writing I did as a young child was my “Weekend Journal” and the packets where I had to copy the same words over and over again into different spaces. I thought I was bad at writing because I simply did not like it. I loved books though. I was always buried in a book and in my free time, I often attempted to create my own novels. If I had a classroom similar to the one Ray and Cleaveland describe in chapter 3, I may have loved writing. I would have known what to do with my ideas and how to channel them into a story. I love the example word study provided in figure 3.7 because children are given the option to practice their words in a way they enjoy. I also appreciate the fact that Ray and Cleaveland explain how to explain a writing workshop to parents. Many parents are very involved in their children’s lives and want to know exactly what you are doing for them and why. Being able to explain your teaching style in a simple and easy way makes this confrontation a lot more bearable. Christina said, “Encouraging kids to be aware that there is language all around them is a great way for them to think about language.  Students can incorporate new words into future stories and projects which can add more personal elements in their stories.” Incorporating language constantly throughout the day can be an intimidating task but just making them aware of it does not seem so bad. Having them writing explanations in math when they are older is a great way to incorporate language and a very important skill for them to have. For young children, asking for a verbal explanation of things is another way to bring language into mathematics. Including different stations that incorporate language and using cross curricular lesson planning makes this much easier as well. Doing a quick touch base after every lesson to make sure children are understanding the objectives is another way to make them aware of the language incorporated into their lesson.

I listened to several of Mem Fox’s books on Youtube but I am going to focus on I’m Australian Too. This text would make an interesting mentor text for children because there is an interesting rhyming pattern, a continuous structure and a repetitive question throughout the story. It is a relatable story and something children could easily mimic in their own writings. The entire story goes through different people in Australia saying where they and their families are from and how they are Australian. The continuous question throughout the story is “How about you?” Mem Fox brings in people from every background during the story and the final person is a refugee who has not gained citizenship yet. The story ends with

                                         “We open doors to strangers.

                                          Yes, everyone’s a friend.

                                          Australia Fair is ours to share,

                                          where broken hearts can mend.

                                         What journeys we have travelled,

                                         from countries near and far!

                                         Together, now, we live in peace,

                                         beneath the Southern Star!”

I love that the story begins with two children whose parents were born and raised in Australia and shifts to children from all backgrounds. I suggest listening to some of Mem Fox’s books whenever you get the chance. Possum Magic is a fun story about a grandmother who makes her granddaughter invisible and the adventure they take to reverse it. Where is the Green Sheep? is story that relies heavily on the images and the use of blank space which would be fun to show children. Her website is www.memfox.com if you want to check out her books.

For our makes, Hannah Hughes’ ABC’s of the Special Needs Classroom caught my attention right away. After reading it, it has my attention even more. I expected this story to be directed towards children in a special needs classroom and to show them around. This story was not like that at all! This is an ABC book for teachers to learn about disabilities they may experience, guide them through teaching special needs students and encourage them along the way. I think this story is incredible because special needs can be very daunting for teachers. I know I am very intimidated by the idea of it but a book like this is a perfect reminder that we, as teachers, have all the skills necessary to teach every child. “J is for Just Learn About It” is a line in her story. She goes further to explain that we should take the time to just learn about any disability we are unfamiliar with that we come across. I wanted to highlight this make because I love the spin on it. An ABC book can be a great way to break down something so complex for adults too. Book titled 'ABC's of Special Needs in the Classroom'

I also want to highlight Kellie Cabico’s Easy as 123 because of the fun narrative along to accompany the expository writing. This story is about how to clean up your room; it’s as easy as 123. You follow a young girl as she conquers the task of cleaning up her room. Her mother continues to remind her that it is as easy as 123 but it definitely does not seem that way as she looks at it. The girl breaks down her room into three steps and then shows it off to her mom. The tone makes a story about cleaning rooms actually very fun and energetic. The story has a smooth rhyming pattern making it memorable as well, “‘I’ll do it!’ Abby shouted. ‘But it won’t be much fun. I better get started with step number one.’” Kellie uses pictures of her daughter Abby (I’m assuming) which makes the story even more fun and relatable. Reminding children to start in one place before moving on to the next is important and this story does a great job of that.

Book titled 'Easy As'



Author Bio: My name is Shelby Baccala and I am a junior Liberal Studies student. I started my college career at Cal Poly three years ago as a biomedical engineering student. After a year and a half, I realized engineering was not for me and made the transition to liberal studies. I was first placed in a first grade classroom, which was very overwhelming to me. I ended up really enjoying my time there and am currently a preschool teacher. I love working with the younger children but I think I still would like to teach 3rd or 4th grade.

Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin

I have really enjoyed this class so far, so of course, Make cycle 3 would be no different. Let’s start with Chapter 2 and appendix C from About the Authors. I really thought it was a good idea setting the students up with mini lessons at the beginning of the writing workshops, laying the framework for what is expected as well as providing young minds with ideas to work off.  The idea of the teacher going over past students projects and showing those to the current students can ignite creativity among them and show them something that was accepted as a complete project at the same time. I also feel it is very important to explain and show your students that not everyone has the same writing style, and by providing multiple examples of student work as well as the teachers work, the chances of a student being insecure or feeling that their work is insufficient could be minimized.

In Chapter 3, I found the statements regarding how the environment around the student can facilitate their imagination and also provide them cues and information if needed helpful. For example, the alphabet strips on the desks is a great idea: if they are thinking of a letter but can’t exactly remember what it looks like, there it is just waiting for them on their desk.  Teaching the students what a text is supposed to sound like sounds difficult but through being read to and reading themselves they will build an understanding for flow. When my middle son is writing sentences and brings them to me for corrections, I have him read the sentences out loud to start, that way he can see if he is making mistakes. He can pick them up fairly quickly and say “that doesn’t make sense.”

I enjoyed the post from Chad Lafenhagen, “visit to a japanese bathhouse” instructions.  My immediate reaction was….”How Gross!” I was intrigued to read the instructions just to satisfy my own personal reaction. After reading through his instructions, prior to getting into the community bath water, you must wash yourself completely, although there are still germs from the community members. Also as a fan of The Wizard of Oz I enjoyed the reference in regards to removing all of your clothes: “That’s right Toto; we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  

Book titled 'Visit to a Japanese Bathhouse'

My kids would really enjoy the post from Josue Nava and “ABC’s of getting eaten by unusual animals” (see above). It definitely turned into a good alphabet book: for each letter there was a child’s’ name chosen, an adjective, and then an animal all with the same first letter.  It definitely took some time and is giving the reader additional repetition with the letters in an attempt to make them stick. Sometimes thinking outside the box and getting the students more into the story helps them retain the information.  

I was most drawn towards the post “How to make the best pozole” by Azucena Cuevas.  I wanted to read into this post and take notes step by step just to see how pozole is made.  I love pozole and so do my children. I have tried to make other authentic dishes, such as tamales, and failed even after repeated attempts.  She does a great job of giving step by step instructions, yet I can see this plan going south in my kitchen. I have, however, just recently found an idea that could make the shredded chicken much easier.  We have began cooking with a digital pressure cooker, and about 15 minutes on high cooks roughly 3 lbs of chicken breasts. Remove the breasts from the pressure cooker and put them in a stand mixer bowl with a paddle wheel on low and perfectly shredded chicken awaits.  I was skeptical at first but it works great and is easy.

Author Bio: Hello My name is Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin and I am a Senior at Chico State. I am a Liberal Studies major with a minor in Special Education and Child Development. My education has been a long journey and I am so excited to be nearing the end. I am a wife to an amazing husband and a mom of four wonderful kids. We are a very busy and active family. My favorite things are my family, vacations, outdoors, my animals and just making amazing memories. I can’t wait to finish school and the credential program. My ultimate goal is to work in a TK or Kindergarten classroom.

Jillian Pearson

Make Cycle 3 was full of new discoveries! We focused on chapters 2 and 3 from About the Authors, written by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland, as well as Mentor Texts: Are You a Dragonfly? and Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies. We then dove right into creating our own versions of expository texts and/or videos.

Chapters 2 and 3 focused on how and when to start a writing workshop and how to incorporate more language-learning opportunities. I absolutely loved the idea of talking into our routines; it’s such an easy way to add more thinking for our students. “When we embed talk about language into our routines of the day, we really help our young students become people who just love to talk about language and are fascinated by how it all works.” Page 42 has great examples of what kind of talking can be added to your routines with students. I definitely questioned how students are supposed to write when they’ve never done so, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the authors describe writing as both a noun and a verb. The teachers give them writing tools and paper and call whatever they do with them, writing. I think that gives each student independence and creativity. I really liked how the authors noted that writing is generating text and that it takes a lot for a child to overcome that challenge:

“It’s deeply intellectual work we ask them to do when we ask them to write on their own. To put it simply, children need time to write so they can use all the separate bits and pieces of information about written language we are giving them to actually generate text” (53).

It’s very apparent that we allow our students enough time to write so they can continue to gain experience. I also found it very important to learn that writing really isn’t just about conventions, but a whole body of knowledge that students need to be exposed to.

Rebecca Spears generated great thoughts from chapters 2 and 3: “Another idea that lit a spark in my mind dealt with why making sure that children are writing as much as possible is so important even when they may not know much about it. With this in mind, we want children to write as much as they possibly can so that they know what writing is actually for and what writing can do in this world. In my future classroom, I can definitely see myself using many of these ideas whether it be the songs and games that I can have my children participate in or even if it is just sitting down and writing in the classroom. I am definitely excited to have a classroom of my own some day and spread knowledge and inspiration into the world.”

Chelsea Peterson pointed out some key features from our assigned chapters: “There was so much information in Chapter 3, it’s exciting to just read it. I find that there is so much I want to incorporate in the future that it tends to get a little overwhelming. I love that they immerse the students in language learning all day, not just during formal teaching times. On page 39, it tells us that it is important to not just be identifying writing themes during writing workshop but we must address it in all activities we do in order to ‘wrap strong arms of teaching about how written language works’ (Ray, 39). I also love the idea of making the classroom full of printed words, giving the children plenty of exposure to written works, and all sorts of actual published writing like books, magazines, and songs. This fully coats the room in a learning rich environment.”

Yorleidi Langarica did a wonderful job at summarizing our Mentor Texts: Are You a Dragonfly? And The Gashlycrumb Tinies: “Are You a Dragonfly is a very interesting book because it is written in the 2nd person. It used a lot of ‘you’ and ‘you’re’ which is very uncommon to find. Another feature that I liked was at the end where it basically asked us questions about who we are. I can easily use this text as a model for my writing because it gives me the idea to write in 2nd person, which isn’t something I’m comfortable writing but would be fun to explore. The authors had to do a lot of research for this book because they had to state the facts right. I feel like my writing would need a lot of editing because of the different type of view and quick facts about what I’m writing about. The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey was creepy to me. He used the alphabet to write his book, everything seemed to rhyme with the letter he was using. The only idea I got from this type of writing is that I don’t want to do it if its meant to be read by small children. This book would’ve given me nightmares if I read it when I was little. I feel like the author had to play a lot with words to create a sentence that rhymed and sounded creepy, which I believe is what he wanted. The article gives an insight to the time of work Edward Gorey was going for. This book is very old, so I believe that at that time, the children were into this sort of genre. I can see a similarity between Edgar Allan Poe because they both used dark genres to a new level, but Edwards was meant for kids who wanted to learn the alphabet.”

Our Mentor Texts gave us detailed examples of what expository writing is and tips on how to format the information in a captivating way for students to learn. Are You a Dragonfly and The Gashlycrumb Tinies inspired many of us for our Makes this week!

It’s clear that Josue Nava is a pro at using Story Jumper! His take on learning the abc’s, “ABC’s of Getting Eaten by Unusual Animals” was both comical and creative! Josue definitely put a lot of time and effort into this make, and that shines throughout. I loved that each person was being eaten by an animal; children can have lots of fun with this, especially if a student shares a name with one that is listed.

Erin Russo’s “Are You an Elephant” was adorable! She did a great job of providing facts about elephants and the illustrations she got from Storyjumper were perfect. Erin depicts the perfect example of what a factual, yet entertaining expository writing should look like.Book titled 'Are You an Elephant?'

I can confidently say I can now build a scarecrow or snowman out of pallets! Allison House took a different route and used instructables.com to demonstrate her “Scarecrows and Snowman Pallets.” Her instructions were clear and easy to follow, and not to mention how cute the outcome is!

Final Thoughts: Everyone in this course has such great ideas, creativity, and insights into their future teaching goals. I am sure that all of us will become wonderful teachers. I look forward to the rest of the semester learning and growing alongside of all of you!

Author Bio: My name is Jillian Pearson. I am a junior at Chico State and am hopefully finishing in the fall of 2018! Unfortunately, it took me awhile to realize that I belong in the classroom, but am thrilled that I took the plunge to go back to school and now that goal is not far away! I live in a small farming community, so my love for agriculture and livestock runs deep. You can find me outside with my cows, laughing with my husband, friends and family!

Chelsea Peterson

Make Cycle 3 is complete and I feel that our class is getting into the swing of things. We are pushing what we thought were our limits in writing and discovering new ways to convey our thoughts to our audiences. In this make cycle, we focused on expository writing with mentor texts from Are You a Dragonfly? and The Gashlycrumb Tinies as well as some informative charts on education and writing cycles. We also read chapters 2 & 3 and Appendix C & D from About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa Cleaveland.

In our reading from About the Authors, we were introduced to getting started with our writing workshops. We learned how to set up our classroom so our students can focus on their writing, helping themselves to supplies and really being able to “make” their work in their own fashion. We also learned how to give our students the guidance they need in our ten minute introduction to be able to become writers in both the physical and mental realms. The authors immerse the students in language learning all day, not just during formal teaching times and it is important to not just be identifying writing themes during writing workshop but to address it in all activities we do in order to “wrap strong arms of teaching about how written language works” (Ray, 39). I also love the idea of making the classroom full of printed words, giving the children plenty of exposure to written works like books, magazines, and songs. This fully coats the room in a rich learning environment. For our posts we were to also choose a mentor author from a list and look up that author to become more familiar with their style of writing. I chose Cynthia Rylant for my mentor author. One thing I have noticed about her books is that she does lots of lists using ‘and’, ‘or’, and ‘but’ with very long sentences as in Snow:

“And while the snow is here this brief moment, let us take a walk and see how beautiful the world is and then come back to our white, quiet homes and make something warm to drink and maybe read or play a game or tell each other all that we’ve been thinking” (Rylant, Snow).

This use of ‘and’ reminds me of how children naturally talk and I think it would be an easy thing for the children to incorporate into their own writing.

Our mentor texts this week helped us to use informative or expository writing in a fun and unique manner. Are You a Dragonfly? speaks directly to the reader, helping you to be drawn into the text. The book is almost like an instructional “How-to” guide, leading you through the steps like when the authors tell you to “Creep upon your prey, then shoot out your mask and grab it” (Allen and Humphries, 7). We are learning how to be dragonflies when we read this book. I also liked the drawback to reality at the end: if you look like this then you are a child and “you can’t fly,” which helps the children come back out of their imagination (Allen & Humphries).

I believe that The Gashlycrumb Tinies was either a hit or a miss for most of our class. I felt that it is a humorous adult book, but I am not sure that it would be something I would be reading to my class.  However, I do like the story approach to the ABC’s, like The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg, which is a favorite of my five year old son. I also like the two line rhyme, which helps the kids to anticipate what the next page might say. However, like an article about the book stated, The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a bit too “antithetical to the very premise of the genre” and make the children think more about the bad things happening than the learning one would hope the children might get from an alphabet book. But that is just my opinion. Many of my fellow classmates really enjoyed the book, as Lisa Valdez stated in her post:

“I LOVED “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” so much that I shared it on my Facebook for my friends to enjoy. It made me laugh out loud, and I think that kids would really be thrilled to read this”

And she wasn’t alone, so I will agree to disagree on this book and appreciate it for its dry sense of humor and excellent illustrations.

It was extremely difficult to choose only a few examples of the wonderful work being made and posted on our G+ community. Everyone has put so much time and effort into each make, as well as a piece of themselves; it really is incredible and an exciting experience for us all.

The first work I chose was Lisa Valdez’s storyjumper book, ABC’s of Farm Life. The mixture of fun sentences focusing on a letter and the more in depth informational box make this book an excellent choice for both younger and older children. For younger children who tend to lose focus and, like my two year old, want to flip the pages before you are done reading, you can stick with the basic alphabet sentence. And if you have an older child that wants to learn more about the farm animals, you can go into more depth. I also like the highlighting of words that begin with the letter being focused on, something that I did in my book as well. This helps the children to search the page for the letter being addressed on that page.Book titled 'ABC's of Farm Life'

The second “make” that I chose was by Kellie Cabico who made a book to teach her daughter how to clean her room called Easy As 123 (see above). This is an excellent ‘how-to’ book on cleaning your room for kids. I wish I had this for my kids! I really enjoyed the incorporation of both repetition and rhyme, it makes the book fun and gives it a cadence on which you can rely helping you to focus on the information presented in the book. It is a very fun way to help kids get through the enormous task of cleaning their room, which is every child’s nightmare!

The third piece that I enjoyed was Rayn Bufford’s abc poem called “Younger Years of Fears.” It was an excellent expository on popular fears for children. I like the rhyming and the use of color to emphasize the letter and the correlating word in each line. It makes it pop! I also liked the repetition of “is for the” at the beginning of each sentence; it helps to focus on the exciting part of the line, and also helps me imagine the droll tone that a narrator would use to make the reading a bit creepy and humorous at the same time.

The final piece I chose to highlight was Erin Russo’s Are You An Elephant? (also see above) I loved the images used in this book; they gave it a very authentic quality. The information on elephants was perfect for children and the use of talking to the reader really draws you into the text. I also like how we were drawn back to the fact that we are humans, not elephants!

Author Bio: I am a returning student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with the hope of becoming an elementary school teacher. I live in West Point, California with my husband and four children and I enjoy gardening, reading, hiking and coaching soccer.


Update: Grades, Gorey, and Other Things to Share

Update: Grades, Gorey, and Other Things to Share

Hello everyone and happy Sunday,

Grade Update: I just spent the last few hours reading through your awesome work with Make Cycle 3 and I look forward to viewing the rest of your Makes tomorrow! I gave feedback on Make 2, many of the About the Authors posts, and all of the mentor text posts. Next, you’ll get a grade update. Here are a couple of things to notice when you look over your grade update (please read carefully):

  1. I gave some 7’s and 8’s this time on some of the posts, which I really don’t like to do. But some of them were just too short for full credit. I’m hoping that you will slow down, grab more than one idea from the text, point to specific places in the chapters, and when possible, make connections to your own writing habits or classrooms or future ideas. As we continue to norm ourselves, I put more examples that may be useful to you on our Example Student Work page from Kellie, Chelsea, and Christina. If you are wondering what I am looking for in these posts, you might check out the examples. I think sometimes you simply have a week where you have to do one post quickly and I understand. Just hoping that is more the exception…and overall, you really are writing such thoughtful responses to the ideas.
  2. A couple of you got a 5 because you forgot part 2 on our second discussion post: appendix D (researching an author from page 176). Feel free to add that if you forgot and let me know when you do. I will update the grade.
  3. I also sent a reminder to a few of you about giving feedback to peers. Some of you are just so generous in your comments and end up having full conversations with others, which I really appreciate. Others are not giving feedback at all. As future teachers, giving feedback to writing is one of the most challenging things we do. I see feedback to others as part of your professional growth in our class. Please leave enough time to respond to at least one other person when you share your response. Thank you.

Mentor Texts: I got a kick out of reading your responses to the mentor texts. Glad you liked the Dragonfly book! Not all of you were a huge fan of the Gorey book. So sorry! But, I didn’t mean for you to read it to kids or put it in your class library! I’ll put a disclaimer next time. 😉 I do think it appeals to the Tim Burton fans out there…in fact, Gorey is known as the “Tim Burton of his day” and the “Edgar Allen Poe after his time.” As Lisa Valdez mentioned in her response: “this reminds me of the type of book that you could picture a young Edgar Allan Poe or Wednesday Adams reading as a bedtime story. Some of the scenes made me laugh out loud, and some revisited my childhood fears, such as poor Una who was sucked down the drain. My grandmother had a bathtub that made a HORRIBLE loud, slurping, sucking sound, and I was always afraid of it, even when I knew I was too big to fit down the drain.” While I offer a ton of children’s books as mentor texts in this class, I also sometimes have grown up stuff too. Thanks for hanging in there with that one!

Resources beyond our youngest grades: Julie asked in a few posts about resources for older grades. Here are some of my favorite authors and resources from my response to Julie (you might consider bookmarking these for later):
  • My favorite middle school and high school writing authors: Penny Kittle (especially Write Beside Them), Kelly Gallagher (Write Like This and Readicide)
  • I also really love this edited volume with many, many leading scholars in adolescent literacy
  • You might also consider subscribing to any of the NCTE journals, such as English Journal or Language Arts (student prices are really reasonable). And subscribing to the NCTE newsletter is free.
  • And finally, the National Writing Project has so so many resources for educators across grade levels

Make Cycle 4: Compelling Arguments is viewable on our site now. No Wednesday response this week, but a longer one is due Friday on chapters 4 & 5 and Appendix E. I’ll post a video update tomorrow.

Our featured bloggers for Make Cycle 3 will be spending time with your expository texts. Shelby Baccala, Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin, Rayn Buford, Jillian Barsotti, Chelsea Peterson, Rebecca Spears, Jamie Xayacheck–I’ll send you a reminder email tomorrow. Your blogs are due by Tuesday night.

Thanks everyone!

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 2: Julie, Brianna, Brittany, Sandra, and Rebecca

Featured Bloggers Make Cycle 2: Julie, Brianna, Brittany, Sandra, and Rebecca

Julie Lafreniere: 

Last week’s bloggers are this week’s joggers; I’m in the hot seat now! So get in the car, I can’t wait to start our writing adventure together and we can’t go until all our ideas are packed in the 442, and someone screams road trip! It’s clear by our “Makes,” English 333 is on the freeway to learning success! Make Cycle 2 was filled with fuel to get our thoughts moving and writing reved, not to mention the reason we are all here: to encourage our students to drive themselves forward as well. If we are excited for their endless possibilities and capabilities, I know they will want to come. Who’s up for the experience?

Within our Make Cycle we made lists to generate ideas, talked about getting students interested in creating books and enjoyed some mentor texts to get our minds busy.  We read some wonderful mentor examples of purposeful storytelling. My two favorite readings this week were Alexander and The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day and The Ted Talk with Mac Barnett about Randolph the Whale. Mac Barnett explained the wonder of fiction. His talk demonstrated purposeful storytelling to perfection. He explained how truth and fiction meld together and even if a person (or child) knows something is not true, the belief can be powerful and add meaning to their lives. Randolph the Whale was born for my imagination. I reflect that Preschool and Kindergarten teachers use the art of imagination technique often, but somehow many teachers lose the ability to see the benefits within the older crowd. The speaker in our Ted Talk used it as he addressed his audience as well. This Ted Talk could easily be used at a high school level. It was a jump start for creative writing. I know my fifteen year old would’ve enjoyed it.  When he said, “Children have completely different views than adults do. Their imaginations go places that ours may not and by creating this sense of belief, they venture out into a whole new world.” It again made me consider: Wouldn’t a teen enjoy watching this Ted Talk and then write a letter to Randolph (the whale) about oh, I don’t know, whatever? One would have a quick student discussion after the video. The 2 min list would be generated. The scholars have formed ideas, been given mediums to create with (tech or colorful pens and poster board), they formulate ideas, 90 mins fly by for everyone and wham you are a success. Students leave your class feeling smart. If you have this fun, exciting and moving classroom who needs “behavior management”; students are learning and liking the behavior.

Alexander was a personal favorite of mine growing up. Anyone notice the 60’s Beetle that he was smashed into the center of? That was a primo vehicle at the time. I identified with Alexander so because I had undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD. I was in fact reading that book on a kindergarten, everyday, horrible, school day when I was pulled out for my first of 100’s of doctor visits. I remember being very invested in Alexander. I felt sorry for him and hoped his day got better. Sean Gamer can understand what I felt in identifying with Alexander’s character: he wrote, “We have all had an experience or something in our lives that has had an impact on us. Things that have an impact on us usually have a lesson or something to learn from and that is something to write about.” These experiences that you talk about can be positive or extremely negative.

I felt full of ideas and overwhelmed in the beginning of our Make. Some fellow students had some encouraging feedback to my frustrations. Sandra Nyland said to me, “I certainly can relate to you regarding a ‘whirling brain.'”  As an imaginative person, it is hard to focus on one particular concept or thought…especially when you are given so much cool stuff to contemplate!  The possibilities are endless. Chad Lafenhagen said something that was so relatable for me, “My daughter just the other day expressed her dislike of a pair of pants she termed the ‘pants of doom.’ I almost used that as my Make this week, but ended up going a slightly different path.” Thanks Chad. I stole the idea to describe the  administration in my son’s school, whom we did not know and who were saying profoundly upsetting things to him during his ordeal. I used them to make the correlation that my son was meaningless to them.

So here I am thinking about endless possibilities for my make when tragedy happens.  The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Community have had an experience of tragedy like no other.  My heart goes out to everyone and how  these experiences will shape each of these children’s future learning experiences and how we should use this situation as educators to promote change.  I felt I had to write about my son’s attempted suicide in high school to shed light to people’s experiences. It is my firm belief that all our children and families are victims within our public schools, full of blame and wasted spending.  I felt I HAD to write something real and raw and I chose two writings to share that exemplified other people’s tragedy. I reflect on Kellie Cabico who reminded me: “I think others are always going to be affected by your writing.  That’s not a bad thing.  We all have stories that are hard to tell or hard to hear.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be told. Follow your heart, Julie. You got this!”

Baylee Galloway wrote, “My little eight year old self had no care in the world, except what we were going to have for dinner that night. I remember playing in the freshly cut green grass and seeing my Dad drive off and wave, wondering where he was going but didn’t put too much thought into it.” Baylee’s writing directs the reader to right before and right after learning of the tragedy of her brother’s death. With a set in stone outlook she helps the reader understand how the sudden death of a loved one profoundly changes outlook. “We all pull up outside of the funeral home with a sense of anxiety. To me it felt like as soon as we get out of the car and walk in then it becomes real. It is set in stone that my brother isn’t going to come back and this will have to be the time to make peace with that fact whether you are ready for it or not.” Baylee’s loss is as real to the reader today as it was for her years ago. Thanks Baylee for sharing.

Ruben Mendoza spun a very different tale, but one no less tragic. Ruben identifies with the struggles of his mother and many other undocumented immigrants and shares his current concerns through his mother’s perseverance. He uses what I believe to be propaganda statements by political parties (our president) that incite anger instead of speaking of facts concern to demonstrate true facts of what’s really going on throughout his piece about his mother. Awesome idea Ruben!  Here’s an example:  

While there are many illegal immigrants in our country who are good people, many, many, this doesn’t change the fact that most illegal immigrants are lower skilled workers with less education, who compete directly against vulnerable American workers, and that these illegal worker draw much more out from the system than they can ever possibly pay back.


Tax revenue received from California’s 3 million undocumented immigrants: 3 billion.

Tax revenue received from the entire US undocumented immigrants: 12 billion.

Her infant brother started to lose consciousness and seemed he had a little time before his time on earth ran out. She broke through the boarded window, and instinctively knew to walk down the hill to search for her mother for help. With torn clothes and bug bites all over her skin, her barefooted self walked tirelessly towards the small town, hoping that there would be life to help her and her hungry siblings.

I reflect on Jillian’s point to Barnett’s comment, “The best readers have an emotional tie to what they’ve read.”  Ruben demonstrates this perfectly. With thoughts in mind for our future students’ success, we teachers will have to speed up with the times. We must be a voice for collaboration, innovation, and creativity. We must help create learners who want to take writing risks and enjoy it!  Thanks to all the support of fellow classmates for Make Cycle 2. I’m ready for my journey through our education system: who’s up for the adventure? If you are coming with me and are from English 333, DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR DOG!

Hi all, my name is Julie Lafreniere. I am returning to Chico State to finish a degree in liberal studies (online because I live in Campbell) that I started back in 1994. My goal is to graduate from Chico State the same year my youngest graduates from high school. 2020 here we come! After graduation I plan to enter the credential program and then on to a K-8 charter school. I can work with any and all ages and am excited to be learning alongside my fellow scholars. I love the outdoors and animals. I am especially fond of my dogs Mickey (Husky/yellow lab) and Milton (Scottish Terrier/Griffon); they seem to appreciate me more than any other two people on earth and tell me every time I leave and come home!

Brianna Carlucci

So far I’m loving all the TED Talks that we have been assigned. I don’t watch enough of them and everytime I do watch one I’m fascinated by the speakers.

I love this English class because it’s completely different than any other English class that I have ever taken. I like that it’s not structured like a typical class and that it’s not on Blackboard. This is the second class that I have had the pleasure of taking with Dr. Jaxon. I hope that you are all loving it as much as me.

Make Cycle Two was very interesting and I liked what came out of this cycle. I want to start backwards because my favorite part of this make cycle would be all the stories everyone made, but I won’t and I will start off with chapter one from About the Authors. Chapter one in About the Authors starts with a story from Josh about Mammoths. While you are reading the story, you see that even though there are spelling errors, you still notice how much Josh has learned throughout the year to be able to make a book about mammoths. After the story, Katy Wood Ray points out just how much Josh had learned over the year, which was a lengthy list and you can definitely see it in his book. The chapter also shared books made by other children and as Yorleidi Langarica said, “I really enjoyed reading this because it was insightful to look at examples of children’s work. They surely are writers and authors in the making.”

A few parts in chapter one that I found interesting were on page 18 where it talked about how the children’s normal attitude at ages five, six and seven are to go from one thing to another and only focus on the task at hand. But, when they are told that they will have book making at 9am, and it’s something that the children are able to count on, it allows for them to think about it even if they are not currently working on the task.

We were also asked to watch Mac Barnett’s TED talk and as Caitlin M said, “In terms of the top five TED Talks I have ever watched, I think this is my favorite!” He was so moving and passionate about what he felt children should feel or experience when they read a book. I really took away from the TED talk when Mac talked about children getting emotionally invested in the book that they are reading. I fell in love with the story of Nikko, a small boy that read the book Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem. On the book jacket, it has an ad that you can get a whale for a 30 day risk free trial if you send in a self addressed envelope and they will send you a whale. The children don’t end up getting an actual whale but they do end up getting a letter back from a law firm stating that due to customs the whale is being held, but would like to hear from them and a phone number is provided. Nikko called his Whale and left over 25 messages because he was emotionally invested in the story that Mac Barnett wrote. Mac Barnett also talks about how a “Story no matter how strange has a resemblance of the truth and then you are able to believe it.” This is true for children and adults. He said that

“we know these characters aren’t real but we have real feelings about them.”

This week we were also asked to go through a slide deck that had a series of questions and write down everything that came to mind. You look at the question and just allow yourself to write down everything that comes to mind for 2 minutes. The purpose for this task was for generating ideas for writing and this seemed to work for many when it came time to write their story. According to Erin Russo: “This exercise was so enlightening because I always feel like I have nothing that I could write about myself, and in less than an hour of this activity, my mind is spinning with possible narratives that I could share.” And Lisa Valdez combined two and had a perfect response to why she felt the need to do this: “Things that I know how to do, and that I could teach to others. I combined them, because I really feel that if you know how to do something, you can teach it to others.” It was a perfect way to just let ideas flow and it was an interesting take on brainstorming.

For the next phase of Make Cycle 2, we were asked to read a few mentor texts: The Dot, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. The books were perfect examples of children being children. I really like the way that Sandra Nyland put it: “wonderful example of stories of grumpy children that are dealing with real childhood problems and real childhood feelings and exemplify how a bit of encouragement can go a very long way in finding resolution to a particular challenge or struggle.” As teachers we have the ability to mold, encourage and push children to their potentials. Chelsea Peterson pointed out that “In Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day I again got the impression that your outlook has everything to do with your experience.” As we teach children, we allow for them to teach others and spread the encouragement. Samone Burge point this out: “I really loved how the story started out with a child who felt like she could not draw and by the end she was the one encouraging other children to express themselves through art.” These simple books mean so much more than a cute story just as Yorleidi Langarica writes, “It is about knowing that you can do anything if you believe in yourself.”

Last but not least the make cycle ended with us being asked to make purposeful storytelling makes. Although, all the stories were great, powerful, interesting and fun to read a few really stood out to me.

I found the The Lost Treasure by Allison House to be a perfect mix of story and illustration. This could easily be a book that you find in the bookstore for children. Allison found inspiration from the mentor text The Mysteries of Harris Burdick; after looking at different artwork, she created her own story and you could see that in her make. I would also like to highlight a few more makes that resonated with me. Salina Rodriguez shares a picture and the story behind her own Dot story. I think that it’s amazing that she keep this picture close by and the red dot in the picture are sunflower seeds in case you were wondering.

I also enjoyed reading I Just Rather Play by Hannah Hughes which was inspired by her son. Very cute and I think that those who have younger children find out that their children are picky eaters. The story was really cute to hear in the point of view of her son. The carrot page made me laugh because in her post she said that it was an exact conversation that she had with her son. The story was relatable and funny.

Book titled 'I just rather PLAY'

Lastly I found Me, My Best Friend by Jamie Xayachack’s story to be a powerful story. I know that we have men in this class, but from a woman’s standpoint at a young age, women are told to look, act and be a certain way so I feel like so many women are not their own best friend because a lot of them don’t like themselves. I assume that the last page in Jamie’s book was strategically placed and in my opinion it was perfectly done. On that last page Jaime writes, “At that moment, I realized that my friend was me and I am her. When a woman becomes her own best friend, life’s obstacles are much easier.” I just find the message about being the one to support yourself to be very significant and true.

Book titled 'Me, My Best Friend'

In my future classroom I will be using the list idea for brainstorming. It was a fun way to brainstorm and it was done with ease and unlike any other brainstorming I’ve done before. Overall, my takeaway from this make cycle would be encouragement and imagination. As I read through the posts I saw so many people say how encouragement can help children and as future teachers that is something that we will be doing every day. Encouragement is something that should be a constant for every child that we encounter. Also, as future teachers, we want to help our students to grow and be able to use their imaginations and what better way than to allow ourselves to use ours.

Hello, my name is Brianna and I’m here because I would like to become a teacher. I have a passion to work with children and I finally went back to school to pursue it. My goals beyond this semester would be to become a teacher for K-2nd grade. I love being outdoors, but I especially love to hike.


Brittany Walker

Over the last two weeks we have read from About the Authors, watched Mac Barnett’s TED talk, listened to The Dot by Peter H Reynolds and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. We also listened to and read The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and “Moving Vines” by a 4th grader named Ashley. Lastly, we told a story about ourselves for our second Make. I really liked this Make Cycle and felt that there were many things that I could personally relate to.

During the first week of Make 2, chapter one really stood out to me. One example was “will all the teaching show up in the work [students] are able to do?” I am very excited to make a difference in young children’s lives; however, this is one of my fears of becoming a teacher. Since teachers are the future of their students, I hope to do everything right and make sure I am the reason they are succeeding and not holding anyone back.

Growing up I always looked up to my teachers and always wanted to do my best and was always proud of my work. I hope that I will be a teacher that students look up to and really help them succeed in school. We also watched Mac Barnett’s TED talk. I enjoyed everything about his talk especially when he said, “I want a book to be a secret door that opens and lets the stories out into reality.” Imagination is such a wonderful thing for children to have. It allows you to take your mind off things and go somewhere else. As a kid I loved to read and would imagine myself in the book or as one of the characters. Creativity can take you many places and allowing your mind to open can put you right into a book. Being creative can also allow a person to write stories just like the ones Mac Barnett writes.

Moving on to week two, the two books I found myself relating to were The Dot and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In The Dot, I loved how the teacher handled the drawing situation with Vashti. Instead of getting mad or disciplining her for not doing the assignment, she gave Vashti advice:

“just make a mark and see where it takes you.”

This made Vashti use her creativity and then when the teacher hung her work on the wall, she really liked it and it allowed her to create her own masterpiece. I also liked that Vashti even helped other students who thought they couldn’t draw. Since her teacher was kind to her and helped her discover what she could do with art, it allowed her to pass on her knowledge on to others and I think that is very important in the classroom. After listening to the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, I thought this would be a great book to share with a younger group of kids. Sometimes people just have bad days, and no matter how hard you try, it seems like it won’t ever get better. I think it’s important to for kids to know that it will get better, but sometimes it takes patience. Also, if kids notice that someone is having a bad day, suggest they are extra helpful or nice to that person. Another thing I would also want to relay to my class is that even though they might be having a bad day, there is always something to be grateful for. Teachers help bring positivity to students’ lives and can help their bad days get better.

Now it was time for our Make 2. For our second make, we were assigned to try writing our own story inspired from an event in school like Vashti in The Dot, or inspired by our troubles and fears like Alexander, or inspired by an image, photo, or drawing. I love how what we have done during the previous week or two relates back to the Make. I think this is a great way to apply what you have already learned and turn it into something even greater. I thought that everyone did such a great job making their own stories and it was difficult only picking a few to share.

Dana C shared:

“Reality hit me and I realized the picture that was once painted for me was not exactly how things were going to happen. I had already taken out a loan for the college I was attending and becoming a resident seemed highly unlikely. I had two and a half years left at ASU which would cost me one hundred thousand dollars. CRAZY! Although it was my dream, I knew I could get that same education back home. I applied to Chico State and took two online classes at Yuba college Fall 2017. I spent months being sad once I moved home and I felt like a failure. It took me a while, but I realized I was not a failure. I had people from high school tell me I was one of the few to take that leap and venture out. I had family telling they were proud of me because that was something I always wanted to do. I was not a failure just because I could not afford that kind of tuition. I was not a failure because I had to move back home. I promised myself that I would join one of their Master’s programs in the future and possibly settle in Arizona. I fell in love with Arizona even more after living there those six months. It does upset me from time to time, but I smile looking back at all of the things I experienced and learned on my short journey.”

I loved the detail of this story and I think many people can relate to it; I know I can. What really stood out to me was when she said, “but I realized I was not a failure.” Sometimes in life things don’t go as planned, but we can learn from everything we do whether it went how we wanted or was different. I also think it is great to pursue your dreams and to set goals for yourself. Things that happen in our lives shape who we are and it is up to us to make the most of it.

Kayla Blaylock:

You’re packing up your last few boxes of pictures and memories ready to start a new beginning for yourself

You look around your now empty childhood bedroom wondering where the past 18 years went

You think about how different it will be living on your own without your parents attached to your hip

You realize now that you can’t just yell their name from across the room when you need something anymore

Ten steps away turns into a hundred miles away

You wonder what it will be like to share a box sized bedroom with someone you’ve never met before

You look at your dad’s silver Toyota truck full of flashbacks from day trips to week long vacations, now filled with more Tupperware bins than you can count on your fingers

You take one last look around your house like it’s the last time you’ll ever see it again

You hug your dog for thirty minutes wishing you could somehow sneak her into your dorm without anyone finding out about it

You go from living in a small town where you know everyone to a town full of fresh new faces

You say bye to your parents and your little sister as they drive away

You can see your mom crying from the front seat of that silver Toyota truck

You look down at your phone, it’s a text from mom saying “Miss you already honey”

It’s a month later now and you find yourself adjusting to this new life style

You’ve met a solid group of friends. You’ve gotten used to the community showers and walking through the hallway with just a towel on. You eventually got used to the dining hall food even though it will never compare to a home cooked meal. You’ve managed to find all of your classes, and this new town is finally starting to feel like your new home.

I really enjoyed Kayla’s “Freshman Year” story. I liked how the descriptions really painted a picture of what was going on. I think stories that people can relate to are great and I’m sure most people in this class can relate to this one. For younger students when they can relate to a story I think it helps them understand it better. Becoming a future teacher, I hope to find books that students can picture themselves in or books that they are excited about because a similar thing happened to them.

Alma Rosa Lopez:

Summer of junior year is when I went out to the tennis courts and gave tennis a try. However, I had no clue how tennis is played or what I needed to play tennis. After this vibe of not having a clue, I felt like I would just embarrass myself. At first, I struggled, but with four hours of practice five days a week I was feeling like the next Serena Williams. This year made me realize that tennis is my new sport and the sport that suites me. Who knew I would be ranked four in my first year playing tennis. At the end of the season, a tournament took place and that’s when I won league in my singles match and almost took league in my doubles match with my partner. However, most importantly our whole team won sections. This was a good year! Best of all, senior year was the same thing as junior year, instead, I moved up a rank. I didn’t win league again but our team did win sections and were pretty close to going to state. I’m bummed that I wasted my time trying to get on the soccer team, but I’m happy that I got to find my sport. Despite all the rejections and disappointments, in the end, I found my sport and proved others that I could not know a thing about a sport and still be able to succeed.”

I also liked this story and think it would be a good one to share with students because it shows them that trying a new sport that they may be skeptical of or never thought of trying can be a great thing. Hearing a positive story like Alma’s could help other students feel comfortable trying a new sport or club at school. I thought her story was really great, showing that sometimes things are meant to be but they can lead you to something else.

Overall, I enjoyed this Make Cycle and reading everyone’s stories. Many of them had great detail and I had a vivid image of what was going on. It’s great when you can feel the emotions from a story someone has written. After reading these stories it also gave me insight on how to incorporate feeling and strong detail into my own writings. I also found that adding dialog really brings the story to life. I thought it was inspiring that reading a few children’s books allowed others to either relate to a story or make their own similar one. As a future teacher, I can’t wait to take some of these ideas such as having the students reflect on readings and creating their own stories.

My name is Brittany and this is my second semester at Chico State. I hope to become an elementary school teacher and improve the minds of our future generations. I go to school fully online and love the atmosphere that teachers have created to allow myself to be involved with other students. I spend my free time with my family, going on hikes, and going on trips.


Sandra Nyland

Wow!  We have such a wealth of creative literary talent in our group.  It’s amazing and wonderful how we can get such a sense of connectedness through our stories and writing. 

The first week of this cycle we focused on “purposeful storytelling” and ventured in to our professional book About the Authors, “Writing Workshop: A Happy Place Where We Make Stuff” and also read literary works created by children in these workshops.  Children were learning to use language to craft literature and making something.  We saw the depth of knowledge, emotion and creativity of these works. There is always so much going on in young minds and we could sense how exciting and fulfilling it will be as an instructor to elicit these ideas from our students.  A quote from About the Authors states, “The curious exploration children do when they are trying to make something, the trial and error, the joyful messiness of it all…” really sums up this segment and how learning to write shouldn’t be exclusive of this. 

We also made lists this first week to generate ideas for writing. We were given a slide deck to use to start the process, which was helpful for those of us that need a bit of structure to get the neurons firing for effective brainstorming.  A suggestion was given to set a timer for two minutes and that proved to be effective and a good way to allow ideas and words to flow more easily.  We learned so much about each other through this fun list-making exercise!

Finally, this week we watched Mac Barnett’s TED talk…simply awesome! His talk about creativity and wonder showed us how we as adults can be more like children where imaginations are set free to explore and create.  We could imagine being in that place in the middle of the Venn diagram, the place that is wonder and where it is so much harder for adults to get to than children.  That place where we could cast aside rigidity of thought aside where imagination, creativity and wonder can thrive.  A place where we can set up “secret doors” in a classroom where children can go to visit a pirate ship, circus or sit around a make-believe campfire and share stories.  We need not place limits on our creative selves.  

The second week in this cycle, we explored The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. These stories gave us wonderful examples of grumpy children that are dealing with real childhood problems and real childhood feelings and exemplify how a bit of encouragement can go a very long way in finding resolution to a particular challenge or struggle.  Vashti in The Dot, learned so much about herself and her capabilities just by the supportive gestures of her teacher.  The beauty of this story is the full circle effect of positive encouragement as Vashti then in turn, encourages a little boy to have confidence in his abilities. One simple gesture can have such a ripple effect. As educators and storytellers, we are reminded to keep the positive ripples going. Alexander, in the Judith Viorst story, receives encouragement in a subtler way. In his mind, he truly is having a horrible, terrible day, but he can express these feelings without anyone else in the story invalidating them. The repeating of the desired land of “Australia” throughout the book was effective as it is likely each one of us has that idealistic place in our mind where we would run-away to and life would be so much better. Also, it was a humorous way to break up the story line while we wait for more musings by Alexander. We find at the end of the story, in the encouraging words of his mom, that even in our idealistic place we are going still going to have bad days sometimes.

The final text we read this week was The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and the related “Moving Vines” by 4th grader, Ashley.  This story nicely related to the concepts we discussed last week. The drawings were so intriguing and gave rise to much imaginative thought – just a wealth of writing material.  Ashley’s vine story is compelling in that one can surmise she used the one line “He warned her about the book, now it was too late,” as impetus to tell a story where there is not a happy ending.  We can just imagine all the ideas that were floating around in her author’s head and appreciate her ability to pull everything together so effectively.  Children in a supportive environment can be so creative and insightful.

The culminating Makes this week were incredible in both depth and breadth.  Impressive.  Literary creations ranging from the poignant, heartfelt true stories to the imaginative children’s short stories, I am grateful to be able to be able to learn, share and connect in this community. 

It was a real challenge to narrow my focus down to a few to comment on here.  Truly. 

Salina’s writing that was inspired by The Dot, very much resonated with me.  I have a sentimental heart so her story about the drawing made when she was 5 years old really impacted me on several levels.  First, that her detailed and vibrantly colored picture still hangs in her dining room is awesome. Secondly, that Salina writes her story in such a way eloquent, yet simple, manner to convey the meaning behind the painting starting from her initial happiness with her painting then spiraling down to discouragement, embarrassment and self-doubt about the work of art.  Then some encouragement comes to the rescue from her Mom. Great use of this make’s cycle material.  

I know personally, that it can be challenging, if not impossible, to share personal stories.  The ones that are so deeply personal to us that letting them out is like a delicate bubble being let go and we need to have trust that they will go where they are most needed.  Although difficult, we need to tell these stories…especially as educators.   Julie’s, A Smart Owl Life’s Research, does just this.  She took an incredible leap of faith to share a very profoundly personal story on a subject that is not easy to convey.  Her prose was very effectively broken up with specific quotes to transition the written thoughts and give emphasis to the reader.  The use of capital letters for emphasis and the creative descriptions of people such as “medic pants” and “bubbling sports pants” added additional character to an intense story.   

Me, My Best Friend by Jamie was told a huge life story in a graphically simple, eye-pleasing way.  I love the graphic of “the best friend” and how it is shown with her as an infant and as she grows up and gains confidence with herself and the world around her, her best friend gets smaller and smaller until Jamie realizes her best friend is inside her. Powerful in it simplicity. 

I truly could on and on about the stories we shared this week.  I’m in awe as we are in our fifth week of class…looking forward to more learning, growing and sharing!

Mom of three and “G” of two

Senior at Chico State University majoring in Liberal Studies in hopes of making a career change from banker to teacher – has accumulated approximately 190 college credits over the past 40 years on this extended and adventurous journey toward a bachelor’s degree

Longtime resident of Salinas, CA

Resilient, empowered by learning, believes in laughter and a positive attitude, loyal friend, and appreciates the beauty of sunrises that give hope for a new day

Rebecca Lee

As a class, we began our second make cycle exploring About the Author by Katie Wood Ray and Lisa B. Cleaveland, watching Mac Barnett’s Ted Talk, and creating lists to gather ideas for writing. Chapter one of About the Authors had us analyzing Josh’s story about Mammoths. At first reading, several of us noticed his varied spelling of the word “mammoth,” his love of mammoths shown through detail, and his dedication to writing through his research of mammoths and his varying fonts. Upon further reading and analysis we discovered that Josh’s writing had many hidden examples that we had overlooked. This was due to our lack of understanding all that Josh had learned in his writing class. As the chapter continued we learned that students get many of their ideas from other books they have read. For example, Josh took an idea from some books he read where they had two title pages, Maggie and Larke created a series books based on their friendship like the Frog and Toad book, and another boy took an idea from Fred Asch where he drew a picture in a circle on the back of his book. After chapter one we read studies A and B where we learned how effective it is to just tell the kids we are going to make stuff and show them their supplies. This gets the students excited, it gets them thinking, and eventually it makes them see themselves as writers. We also learned techniques to help keep ideas flowing and to encourage the students even if their stories are a little different or their writing isn’t the best. As Dr. Jaxon said, “If the first thing a child sees on her writing is lots of corrections and red pen marks, she’ll stop writing so much. It’s all about picking the things to correct and knowing that over time you’ll see growth.” Keeping this in mind I believe we will take all that we learned in our readings this week and let it guide us as we begin our careers teaching writing to children. As our week continued we watched Mac Barnett’s Ted Talk and learned to inspire children’s sense of wonder through made up stories, humor, and even a sneak store bought melon. As we inspire children and help them embrace their imagination and creativity, they begin to see themselves grow and develop as writers and dreamers and they have fun during the process. Lastly, to wrap up our first week of our 2nd Make Cycle, we created many lists based on topics from the “Finding Ideas to Write About” slide deck. Some of our lists were things we think everyone should do before they die, things about our family and friends, and most commonly, things we like to do. With these lists we thought of ways to use them in writing and discovered how creating lists can inspire and lead to new ideas and scenarios to write about.

As we began our second week of the Make cycle we got to listen/read mentor texts starting with The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, then Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, and concluding with The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg and Moving Vines by Ashley, a 4th grader. One of our biggest realizations with The Dot was how much the teacher helped Vashti by just being positive and not getting angry with her. The teachers actions taught us that when we are teachers in the future we need to decipher different situation and realize which ones require a positive helping hand and which ones need a corrective behavior discussion. Next, as we listened to Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, many of us came to the realization that if you keep reminding yourself that you are having a bad day your going to continue to have a bad day. Instead you need to have positive thoughts and turn your day around. The connection was made that both Vashti and Alexander needed a change of thought and perspective. Vashti accomplished this and eventually even changed someone else’s perspective whereas Alexander continued to be miserable all day long. As we continued the stories seemed to take a dramatic turn but perspective really was still the main focus. With The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, the class was fascinated and intrigued about Harris’ disappearance. We scrolled through drawings with titles and captions created by Harris Burdick and learned that these pictures have inspired many many people to write their own stories based on them. One of these stories was Moving Vines by a 4th grader named Ashley: in this story Ashley uses her incredible imagination and creative details to write a compelling mystery that gave me chills. After reading and listening to all these interesting stories, many members of the class were inspired and anxious to see what the use of encouragement and providing pictures to write stories about could do for their future students. Many of us are so excited to see the potential in out writing students.

To conclude our second Make Cycle we created stories. Everyone’s stories were so wonderful and unique and I chose a few of my favorites to share in excerpts and links below.

“Joy of laughing and smiling to the point that your cheeks feel sore. Joy of finally sneezing after you’ve felt the urge to do it ALL day. Joy of compliments. Joy of seeing the blue sky after a stormy week because the sun somehow makes you happier and energetic, whereas cloudy days make you want to curl up in bed and listen to Adele on repeat. Joy of getting a decent grade on an exam that you were almost one hundred percent sure you failed. Joy of flipping your pillow over after one side gets too hot. Joy of listening to music.” –by Adia Munoz

Adia was inspired to write her story by “The Fears of Your Life” by Michael Bernard Loggins. The reason I chose Adia’s story to feature is because I can truly relate to all that she says and many parts of the story made me laugh out loud. I also love that she took her inspiration and flipped it around to be the joys instead of fears in life.

The next story I chose was “On an Island” by Chelsea Peterson.

I chose Chelsea’s story because it made me laugh out loud and reminded me of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I also liked that she wrote this story based on her own family experiences and used the writing idea lists from last week to create it.


Last but not least, I chose Kellie Cabico’s story about her grandpa’s last day because it was so very personal and filled me with so many emotions. Her story was very well written with breaks throughout filled with memories of her grandpa. I also liked that she was inspired to write the story after seeing the picture of her grandpa, which is similar to what Harris Burdick wanted from his drawings.

“I knew he was sick when he came to live with us last year.  Dad had said that the doctors had only given him a couple of months to live.  But he’d felt so much better when he came home with us.  His spirits had immediately improved and he’d regained some of his old vim and vigor.  He resumed his daily walks, joking that he walked all the way to Barcelona (which was actually just the name of the street two blocks over).  He taught Chris and me how to make all of his favorite dishes, and told us stories about coming from France with his siblings near the turn of the century with bags of French bread because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to get it in America.  He’d taken to watching wrestling and roller derby and he’d shake his cane at the TV whenever he didn’t like the ref’s calls.  He was just so damn feisty and cute.”

Throughout our second Make Cycle I believe we learned so much about ourselves and each other. We shared our excitement and worries about teaching writing to children and shared personal stories inspired by all the great things we learned these last two weeks. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the semester had in store for our incredible class.

I am a junior at Chico State; this is my second semester as a distance learner. Before I started at Chico, I graduated from Lassen Community College in Susanville, CA with my AA in social science. I am attending Chico State in hopes of getting my BA in Liberal Studies then going on to get my multi-subject credential and hopefully begin teaching by fall of 2019 at just 22 years old. Currently, I am a paraeducator at a middle school in Susanville where I work specifically with special education students. When I’m not working, I can usually be found spending time with my family and two amazing dogs, or reading.

Weeks 5 & 6

Weeks 5 & 6

Howdy everyone,

Yay storytelling! You did an incredible job: I love the range of approaches you took to storytelling from playful to poignant.  Make sure you included a description of your process and why you made certain choices for your stories in your post. I look forward to reading them all more carefully tomorrow and giving feedback. I will send a grade update tomorrow too. Writing stories is hard!

Make Cycle 3: Engaging Expositions is now up on our site. You can find the link from the “Make Cycles” drop down menu (and in this email in the previous sentence). Make Cycle 1 has now been archived to the Make Cycle page.

We’re reading chapters 2 & 3 and appendix C & D for this week in About the Authors. Then, moving to expository writing mentor texts and makes. Video update below; I give you some more ideas for makes in these video updates in case that’s helpful.

Thanks for your efforts! You gave our featured bloggers this week such great stories to choose from!