Make Cycles

Our course is organized by two week “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. 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.

Category: weekly update

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


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


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!

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!

Weeks 3 & 4

Weeks 3 & 4

Howdy nice people of English 333,

Oh my gosh: I loved loved loved reading your insights into the About the Authors chapter and the 1st grader’s writing! Sounds like you are enjoying the book as much as I do and your responses were so good! Seriously. So good.  I just finished up feedback on the first Makes and on your responses to About the Authors, chapter 1 and just feel really inspired by the ideas you are working with.

One thing that was interesting if you read through all of your posts is how many of you noticed spelling on first glance at Josh’s Mammoth story. Some of you talked about the impulse to correct all the spelling and how you realized that may not be the most helpful approach. I really appreciate how much you are all puzzling over the challenges of writing with little kids and noticing the interesting thinking they are doing. Josh is doing such interesting work with spelling and clearly is starting to understand that words are made up of patterns. You might find this article helpful for thinking about spelling specifically: we really do gain understanding over time. 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. But they must be writing for you to see growth, so the amount is important. It’s also about knowing which things to address in a mini-lesson with the whole class and which things to address with an individual student. One rule I follow when responding to any writer (a fellow scholar or a first-time freshman or a 4th grader) is that I want the first thing they see for feedback is something positive. It is a brave act to share our writing. Once we build community and trust, we can start pushing a writer more and more.

Up next: you’re reading mentor texts this week (The Dot, Alexander…, and Harris Burdick/Ashley’s “Moving Vines”) and thinking about their structures you might borrow for your stories (response due Tuesday, Feb 13). And then writing stories! Make 2 due next Sunday, Feb 18. Please remember to write about your process too when you share your make.

I didn’t comment on all the lists posts, but I did check them off and I really enjoyed reading them! Hoping the lists are inspiration for your story ideas. *Note: if you see that you got 5/10 on the Lists/Barnett Ted talk response, it’s because I only saw your lists and not the response to the talk. If you want to go back and add that, let me know and I’ll update your grade. You might have just missed that second part of the prompt.

Our featured curators for this cycle–Make Cycle 2–are Samone, Brianna, Julie, Rebecca L, Sandra, and Brittany. They’ll be reading through our work and highlighting our cool ideas and stories (I sent the six of you an email a few days ago with some info). If you have not yet read the featured blogs from last week, you should. Many of you were highlighted! Thanks again to Christina, Ruben, Kellie, and Chad!

Thanks everyone. This is a great group of humans in this class. Appreciate your work.


Looking ahead to weeks 3 & 4

Looking ahead to weeks 3 & 4

As I have said a couple times now, I am incredibly impressed with your responses and your conversations with peers in our G+ community. Makes me very excited about the things you will write and make this semester.

Here are a few things to notice as we move to Make Cycle 2:

  1. First of all, Make Cycle 2 is now posted: Purposeful Storytelling. You can find the page in the drop down menu under Make Cycles. I look forward to generating ideas for stories with you.
  2. I’ve highlighted the work of your peers from the mentor text assignment this week. You all are doing such great work, but thought it would be nice to have some examples that model some thoughtful approaches to writing about the mentor texts. Thank you to Samone, Christina, and Lisa! You can find examples under the Example Student Work page at the top of our course site.
  3. We will start our work with the book About the Authors. Up first: reading chapter 1 and Units A & B and noticing the interesting thinking that small kids are capable of with writing.
  4. Grading: I use GradeBook Pro for my grading app. On Monday (2/5), you will receive an email to your Wildcat mail with a grade update for the work in Make Cycle 1 and then you can expect weekly or bi-weekly grade updates. Grade updates are always sent to your Wildcat Mail.
  5. Featured Curators: On the assignment page (and below), you should notice the Featured Curator assignment now lists your names. Please check to see which Make Cycle and week you are assigned to be our featured bloggers. Thank you to Christina, Kellie, Chad, Ruben, and Lisa who agreed to go first!  When your time is near, I will send a more detailed email to that week’s team.

Here is your bi-weekly video update where I try to expand on the reminders and work that is coming up:


Look forward to reading and viewing your first Makes! Due tomorrow night and remember to include a description of your process and goals for the make. Check assignment on the Make Cycle 1 page.

Assignment: Featured Curators (25 points)

During one of the Make Cycles, you (and several classmates) will read, respond, and celebrate your classmates’ processes and product. Once the make projects have been posted to the Google+ community, you will write a post about your observations of the writers and the work they produced, featuring a few of the projects to show particular attributes that you find compelling, innovative, or otherwise interesting. These featured blogs will also share with an outside audience the reading we’ve been doing and the discussions we’ve been having.

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

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

Make Cycle 1 (write up due Feb 6): Christina Barbaccia, Kellie Cabico, Chad Lafenhagen, Ruben Mendoza, Lisa Valdez

Make Cycle 2 (write up due Feb 20):Samone Burge, Brianna Carlucci, Julie Lafreniere, Rebecca Lee, Sandra Nyland, Brittany Walker

Make Cycle 3 (write up due March 6): Shelby Baccala, Jennifer Barajas-Goodwin, Rayn Buford, Jillian Barsotti, Chelsea Peterson, Rebecca Spears, Alice Thurber, Jamie Xayacheck

Make Cycle 4 (write up due March 26; after break): Rebecca Barragan, Cheyenne Boles, Adriana Cea, Hannah Hughes, Sean Gamer, Alma Lopez, Erin Russo

Make Cycle 5 (write up due April 10): Maritza Caceres, Lizette Chavez, Yorleidi Langarica, Caitlin Micko, Josue Nava, Salina Rodriguez

Make Cycle 6 (write up due May 1): Dana Curiel, Nancy Diezmo, Karen Fawns, Janette Herrera, Bianca Nava Guevara, Veronica Oregel, Raenni Pilgrim

Here is the example from Make Cycle 1 last semester

Week 2 Reminders

Week 2 Reminders

Hi all,

I absolutely enjoyed reading your responses to McWhorter, Lunsford, and Yamada. From Raenni’s sharing of Yamada’s book with her students, to Samone’s questioning the premise of original ideas, to Ruben’s insights into the potential for agency in digital platforms, to Erin’s offering of the BBC article, you all did such thoughtful work considering these texts. I also appreciate the depth and generosity of your comments to your peer’s ideas. Seriously, I am excited by the potential of our community after this first week.

Up next:

Make Cycle One: Week 2

  • Look over our mentor texts:
  • By Tuesday night (1/20): Respond to some prompts to generate ideas with these mentor texts. The goal is to notice interesting structures, words, phrases, or themes/ideas that you might borrow for your creations. See prompt in Make Cycle 1.
  • By Sunday night (2/4): Create a “make”: remix your introduction post into a poem or a story using Storyjumper. Or write about how you got your name or a story from your childhood or why you want to be an educator. This should be a chance for you to play with ideas and take some risks. Important: once you share your “make,” remember to tell us about the choices you made, what worked, what was challenging, what you hoped the viewer/reader would get from your creation. 

Make sure you’ve ordered the book About the Authors. We’ll start using it the following week (2/5).

We’re off to a great start; thank you everyone for the engaging responses.


Welcome to English 333 spring 2018!

Welcome to English 333 spring 2018!

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

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

You should also check out:

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

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

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

Part I:

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

Part II

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

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

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

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