Make Cycles

Our course is organized by “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. You can find the 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.

Make Cycle 1

Make Cycle 1

Make Cycle 1: Assumptions & Stances

Weeks 1 & 2: Aug 27-Sept 9

Masquerade by Ashley Michelle Penning

Our goal over the next two weeks is to get to know each other and begin to think about ourselves as writers and teachers of writing. We’ll start by introducing ourselves in our shared G+ Community. We’ll also do some reading that I hope will broaden our ideas about what “counts” as writing. We’ll respond to those readings as well.

In the second week of this first make cycle, we’ll look at some mentor texts and think about how they might generate some ideas for writing.

Mentor texts are: “pieces of literature that you—both teacher and student—can return to and reread for many different purposes. They are texts to be studied and imitated…Mentor texts help students to take risks and be different writers tomorrow than they are today. It helps them to try out new strategies and formats. They should be basically books that students can relate to and can even read independently or with some support. And of course, a mentor text doesn’t have to be in the form of a book—a mentor text might be a poem, a newspaper article, song lyrics, comic strips, manuals, essays, almost anything.”

We’ll end our two week cycle (as will be usual) with a “make,” a remix of our introductions: either a poem (which you can also video or audio record yourself saying) or a story about you using StoryJumper.

Due dates/tasks in a nutshell (longer description below): 

Make Cycle One: Week 1

  • Join our G+ Community. How To video (from another class I teach, but same process) HERE.
  • By Wednesday night, Aug 29, post introduction to that G+ Community. See prompt for introduction below. Post in a category called “Make Cycle 1: Introductions.” Hoping you’ll share an image or even a video with your introductions! 
  • By Friday, Aug 31: read What Do You Do With An Idea?, Lunsford’s OpEd, and watch McWhorter’s TED talk. Also, post your response to those readings in our G+ Community. Look for the category called “Make Cycle 1: Discussion” on the left hand side of our G+ page. See prompt below.

Make Cycle One: Week 2

  • Look over our mentor texts:
  • By Tuesday, Sept 4: Respond to some prompts to generate ideas with these mentor texts. See prompt below.
  • By Sunday, Sept 9: Create a “make”– remix your introduction post into a poem or a story using Storyjumper.


Make Cycle One: Week 1: Aug 27-Sept 9

As soon as possible:  Join our G+ Community. How To Video (from another class I teach, but same process) HERE.

By Wednesday night (Aug 29): post an introduction to our group in the G+ community. 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 1: Introductions” on the left hand side of our G+ page. Hoping you’ll share (upload) an image or even a video to your post! The picture could be of your dog, a favorite place, of you, etc. Again, and always this semester: Once you’ve shared your post, respond to a peer, make connections to another human.

By Friday, Aug 31 Read/Watch:

Also by Friday night (Aug 31): Respond to the readings for this week. I have some guiding questions below that I hope you find useful for your response. You DO NOT have to answer all these questions; they are meant to be helpful in case you’re not sure what to say about these texts yet. Ultimately, I would like you to share what your take-aways are from the readings and how they compare to your ideas about reading and writing. (I would shoot for three meaty paragraphs in your responses.)

Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do With An Idea?

  • Questions to consider as you listen to this children’s book: what are your curiosities and ideas related to reading and writing? What ideas do you have about writing? What can writing do in our culture?

Andrea Lunsford’s, “Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast”

  • Questions to consider as you read Lunsford: What do you think about Lunsford’s claims? Can you relate to her descriptions of youth literacy? Do you think you are more adaptable to the changes in literacy and the changes in audience than previous generations? What’s your literate life like? What do you read? What do you write? How does social media play a role in your literacies? What purpose does reading and writing serve for you outside of school?

John McWhorter’s, “Txtng is Killing Language. JK!!”

  • Questions to consider as you watch McWhorter: What value do we place on micro-literacies (like texting and Twitter and Snapchat)? What value does McWhorter see in these literacies? What do you think about his ideas? How do his claims compare to your views of texting and how you use texting?

As you write your response, you can focus on one of these texts or compare them or talk about all three. Here are some further questions you could consider. Again, use these prompts if they are helpful. Ultimate goal: respond to the ideas in a way that makes sense to you. 

  • What questions do these texts raise for you?
  • Where did you dis/agree with the points being made? How do their ideas compare to your reading and writing habits?
  • What research questions seem to follow from the arguments made in this piece? How might we study literacy?

Post in our G+ Community. Look for the category called “Make Cycle 1: Discussion” on the left hand side of our G+ page. When you post, respond to someone else’s response. Once you’ve shared your post, respond to a peer, make connections to another human.

Make Cycle One Week 2: Sept 3-9

Watch/Read our mentor texts:


  • A girl named Jack by Jacqueline Woodson (<–scroll down on the page to find this poem) 


  • second daughter’s second day:


By Tuesday, Sept 4 Respond to the readings (mentor texts) for this week:

  • What are some features of these texts (Chrysanthemum, A girl named Jack, and Second daughter’s second day) that resonate with you? What are some of your favorite lines? Why? How might we use these texts as models for our own writing? What elements would you borrow?

Post in our G+ Community. Make Cycle One: Discussion

By Sunday, Sept 9: Your first make!

For this first make, you’ll remix your introduction posts by either writing a poem about yourself OR by telling your story through Storyjumper.

You could: write about how you got your name, the story of your birth, stories about your curiosities…really, anything about you.

Ways to get started: Try out your own brainstorming (you don’t have to share): what is the story of how you got your name? Were there debates about your name? What is your relationship to your name or nicknames you’ve been given? What would others say you are curious about? You could even tell us why you want to be a teacher…

  • Share your makes in our G+ Community. Make Cycle One: OUR MAKES. You can share the link from your Storyjumper (Note: make sure you are sharing from the “Share” tab; we should see a thumbnail image of your story in your G+ post) or write out your poem: include an image (drawing done by you or a photo taken by you) with the poem or record yourself reading your poem. 
  • Also, remember to write a brief reflection on the make, explaining what you were trying to do with the make and the techniques and processes you used in creating it. What elements did you borrow from the mentor text(s)?

Here’s an example Storyjumper from a previous semester from Elizabeth: 

I look forward to reading your makes and posts!