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.

Make Cycle 6

Make Cycle 6

Make Cycle 6: Creating Effective Writing Assignments

Oct 31-Nov 17 (3 week Make Cycle)

Our goal for this make cycle is to start to put together things we’ve learned about the teaching of writing. Over the next 3 weeks, you’ll think about assessment, you’ll write an activity based on a mentor text, and you’ll try out the activities from your peers. Notice that you have a partner below who will be your test subject for your activity: you’ll each create a writing activity and then try out each other’s writing activity and give some feedback to the “teacher.”

Looking forward to seeing what y’all come up with! Feel free to draw from your responses on Oct 20 where you started to think through ideas for writing instruction.

In a nutshell:

  • By Saturday, Nov 4: respond to a prompt from Chapter 7 and Appendix G from About the Authors
  • By Tuesday, Nov 7: respond to a prompt about the Common Core standards.
  • By Thursday, Nov 9: create a writing activity for your partner to try out.
  • By Tuesday, Nov 14: try out your partner’s writing activity and post it as a response to their post from Nov 9.
  • By Friday, Nov 17: write a reflection about the activity you created and how things worked out.

Then: Happy Thanksgiving Break!


Oct 31-Nov 4: About the Authors chapter 7 and Appendix G (188-191)

“Perhaps our most important goal for children at the end of first grade is that they will come to see writing as a continuous process of decision making” (120).

The focus of Chapter 7 is on assessment and the authors offer a variety of ways to celebrate students’ smart work. I’m struck by how they use the workshop itself to capture students’ intentional thinking about writing that goes beyond what is on the page: they notice students thinking about writing. I share the author’s goals: students should be making decisions about their writing way more than the teacher. To be a writer in the world means being able to think through choices in genre, structure, and to control the circulation and distribution of writing for the biggest impact on our intended audience. Writing is challenging: we need opportunities to work through those choices and challenges with lots of models and support, not templates for writing.

By Saturday, Nov 4:

What can you imagine borrowing from chapter 7 as you think through assessment of your future students’ writing? How does their chapter perhaps change the way you think about assessment or how does it add some new ideas to your repertoire? What will you want to try out? What seems challenging still about assessment? How might you change some things for grades above 1st grade?

Post in G+ Make Cycle 6: Assessment


Nov 6-10

By Tuesday, Nov 7:

Look over the writing standards in Common Core for your grade level of choice:

You can also find examples of student writing from Common Core here.

Then write a response: What do you notice about the standards for your grade level choice? How would you incorporate some of the standards with ideas from About the Authors? Look back over your take aways from Chapter 7 on assessment from Nov 4 and consider how you might blend their assessment suggestions with a couple of these standards. How will you use the Common Core standards in the design of your writing assignments? 

Post in G+ Make Cycle 6: Assessment

By Thursday, Nov 9:

Part I: Create a writing activity for your partner to try out. Note: it is very important that you complete this assignment on time so that your partner can try out your activity. (See partner under the Nov 15th prompt below.)

You can borrow from About the Authors, our mentor texts throughout the past few weeks, and other prompts and resources we’ve shared here. While I believe you should have some choice in how you write up your assignments, for the purposes of our class, I am going to ask for some specific sections so that you and your partner can more easily make sense of the activity. Address these sections in your response:

  • Description of the writing activity: what will students do (i.e. what will your partner do)? Does this activity fit into a larger assignment or activity sequence?
    • Start by choosing a mentor text (a children’s book) from one of the authors in THIS LINK. You can often find their books in YouTube videos or on the author’s website. Or feel free to use one of the mentor texts from a previous Make Cycle.
    • Use the mentor text to create a writing activity. You’ve talked about things you’ve noticed in mentor texts many times throughout the semester, so now you just need to turn those “noticings” into something about writing you want to model for students.
    • Create an activity/prompt based on your mentor text (something based on the theme? Based on a structure or favorite line?)
    • If helpful, return to your response from Oct 20 and one of the ideas for a focus study in About the Authors (from the chart on 105-106). Create an activity or mini-lesson from the ideas in their chart using your mentor text. What element of writing do you want to focus on in this activity?
  • Intended grade level: xxx
  • Common Core Standard(s): you can choose one or more as your target standard.
  • What part of the school year do you imagine this taking place and why?
  • What materials are needed?
  • Goals for activity: what do you hope students learn about writing?
  • Assessment: how will you assess the activity? What would you expect to see in students’ writing if things go as expected?

Post under G+ Make 6: Writing Activity


Nov 13-17

By Tuesday, Nov 14:

Part II: I am going to put you in pairs for this response so that everyone has a partner who can do the activity you’ve designed and offer some feedback on how it goes. It will be crucial that you complete the activity on time so that everyone has a chance to write a reflection. Find your partner below:

  • Karla Arroyo/Stacie Beadel
  • Kristine Cowan/Bianca DeRee
  • Deanna Dumas/Kaia Enstrom
  • Mackenna Gott/Bailey Pickard
  • Amanda Greene/Jessica Gregor
  • Cori Hale/Brittany Rosen
  • Hannah Ingram/Jake Muck
  • Caleb Johnson/Ismael Munoz
  • Shannon Lane/Alison Maxey
  • Tamara Ligon/Rafael Sevilla
  • Jessica Maldonado/Jessica Medrano
  • Marissa Willits/Grace Taylor
  • Alice Myrod-Vargas/Sophie Tisdale
  • Mayte Rendon/Michelle Rodriguez
  • Elizabeth Salazar/Jaycee Singleton

You’ll try out the writing activity from your partner and post your writing as a response to their activity description from Nov 9. Your response to the peer should include the writing you created based on their activity description and a reflection about how the activity worked for you: what worked for you as a writer using their activity and what was challenging? What suggestions would you make for your peer in terms of revising the activity?

Post in G+ as a response to your partner’s post (the activity description) in Make 6: Writing Activity

By Friday, Nov 17th:

Write a reflection about your activity plan: how did your activity work out? Did the writer (your partner) complete the activity like you expected? Anything surprise you? What would you revise in the activity based on the writer’s work and their feedback to you?

Post in G+ Make 6: Writing Activity Reflection