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 our work in a Google+ Community. We will upload images, respond to each other’s ideas, and share links and “makes” here.

Make Cycle 6

Make Cycle 6

Make Cycle 6: Creating Effective Writing Assignments

Nov 4-Nov 20 (3 week Make Cycle +Thanksgiving break)

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 the writing activity you design: 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 ideas from chapter 6 where you started to think through ideas for writing instruction.

In a nutshell:

  • By Monday, Nov 4, Read Chapter 7 and Appendix G from About the Authors
  • Wednesday, Nov 6 we will work with the Common Core standards.
  • By Sunday, Nov 17: create a writing activity for your partner to try out
  • In class, Nov 18: try out your partner’s writing activity and post it as a response to their post from Nov 17.
  • By Wednesday, Nov 20: write a reflection about the activity you created and how things worked out.

Thanksgiving break Nov 25-29


Nov 4-Nov 11: 

By Monday, 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 more often 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 simply templates for writing.

For Wednesday, Nov 6: 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.

By Monday, Nov 11: 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? 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? Given your take aways from Chapter 7 on assessment, 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

Nov 12-20

By Sunday, Nov 17:

Part I: You will create a writing activity for your partner to try out. You can even address your post to your partner: “Hey Krystal, check out the activity I have designed for you to try…” *Note: it is very important that you complete this assignment on time so that your partner can try out your activity. ALSO, CHECK OUT THE EXAMPLES BELOW: this works really well to create the activity in Google Slides like Tamara’s 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 assignment/activity write-up:

  1. Description of the writing activity: what will students do (i.e. what will your partner do)? How does this activity you’re designing fit into a larger assignment or activity sequence?
    1. You’ll start by choosing a picture book from the author you were assigned for the gallery walk assignment.
    2. Use this picture book as 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.
  2. Create an activity/prompt based on your mentor text (something based on the theme? Based on a structure or favorite line?)
  3. If helpful, return to your responses 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?
  4. Intended grade level: xxx
  5. Common Core Standard(s): you can choose one or more as your target standard.
  6. What part of the school year do you imagine this taking place and why?
  7. What materials are needed?
  8. Goals for activity: what do you hope students learn about writing from trying your assignment/activity?
  9. Assessment: how will you assess the activity? What would you expect to see in students’ writing if things go as expected?

**HERE is an example from a former student, Tamara. She placed the book and the activity in Google Slides for her partner (the assignment is in the last few slides). And here is what this looked like in G+ with her partner, Raphael’s, response. MAKE SURE THE SHARE SETTINGS in Google ARE SET TO “ANYONE CAN VIEW” 😉

**Here is another example from Ismael with Caleb’s response to his activity. Notice that Ismael also links to a Google Doc for Caleb.

And just to reiterate: you have a partner. You will each create your own writing activity (using the prompts above) for your partner to try out. So, you will play the part of both teacher and student. You create an activity as the teacher for your partner to try out as your student; and your partner will create an activity for you to try out as the student. Your “teacher” assignment (above) is due XX for both of you. Your responses–you trying out each other’s assignments/activities–is due XX

Part II: Nov 18

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 (TBA)

You’ll try out the writing activity from your partner and post your writing as a response to their activity description from XX. Your response to the “teacher” should include:

  1. the writing you created based on their activity description and
  2. 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 (the teacher) in terms of revising the activity?

Post in G+ as a response to your partner’s post (the activity description) in Writing Activity (can post a link to a Google Doc with your writing in the comments, for example. Make sure share settings are so we can view)

PART III: Nov 20

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?