Make Cycles

infographic of make cyclesYou can find our current Make Cycles in the drop down menu and on the Make Cycles page. New Make Cycle released every two weeks.


September 2020
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
August 31, 2020 September 1, 2020 September 2, 2020

All day: Mentor Texts

September 3, 2020 September 4, 2020 September 5, 2020 September 6, 2020
September 7, 2020

All day: Make Cycle 1: Make

September 8, 2020 September 9, 2020

All day: Read

September 10, 2020 September 11, 2020 September 12, 2020 September 13, 2020

All day: Watch TED talk and write lists

September 14, 2020 September 15, 2020 September 16, 2020

All day: Mentor Texts work

September 17, 2020 September 18, 2020 September 19, 2020 September 20, 2020

All day: Make Cycle 2: Make

September 21, 2020 September 22, 2020 September 23, 2020

All day: Read About the Authors

September 24, 2020 September 25, 2020 September 26, 2020 September 27, 2020

All day: Read About the Authors

September 28, 2020 September 29, 2020 September 30, 2020

All day: Mentor Texts

October 1, 2020 October 2, 2020 October 3, 2020 October 4, 2020

All day: Make Cycle 3: Make

Winter Session: Make 1

Winter Session: Make 1

Make Cycle 1: Storytelling

Jan 2-5

Masquerade by Ashley Michelle Penning

Our goal over the next two and a half 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 can think of these introductions as a kind of storytelling: what do we choose to share when someone asks “tell me about you?” We’ll also do a lot of reading that I hope will broaden our ideas about what “counts” as writing. 

As a way to support our writing, we’ll look at “mentor texts” and think about how they might generate ideas for writing, and we’ll think about how you can use mentor texts with your students as a way to support their writing too.

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 this make 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.

Tasks in a nutshell (longer description and prompts below): 

Make Cycle One: Jan 2-5

Day 1: Jan 2

  • First thing: Join our G+ Community. I say this in lots of places, but you’ll need to use your Chico State google account to get to our G+ community. If you use another gmail or google drive account, it won’t let you join. How To video (from another class I teach, but same process) HERE.
  • By Thursday night, Jan 2:
    • Post introduction to that G+ Community. See two part prompt for introduction below. Hoping you’ll share an image or even a video with your introductions! 
    • Read three texts and respond in our G+ Community. See prompts below.

Day 2+: Jan 3 & Jan 5

  • By Friday night, Jan 3:
    • Read Chapter 1 from About the Authors & Unit of Study A and B. Respond to prompts about this reading in G+. 
    • Read/watch 3 “mentor texts.” Respond to some prompts about the mentor texts to generate ideas for your own writing. See prompts below.
  • By Sunday night, Jan 5:
    • Watch Mac Barnett’s TED talk
    • Try out some lists to generate ideas for writing: write a response about Barnett and share portions of your lists
    • Create a “make”– remix your introduction post into a poem or story or create a new story about yourself using Storyjumper.  You’ll include a brief reflection about how the Make turns out.

*Note: you can find examples from student responses in past semesters in case you want an idea of what I’m looking for under the Example Student Work page on our site. Link here too.

I’ll send email to your Wildcat Mail each morning just as a friendly reminder of the tasks due each day. I’ll also try to share a video every day or so as a way to supplement instructions. 😉

Full descriptions Make Cycle One: Jan 2-5

As soon as possible:  Join our G+ Community. Log in to your Chico State portal first. How To Video (from another class I teach, but same process) HERE.

Day 1: Jan 2

Today’s tasks: 1) Two part Introduction post and 2) Read and Post about Readings

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?
    • Post in our G+ Community. Look for the category called “Introductions and literacies insights” 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.

Important: Once you’ve shared your post, respond to a peer’s posts, make connections to another human. We’ll do this for everything we post/share. 😉 Post one; respond to one.

Once you’ve shared your introductions and responded to a peer, Read/Watch/Respond:

Respond to the readings: 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. Post in our G+ Community. Look for the category called “Discussion: Yamada, Lunsford, McWhorter” on the left hand side of our G+ page. Once you’ve shared your post, respond to a peer, make connections to another human.

In a nutshell by Jan 2:

  1. Join G+ then post your intro and ideas about your reading and writing habits (in G+ under Introductions and literacies insights)
  2. Watch/Read and write a response to the texts above (in G+ under Discussion: Yamada, Lunsford, McWhorter)
  3. Link again to G+ community here

Day 2: Jan 3

Today’s tasks: 1) Read and respond to chapter 1 from About the Authors and 2) read and respond to mentor texts

  • Read Chapter 1 from About the Authors “Writing Workshop: A Happy Place Where We Make Stuff” (p. 1-22)
  • Unit of Study A: “The Kinds of Things Writer’s Make…” (p. 155-158)
  • Unit of Study B: “Where Writers Get Ideas” (p. 159-164)

Then, please respond:

Notice the prompt has multiple parts:

After reading Chapter 1 and the A & B Units of Study from About the Authors, pay close attention to the examples from the children’s writing: What did you notice about their writing? What surprised you about the examples? What made you nervous or excited (or both) about teaching writing to little kids?

Then, on pages 4-5, the authors give us a bulleted list of the things they notice about Josh’s writing. Did you notice those same features? What does a teacher need to know in order to do this kind of close reading of children’s writing? What do you feel ready to do and where are your concerns as a future teacher?

Finally, point to a couple of places in chapter 1 that you found interesting or puzzling or both? You don’t need to quote the whole passage or passages, but give us enough info so we know what you’re talking about. Why did that section or sentence interest you? Why does the idea matter as future teachers?

This should be a fairly extended response to this chapter: perhaps 3-5 paragraphs. And be sure to respond to each other as well. Post in”Make Cycle 1: About the Author 1″

Then, Watch/Read our mentor texts:

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


  • second daughter’s second day:


After listening, write a response to the mentor texts:

  • 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 “Make Cycle 1: mentor texts”  (and respond to a peer’s post)

Day 2+: Jan 5

Tasks: 1) Respond to a Ted talk and generate ideas using lists and 2) Your first MAKE!

  • Watch Mac Barnett’s TED talk and discuss:
    • What ideas would be useful as future teachers from Barnett’s TED talk? What is the power of storytelling? How can we help students create and share their stories?


  • After watching Barnett, use this slide deck as a way to generate some ideas for writing. What you’ll find in this slide deck is a sequence of prompts for making lists that can become ideas for writing. I might set a timer for 2 minutes for each slide and then move on to the next slide and write for 2 more minutes. You will end up with 14 lists of starter ideas!  Then, go back to one of the lists that seemed to come easily and perhaps add a couple more things. Share a couple (1-2 lists; not all of them) with us on the G+ Community. You can even simply take a picture of 1 or 2 of your lists and post it as an image. Tell us why you shared this particular list and how it might be inspiration for writing.
    • Post your Ted talk response and a portion of your lists in “Make Cycle 1: Barnett & Lists”  (and respond to a peer’s post)


Then, create your 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. Or perhaps an idea from your lists is worth trying out as a story…

  • Share your makes in our G+ Community under Make Cycle 1: Make. You can share the link from your Storyjumper (*Note: make sure you are sharing from the “Share” tab on Storyjumper; we should see a thumbnail image of your story in your G+ post if shared so we can view) 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, 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. If relevant, what elements did you borrow from the mentor text(s)? 
  • As always, respond to a peer’s make too!

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

I look forward to reading your makes and posts!