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.

Winter Session: Make 4

Winter Session: Make 4

Make Cycle 4: Creating Effective Writing Assignments

Jan 14-16

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 days, 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! 

In a nutshell:

  • Jan 14 respond to prompts from Chapters 6 & 7 and Unit G from About the Authors and a response to a prompt about the Common Core standards.
  • Jan 15: create a writing activity for your partner to try out.
  • Jan 16: try out your partner’s writing activity.

Day 9: Jan 14

Today’s tasks: 1) read and respond to prompts for chapters 6 & 7 and 2) respond to a prompt about Common Core standards

About the Authors–You’ll read chapters 6 & 7 and write an extended response to both chapters:

Read: Chapter 6 from About the Authors is focused on how they go about creating units of study. The authors describe what they mean by a unit:

“ …simply imagine an extended series of lessons like those we described, happening over a period of days and weeks, with all of the lessons focused on some big topic of interest to people who write” (105).

They also have a chart on page 105-106 that offers some suggestions for unit study based on a distinction between process and product approaches.

Also Read: Chapter 7, which focuses on assessment; the authors offer a variety of ways to celebrate students’ smart work.

“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).

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.

Two part Prompt for chapter 6:

  • Point to some take-aways from chapter 6, especially anything that seems confusing in terms of how you might plan out lessons for writing over time.
  • Then, take one of the ideas for a focus study (from the chart on 105-106) and start to play with how you might develop a series of lessons or activities based on that idea. For example, what have you learned so far about how you might do a genre study or a study of an author or how to work with illustrations? What mentor texts might you use? What would you ask students to do? This can be really tentative and you might have more questions about how to develop a series of lessons or activities than answers for how to do it, and that’s fine too. What research or next steps would you need to do to be able to write about your plans for students? What would you return to from About the Authors or other books we’ve read? If it’s helpful, think about what you might ask students to do over a one week period of time.

Prompt for chapter 7: 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 4: About the Authors 6 & 7

Common Core

After working with chapters 6 & 7 from About the Authors, 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 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 4: Common Core


Day 10: Jan 15

Today’s task: create a writing activity for your partner

Create a writing activity for your partner to try out. You can even address your post to your partner: “Hey Lucy, check out the activity I have designed for you to try…” *Note: CHECK OUT THE EXAMPLES BELOW: this works really well to create the activity in Google Slides for your partner like Tamara’s below. 

You can borrow from About the Authors, our mentor texts throughout the past few days, 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)? 
    • 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.
    • Create an activity/prompt based on your mentor text (something based on the theme? Based on a structure or favorite line?). YOUR “student” should know what they are supposed to write, so do your best to make your goals and instructions clear for the student writer. What are the steps? What should they write about?
      • 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?
  2. Intended grade level: xxx
  3. Common Core Standard(s): you can choose one or more as your target standard.
  4. What part of the school year do you imagine this taking place and why?
  5. What materials are needed?
  6. Goals for activity: what do you hope students learn about writing from trying your assignment/activity?
  7. 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 itself is in the last few slides). And here is what this looked like in G+ with her partner, Raphael’s, response (*Note: you may need to be logged into G+ to see the link). If you also decide to use Google Docs or Google Slides, which I do think is a great way to present this activity, MAKE SURE THE SHARE SETTINGS in Google ARE SET TO “ANYONE WITH LINK CAN VIEW” 😉

**Here is another example from Ismael with Caleb’s response to his activity (*Note: you may need to be logged into G+ to see the link). 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 (Jan 15) and student (Jan 16). 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 today, Jan 15, for both of you. Your responses–you trying out each other’s assignments/activities–is due tomorrow, Jan 16.

Post under G+ Make 4: Writing Activity

Find your partner below:

  • Veronica and Lucy
  • Arika and Rachel
  • Razza and Casey
  • Jada and Shelbi
  • Ayla and Meagan
  • Xochitl and Leeanne
  • Sheenna and Billie
  • Adriana and Kayla
  • John and Inderjit
  • Alyssa and Katie

Day 11: Jan 16

Today’s task: 1) try out your partner’s activity they created for you and 2) write a reflection after your partner has tried out your plan

You’ll try out the writing activity from your partner and post your writing as a response to their activity description from yesterday. 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–a comment–to your partner’s post from yesterday (the activity description). You can share a link to a Google Doc with your writing efforts in the comments to their activity if you prefer. Make sure share settings are so we can view. Or, you can copy and paste the response to their activity as a comment or upload an image. Whatever makes sense given the writing task…

You. Got. This. One more make cycle to go…