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Category: Featured Blogs

Make 4 Featured Bloggers: Alondra, Chantal, Hailee, Jody, Brittanee, Taylor, & Ariel

Make 4 Featured Bloggers: Alondra, Chantal, Hailee, Jody, Brittanee, Taylor, & Ariel


Make Cycle 4 had a variety of books. I enjoyed that throughout all of the books everyone’s makes followed a theme. I loved how the makes I chose specifically all had something to them that was relatable in my personal life. Brown girl Dreaming was a touching and moving free verse that Savannah made a Pinterest board for and who doesn’t love Pinterest? Both Tanpreet Sahota and Morgan Carrico collaborated and made a cake for the book The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. I enjoyed how the entire concept of the book was wrapped up in one delicious basketball cake. I also think it’s pretty cool through reading these books that the both of you were able to collaborate from these books and enjoy your cake as you did so! Sierra was also able to create a video that I enjoyed so much!  

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woods is a touching and moving free verse memoir of Woods’ life. It was beautiful writing with quotes that tugged at the heart strings. Savannah Avila made this beautiful Pinterest board based off of the author. Savannah decided to make a Pinterest board for Jacqueline Woods as a child – she included things she thought she would wear, quotes and role models she would find empowering, foods she would like to eat, etc. She says, “It was actually really fun to make and made me think hard about her character in the book!” I was lucky enough to have read this free verse memoir as well. I could relate to a lot in this book and the poems were so touching I am glad Savannah was able to recreate a person who is empowering other through her writing. So yeah, I added my book’s name under my picture on purpose. Good job Savannah!

For this make Morgan read the book The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. This free verse novel is more than just about basketball: it’s a book about friendship, family, courage, sportsmanship, academics, fairness and two brothers coming together for the love of the game. Morgan decided to bake a basketball cake that she would bring to Chuck, the boy’s father, celebration of life. The love of the game and the love for their father is what makes the brothers realize that all they have are each other. Tanpreet also agrees and says the cake represents the storyline of all the events that happen just like all the ingredients that make the cake. The book had so much life lessons in the book that can help children learn from them. Just like ingredients you need to make a cake these lessons shaped the main character. Once the cake came together it was like the story came to an end. Good job on your make and awesome collaboration!

Sierra made a video inspired by the story.  She was able to find connections between this story and the story told in the musical Miss Saigon.  She chose two songs to sing and give a brief introduction for both. You did such an amazing job Sierra, good job!

For this week, we read Miller’s Chapter 4 and thought it had some great insightful ideas! The chapter has ideas about how to help keep students motivated, especially during breaks where we notice most children do not pick up books. We need to help encourage our students and find creative ways on how to motivate them on how to stay reading always and learn how to love reading, even if we are on long breaks where there are no teachers. Now it is important to note that sometimes students pick up a book and realize they really don’t like it, which is okay to admit; we as future teachers need to realize that this will occur and to help keep kids motivated help them find a book together that sounds more appealing to them. Not every book is for every student, and that’s okay, we just have to remind our students to keep an open mind when reading, and if still not interested move onto the next. The main goal is to ensure they love reading. We don’t want to destroy that by forcing every student to read a book even if they don’t like it. We want to help find the reader in every student by encouraging them.

Author Bio: Alondra Alviar is 5’7 and stands very awkwardly. She has been in Chico for over four years now and enjoys every day at her beautiful campus. She is a bit shy but she loves people and all living things. She has two younger siblings that look up to her and she doesn’t want to let them down. She is excited to become a teacher in the near future.

Flashback to the past two weeks…

       We have been working with our amazing book buddies! My book is Butter and to be honest I am reading way ahead. It is just such a good book! I really enjoy talking to my book buddy. She is great and we are both enjoying the book. I have to go back and re-read because we are only supposed to talk about a certain section, but because I am so into the book I have to read again so I won’t spoil it for her. We also made bookmarks for them! I hope they all like them. The book mark I made for my bookmark was cute and I hope she loves it! I saw many amazing ones and I can’t wait to hear from them! 

We have been reading our free verse novels and Miller. This is a little summary about Miller and my free verse novel. Chapter 4 of Miller: I really like the idea of planning for readings over break. It keeps the students busy and they get to pick the book that they want. The students seem pretty excited about it. Though personally I don’t think I would be to happy to have to read over break. I also like that they do the reading reflections about the books that they read. There is an example on the chapter that shows a student’s work. He is very honest about the books and it looks like he didn’t really enjoy them. I like how he is being truly honest because when I was in school I felt like I had to lie and say I didn’t like the book because it would probably affect my grade. I have the book Enchanted Air. To be very honest I am not really enjoying this book as much as I enjoyed the other books I have  read so far. This book is about a girl whose mom is from Cuba and her dad is from the United States. She compares both Los Angeles and the tropical island. She talks about her dad and her mom and she also talks a bit about her grandma. To me it seems like she likes Cuba more than she likes LA. She also shares stories about herself like the first time she was on the airplane and her time in school.

In the last two weeks, we also had two fantastic presentations on children’s book authors Lauren Castillo and Yuyi Morales. For the author Lauren Castillo, the presenters Hailee, Jorden and Alison read to us the book Nana in the City. The activity they had us do was to draw a cape and inside the cape draw things that make us feel safe. For the author Yuyi Morales, presented by Ben, Jody and Jodi, they read to us the book Niño Wrestles the World. The activity we did for this presentation was to draw a mask. 

I really liked the makes for cycle 4! It was hard to pick a few to talk about. Leslie Mendoza- Garcia, your free verse poem left me speechless. It made me tear up because I can relate and I know a lot of us can. You’re not the only one who feels fear; I fear too.

We still experience discrimination despite of what are birth certificate says: “U.S citizen”

They call us “illegals,” “uneducated,” “drunks,” “gang affiliated”
They have buried us

It’s hard to dance when there is weight in my shoulders of all the hatred of my beautiful Mexican roots

It saddens me that we have to live that way. I am protected by DACA but us who are currently protected have no idea of what will happen to us as of now.  I have been in the U.S. since I was one, and I know I belong here just like many of us. Thank you for such an amazing free verse poem and expressing the way you feel with us.

The other free verse that I enjoyed was Kimberly Wright’s My Mom and Me. Moms always know best! My mom is also my best friend and I thank her for everything she has kept me from doing like getting snake bites in middle school. She also said, “You’ll thank me later” and I did. Moms are amazing. Your story was very relatable.Book titled 'My Mom and Me'//www.storyjumper.com/book/index/45180346/My-Mom-and-MeAuthor Bio: Chantal Hernandez-Sierra is a Liberal Studies, Bilingual major. She would really like to teach Kindergarten – 2nd grade. She is from Riverside, CA. She enjoys going to the beach and eating a lot of fruit. She also loves sushi, all day, everyday.

This Make Cycle we have spent a lot of time working with our book buddies.  Our class has partnered up with an eighth grade class at Palm Desert Charter Middle School.  We have chosen a few books for each class to read and then we write with the eighth graders about the books.  My buddy and I are reading the book Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. The book is about a girl named Melody who has cerebral palsy and cannot move or talk. Because of her disability, people assume she is not very smart. Not only is Melody extremely intelligent but it seems that she has a photographic memory.  She tells her story about her struggle to communicate and to show everyone just how smart she really is. I absolutely loved the book and writing to my book buddy about it was very fun.  It was so interesting to see what the eighth graders had to say and the thoughts they had about the books.  We even made bookmarks for our buddies with their names on it and a quote from the book. The quote I chose was, “Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes-each one delicate and different.” I loved this quote and it really summed up how the main character Melody felt about words because she was unable to talk.  

Besides Out of My Mind, I have been reading the book Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  This is one of the free-verse novels that our class is reading.  Since it is written in free verse, it is very different than things that I usually read and I will admit that it took me a little bit to get used to it.  The author, Jacqueline Woodson, is an African-American woman who was born in the 60’s during the Civil Rights Movement.  The book is about her life and growing up in the South where, even after the Civil Right’s Movement, racism is still very much alive. One of the quotes I liked from the book was, “We all have the same dream, my grandmother says.  To live equal in a country that’s supposed to be the land of the free.”  

In previous Make Cycles, a lot of the makes people did were drawings.  This Make Cycle we wanted to try and stray away from that and do something different.  I was really impressed by the makes and a couple really stood out to me.  One of the makes I liked was Abby’s make.  She read the book Inside Out and Back Again.  The book is about a family who has to flee their home in Vietnam.  Abby packed a suitcase of the things that she would bring with her if she had to flee home.  She even put her dog in the suitcase which I thought was very cute. 

Another make that really stood out to me was Sierra’s.  She also read the book Inside Out and Back Again.  Sierra said she made a connection between the book and the musical Miss Saigon.  She made a video of herself singing a couple of the songs from the musical.  Sierra has an amazing voice and was very animated.  She even dressed the part and you could really feel the emotions when she was singing.  I really enjoyed her make and everyone else’s.  It was nice being able to enjoy everyone’s make without having to worry about making my own, especially since this Make Cycle everyone was so creative! 

Author Bio: Hailee Van Housen is a senior at Chico State. A few things that make her happy are puppies, tea, music, and the holidays. She loves school and is so excited to have her own classroom in the future.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have had great conversation with our book buddies as well as finishing our free verse books. I’ll first talk about my fantastic book buddy. My book buddy Natalie is amazing. She has been on top of all of her posts. She will pull multiple quotes from the book and give her opinion on them. Then asks me my opinion. She also poses questions that makes me think about something in the book that I had not thought of. An example of Natalie keeping me thinking is “Or another thought that crossed my mind is that what if the letters are written by Danny but in the future?” Natalie would ask questions like this throughout our time as book buddies. She asks questions about the book that makes you change your thought about something in the book. She kept her mind open when it came to thinking of what the author was trying to portray in the story. I have loved having her as a book buddy. The way Natalie breaks down the book and thinks about makes me very excited. She has so many thoughts of why the author used a certain word to describe something. It’s very interesting to see how and why she was thinking about something that happened in the book.

This week as a class we finished our free verse book. The book I chose to read this time around was Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. This is a story about a little girl Ha and her family fleeing Vietnam during the war with the United States. When reading with story I had a mix of different emotions going through my head. It was a very inspiring book. I think I got hooked by this book because of the stories in this book were real and told by someone who had to actually go through the events. I don’t really like free verse books or poetry in general. When I think of poetry I thinking of rhyming words or lyrics by Shakespeare. But this book may have just changed my thinking about poetry.

Some other free verse books that were read by my fellow classmates were The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. This week no one was allowed to draw a picture for their make, so everyone came up with great unique examples that portrayed their make. But a couple of Makes for the book The Crossover were Morgan and Tanpreet’s cake. Their make stuck out to me because I love cake. I think cake is one of the greatest creations ever made. Thank you Greeks for cake! 

One other make from the book The Crossover that caught my eye was the free verse by Jodi Steigerwald. She wrote her own free verse but uses the same layout that can be found in the book. I thought this was a great idea because this gives a sense of what reading the book was like without actually reading the book.

movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by
the regular recurrence or natural flow of
related elements;
the repetition in a literary work of phrase

As in: Jazz music has a
Unique kind of Rhythm to it unlike
pop music which has the same
Beat and Rhythm

As in: My Mom has absolutely
No Rhythm but my
Dad can sway like a palm tree
In the wind to the beat of a song

As in: Every poem has it’s own
Rhythm but The Crossover
Has a hip hop groovin’
Type of Rhythm

Brown Girl Dreaming had some amazing makes as well. One that I thought was great and I could use in my classroom was Katie Larson’s. I love the idea of reading this book and having my students pick a moment in their life and show the connections that happens with that one single moment. This would allow my students to express themselves as well as seeing how one choice they made had so many different connections with it. Since I am a blogger this week I didn’t create a make for my own book, but Abby Teer created a make for the book we read. She took a picture of the things should put in a suit case and take with her if she had to flee. I thought that this did a great job making you think about how Ha and her family were feeling. How could you put everything important to you in just one bag? You have spent your life in one place now you are fleeing it and leaving things behind. How do you choice what to leave or take?

This last week also read chapter four, “Wild Readers Have Reading Plans,” in the book Reading in The Wild by Donalyn Miller. This chapter was about reading plans. One quote that stuck out to me from this chapter was “Students who read on an inconsistent basis never develop an attachment for reading.” This tells me as a future teacher that I need to make sure I have my students not only reading in my class but as home as well. In the same section it continues to talk about how we need to make sure students are finding time in their schedules to read. So, in my future classroom, I think I’ll have some sort of time at the begin on the week to have my students plan out the times they think they will have to read. The chapter talks about different types of reading plans. It has short term and long term commitment plans. This chapter also offers challenges for readers. I think that I am going to start The Newbery Challenge. I have set some parameters for this challenge. I want to start in the year 2000 and read every book on this list until present day. I have looked over the books so far I have read about 10 of them, so I know I have a starting point for this challenge.  

Author Bio: Brittanee Garcia, who has two brothers, is pictured above with her little brother Tim. If she is not at school or with her family, you can find her in the pool teaching swim lessons at WaterSprites. She has been there for a little over two years. If she’s not at work, she will most likely be at the dog park with her fur baby, Buster.

The book that I chose to read for my free verse novel was Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. I have never read a book written as a series of short poems. I found it a little awkward at first, but after reading several pages, I started to get used to the flow. It has so much detail and emotions that it feels like I’m reading the little girl Ha’s personal diary. The novel is about a 10-year old little girl named Ha who has lived in Saigon, Vietnam, until Ha and her family are forced to leave their home in Saigon because of The Vietnam War. The name Ha means Golden River referring to where her mother and father used to walk together. Ha lost her father, so just her mother, two brothers and she decided leaving their home was the best decision before one of them loses their life. The author does a great job explaining Ha’s point of view and experiences with great detail. I found this book interesting, but I’m not sure if I would recommend it to a friend because it was a sad novel and I don’t care for the war. Ha thinks that she left all her troubles and hardships behind in Saigon, but their struggles have just begun as they board a Navy ship headed to the United States. Ha, and her family’s luck and faith start to improve at the end of the book.

In reading chapter four of Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller, she emphasizes how crucial it is to create and maintain your own reading list along with short-term and long-term personal goals to become future wild readers. Miller expresses that having a reading list builds anticipation for another great reading experience and drives their enthusiasm and desire to continue reading. She also argues that “Students need to make their own choices about reading material and writing topics,” which would have made a huge difference in my attitude towards reading growing up. I really like Miller’s idea about students setting their own reading goals to accomplish over holidays or summer vacations. After they return from their break, they can reflect back on their reading goals and what they accomplished during their break. I also agree with Miller’s views that constructive criticism is helpful, but too much could do more damage than good. I feel that teachers should be developing some ideas to teach the students how to respond to sometimes hurtful constructive criticism. I think students need to have a better understanding of constructive criticism, so it doesn’t sound so negative or possibly offending them when receiving their feedback. I feel Miller does a great job emphasizing that empowering your students will help them feel more confident so that they can push themselves beyond their comfort level. Miller discusses that while reading behavior and exploring in different chapters helps readers build lifelong reading skills and habits, but making short term and long term reading plans will help them expand their reading lives and knowledge. I like Miller’s quote that said, “knowing what book to read next would keep me reading, I’m excited every time I do read and especially finish a book of my own choice, it feels good but if I don’t have another one to start or the next one I start isn’t good, then I usually take a long break from reading.” I guess with that thought to become a wild reader you need always to have the book you are currently reading along with several other books you’re going to read in the future with an active list of interesting books that you’re looking forward to reading. She expresses that setting personal goals for the students to read a specific number pages or even a certain number of books in a certain amount of time will keep the readers driven and engaging in the material that they’re reading or looking forward to reading in the future. As a future teacher, I plan on helping my students to develop and sustain an active reading list.

We finished up our free verse novels this week, ending cycle four with these next level “Makes.” Everybody was asked to take their cycle four Makes to the next level with no drawings because drawings dominated our last cycle. I was reviewing and admiring all the new Makes when Sierra Dallugge’s Make caught my eye with her creative soldier costume. We both read Inside Out & Back Again. Sierra created a musical video inspired by the free verse novel: her video was called “Miss Saigon.” Sierra has a great singing voice and acting skills. Sierra did an excellent job with her costume and introduction to her songs. I really enjoyed watching her musical; it reminded me of a Disneyland musical (see link above).

The next Make that caught my eye was Kimberly Wright’s free verse story book called “My Mom and Me.” I found her story touching with a great lesson about parenting and trying to keep the one you love safe. Most children don’t realize how fortunate they are to have caring parents that love them enough to say, No. The link to Kimberly’s story “My Mom and Me” (see above).

It was a tough decision but the last Make that grabbed my attention was Alison Zuris colorful Make for the novel Inside Out & Back Again. Alison created a beautiful collage of emotional narratives told through Há’s eyes and heart. The collage includes five memorable parts of Saigon that impacted Há’s journey. Alison describes at the beginning of the book they celebrate Tét, which is at the top right and bottom left of the collage. Alison expresses throughout the story Há’s papaya tree is significant to her and a part of the home she dearly misses, located at the top left. In the center of the collage is a newspaper announcing the Vietnamese surrendering and catalyst for Há’s narratives of the fall of Saigon. And at the bottom right of collage is a picture of a boat full of people fleeing Vietnam just like Há and her family did at the beginning of the book. I agree with Alison that these images were essential parts of the story and show the different colors of Há’s life. All of these vibrant pictures show memorable parts of Ha’s life of joy and numbing conflicts she faced as a young girl.

Author Bio: Jody grew up and currently lives in Sutter, which is a little town at the base of the Sutter Buttes. He is a Liberal Studies major, minoring in special education at Chico State. He decided to go to Chico because they have one of the best Liberal Studies programs in the area and the campus is close enough to commute to every day. He enjoys spending time with his family, animals and going to Disneyland. His hobbies include hiking, camping, and traveling. He decided to be a teacher because he believe that education is the key to success in life and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of students. He is looking forward to becoming a special ed teacher and his primary goal is to become a principal of a school in the future.

These last two weeks have been full of different assignments that were mainly lots of reading for our free-verse novel and our book with our eighth grade buddy. I loved reading the book Butter because it was funny, happy, and sad. It really made you think about suicide and to be there for each other. For my free-verse novel, I read Inside and Out and Back Again. This novel is about a young girl named Ha from Vietnam where she is faced with having to flee Saigon because of the Vietnam War. Throughout the book, it discusses how Ha and her family are trying to find a safe place to live far from the war. It was hard for me to read at first because I’m not crazy about poetry and I would rather just not read it. Towards the end of the book, I ended up loving it. This novel had such a good message and I found myself not putting it down.

After wrapping up the rest of last week with Make Cycle 4, I loved seeing everyone’s makes. I noticed there were lesson plans, videos poems, and even a cake that was made. For the novel The Crossover some people thought that writing a poem was the best activity to do. One poem that really stood out to me was by Jamie Ledesma. I absolutely loved this because it’s true and people should live by it. In the book, the two brothers were in a fight, and the brother Jordan would not accept his brother Josh’s apology. Later on, the dad passed away and Jordan realized that he needed his brother more than anything. No one should have to live with regret and should just apologize because anything can happen at any time. Even though this book sounds sad, I would love to read it.

The book Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, was about the author and she discusses how she grew up in the 1960s and 1970s while living in the South. She talked about her family and her birth, while also exploring other moments in her life. Katie Larson had a fun lesson plan that stood out to me that sounded fun for a class to do.

As a teacher, she would love to have her students think of important key moments in their lives while thinking about Jacqueline’s life and the moments in hers. Thinking about the emotions they felt and how it affected who they are today. It can get students thinking of the future and how to connect with others. This activity would even make me think of the events that shaped me into who I am today.

Also this last week, we read Chapter 4 of Reading in the Wild. One takeaway from Miller that I thought about for awhile was actually in the beginning where the author asks what our future plans will be for reading. I never was one who loved to read, but now going into teaching, I understand that I’m going to be doing it a lot and need to start reading more. A goal I have before I become a teacher is collecting as many children’s books as I can: whether it be from yard sales, used bookstores or even family members. As a teacher, an activity I would want to do with my students is to encourage them to try to read over their breaks. An example I liked was included in “Community Conversations.” She would have her students discuss what books they will read over break and having the students swap books with one another. I just love that idea! Another big take away was making “Commitment Plans” (143). This is a good way for students to challenge themselves on their reading. An idea I thought of doing with my future classroom, was having the students challenge themselves each week on how many more pages they can read in their book or how many more books they can read in the next week.

I just want to encourage my students to love reading!

Author Bio: Taylor Holmes has lived in Chico for 21 years, graduated from Pleasant Valley High School and transferred from Butte College to Chico State this last spring. She decided to pursue a career in becoming a teacher because she loves kids and has lots of cousins and family friends who are teachers. She also had the best teachers as role models and she could only hope that she could be the same for her students someday. She loves the outdoors and exploring new places when she’s not at school.

The past two weeks in class have been full of lots of reading and learning. We have been reading and conversing with our 8th grade book buddies from Palm Desert and I have really been enjoying it. My book buddy is so sweet and he asks great, intellectual questions. Plus, I have really enjoyed the book that we have been reading and it is totally not something that I would have picked outside of school to read, but I am really glad that I have gotten the chance to read it. We have also spent time reading our free verse books, which has been fun, too. I liked the storyline of the free verse book that I read, but I didn’t like the way that the free verse books were written. It was really hard for me to stay focused and I couldn’t follow the story. I loved all of the advice that Miller had offered in chapter 4 of her book with the challenges because goals and challenges motivate students to do better and push themselves. After reading each chapter in Miller’s book, I find myself more and more excited to become a teacher and to help my students become wild readers.

Miller’s chapter 4 was about encouraging students to create reading goals for themselves, especially over summer, Thanksgiving, and holiday breaks so that they don’t lose their momentum. Even though sometimes these goals aren’t always accomplished and that is okay, it is important to have students set reading goals so that they are motivated to continue reading even without the structure of a classroom. I really like that she was very open with her students about her not completing personal book challenges herself, it reassures the students that it is okay for them to put a book down in the middle of it, or to not finish a challenge you had set for yourself. I really liked her idea of the summer challenge to read an average of one book per day. I think it is a great way to keep students going with the reading and they don’t always have to be difficult books so it isn’t always time consuming. She does a really great job at motivating her students to be wild readers.

The free verse book that I read was Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. The main character, Ha, has lived in Saigon, Vietnam her entire life. She has lost her father, but still has brothers and her mother. The Vietnam war has come to their town and they have basically no other choice but to leave because they are scared to stay and risk their lives. They have finally boarded a Navy ship in route to the United States. So far, the boat ride has been a struggle and very hard for everyone.

All of the makes for this week’s free verse book were so great and creative. After Kim encouraged us to stay away from drawing this week because of the amount of drawing makes last time, everyone really stepped it up and came up with some very creative ideas. When I had created makes the last two times, I had a really challenging time coming up with ideas and am always so impressed with what they come up with.

There were a few in particular that I really liked. The first one was Abby Teer’s; she read the book Inside Out and Back Again and her make was a picture of her bag that she would bring if she had to flee the country, just like Ha had to do in the story. Another make that I really enjoyed was Savannah Avalia’s. She read Brown Girl Dreaming and chose to create a Pinterest board for the main character, Jacqueline Woods. In the Pinterest board she found quotes, food, etc., as to what she thought Jacqueline would have enjoyed when she was younger. Both of these ideas were really creative and very different. They both did a really great job at analyzing the book and the characters from the book.

Author Bio: Ariel is a senior Liberal Studies major who is graduating in the spring. She hopes to begin the multiple subject teaching credential program at Humboldt State in fall of 2018. She plans on becoming an elementary school teacher and hopes to teach lower grades, somewhere from 1st-3rd grades, but isn’t too picky. Ariel has a real passion for teaching and can’t wait to begin her career!

Featured Bloggers: Megan, Sean, Jamie L, Morgan, Tanpreet, Jodi, & Shannon

Featured Bloggers: Megan, Sean, Jamie L, Morgan, Tanpreet, Jodi, & Shannon

Megan Lago: These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of literature and collaboration. We began the week by meeting our eighth grade reading buddies from Southern California.  This will be a really great way to gain an understanding of working with students to understand a book more thoroughly. This is a very exciting opportunity and I can’t wait to see what everyone gets out of it. We have now had the opportunity to correspond twice with our buddies. I have personally been pleasantly surprised by the insightful conversation that I have had with my buddy so far. I think I may have underestimated the eighth graders.

We finished up our chapter books this week and ended the cycle with makes. This cycle the makes seem to be dominated by drawings. For Out of My Mind many chose to draw the scene in which Melody’s fish leaps out of its bowl to its death. Without speech or control of her movements, Melody was unable to save the fish: she attempted to keep it breathing by tipping the bowl covering it in water.  Her mother made the assumption that Melody knocked the fish bowl over to kill the fish rather than to save it. This was a pivotal scene because it demonstrates the frustrations Melody experiences due to her cerebral palsy. Iparticularly liked the picture of this scene drawn by Kimberly Wright because she added melody to the fishbowl representing how Melody related to the fish feeling trapped.

Regarding the book George, a story about a young trans girl struggling with the ability to self identify, I really enjoyed Tracie Sunseri’s drawing. In the drawing she shows a picture of a scene from Charlotte’s Web with the name Melissa in the web in pink. In the story, George wanted to play the role of Charlotte but was told she could not due to her biologically being a boy. I also liked how Tracie drew George’s shadow as a female representing her true identity.

I enjoyed Katie Larson’s painting of her idea of what the forest in The Girl Who Drank the Moon looked like based on the book’s description (see Morgan’s blog below). This reminded me that we all have a unique picture reel going on in our heads while we read and thought it was really cool that Katie shared hers.This is something students can easily do regardless of artistic ability that can help them immerse themselves into the story.

We also read chapter 3 of Miller’s Reading in the Wild. I along with all of my classmates were particularly interested in the concept of a reading community. As Miller tells us, being able to share reading experiences and discuss themes is a key aspect of encouraging lifelong reading. Another important theme was the fact that one teacher alone cannot foster a love of reading. Parents must share the responsibility. Miller shared a few ways to get parents involved including loaning classroom books and teaching how to incorporate reading into family routines. Something I was particularly intrigued by was the passage in which Miller explains how she accidentally killed the joy of a few boys in her class reading a slightly risque book about male puberty. This hit on the idea that reading communities do not always have to involve the teacher: books involving embarrassing topics such as that of this particular book are acceptable to remain between the boys. Finally I loved the emphasis on access to books. It’s such a simple concept but a vital aspect to any students reading career. Students surrounded by books are more likely to pick one up, even if they aren’t avid readers. Miller’s book has been nothing but wonderful. I can tell that she has a passion for reading literature and wants to share more than just the requirement to read for school. It is a surprising interesting read especially considering it is a textbook used in a college classroom. I really liked that Miller included a passage about embarrassed readers. She really knows kids! Image is a huge aspect of a child’s life, even at a very young age. Before my nephew even got into school he was embarrassed to share things he had learned. This book helped me make the connection of why. Somewhere along the line, I’m guessing from a TV show or peer he picked up the idea that knowledge was lame. Even though he has a strong desire to learn he didn’t want to be judged for it so he repressed that desire. This is why it is important for students to see people they look up to and respect enjoying reading.

Author Bio: Megan moved to Chico about 8 months ago from Solano County. She discovered she wanted to be a teacher early because she has a butt load of teachers in the family and was exposed early on. She honed in on special ed after becoming a para-educator for her home county and realized she has a special desire to work with my mod/severe students. When she’s not enthralled in education, she is outside doing adventure things or hanging with her delightful roommates.

Shannon TatmanFor the Make Cycle 3’s blog, Tanpreet, Morgan, and I decided to come together and create one blog. We each read a different chapter book to be able to show just how Cycle 3 brought us all together, which is what I primarily enjoyed about creating one blog post. I was able to hear about two of the other books that were enjoyed throughout this cycle. Morgan read George, Tanpreet read The War That Saved My Life, and I read Out of My Mind. With my chapter book, I kept a box of tissues next to me as I read more and more about an 11 year old girl who was very intelligent, but the issue was that no one ever understood just how smart she was. Melody unfortunately has Cerebral Palsy, but throughout the book each chapter explains just how difficult it is to live with a disability. Regardless of all the difficult challenges she is put through, this book does a wonderful job at showing how even if you can’t verbally say what’s on your mind, it does not mean you are not smart. Melody does an amazing job telling her story by showing everyone she loves just how smart and patient of a person she is.

As for the work we have done throughout this cycle, we were given book buddies, which was quite exciting to be able to share our thoughts with our 8th grade book buddies. As we post and talk about our books with our book buddy, we are able to create a connection with another student and figure out just how to create lesson 

plans about certain books with our future students. It’s a great way to gain experience and create conversation about a book we have hopefully never read. We kept busy finishing up our chapter books, responding to our book buddies and talking more about their certain job they had for this week’s reading, and as well as a class we all created our makes for our chapter books we read. We had a lot more drawings for this cycle of makes, but all of them were very creative.

There were a couple of makes I wanted to highlight because they caught my attention, such as Ben Anderson’s drawing. drawingIt seemed so simple when looking at the drawing, but I know for a fact that if given the chance to figure out what to draw for this book I would have so many thoughts on how I could represent the main character Melody. In this drawing I love the fact that even though it is so simple, it gets straight to the point on just how Melody truly felt. It was like she was playing a game of telephone, where no one would get the correct answer on what she was really trying to say. She was unable to speak for part of the book, and sometimes that really frustrated her, causing misfortunes between her and other loved ones throughout the book. We all as individuals get frustrated at times when we’ve tried to explain something multiple times to someone else, and they still don’t seem to quite understand. That’s exactly how Melody felt every day, and she was quite intelligent too.

The other make that caught my attention was Chantal’s. I thought she did an awesome job at taking her book and creating a lesson for it. She decided to take from the book and create her own story about a time she felt unaccepted for who she was, such as how George felt in the book when he couldn’t be himself. I think this does an amazing job at showing just how every student at one point can feel unaccepted for who they are. It’s great to reflect with students on this matter because it shows us how to appreciate one another, how to come together as a class, and all while showing their own story. Also if not wanting to connect it to the book, we can connect it by showing how they understand certain words as well. It shows a great connection to vocabulary, as well as showing a sense of creativity through drawings. As for all the other makes that were created for this cycle, they were all well done and I absolutely loved looking through them all, and getting a chance to write about all the hard work that was put into each project.

Now while we had some amazing makes the last bit of work that we also focused on for this week was Miller’s Chapter 3. As I read more of her book, I just hope and wish that I become just as amazing of a teacher as her. The way she inspires her students to read and open up offers a lot of encouragement to become more active readers. One aspect to chapter three that I absolutely loved was when she talks about how we as teachers have to bring the classroom together by creating a sense of community for our students, “I envision my classroom as a supportive place where my students and I take risks and learn” (89). Sparking us all to write about how we can start to prepare now to become the teacher Miller writes about throughout chapter 3. We all want to become an amazing teacher one day, we just have to accept the fact that it is all a learning process, and that each class we take will help us grow.

Author Bio: Shannon is in her third year at Chico State as a Liberal Studies Major while minoring in Special Education.She is from Sunny San Diego and on her spare time you can find her at Disneyland or maybe just watching a good ole Disney movie. She also enjoys to be outdoors, travel, and spending time with her family and friends when able too.


picture of TanpreetTanpreet Sahota: The book I read during this make was The War That Saved My Life. The book was really appealing to me because I am usually interested in books about war and history. I didn’t expect this book to have so much meaning and lessons within the book.  This book takes place in London just before World War II. Ada, the main character, doesn‘t know how old she is, her last name, or really anything about life outside the room where her mother has kept her in terrible conditions for as long as she can remember. Ada’s mother is embarrassed at the thought of people knowing she has a disabled daughter and was born with a clubfoot and gets around by crawling, so Ada has no dealings with other people, except to wave from her window. Her younger brother, Jamie, who’s about to start school, is more mobile and sometimes steals food for his starving sister. Their mother beats them both regularly and often doesn’t give them enough to eat. Suddenly, as World War II and a possible German invasion loom, the kids are evacuated to the countryside, where they’re so filthy and lice-infested that nobody wants them. When a local woman is forced to take them in, their lives change in unimaginable ways, including having clean clothes and regular meals. Also, there’s a pony. As the kids experience love and kindness for the first time in their lives and learn to pitch in with the war effort, Ada can’t get away from her biggest terror: that their new happiness will last only until their mother finds it more convenient to take them back to their old life. It was great to see the emotions Ada went through that some children can go through but might not know it. After reading this book it will be good for children to see what the children of the war had to go though. This would be a good way for children to see other children growing up in other circumstances and always living in fear for the unknown.

After seeing all the fun little activities that we can do for the book I really enjoyed quite a few of them that work perfectly for a lesson.  I liked what Alison Zuris did with creating the pony Butter. drawing of ponyAda had such a great connection with the pony and this was a great representation. This would be fun if the kids could make something that has an impact on them in their real life. It can be something small like a dog or an animal or even a person they look up to.  I love that it is such a simple idea but has so much meaning to the lesson. This can represent how Ada would have butter to be with in hard times and can help children create something that helps them and has an impact on them too. I also really liked Teija Gregory’s because she recreated the cover or the book. I believe that the cover of the book really represented how Ada would view her past with the dark colors but also represented her new life with the possibilities of hope. It also shows that as there is a war going on that she is able to have a new hope and outlook on a new life that she might not of had without the war happening. This is a really fun make because it represents so much in a small painting.

There were also so many other great makes from other books that were read. I really enjoyed reading the makes from the book George. I was very curious about the book itself because it already seemed to have so much meaning. I really liked the one where he is a boy but thinking of who he really wants to be.

Author Bio: Tanpreet is in her fourth year here at Chico State and is a liberal studies major. She is from Roseville and was born in England 21 years ago. She loves to travel and just explore new places in the world. She cannot wait to be a teacher and just have an impact on children.

Morgan Carrico: The book I read for this make cycle was George. I first started out reading, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and after a few days of reading it I discovered that the book was not meant for me. My table mate Sean kept telling me that I should switch books and start reading George, and I instantly decided to make the switch. And that was the best decision. If I am being honest, I would normally not chose to read a book like this but I decided to branch out and read it to expand my knowledge on a topic like this. I think that this book is something that I as a future teacher would love to have in my classroom library for my students to read. There is a chance that we may have students who are in our classrooms that may be going through the same struggles that George is going through. I think it would be so special to be able to reach for the shelf and hand the child this book and know that they can relate to this character. The book is about a transgender boy named George, who really just wants to be Melissa. Throughout the book you get to see all the different struggles she goes through with wanting to reveal to her friends and family that she is really wanting to live as Melissa. Throughout the book she struggles with the fact that her teacher will not let her be Charolette in the school play. This role in the play is “typically” played by a female student, but George is struggling to tell people that he wants to be Melissa. I think some child is facing something in their lives that they may be struggling with deep down inside. It is important to note that as future educators we should never serve things as gender specific; this means that girls and boys are interchangeable and should be able to do whatever they please without any restrictions. I think it is important to make your classroom a safe place for your students. Make them comfortable enough that they feel they are able to come up to you and tell you anything that they may be struggling with or find concerning.

This weeks makes were actually really interesting to look at. I noticed this week’s common theme for the makes was arts and crafts. As I scrolled through Google plus, I noticed the common theme of everyone sticking to drawing something. I found this to be rather interesting as opposed to last weeks make cycle. Last week I think people were way more creative and willing to step outside the box. Maybe this week, my classmates were not really motivated with their chapter books, or maybe struggled more with coming up with something creative to do. Even though Allison said that she struggled when creating this make, I still think that she was very successful. I loved the way she wrote about this make, and her creativity to use a clever pun which made me laugh. I could easily see this as an outdoor activity that you could use with your class when reading The War That Saved My Life. Even though she stated in her make that she wished it would have gone differently, I still love this make.

Another make that I personally enjoyed was the make by Katie, who read The Girl Who Drank The Moon. I love that instead of drawing on a piece of paper, she decided it would be a good idea to paint on a canvas. 

Katie's drawing

I love the different colors used to represent the sky, and the fact that the moon is that main focus of the painting. I think that this is a fun arts and crafts project that your students can do when reading any book. Have them draw or paint a picture representing a specific scene from the book, just to see how they picture it in their heads.

When it came to the makes for the book, Out of My Mind you can see the common theme was the drawing that is represented on the front over.  For the book George, I think that people had really good drawings for their makes.

I love the detail and thought that went into creating this make. I would use this as a lesson plan in my future classroom, especially when reading a complex book such as George. I like how this make was created like she was a student who was receiving this assignment from her teacher. This teacher’s students to read about a story where someone is going through a period of time where he/she may feel trapped or need help. This creative activity gives students free range to think of a time where they may have being struggling to tell someone something like George had. Overall, this make was hands down my favorite, and something I would use as an assignment for one of my future classes.

Author Bio: Morgan is a senior this year at Chico State. She is a Liberal Studies major and is so excited to enter the credential program next year at Chico State, which will put her one year closer to being able to teach in her own classroom.She is from a small town in the dry central valley called Ripon. Ever since she was a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. She grew up watching her grandma work in different elementary school classrooms as a child and knew that is it was something she wanted to do.

Jamie Ledesma: In our second make cycle I read the book George. I thought it was such an awesome book. It is about a little boy named George who wants to be a little girl. I will refer to George as a she. George wants to be named Melissa. George fantasizes about hanging out with girls and doing girly things. George is really shy and timid and does not hang out with many people. Her only friend is a girl named Kelly. Kelly is very social and outgoing. No one knows that George wants to be a girl. It kills him inside not to be able to tell people because she is not be able to be who she wants to be. She is living as someone that she is not comfortable with. By the end of the book, George finally tells people that she wants to be a girl. Everyone accepts her for who she is. Her mom tells her that she will love her no matter what. Kelly lets George borrow her clothes, but by this time she is going by Melissa. Now Melissa feels so much better because she can finally be who she wants to be.

In the first week of our make cycle we had a group presentation. I actually was one of the presenters. The book presentation for that week was about David Weisner. Traci was another presenter for the book presentation. I think she did an awesome job presenting the activity. The activity was to make a story based on the pictures that were shown. I believe that this is a great activity to do with students. This activity is engaging and it could bring out creativity in students. No student is going to have the same story or ideas, everyone is going to have something different on their paper. This is a good way for students to practice creative thinking and critical thinking.

In the second week of our make cycle we read chapter three of Reading in the Wild. Donalyn Miller is a great teacher and she has many ideas that are very inspiring and that i could use in my classroom. I love how Donalyn Miller makes reading fun in her classroom and she makes her classroom like a community. Everyone respects and cares about each other’s ideas. If the parent encourages their child to read, the child is going to be more willing to want to read. She mentions it is important to make the parents aware and give them tips on how to encourage their children to read. By doing this you are fostering a reading community.

A passage in the book that I enjoyed was on page 126 of the online book where Miller talks about homework. She talks about how many students report they do not have enough time to read because of all their homework and I believe that this is true because I know I do not have that much time to read with all my homework. She also talks about research that has been done on how homework is not even effective and that teachers should not give so much after school homework, especially if it is busy work. I believe this is true, if you are just going to assign busy work, I think it should just not be assigned, so the children have more time to read. I believe that teachers should give their students time to read inside and outside of the class. If this is encouraged then I think more students would want to read.

Then another part of our make cycle was our makes. I chose a couple that I really enjoyed. The first make I was fascinated with was Alondra Alviar’s make. She read A Girl Who Drank the Moon.  I thought there was very much thought to it. I enjoyed how her make was about an important part of the book. The boy escaped because of paper birds and was able to be free, seems like an important part of the book. It seems like it is the only happy part the book.

Another make that I really enjoyed was Kimberly Wright’s make (see above). She read the book Out of My Mind. She drew the fish jumping out of the fish bowl, which is a scene from the book. Then she also included Melody in the fishbowl. I think this captures just how melody feels. She is trapped in her own body and she can not express how she feels. Everyone thinks she is dumb and she can not do anything about it. I think that her drawing really captures how Melody feels, trapped.

Author Bio: Jamie is shy at first, but when you actually get to know her is very loud and outgoing. She has two siblings, one older brother and one younger sister; they are shown in the photo above. She has been a swim instructor for two years at Water Sprites swim school. She is not a big reader, but is trying to get into it now. This class has made her read more than ever in her college career. Jamie cannot wait to be a teacher and make a difference in little children’s lives. She cannot wait to graduate and become a teacher!




Sean Gamer: For our second make cycle, we were given several options of different chapter books to read in our English class. I chose the book George, by Alex Gino. After choosing and reading the entire book, all I could think was I wish I could have had a friend like George. In the book George, George is a male who identifies as a female. George tells her story in the first person of how she truly feels and her relationships at home and school. George in the book is very shy and timid and does not want to come out to the world as female yet. With the help of her social friend Kelly, George begins to learn more about the trans community, the important people in her life, and herself. At the back of the book, the author Alex Gino is asked questions about why he wrote the book, what he wants readers to understand about the LGBTQA+ community, some background about his personal life, and has a very positive message about the character George. Although I did not expect this, George has become a hero to me. Although she is not a real person, she has a story that needs to be told and I think this is a great book for anyone who would like to learn more about the trans community.

In addition to reading our chapter books, we were asked to read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Miller has a plethora of wonderful ideas of how to start a library but also how to maintain a classroom idea. In elementary school, a classroom library was used as a punishment. If we were being too loud in class our teachers would ask us to pull a book off the shelf and read. If we had to stay in for lunch or recess we had to sit at our desk and read a book. I don’t believe reading should be a punishment. I want a classroom library for my students. They can pop in and borrow the book and bring it back when they are done. Miller gives students the independence to read the book how they want to read the book. I wish my teachers were like that. Reading is cool. She emphasizes the importance of reading to build conversation and have the ability to not only talk about books with other peers, but recommend books to peers as well (Miller 98). As future teachers, we need to be reading and start our book collections. I cannot wait to suggest a book to a student. Perhaps, that student will like the book and want to read more from the author.

It was a treat to see my classmates’ artifacts they have created from this cycle. I was infatuated with the masterpieces that reflected the chapter books we read for the past two weeks. There was a lot of art and I think that was the a good way to tie in what we found most interesting about our chapter books. Everyone in the class offered a unique perspective to what they read. My first example I would like to showcase is Colleen’s play bill drawing. I think this is a unique way to introduce a significant detail in the book George.  This is something that can be done in a classroom and each student can design their own interpretation of what the play bill could have looked like in the book.

There were an abundance of drawings for this make cycle. That is why the origami paper crane made by Alondra Alviar stuck out to me. In the book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Alondra gives an insight about Luna and Atain’s story. I think with plenty of visual aids, a teacher can do this as an introduction before reading the book. Nice work Alondra.

I was also very enlightened by Alison Zuris’ butter on a stick idea. It was so adorable. Alison explains to us that she made this horse on a stick in her front yard because Ada in the book, The War that Saved my Life, develops a strong connection with a pony. Alison’s original idea was to make a stuffed horse, but this idea can be done in the classroom. It is also adorable!

Author Bio: When he’s not in the classroom, Sean loves to play tennis and run. He also loves to be on the beach and explore upper park. He can’t wait to become a teacher and have his own classroom.

Jodi Steigerwald: The book I chose to read for this Make cycle is The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

I really enjoyed reading this book because Kelly Barnhill does an amazing job at transporting the reader to a completely different universe. While reading, I found the words that she used for some of the main terms used throughout the book really interesting and specific. An example of this is how she names the sad, controlled town “The Protectorate.” The age group that Barnhill targets to read the book is fifth grade- middle school kids, and personally at that age, I would never had thought to connect the word “Protectorate” to the actual meaning of the word. By using a term a slightly more magical word, she helps students unintentionally connect words to their meaning. Barnhill also uses very descriptive language throughout the entire book. The illuminating language creates a bubble of fantasy for the kids who read the book. Because of this, this book would be very useful for kids who are having trouble picking up a book and reading it until the end.

A part of Miller’s chapter three that really stood out to me and made a lasting impression was her graffiti wall. Her idea to have kids write down their reading influences is a great idea. All kids have different styles of what they like to read. Having students fill out this worksheet is a really helpful for the teacher to keep track of how students’ tastes in books evolve or stay the same. Miller is a very well read teacher in the way that she can recommend a book to any kid in her class. Having this worksheet, a teacher can start recommending books on certain subjects to kids, or even start seeking out books that are on a subject they may not be well read in.

This week of Makes was really fun to look at! I really enjoyed looking at all the different ways that people enjoyed and interpreted their chapter books. I think the Make process is so interesting to look at because of how many different ways the people in our class decide to do makes. I really enjoyed the make by Kimberly. I thought she drew a really cool picture for the book Out of my Mind. I thought it was really creative how she drew Melody inside of the fish bowl with Ollie, her fish. This is such a creative way to show how Melody feels trapped in her own body. This drawing is also a way to help people understand how Melody wishes she could do the same thing as Ollie and escape out of her body.  Another Make I really enjoyed was Alondra’s origami paper bird. I thought it went along perfectly with one of the turning points in the book when the Madwoman escapes.

Author Bio: Jodi is a 2nd year at Chico State. She is a liberal studies major and wants to become a Kindergarten- 3rd grade teacher. She has 3 older sisters and a younger brother that are scattered in between California and Texas. Her 2 dogs, Ronni and Murphy, are her pride and joy.

Featured Bloggers: Alison, Colleen, Tracie, Kim, Jorden & Savannah

Featured Bloggers: Alison, Colleen, Tracie, Kim, Jorden & Savannah

Alison Zuris

This first make cycle was such a wonderful and different experience in comparison to my other English classes throughout my college career. Our first week began with a major focus on our series books which mostly consisted of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was in one of the many Series of Unfortunate Events groups and had some interesting discussion over the course of the two week make cycle. Most of our conversations centered around the themes of these books and whether or not we would include them in our classroom. The general consensus was that yes, we would include them in a class library as we all enjoyed them as children and thought that the educational aspect would be beneficial. One of conversations brought forth the issue of child neglect, which is the central conflict of all the troubles and adventures the Boudelaire children take part in. I see the different caretakers and villainous Count Olaf to be a reflection of the foster care system and that many children do not have the safety and security of a stable home life. I know that there are good people who take in foster children–this is reflected in that not all of the caretakers of the Boudelaire children are evil. Throughout the series there are many people who love and care for the children just as there are kind people in the foster care system. I feel that these books will help my students develop compassion for those less fortunate and give validity and a place where kids who may not have the best home life to see their own stories being told.

My favorite part of class for both weeks of the make cycle was the quiet reading in class. In Donalyn Miller’s book, Reading in the Wild, she mentions that when she sets up the structure of her classroom for the school year that no matter her lesson planning, she tries to never shorten the in-class reading time. I feel this value reflected in our own class and find it so important. Our lives are so entirely chaotic that giving us (and our future students) a space where they can just be and read and go on their literary adventures is just simplistically beautiful to me.

With our first week of the make cycle came our first picture book presentation! The author discussed was Peter Reynolds and the book we had read aloud to us by the presenters was The Dot. This book cultivated a nation-wide movement in schools to celebrate International Dot Day where children are encouraged to make their mark in the world and participate in creative activities together centered around dots. I really enjoyed this presentation because we got to make our mark and create pictures and works of art starting with a dot. The presenting group did a lovely job of introducing their author and beginning our Dot-work with their own picture that they drew along with us. I am excited to implement this activity and International Dot Day into my own classroom. After finishing our pictures, we took a group photo and tweeted out to Peter Reynolds.

The beginning of our second week of the make cycle got off to an exciting start. We got to take a look at our 8th grade buddies’ Instagram and our upcoming book list that we will be reading alongside the 8th graders. I’m so excited to be reading along with these students and to see how their teacher provides a learning space for her students. Taking a look at some of 8th graders segwayed into discussing Donalyn Miller’s prolific collection of books and the understanding of her student’s tastes when providing them with book choices. Kim brought up an excellent question: how are we going to know which books our students will enjoy? Basically, we are never allowed to stop reading books. Ever. BUT! Isn’t that great though? I think reading what a student reads is essential in understanding their view of the world. With book choice came book purchasing…Where do we begin? The best places to start the book collection would definitely be yard sales and book sales at local libraries. The 8th grade teacher our class is partnering with had a Gofundme page earlier this year to help with the cost of purchasing books for all her students. At the beginning of this semester, Kim purchased 30 copies of Love That Dog so that we could all read it together as a class. The bottom line is that there are ways to start our libraries now for our students, and beginning as soon as possible (like, yesterday) is our best option.

Another strength Miller has as an English teacher is her allowance for book choice. So often in our own experiences we were not allowed to choose our book lists. Miller even allows her students to not finish a book if they really can’t get through it. She does, however, point out that it is wise to keep an eye on the readers who rarely finish a book as it could be a sign of some other struggle besides a dud book. The class discussion centering on choice was so interesting because our own struggles as young readers was disliking the forced reading with no choice. However, now as adults some of us struggle with so much freedom of choice that we often don’t know where to begin.

Our second week ended with a very touching picture book presentation where we had Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes read to us as a whole class while we simultaneously took part in an activity. Chrysanthemum tells the story of a little mouse named Chrysanthemum and the struggle with bullies over her name when she begins school as a little mouse. For the activity, we had paper hearts that we would crinkle every time something negative was said about Chrysanthemum’s name.  The presenters, Anna-Lena and Sydney, explained that this activity is often used at the start of a school year to show kids the effects their words have on other people. Although we did un-crinkle our paper hearts, we could still see the crinkles left on them as proof that words leaving lasting impressions even if we no longer believe them. I loved this activity and book and would definitely add it to my class. The book is already on my GoodReads list for my classroom.

The ultimate culmination of our first make cycle together were our makes! I was so excited to take a look at what everyone made and was not disappointed. I chose three makes to highlight for the blog and all of them are from A Series of Unfortunate Events.PhotoThe first is Sean’s Wanted poster of Count Olaf. I thought this was so clever, and I especially loved that he actually posted it on a pole like a real Wanted poster. The idea behind Sean wanting kids to hunt down and expose Olaf showed a real love for the story, and it was an idea that seemed so original.

The second make that really caught my eye was Jamie and Brittanee’s. It might be because I am craving pasta and nothing other than pasta seems important right now, but I loved that she made the dish the children made as a team. One of the things the Boudelaire children do best is solve problems with one another, and I think making the pasta they made was a great way to pay homage to that particular trait the children have.

The third make that I found to be really creative was Megan and Jody’s dictionary of Sunny’s baby phrases that Lemony Snicket defines throughout the books. I admire their skill at hunting down the amount of phrases to define. I also would literally have never thought of this and thought it was a really interesting idea to collect Sunny’s phrases.Photo

Overall I really enjoyed this first make, and am so excited for the rest of the class to unfold. Looking through everyone’s makes made me really excited to do my own in the coming weeks!

Author Bio: Alison is a born and bred Northern Californian and loves comfy sweaters and coffee almost as much as she loves Jane Austen novels. As a kid, she would often get in trouble for reading late into the night, and is excited to rekindle her love of reading with her students. Wanting to be a teacher since she was a little girl, Alison cannot wait to graduate in the spring and pursue her career.


Colleen McGowan

In order for a series book, or any book for that matter, to be good, it has to have a hook. For the reader to want to continue to read the books, that hook has to be one hell of an attention grabber. The Series of Unfortunate Events has that attention grabber in the form of three orphans who continuously have horrible things happening to them. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are shipped from new home to new home after the tragic death of their parents. Catastrophic events continue to follow them everywhere they go, some of those events come in the form of a person, Count Olaf, a sociopath after the fortune that the orphans parents left them in the event of their death. Even though these books seem morbid and unfortunate, Snicket manages to highlight the importance of family and being there for each other in the worst of times. These books have suspense, moments of joy, moments of sadness, and just about everything that a book needs in order to keep the reader interested. As a child, I loved reading A Series of Unfortunate Events. When we would take some time in class to read, I would immediately get lost in the story, imagining myself going through what Violet, Klaus, and Sunny went through. Snicket’s use of descriptive language allows the young readers to broaden their use of the English language while gaining confidence in their reading ability. In addition to this, Snicket includes a very strong message behind deciding to write Violet as an inventor and Klaus as a reader and Sunny as a biter. He wants children to be open to being anything and anyone that they want to be. Girls can be inventors and engineers, boys can be readers, and young babies can bite.

Throughout this make, we have been reading Donalyn Miller’s book Reading in the Wild, specifically her perspective on self-select reading material. In chapter two, Miller explains that allowing students to choose their own books rather than forcing them to read one of your books lets children gain self-confidence in their reading ability, lets them figure out what kind of books they enjoy reading, improves reading achievement, and fosters a love of reading that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have elementary school teachers who gave me the freedom to pick my books. However, when I entered middle school, I had by far one of the worst English teachers of my school career. She picked books out for us, forced us to take exams on the reading content, and failed us if we simply did not like the book. She made me read the book Animal Farm, which I absolutely hated. In fact, I hated it so much that when we had to write a paper on the book, I wrote a paper on why I hated the book. Evidently, she failed me and forced me to take summer school. That was the moment I stopped reading for fun. Now that I am in college and I have had the opportunity to read all of these children’s books, I am reminded of why I used to love to read. Reading and understanding Miller’s perspective on getting children to read has given me the opportunity to reflect on my past experiences and learn from the mistakes of my teachers.

We also took time to discuss the different books that we were reading. One of the most captivating books that they talked about other than A Series of Unfortunate Events was the Weenies series book. This book is a collection of short, scary stories that collectively scare children into being good kids. One of the stories that my classmates discussed was about a young boy who went into an ice cream parlor. When he sees a girl walk by, he tries to talk to her but the mother said that the boy and the ice cream parlor burned down years ago. Personally, I would find this kind of book very interesting, but a bit too scary to read as a kid. The following class we discussed the other book series called Babymouse. This series is a comic book that follows the life of a young mouse who is simply trying to fit in. This book is great for a child who is a bit hesitant to read because it includes that comic book style of writing. Finally, the last book series for my classmates to read about was Origami Yoda, a book with different children narrators who put on an origami yoda and are suddenly able to give great advice. This book is great for those children who love science fiction and reading from different narrators. After discussing all of these great books in class, I was very excited to see what kind of makes people would be doing on Sunday.

Before I saw how the makes would look, I was rather hesitant on the idea of the makes. I was not even sure how people would do them and how creative they would be. After looking at the end result of everyone’s makes, I love them all.

PhotoOne of my favorite makes was from Jamie and Brittanee because they made the pasta that the orphans made for Count Olaf in the first book of A Series of Unfortunate Events.When I read this book as a kid, I made my mom make it for me for dinner. I love how Brittanee commented on the fact that this shows children that they can truly do anything they put their mind to.

Another make that I loved was from Sierra Dallugge. She decided to do make her own movie trailer about the book Origami Yoda. Her review was a fun and creative to do a make, which is a quality that all teachers need to have.

This first session of makes and series books has been a fun and new way to read and write in the classroom. I can’t wait to see what is in store for our next set of makes.

Author Bio: Colleen is a liberal studies major with a minor in special education. She would like to teach 4th- 6th grade, but is open to teaching any grade level. She didn’t realize that she wanted to be a teacher until she started working as a camp director in her home town, San Rafael. She has a younger sister who studies art at Humboldt and a dog with too much energy. She loves to travel and last year she studied in Dublin, Ireland where she worked with refugee children who needed that extra support in their new home. 

Tracie Sunseri

For the past two weeks we have been engaged in reading our series books. A majority of the class choose to read A Series of Unfortunate Events, but some students opted to read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, and Babymouse Queen of the World. I personally read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, but from what I can tell from the other books they all seem to be good books for little kids to read. They all are intended for a different audience so no matter who you are trying to choose a book for, one of these series will work for them.

The overall idea that I have gotten from my classmates who were reading the other books, they all seemed to enjoy their books. The group who was reading The Curse of the Campfire Weenies by David Lubar described the book as being “very weird” with “creepy stories” but they were great for “reluctant readers” and lots of students would love them. The few students who read Babymouse Queen of the World by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm  described it in one word: Pink. But they did say the overall message behind the story was to encourage the readers to “be yourself.” For the The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angelberger, they enjoyed how the stories were short yet descriptive and it was about a loner kid who has inspirational ideas, but only when he has Origami Yoda on his finger. These all seem like interesting books that I would love to have in my classroom one day.

Like I said I choose A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and I will admit I had not expected the book to be what it was. I know that this book is a popular story to read but despite the warning the author leaves you on the back of the book jacket, I still felt that the story can’t be too bad because it is a children’s book. I was wrong. This book has very dark content included and throughout the whole book I was questioning why teachers would encourage their students to read this series. My group and I commented that despite the dark theme of the book there were some positives to this series. One positives that we discussed was that it had lots of advanced vocabulary.

“The word ‘standoffish’ is a wonderful one, but it does not describe Count Olaf’s behavior toward the children. It means ‘reluctant to associate with others,’ and it might describe somebody who, during a party, would stand in a corner and not talk to anyone. It would not describe somebody who provides one bed for three people to sleep in, forces them to do horrible chores, and strikes them across the face. There are many words for people like that, but ‘standoffish’ is not one of them” (Snicket 74).

The author makes sure that the readers understand what he is trying to explain to them and doesn’t want any misunderstanding when using the bigger words in his book. This is a good technique to use in stories for younger kids because many times if a student comes across a word that they don’t understand, they will either stop and look it up in a dictionary, which will disrupt their reading, or they will continue reading and ignore the word. This allows the students to learn new words and not disrupt their reading experience.

Another positive we found in the book was that this series provides many positive role models for the students to look up to. The three main children in the book, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are constantly looking for a solution to their problems that they find themselves in, instead of focusing on the negatives. Violet is the eldest and makes sure to look out for her younger siblings while also having a fascination for inventions and is always trying to find an easier method to getting something done. Klaus the middle child loves to read books and he is willing to stay up all night to finish a book that he is enthralled with. Sunny is the youngest of the siblings and even though she can’t speak yet, her siblings are able to communicate with her which shows how close the three of them are and will continue to be. As future teachers, we need to find these sort of role models for our students to look up to in their reading. So many stories that they read are filled with fantasy and unrealistic expectations of characters and life experiences so we need these type of stories that have aspects that the children can connect to when they read.

In the past two weeks we have also had two Picture Book Author Presentations about Peter H. Reynolds and Kevin Henkes. For Peter H. Reynolds we celebrated International Dot Day by creating a picture based in dots. It was a nice exercise because I know kids are usually afraid to draw because they say they can’t draw lines or they don’t think their work is real art, but his book shows us that we need to embrace creativity everywhere and even a small dot can be art. The other author we explored was Kevin Henkes and he is the author of Chrysanthemum. I have read this book a few times as a kid and have even worked in a school where the teacher used it as a first day of school activity involving their names, but I have never done an activity like we did in class. The story is about a little girl who at first likes her unique name but then the students at school start to make fun of her name and she begins to regret having a unique name. For the activity we each got a paper heart and every time a mean thing was said we had to crumple the heart. This is an extremely powerful message that we need to teach kids that if they say something mean, it will leave a lasting mark. Even when we unfolded the heart as if to apologize the effects were still there. I am defiantly going to use this activity in my classroom one day because it is a strong way to get the message across to the students.

At the end of these two weeks we all split up to make something that represents our books. Everyone did an amazing job at capitalizing on the themes involved in their books but there were four that I wanted to highlight personally. The first being Brittanee Garcia and Jamie Ledesma who choose to recreate one of the foods that the children made in the book. This is a great activity that you can do with your own students if you choose to read this story with them. I like how Jamie mentions that “this scene sets out and shows there perseverance and determination. They did not know how to make anything, but they found a way to complete the task they were told to do.” This brings the story into the real world and allows the students to understand how those children might have felt while getting a nice treat.

Another project that I enjoyed was Elizabeth Harmer’s Stained Glass window drawing. PhotoImmediately upon looking at it see lots of colors which draws you in but upon further reflection you notice the words inside that fill up the outline of Count Olaf’s silhouette. This is very inspiring and creative and I loved how she connected the students to a stained glass window because they are broken but yet still able to pull themselves together to fix their own problems.

Another that I thoroughly enjoyed was from Sierra Dallugge and her puppet friend Theodore. This was an inspiring way to take a boring book review and make it fun and interesting. I loved the back and forth between the two and what I really enjoyed was that it didn’t look rehearsed and it flowed nicely. You can tell that she had prepared enough to be able to discuss the book without needing notecards or a script. This would be a cute thing to do in class as a way to have students show that they understand the book, and I bet lots of kids would love to be the part of the puppet.

The last project that I want to highlight was that of Jody McCurry and Megan Lago. They created “An Unfortunate Dictionary of Sunny Baudelaire’s Words” and it was very creative. The amount of work they must have gone through to put this together is astonishing and I think my favorite part is the introduction that shares some similarities to the back cover of the book. All of the project that were made were very inventive and I can not wait to see what else we make as the semester goes on. These were great but as we venture further we will become more daring and try even more crazy things and will end up with amazing results. So to end my blog I want to give everyone some advice: use this time to try things you would have never tried before. Soon we will be teachers and we will tell ourselves that we don’t want to try something new in fear of it not working so take this time now to try it out so you can use it later.

Author BioTracie is a Chico State Senior majoring in Liberal Studies with a minor in Special Education. She is an avid reader who loves all things Disney and Harry Potter. This future teacher is excited to graduate this spring and start using all the tools she has been given in her own classroom. “Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning.”

picture of JordenJorden Weiher

I think this was a GREAT first make cycle. The conversations in class sparked interest and were full of great ideas. I can’t believe how creative everyone was with the makes, they were awesome!

Class conversations about Miller’s chapter 2 were one of my favorite things in this cycle. We talked about finishing books, AR reading tests, and how we grow a library for our future classrooms. This conversation sparked so many questions. Should students be forced to finish a book if they start it? Should AR tests still be used? Considering we 19-24 year olds remember them as a child, meaning they are how old?! Personally, my favorite part of the conversation was how in the hell do we get a class library? Also, paper books are better than digital copies. You never have to worry about a paperback book glitching and not turning on that day. Paper books are the way to go! Also I want to give a shout out to Sydney. You had such great things to offer to our class discussion. You made me think of ways to engage my future students and how to help my students become great readers. So thank you!

I for some reason decided to keep all the books that I collected growing up and they are in my attic, but I know that I don’t have nearly enough to start a library. I can’t imagine the future teachers that have no books to even start with! So where do you find books that don’t break your bank? Yard sales and thrift stores. Grab all the books!

I read the series book Babymouse: Queen of the World, it was an interesting book, but I am not sure I would ever read it as a whole to my class. I might share it with a student that I thought would be interested in a graphic novel. It was cute and had a great message, and for some students it would be a great. Both the picture book presentations were great! Peter Reynolds, International Dot Day activity was so fun and I felt like we got to be a part of something that we could all use in our future classroom. On the other side of the spectrum was the Chrysanthemum activity, it was so eye opening, yet so sad. It would be a great activity to use in the classroom and show students how words hurt. Both of these make me so excited for the future picture book presentations.

The makes from this cycle were all so creative and look great, but a couple of my favorites were, Jamielyn’s little burn book, Brittanee and Jamie’s meal (Can you share the recipe?), and Sierra’s video with the Theodore. All the makes were crazy imaginative and I am so excited to see how much better they get over the course of the semester. image of burnbookThe burn book was a creative way to showcase the main quotes and events that happen in the story. The burned edges were a great touch to add more depth to the project. I thought it was awesome! I am so interested in the meal that Brittanee and Jamie made. It has been such a long time since I read a Series of Unfortunate Events. Was that the actual recipe from the book? Did you try it? What is in it? I just have so many questions! So creative and so fun! Sierra’s video was great. I can just see students watching the video and then wanting to read the book. It was a perfect trailer for the book, and Theodore was a great added touch and he was so cute!

Author Bio: Jorden is from Escalon and is finishing her last year as a liberal studies student at Chico State. She hopes to become an elementary teacher back in her hometown of Escalon.

Kim Wright

The first make that I chose to highlight from this week was Sean Gamer’s. Sean chose to make a Wanted sign with Count Olaf’s face on it. He explained how he felt that the Baudelaire children were close with each other because they didn’t really have anyone else in their lives after their parents died, and he related to that because him and his siblings are also very close. He felt that the children deserved some closure for the awful things that Count Olaf did to them and so he wanted to make a Wanted poster to help them find him, and as Sean so eloquently said,

“I want the kids to find him and push him off a cliff.”

Sean did a very good job of creatively expressing his hate for Count Olaf into this poster.

The second make that I chose to highlight was Brittanee Garcia’s. She actually made something that was of very good use to her: food! She explained how in the book, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf forces the children to make a pasta dinner for him and his friends. She says that this task would be difficult for these children, but since they were able to work together so well, they were able to successfully make the dinner. I agree with her statement that this book teaches a lot of different lessons to children, like working together to solve problems. That is why this Brittanee’s creative make and I’m hoping that she enjoyed her pasta dinner just as much!

The last make that I would like to highlight is Jamielyn Borrego’s. She made a collection of quotes and passages from the book about the terrible fire. She then burned and tore and made these papers look like they had actually been in a fire. I loved her creativity with this and I feel a student would really like making something like this (as long as they do it safely with adult supervision). This booklet is a good way to focus on just the fire in the book and the extreme sorrow that came from it. I really liked this make because the fire is the centerpiece of this whole series; it was the catalyst for the rest of the book. I think this make was very creative, yet intellectual and was overall executed very well.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read and look at everyone’s makes. I feel that everyone put in a lot of hard work into creating something interesting for the class. The three that I chose of highlight were some of my favorites because of their uniqueness, creativity, and overall successfulness in the final project. I am excited to see what my classmates will come up with for the rest of the makes this year.

Author Bio: Kim is in her third year at Chico State. She is majoring in Liberal Studies and plans a career as an Elementary school teacher. When she is not in school, you can find her playing volleyball for the Chico State team.

Savannah Avila

I read the first book of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. In a nutshell, the book follows the lives of three very unlucky orphans who are sent to live with a distant relative plotting to steal their fortune. I was really happy to read it again as an adult because it gave me a different perspective on it than when I read it as a child. From a teacher standpoint, I think this book appeals to so many different students. It shakes up gender roles a bit and gives strong role models for getting through hard times. Lemony Snicket also does a fantastic job of making the reader feel equal to him. I think this is especially key for younger readers because he gives them a plethora of new vocabulary and that feeling of being grown up. To sum it up, this whole series will definitely make the cut into my classroom library.

As a class, we watched the Mac Barnett’s TED talk about why a good book is a secret door. Mac Barnett is an award winning children’s author and in my opinion, a genius. I think this talk is a serious highlight of this make cycle because it gives such meaning to the word “wonder” and an insight into what books a student will want to read. My favorite part of this talk is his evidence of how, we, as readers can know something isn’t real but also know it is real. For instance, three summers ago I went to Harry Potter world at Universal Studios in Orlando and even though I knew it wasn’t real, I was so elated to be there. I still tried the butterbeer and held the wands because J.K Rowling made them feel real.

Barnett says, “we know these characters aren’t real but we have real feelings for them.”

To me, that encompasses the magic of books.

Now, time to shout out some awesome makes! This week was so hard to choose, they were all so creative and amazing. Everyone who drew or made art, I commend you to the highest degree. I can’t draw very well so it’s always mind blowing to see people who can.

One make that stood out was Megan and Jody’s dictionary of Sunny Baudelaire’s (from A Series of Unfortunate Events) words. If you don’t know, Sunny is a baby who speaks strictly gibberish but Lemony Snicket gives meaning to those words. Megan and Jody did an excellent job of playing Lemony Snicket here and gave definitions to Sunny’s words. Not only did they embody Snicket with the definitions, but with their introduction as well.

They warn readers that “you will avoid wasting any more of your precious time on this useless collection of baby babbles that could only be of interest to an English 341 class or a group of children.”

Not only do Megan and Jody do a great job with their make, they thought of something so unique!

Another make that I want to shout out was Benjamin’s origami yoda (from Origami Yoda).Photo This make was simple but so clever. I think this would be a great activity for a class to do while reading the book. I also really liked what he had to say about what origami yoda represents and that’s a level of consciousness. Something we all have inside us but often forget about, explains Benjamin. I think that would be a really important and valuable lesson to kids.

I couldn’t pick just one make from the Babymouse series; I really loved everyone’s pictures. They were all unique from one another with different themes or settings incorporated. I learned from Alondra’s make that the book includes directions on how to draw babymouse which would be a great class activity. One thing that was interesting about all these makes is that they all included Babymouse’s famous heart on her clothing.Photo

The last make I want to highlight is Sydney’s comic book from The Weenies Series. I loved the drawings and felt it showed the chapter perfectly. I think she had a very good idea about having students make comic strips for this book because the chapters are so short; it’s a great alternative to writing a summary.Photo

I had a great time looking at everyone’s makes and am excited for more to come!


Author Bio: Savannah is a liberal studies major with a special education minor. She knew she wanted to teach special education in the 5th grade when her teacher would let her go help out in the special day class. Since then, it has been her passion. She took a gap year before coming to Chico State and taught outdoor education at Shady Creek Outdoor School as a student naturalist to students ranging from 4th-8th. Her goals are to eventually get her master’s as well as her PhD so that I can help teach the next round of educators.