Make Cycles

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

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Make Cycle 6

Make Cycle 6

Make Cycle 6: Creating Effective Writing Assignments

Nov 2-Nov 20 (3 week Make Cycle +Thanksgiving break)

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

Looking forward to seeing what y’all come up with! Feel free to draw from your ideas from chapter 6 where you started to think through ideas for writing instruction.

In a nutshell:

  • By Sunday, Nov 8: Read Chapter 7 and Appendix G from About the Authors and work with the Common Core standards.
  • By Thursday, Nov 12 (Veteran’s Day is Nov 11; thank you Veterans): create a writing activity for your partner to try out (find partners below)
  • By Wednesday, Nov 18: try out your partner’s writing activity and post it as a comment to their post from Nov 12.
  • By Friday, Nov 20: give feedback to your partner on their writing and write a reflection about the activity you created and how things worked out.

Thanksgiving break Nov 23-27


Nov 2-Nov 8: 

By Sunday, Nov 8: About the Authors chapter 7 and Appendix G (188-191)

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

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

Then, look over the writing standards in Common Core for your grade level of choice:

You can also find examples of student writing from Common Core here. They’re pretty cute.

Respond: What can you imagine borrowing from chapter 7 as you think through assessment of your future students’ writing? How does their chapter perhaps change the way you think about assessment or how does it add some new ideas to your repertoire? What will you want to try out? What seems challenging still about assessment? How might you change some things for grades above 1st grade? What do you notice about the standards for your grade level choice? How would you incorporate some of the standards with ideas from About the Authors? Given your take aways from Chapter 7 on assessment, consider how you might blend their assessment suggestions with a couple of these standards. How will you use the Common Core standards in the design of your writing assignments? (Of course you don’t have to answer all these questions: choose some to think about in relation to assessment)

Post in Make Cycle 6: Assessment


Nov 9-20:

By Thursday, Nov 12

Part I: You will create a writing activity for your partner to try out (see partners below). You can address your post to your partner: “Hey Laurie, check out the activity I have designed for you to try…” *Note: it is very important that you complete this assignment on time so that your partner can try out your activity. ALSO, CHECK OUT THE EXAMPLES BELOW: works really well to create the activity in Google Slides like Tamara’s below. Make sure you set the share settings to “anyone can view.” 😉

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

You’ll start by choosing a picture book from the one of the authors listed below OR use the book/author you were assigned for your Picture Book Resource from Nov 2.

Then, once you have your book chosen, your activity should have these parts:

  1. Use the picture book (one from the authors above or from your Picture Book Resource project) as mentor text to create a writing activity. You’ve talked about things you’ve noticed in mentor texts many times throughout the semester, so now you just need to turn those “noticings” into something about writing you want to model for students.
  2. Create an activity/prompt based on your mentor text (something based on the theme? Based on a structure or favorite line?). Give your partner instructions for the writing activity: what will students do/write (i.e. what will your partner do/write)?
    • If helpful, return to your responses and one of the ideas for a focus study in About the Authors (from the chart on 105-106). Create an activity or mini-lesson from the ideas in their chart using your mentor text. What element of writing do you want to focus on in this activity?
  3. Intended grade level: xxx
  4. What part of the school year do you imagine this taking place and why? How does this activity fit into a larger series of assignments or class plans?
  5. What materials are needed?
  6. Answer this: “Students will be able to…” (objectives)
  7. Assessment: how will you assess the activity? What would you expect to see in students’ writing if things go as expected?
  8. Common Core Standard(s): you can choose one or more as your target standard.
  9. MAKE SURE THE SHARE SETTINGS in Google ARE SET TO “ANYONE CAN VIEW” 😉

**HERE is an example from a former student, Tamara. She placed the book and the activity in Google Slides for her partner (the assignment is in the last few slides). And here is what this looked like in Currents with her partner, Raphael’s, response.

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

And just to reiterate: you have a partner (see below). You will each create your own writing activity (using the prompts above) for your partner to try out. So, you will play the part of both teacher and student. You create an activity as the teacher for your partner to try out as your student; and your partner will create an activity for you to try out as the student. Your “teacher” assignment (above) is due Nov 12 for both of you. Your responses–you trying out each other’s assignments/activities–is due Nov 18. Feedback to your writer and your reflection is due Friday, Nov 20.

Post in Make Cycle 6: Writing Activity (*note: no peer response for this post since the partner will be trying out the activity and commenting once he or she completes the activity by Nov 18; see below)


By Wednesday, Nov 18 Part II:

Find your partner below:

  • Elizabeth & Kristi
  • Laurie & Catherine
  • Michael & Julian
  • Linda & Valeria T
  • Caroleigh & Taneesha
  • Jessica & Valeria M
  • Sofia & Brenda
  • Kendra & Madi
  • Amanda & Mehri
  • Ashley & Maira
  • Denise & Juliana
  • Star & Lauren
  • Maria O & Mariana
  • Brittany & Alyson
  • Serena & Katie

You’ll try out the writing activity from your partner and post your writing as a response to their activity description in Currents. In other words, your completed assignment (the writing you did in response to the “teachers'” writing assignment) should be in their comments. Your response to the “teacher” should include:

  1. the writing you created based on their activity description and
  2. a reflection about how the activity worked for you: what worked for you as a writer using their activity and what was challenging? What suggestions would you make for your peer (the teacher) in terms of revising the activity?

Post in Currents as a response to your partner’s post (the activity description) in Writing Activity (can post a link to a Google Doc with your writing if that makes sense too as a link in a comment. Make sure share settings are so we can view)

By Friday, Nov 20 PART III: 

photo of 5 year old handwriting WSPNTwo parts:

  • Respond to your partner in the comments: say something nice about the writing they did for you? What do you like about it? How did the writer do with your assignment?
  • Write a reflection about your activity plan: how did your activity work out? Did the writer (your partner) complete the activity like you expected? Anything surprise you? What would you revise in the activity based on the writer’s work and their feedback to you? Post this in the comments to your writing activity.

Hope you have a relaxing Thanksgiving Break!