Make Cycles

Our course is organized by two week “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. We will read, discuss, and make things based on the children’s books we’re reading. You can find the “weekly work” for each cycle in the drop down menu above.

Google+ Community

We will share most of our work in a Google+ Community. We can upload images, respond to each other’s ideas, and share links and artifacts here.

Author: kjaxon

Updates & Such Things

Updates & Such Things

Hi everyone,

Moments ago, I sent another grade update. It was so much fun to see how many of you talked about not being sure about reading graphic novels, or that you really never read comics, but that you now have a new appreciation. Very cool. The Nerdy Book Club site is a great resource for finding books for kids and they have some great posts about graphic novels in particular:

  • Top Ten Graphic Novels for Readers Who Don’t Like Graphic Novels: LINK HERE
  • More articles from a search on their site here

You also did a great job with your picture book resource. You should consider copying and pasting the resource Google Slide links from your peers into perhaps a Google Doc for yourself for later reference when you teach. You basically have 30+ resources for teaching with these picture book authors! And they are really good. Lots of resources you can reference in those slides. Thank you everyone!

We only have two more Make Cycles this semester: one with your YA novel and one that focuses on remix and reflection. I am excited for you to read your Young Adult novels; these are some of my new, favorite books. Hoping you enjoy them. We have minimal reading for the last make cycle: mostly focused on reflection work.

Finally, I posted the next Make Cycle for YA Novels. Happy Reading!

Grade Update sent

Grade Update sent

Howdy everyone,

Just FYI that you should have received an individual grade update a few minutes ago. Your responses are just a blast to read and I appreciate your insights into reading practices and the series books. My plan is to also leave feedback on your Miller chapter 1 responses, so hoping to do that later today. I read them in order to get grades done, but have not had a chance to comment: you have such interesting stories to tell about your own reading and connections to Miller’s ideas that I’d like to weigh in too.

Look forward to seeing what you do with the next round of Makes for your series books!

I’ll share the next Make Cycle (for Chapter books) on Friday. You can count on about a 2 week turn around for each book we read. I always pick some new books that I have not read yet so that I can read along too. I’m reading Front Desk for the chapter book choice and just finished I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (one of the YA choices later this semester) and loved it.

Happy reading y’all


Updates: Grades Sent, Reminders

Updates: Grades Sent, Reminders

Hello everyone,

Wow. You all did some amazing work with the Little Red series of stories. And, you made me laugh with your responses to the Bugs Bunny poem. Yep, as Yorleidi said, “If I were Red Riding Hood I would’ve started running back home as fast as I could.” I put a couple responses I really liked (they were all so good it was hard to choose) from Krystal and Anna below.

I sent a grade update to your Wildcat Mail just moments ago. I’ll typically send grades every two weeks usually following a Make Cycle. And, I really try to give full credit for your effort. If you received an 8/10, then look at some of the examples like the ones below or under the Example Student work page. I only take a couple points off when I think the response is too brief for what we’re trying to understand.

A couple of reminders:

  • Make sure your books are ordered. We’ll start reading Donalyn Miller and your series book next week. Link again here to book choices. Make sure you checked your picture book too for the Picture Book Resource Assignment (due in late March)
  • Cinderella response due tonight (Feb 5) and Make 1 due Sunday (Feb 10)
  • Note about G+: some of you may have received the email from Google about G+ communities being shut down. This is only true for the consumer side, not Google Suite (Google apps for education is what we have on campus: Google actually powers your emails). WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU is that you need to make sure you joined our G+ community using your Chico State log in. Log in to your Chico State portal and then click the link to our G+ and you’ll be good. You have until late March to figure it out. And, it is always good practice to write your responses in something like Google Docs or your preferred composing platform and paste into G+ (or Blackboard or whatever thing you are being asked to post in): I always have my own copy of the things I write. As long as you’re using your Chico State log in, you’ll be good.

Examples from the LRRH series:

Krystal B

Prompt 1:

I thought Maria Tatar’s analysis of Little Red Riding Hood was interesting, though it was honestly a bit difficult for me to follow. I’m fascinated by the way that fairy tales were originally told, “with heavy doses of burlesque comedy, melodramatic action, scatological humor, and free-wheeling violence.” When I read “The Story of Grandmother!”, what Tatar wrote made more sense to me. I was reading it, like, God this is dark and disturbing, what is the point of this? And the answer is that there was no point, except the entertainment and amusement of the emotion elicited by hearing the story. I could imagine it was a fun way to “shorten the hours devoted to repetitive harvesting tasks and domestic chores.” Also, when you think about the historical and cultural context, the vulgarity isn’t so obscene as it is… realistic? There’s this almost primitive straight-forwardness to it. I could be totally wrong, but it felt to me like that sort of matched the times. Life was simple, and more about meeting basic needs than it was about higher needs. I’m sure everyone back then had “strong stomachs” so to speak.

Tatar goes on to talk about how “Perrault [in his version of LRRH] removed those elements that would have shocked the society of his epoch with their cruelty”, replacing them instead with a moral message, which in Perrault’s case was “Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf.” Every version of LRRH that we read, besides “The Story of Grandmother!” follows this same formula; the people of a culture modify the story to illustrate a lesson they want to pass on to their children. Jacob and Willhelm Grimm had Little Red Cap get eaten by the wolf but saved by a huntsman, so that the lesson she learned the hard way and would never forget. Some other versions, like “The False Grandmother” and “Goldflower and the Bear” casted LRRH as a clever and resilient little girl. I wondered whether they were written as such because those cultures tend to teach desired behaviors or morals by means other than fear, or if they are newer versions than the ones that did use fear.

Returning what I said earlier, it’s interesting how the purpose of these folk tales evolved from being this sort of passing folly during a simple time, to being something ascribed more emotional meaning and value. In our modern world, we have the privilege of thinking and caring more about things outside of our basic physical and material needs. I’d be interested in learning about the evolution from these morally-centered tales to Disney fairy tales, to see if the way I’m perceiving the progression is correct at all. Because now, fairy tales have moved even further beyond just do this and that because it’s right; now, it’s like don’t just live conservatively morally, act out those morals and affect the world.

What interests me most as I consider this debate is how there is really no way to rigidly define any of it, it’s all so fluid. The relationship we have with culture is a two-way street; we create culture and culture creates us. Our fairy tales are the same and so it’s hard to say whether they are more so a reflection of what already is, or if they’re shaping what is to come. Tatar suggested that “the story targeted for interpretation is nothing but nonsense, that it veers off in the direction of the absurd, signifying nothing” because “every critic seems to find a different timeless and universal truth in a tale.” She also points out that how a text is read or performed “can affect its reception far more powerfully than the morals and timeless truths inserted in to the text”, which I thought was a really good point.

Prompt 2:
No, I don’t’ think that Red Riding Hood is better off following Bugs Bunny home. I was already suspicious at line 4, when he says about grandma “Some ol bag too lazy to pick up a pot, too feeble to flip a flapjack” and then describes Red Riding Hood as being “dolled up like a fire engine.” It’s a bad sign when someone is quick to say something negative about someone in that sort of arrogant, inconsiderate way, and also when they comment on your appearance in that manner. He also criticizes Red Riding Hood’s mother for letting her out when it’s so dangerous. Also, if what he said were true, and it were dangerous and he were concerned that her mother let her out alone, his focus would’ve been on making sure she felt safe and comforted. Instead, he doesn’t let her talk, and he goes on and on about how much danger she’s in, using fear to manipulate her into going with him. Then, he criticizes Casper for being friendly: “he makes you sick after awhile.” If that doesn’t speak to character, I don’t know what does. He invites Red Riding Hood back to his place where hes “got some candles and some cold uncola”. Candles? That’s not creepy or anything. His final line “Got any artichokies in that basket?” was the cherry on top of his creepy vibes. It felt invasive to me, like he has no boundaries, and he’s not taking no for an answer anyway. This poem was well-written because his personality and the energy he’s giving off feels so realistic. I felt violated reading it haha and had that turning in my stomach feeling that something isn’t right from the beginning. Definitely wouldn’t go with him. Totally off-putting and wrong. Not sure if that’s the kind of explanation you were expecting but those were my thoughts and feelings.

Anna M

Prompt 1: I enjoyed reading the various adaptations of Little Red Riding Hood. I had no idea that there were so many. I plan to read more in the future. Yet, none of the those in our readings were what I remembered as a child. I actually did read parts from a few that I recognized, but not the entire piece. I remember the first time I read Little Red Riding Hood to my daughter. I read a version that included both Grandmother and Little Red getting eaten and not getting rescued. There was no happy ending here. I am going to see if I still have it so that I can know the exact version and author. I recall thinking as I read, probably saying out loud, “this is a horrible story for a child.” The problem I see with these stories is they have very adult lessons. Most have a sexual theme that was prevalent. Little Red was made out to be pretty and dumb in her actions like taking off her clothes and getting into bed with the Wolf character. One of the readings, by Thurber, I dubbed Little Red, Mafia Style. This story was short and to the point. Little Red was smart and wasn’t going to take any chances. However, it had violence, as all of these stories did, and therefore not suitable for children. The version that seemed the most shocking to me was The False Grandmother, by by Calvino. I’ve never read a version where Little Red was encouraged to eat her grandmother. The Story of Grandmother by Delarue gives another example of Little Red eating her Grandmother. These stories were probably meant more for teenagers and adults. I think children would be scared, horrified, and confused by the actions of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. These stories provided entertainment and lessons for their time period. Little Red Riding Hood continues to do this for our time period. Our world and how we see women or girls has changed dramatically since many of these were written. Now you see new versions of a stronger and smarter girl. The wolf is not as clever, sometimes misunderstood, and even kinder. Through these stories and children’s imagination, new characters have been brought in and children can see the good and hope in some difficult situations with some difficult characters. These are the types of versions of Little Red Riding Hood that can teach and entertain a child. These are the types that are appropriate and give a happy ending or at least one that shows justice.

Prompt 2: I’ve read or seen things like this poem where they take two characters that don’t go together at all and make some parody type story out of it. I think this poem was clever. Bugs said lots of things to Little Red and she can be gullible and easy to trick. Bugs Bunny from my memory was a bit of trickster. That is why I don’t think Little Red should go with him. Something just didn’t seem right. Bugs seemed a little harsh in his words. He seemed to be really pushing her to go with him. That’s a red flag.. But, I believe that the author wanted us to see this strange behavior. After all, there is the saying wolf in sheep’s clothing or maybe in this case a bunny’s? Little Red should, however, listen to him when he says “this is a tough neighborhood”. She should turn around and go home.

Updates & Reminders for Weeks 1 & 2

Updates & Reminders for Weeks 1 & 2

Hello everyone,

I just finished reading and commenting on your responses to the Williams’ article and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your ideas. You did such a great job weaving your reading experiences with the ideas in his text. I pulled some great insights from Michelle, Jessica A., and Lainie below (thank you!):

Helping students understand all the possibilities of what it is to be defined as a reader will give students more hope and maybe less anxiety about their own personal definition as to what a reader is. –Jessica A. 
Overall this article was a great reminder to be aware of the associations we are unconsciously thinking in our heads about reading over the years. Also, we need to not be afraid to talk about it openly with our students, so they are aware and make this change on how they view reading as early as possible. –Lainie
In school there are a variety of different types of reading. Story reading is very different from science textbook reading which isn’t the same as reading directions which differs from the reading you do in computer class. Let us also not forget reading situations and people. —Michelle
And, here are some friendly reminders and updates:
  • The first Make Cycle is up: Fairy Tales. I’ll invite you to think about the role of fairy tales in our culture in your response for Tuesday…your initial ideas about fairy tales. Link on the site under the Make Cycles page and HERE too. Each Make Cycle is typically two weeks and ends in you making something related to the ideas you’re reading about. The goal is not just to consume texts, but to produce something from those texts…to make something with the ideas. 
  • If you have not done so yet, here is a quick how-to video so you can turn off notifications for G+ (so you don’t get an email every time someone posts): LINK
  • Every time you post to G+, you’ll respond to a peer’s ideas. Every. Time. Post one; respond to one. I want us to build a community of readers and colleagues. It helps to think of this class as a group of educators coming together to think about the teaching of reading (not a student; you are already an educator). Talk to each other about the ideas. Some of you are already writing fabulous responses to each other; thank you!
  • PLEASE NOTICE THIS: Here is a link to the books you’ve chosen this semester AND there is a column with your assigned picture book author: please read the Picture Book Resource assignment on the Assignment page. This is due any time before March 29. I’ll add a category to our G+ site for sharing the links to your resource. And, I’ll send some reminders about the assignment every so often.
  • I’ll send grade updates via Wildcat Mail, so make sure you check email. I may get the first one out this weekend, but certainly after your next response that’s due Tuesday night (so sometime Wednesday). I typically give full credit for a good effort at responses. I’ll email you privately if a response is less than full credit, with some feedback and a chance to revise, so no worries. And everyone who did the Intro and the Williams post has full credit. 😉
  • Finally, for those of you who drive a lot or take walks, you might try out; they have a free 30 day trial and you can listen to a lot of books while working out or driving, including ones for our class.

Very excited about this group; fabulous ideas already. Happy reading!


Welcome to English 341 online for spring 2019!

Welcome to English 341 online for spring 2019!

Hello everyone! I am so excited to read and work together this semester! Please check out our site and the various pages. I’ve created a welcome video (see below) I hope offers some insights into our course and how we’ll work together. You should also check out:

Let me know if you have questions and I look forward to seeing you online!