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.

Currents Community

We will share most of our work in a Currents Community. We can upload images, respond to each other’s ideas, and share links and artifacts here. (Instructions for joining on the Assignments page.)

Week 1 (Introductions & Getting Situated)

Week 1 (Introductions & Getting Situated)

Week One: Introduction week and getting ourselves situated

Aug 23-27

My goal in this first week is for us to get to know each other and situate you to the platforms we will be using throughout the course: this website and a Currents Community. I would also like to begin the first of our conversations about the teaching of reading.

By the end of this first week, here are our tasks in a nutshell. Longer descriptions below. 

  • Join. As soon as possible: Join our Currents community. Steps for how to join Currents on the Assignments page
  • Intros. By Wednesday, Aug 25: Write an introduction to the community (and hopefully upload a picture or even video!) so we can get to know each other. Also, say hello to each other by responding to a couple of people’s introductions. We’ll always post in our Currents Community and we will always respond to at least one other person so we can build community. Once you’ve joined Currents, here’s a how-to video that explains how to post.
  • Read & Write. By Friday, Aug 27: Read “A Puzzle to the Rest of Us…” by Bronwyn T. Williams and write a response (see prompt below). If this link doesn’t open for you, I can email it as a pdf; just let me know (my email:
  • Book Choices. By Friday, Aug 27: Make book selections through this LINK and place book order asap at your book seller of choice. More information about the books on the Syllabus page.

*Note, I explain a lot of the above tasks in the Welcome video that you can find below. Link here too:

Week 1:

By Wednesday (Aug 25): post your Introduction.  If you can post your intro before Wednesday that is even better, simply because I’m very excited to meet you all! Once you’ve shared your post, say hello to a peer, make connections to another human. 😉 If you’re the very first person to post, please come back and respond to another peer soon. Instructions for joining Currents and how to post to Currents on the Assignments page.

Things you could tell us in your introduction: your name, where you’re from, what brought you to Chico State, what your goals are for the future, what you’re looking forward to this semester, why you want to teach…I posted my own intro as an example.

By Friday, (Aug 27): make your book selections<–use link here.

By Friday (Aug 27) Read the Williams’ article and respond to the reading. Prompts are below:

  • What kind of reading do you do outside school? Do you read differently outside of school? Does your out of school reading connect with the reading you do for school? How so? Or why not? What “counts” as reading for you? What about when we’re reading posts on social media? Or email? Or texts? 
  • What are your take-aways from this Williams reading? Point us to a passage or two to consider as a class. How do his ideas compare to your understanding of reading?
    • Expect this response to be 2-3 meaty paragraphs. See examples below.
    • Reply to a peer’s post when you’re done; make connections to each other.
    • post in our Currents Community in area that says Week One: A Puzzle to the Rest of Us

Here are two example responses below–from Kellie and Rebecca– just to give you a sense of the depth I’m looking for in our responses:

From Kelly:

I have a distinct recollection of being fresh out of kindergarten and really wanting to know how to read before first grade – because first graders can read, right? That day, I remember my cousin, who was a newly minted first grade graduate, showing off her reading skills at our Nana’s kitchen table. I was entranced. I was mesmerized. She was only 11 months older than me and she had this super power that only grown-ups had. I wanted that super power, too. I didn’t want my mom to read to me anymore. Okay, maybe I did a little bit. But more than anything, I wanted to do it all by myself and I wanted to do it before I was a first grader. My cousin thought this was hilarious, and being that the grownups had left the room, she scoffed and unceremoniously dropped her reader on the table and told me to figure it out. That cousin and I have never really gotten along – ever. We are both in our late forties and still avoid each other like the plague. But I will forever be grateful to her for that book and the unwitting challenge she gifted me with because that summer, in my mind, I became a reader.

It’s that recollection that caused our reading this week to tug at me in a way I had never before been tugged at. Since the day I was finally able to read that book on my own, I have never questioned whether I was a reader and what exactly it was that made me one. I was able to read. I loved reading. And I enjoyed spending my time doing it. That’s it. I’m a reader. Is reading textbooks for school always fun? No. Does reading the court documents I need to for my job give me a thrill? Sometimes, but not usually. Do I still sometimes struggle with comprehension and have to read things more than once – sure! But do I still love being able to read something and eventually figure it out? Do I still feel like I have a really awesome super power like I did the day I was finally able to read that reader my snotty cousin gave me? Absolutely!

Today, my superpower is applied mostly to reading those not always fun school textbooks, a lot of not usually thrilling legal documents for work, some not entirely clear e-mails from colleagues, and a few not necessarily appropriate social media posts from friends and family. But then there are those brief trips to the grocery store or the post office where I can soak in the telling of tales from audiobooks for a few stolen moments; or that 30 minutes of reading I do with my seven-year old every night where I get to do all the voices and watch HER be entranced; or those precious few minutes before I’m too sleepy to manage it, that I get to dive into another world of my own choosing. Those are magic! And since I decided I wanted to be a teacher, it was my feeling that inspiring readers was about unlocking that magical super power for my students. I know not everyone is going to have the same level of enthusiasm for it. And maybe for those less intrepid readers (because I think we are all readers), it’s about making them feel like no matter the level they read at, they are super heroes too. That doesn’t mean their reading will be perfect. Mine still isn’t. Or that they won’t often struggle to comprehend what they are reading. I still do. What it means is that as teachers, whether our students are “struggling readers,” or super readers, we can show them that:

(1) The ability to read is a superpower they will carry with them where ever they go;
(2) That those super powers can take them to super places, both literally and figuratively; and
(3) That even superheroes struggle with their powers now and again.

We need to help them find that first blush of triumph that turns them, like it did me, into someone who L-O-V-E-S, loves to read. And yes, there will be people along the way that think our time could be better spent elsewhere. My husband doesn’t read for fun and sometimes is a little jealous of the time I spend with my paper family. I have a friend who literally takes her book, with a basket of laundry, into the closet so she doesn’t have to defend her reading time to hers. And when I worked in an office, I had co-workers that wanted me to spend my lunch break on water-cooler gossip and couldn’t possibly understand why I’d want to spend my break like Belle, with my “nose stuck in a book.” Clearly no one helped these all very lovely people to understand and embrace their own reading superpowers. Perhaps THEY are the “puzzle to the rest of US.” [emphasis added]

From Rebecca:

I read all the time, whether it is while I am driving, walking from class to class, or even at work! However, I am going to be straight up honest and say that I am personally not an amazing reader when it comes to reading for fun or even for school because I just don’t have a whole lot of time for one and two being that I ALWAYS fall asleep when I read a book. I have been getting better at that, but ever since I was little, I struggled staying awake while reading books for school and not for school. I don’t know what it is about the crisp pages of a book that puts me to sleep lol. This doesn’t mean that I despise reading, in fact, I actually really love to read. I’ll tell you what… When I do read outside of school, I usually do read differently because I am not obligated to read that material in order to be graded on it or forced to memorized dates, etc… Reading outside of school is stress-free and more enjoyable because you can simply kick-it and read as you so please. Most of what I read for school does not connect to what I read outside of school. However, there are some books that do connect because of the class or subject. Classes like history and English have books that tell a story, which explains the correlation between some school books and the books I read outside of school. I began my response with things that I believe count as reading because we seriously do read every single day, even if we don’t sit down and read a novel. We read when we are in the grocery store shopping, we read when we are driving, and we even read when we are let’s say at the water park. I personally don’t use social media, but I do read emails and texts and I believe that these also count as reading.

I really enjoyed this reading! I find it very interesting that most people see a “reader” as someone who is intellectually superior and very good with writing and reading. I believe that we are all “readers”; we all read in our day to day lives as I explained in my previous paragraph. I learned a ton from the reading! I learned that there is a difference between what it means to be a reader and what it means to simply be reading. As I read this article, it made me realize how different the perspectives of teachers and students are and how they see a good reader versus and reader. As explained in the article, negative connotation was given by students about the reader, yet positive connotation was given by students about the “good” reader. With this in mind, we see that students see a difference when there is the adjective of good placed in front of the word reader, instead of the reader standing alone without the adjective. These key takeaways have made me realize how important it is to prepare our students for the real world through the way we teach them how to read and write. The passage that stood out the most to me was on page 688 and it is the third paragraph of the section “A puzzle to the rest of us.” Within this passage, the author mentions that we need to help our students understand that reading is fun inside of school and outside of school. He is absolutely right! As teachers, it should be our goal to make sure that our students feel like they are in a safe environment and an environment where they can have fun while they learn. My understanding of reading definitely relate to his ideas mentioned in this article because I can see that there are many views regarding reading when it comes to the student versus the teacher. Williams’ ideas are so precise in the way that teachers play a vital role in the development of many readers across the world. Also, students should understand that LEARNING IS FUN! However, our students can’t do this without us.

Again, tasks in a nutshell for week 1:

  • Join Currents Community
  • Write your introduction. Post in Currents by Wednesday night.
    • And reply to a peer or two. You know, say something nice to another human. 😉
  • Read Williams’ article and write response by Friday night. Post in Currents.
    • And reply to a peer: always, post one; respond to one.
  • Make your book choices using link above by Friday night.

I believe in you. You got this. Welcome to English 341 😉