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.)

Weeks 8 & 9 (Make Cycle 4: Free Verse Novels)

Weeks 8 & 9 (Make Cycle 4: Free Verse Novels)

Make Cycle 4: Oct 11-24

Free Verse Children’s Novels (BenBee and the Teacher Griefer, The Crossover, Inside Out & Back Again, OR Brown Girl Dreaming)

You continue to astonish with your insights as a class; thank you for all the thoughtful work you are doing. So glad you enjoyed the chapter books! I also want to share some of my favorite “golden lines” from the Miller reading:

Brittany: “At this point in my life, I feel like I am close but definitely not to the point where I can be the teacher with the best book recommendations. I do know that I am very inspired to become that part of myself though.”

Anna: “By showing my enthusiasm while reading a book out loud I feel it will have a ripple effect onto my students because being excited about something especially reading will let them know it is a great thing to be excited about reading an open a world to creativity and imagination in their lives.”

Araceli: “I think giving the students the option to abandon a book after reading 50 pages gives them a great sense of choice and lets them know they CAN in fact walk away from the book and find one that will interest them.”

Wendy: “At this time, I can start reminding myself of the love I have for reading, not just another hundred pages I need to get through for school, and start reading for fun again right now. I need to make the time to read for enjoyment so my future students will believe me when I say that reading is fun.”

Tina: “I also like the fact that you can read a lot of books online without having to go to the library. I say this because I live in a very rural area and it can be difficult for some students to get to the library, so being able to look up books and read them online gives kids so many more options.”

For the next two weeks, we’re reading children’s novels written in free verse. The language is beautiful and I hope you’ll share with us some of your favorite lines from these books. I encourage you to think about how the form and structure of these books might influence how you read: does it slow you down, speed you up, challenge you in some way?

Reading these particular books aloud can be really powerful. Check out Woodson reading from Brown Girl Dreaming at the National Book Awards:


We’ll also read Donalyn Miller’s chapter 3 and check out her site The Nerdy Book Club. I find this site incredibly useful for finding books for me and for kids. You should check out the Nerdies Award winning books for great recommendations.

For those of you reading The Crossover, or really any of you who want to think about the use of hip hop in teaching, here’s a pretty cool video showing how hip hop is used in school, featuring Kendrick Lamar

Make 4 in a nutshell:

  • Wednesday, Oct 13: Two part prompt for Miller Chapter 3
  • Sunday, Oct 17: Prompt about your free verse novel
  • Wednesday, Oct 20: Check out the resources for your Free Verse book
  • Sunday, Oct 24: Make 4!

Week 8: Oct 11-17

Wednesday, Oct 13:

Read Miller Chapter 3: What are take aways for you from Miller’s chapter 3?

a) Point to specific places in the chapter that you find interesting, puzzling, eye opening.

b) Then, check out Nerdy Book Club, a site that Miller launched to celebrate and support children’s literature and one of the online reading communities she highlights in this chapter. Choose one of the blogs to read and tell us about it (you might do a search of the site for the “Nerdies” and check out the book recommendations too and save for your future classroom).

Post in Currents Week 8: Miller Ch 3

Sunday, Oct 17:

Get started on your Free Verse Novel (BenBee and the Teacher Griefer, The Crossover, Inside Out & Back Again, OR Brown Girl Dreaming)

c) What is the book about so far? Share a couple of favorite lines with us too.

d) What is the experience like, reading a novel in free verse, for you? What are your initial thoughts? How does it change your reading (or does it)?

Post in Currents Week 8: Free Verse Discussion. 

Week 9: Oct 18-24

Wednesday, Oct 20:

Check out the resources on these pages for your book/author (just need to check out ONE of the links below…the link for your book):

Prompt: How might you work with the resources on your link to teach with your book? What other resources for teaching your book can you find? How might you incorporate this text in other subjects, like history, for example? Use the resources and this prompt to think through how you might teach with your free verse novel.

Post in Currents Week 9: Resources & Ideas for Teaching Free Verse

Sunday, Oct 24: Make 4 (Free Verse Novel Make)

The goal: share your book in a creative way with others so that perhaps they too can get excited about reading the book. Another goal: use the make as a way to think about the ideas/themes/characters in the books we are reading. Try out making something that you might ask your future students to make.

You can create a piece of art, a book trailer or short film, write a song, write fanfiction, create a game, create a lesson plan or class activity…lots of possible ways to share. You can upload an image of your artifact, share a link, share a video, etc.

As always, once you create your “make,” you will also write a brief artist’s/writer’s statement explaining what you were attempting to do with this make: how did you approach this artifact? what worked? what did not work out as planned?

Post in Currents Week 9: Free Verse MAKE