Write Now! MOOC—Make Cycle 4: One Little Word

For the past several years, it seems that people have been moving away from making New Year’s resolutions and instead have been selecting a single word to guide their year. The word serves as a reminder, offering inspiration and guidance to move you toward your goals.

One Word 365 explains the impact of choosing one word: “Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap that long list of goals you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway! Choose just one word. One word you can focus on every day, all year long… One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. It will take intentionality and commit-ment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps. Discover the big impact one word can make. One word. 365 days. A changed life.”

Similarly, My One Word states: “This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future.”

And even though January is mostly over, it’s not too late to select your one little word to guide your writing and writing instruction for the remainder of the school year…or the rest of 2016.

For Make Cycle 4, select one little word to guide writing and/or writing instruction for your year.  You might choose to share your thinking through a blog post or other narrative…maybe an Explain Everything screencast would do the job.  You may choose a more visual way to offer your choice…photographs, a slide show, a short video (Vine or Animoto?).  If you find yourself in a quandary, unable to select a word, you can also share that dilemma with the rest of us.  (Deanna Mascle offers a mentor text for sharing her dilemma in this blog post.)

Once your creative juices are flowing, you might decide to work your word into a manifesto or a poem.  Maybe you’ll transform your one little word into a postcard that you mail to yourself (or your students) or perhaps you’ll compose a picture book using your own photos to express your thinking.  (If you are looking for more inspiration, check out the CLMOOC make bank for ideas!)

Now we challenge you to decide on your one little word and share it on the Write Now! MOOC Google+ page. Developing a community of writers and learners is an important part of the Write Now! MOOC experience, and we encourage you to further connect by commenting on the words that others have chosen. We hope to motivate and inspire each other as we explore, discuss, and “make” Write Now!

Write Now! MOOC—Make Cycle 3: What’s Your Story?

Story…we all have stories to tell…about our lives, about our teaching, about our learning, how things work or don’t work for us.  Often we tell our stories with words…but sometimes our stories are told in silences, in light and dark, in moving images, and even in stills.

For this make cycle, we’d like you to tell your story of writing instruction or as a writer.  This can be a story of triumph, marking your breakthrough moment(s)…maybe it was that lesson you taught yesterday.  It can be a story of frustration, memories of red pens that will forever shape how you see yourself as a writer—and made you the teacher you are today.  Maybe it is the story of how the professional book you are reading is impacting your thinking and/or your teaching.  It’s your story…you get to decide.

You can tell your story with words, written or spoken.  Maybe consider a blog post or use a digital tool to record your voice.  You can tell your story in images…found on the web or those you have created.  Maybe you’ll make a movie to tell your story…in short form with a tool like Vine, Instagram or Animoto or a more traditional tool like iMovie.  Or maybe you have another idea to tell your story—feel free to explore and play!

Here are some possibilities to consider:

5-Image Story

Backlit Story

No Tech Storytelling

Audio Soundscape Story

Animated Storytelling

Storytelling with Light

Walk Your World

Now we challenge you to tell your story and share it on the Write Now! MOOC Google+ page. Developing a community of writers and learners is an important part of the Write Now! MOOC experience, and we encourage you to further connect by commenting on the stories created by others. We hope to motivate and inspire each other as we explore, discuss, and “make” Write Now!

Write Now! MOOC—Make Cycle 2: Creative Quote Sharing

For our second make cycle, we encourage you to find a quote (or quotes) from your study group book (or another professional book about teaching writing/writing) that resonates with you.  In our face-to-face study groups we are reading:

The quote you select might be one that validates your practice and current beliefs, or it could be one that challenges you to think in new ways about your teaching and the ways you support student writers in your classroom…or even think about yourself as a writer.

After you select a quote that is meaningful to you, take time to reflect upon it. Think about your quote as a “specimen on the table.” Look at it closely and dissect it before deciding how you can bring new meaning to it through your “make” for this cycle. Then let your quote inspire your creativity. Find an image that represents its meaning, draw a picture that expresses your interpretation of it, or animate it to bring it to life.

There are many web tools that allow users to easily dress up quotes with images, interesting fonts, borders, audio, and more. A few are suggested below:

Motivator – “Make your own motivational poster”
Quozio – “Turns meaningful words into beautiful images in seconds”
PicMonkey – “Take your pictures further”
Fotobabble – Upload a photo and record your voice

You might also decide to experiment with one of the tools listed in the Introduction Make Cycle, or you might have one you would like to suggest. Please feel free to add resources to the Creativity Tools section in the MOOC Community.

As you create and post your quote, we encourage you to further connect by commenting on the quotes shared by others. Developing an interactive community is an important part of the MOOC experience as we learn with and from each other.

Finally, in the words of CLMOOC facilitators Stephanie West-Pluckett and Karen Fasimpaur, “Give yourself permission to do something new. Give yourself permission to linger on something old. Give yourself permission to do something fun. And finally, give yourself permission to fail and to succeed ─ knowing that we’ll clap for you either way.”

Write Now! MOOC: Make Cycle 1

Welcome to the Write Now! MOOC. We’re happy you are here. We look forward to connecting with you as we explore writing and the teaching of writing, looking for ways to hone our craft—the teaching and the writing.

For our first “Make Cycle,” we hope you will find a creative way to introduce yourself to our community by making and sharing something that represents you and your beliefs about teaching and/or writing. All media are acceptable: drawing, blogging, sculpture, photography, collage, podcast, video, etc.

Please consider what the tool you use to introduce yourself will tell us about you and your interests, and if you choose to make something offline, please don’t forget to post an image of it to The Write Now! community.

If you would like to view a few mentor makes, please visit the CLMOOC Make Bank,which showcases introductions made using a variety of tools that allowed the creators to introduce themselves in unique ways.

Some possibilities:

Make a self-portrait: draw, paint, or photograph yourself (Picassohead, AKVIS Sketch)

Record a podcast (GarageBand, Audacity)

Create a comic strip (Pixton, Bitstrips, ToonDoo)

Write a blog post (WordPress, Blogger)

Make a video (Videolicious, Magisto, Animoto)

Create a collage (PicCollage, BeFunky, ClipStitch)

Make a slideshow (Haiku Deck, SlideStory, slide.ly)

Now we challenge you to make something and share your experiences on the Write Now! MOOC Google+ page. Developing a community is an important part of the experience, and we encourage you to further connect by commenting on the introductions created by others.  We hope to motivate and inspire each other as we explore, discuss, and “make” with us Write Now!

Inspired to Celebrate

As we developed our collaborative writing community at Cardiff School, we found ideas all around us. A highlight for everyone was when our guest speaker, poet and teacher Judy Leff, shared Byrd Baylor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations and reminded us to:

“Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

                                                   —Mary Oliver

And campers found plenty to celebrate in their writing as Judy inspired us in the school garden:

An Excerpt from Nature 

by Lauren Lakin

Every time you look, new life appears: a bee, a butterfly, a moth! Could it be, I asked: Was it a fly or a beetle? It was a metallic blue as deep as the ocean waters. Bees flying around with pollen on on their fragile little legs, like yellow orange leg warmers.


by Fenna Candy

Capture the sweet,

sweet smell of the leaves,

hanging off, hanging off,

hanging off trees.

Feel the chill of the breeze

and take in the vibrance

of the the floweres and bees,

vibrance of, vibrance of

flowers and bees.

Hear, hear, hear the birds sing,

sing to the tune,

the tune of the wind.

Capture the sweet,

sweet smell of the leaves,

hanging off, hanging off,

hanging off trees.

An excerpt from Strawberries

By Audrey Song

My feet are tangled in the vines, swirling in the wind. Strawberries are growing. The leaves protect them from the strong breeze and shade them from the sun…. Tiny little strawberries are hiding from the real world. A little stump is near the strawberry patch. When I tap my magic wand (my pencil) it makes a beautiful sound…nature.

We were surprised to discover that TA Isabella Ojeda had Mrs. Leff as her 5th grade teacher. Isabella also shared a beautiful piece in response to Judy’s invitation to celebrate:

Excerpt from Garlic

By Izzie Ojeda

The tips of its dusty bluish green stalks poked straight up, some bright as sharp as needles, others soft and golden as wheat. But it was the smell that really got me. That savory, buttery scent that wafted by, that tangy bite at the finish that vaguely stung my nose.

We also found lots to celebrate when venturing into the surrounding community, as groups visited The Magic Carpet Ride sculpture, also known as the “Cardiff Kook.”

cardiff kook

Others went to the beach and wrote to the sound of the crashing waves.


In addition, visits to Seaside Market and the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch Library provided a variety of engaging possibilities for narrative, informative, and opinion writing.



Even VG Donut and Bakery offered inspiration for writing.


We will continue celebrating tonight during our reading at Barnes & Noble Encinitas and tomorrow as we share our writing with our families for our final day festivities. We hope that the celebrations continue long after camp ends as we observe and write about all the astonishing things we see and experience throughout the school year and beyond.


RE-VISION—Submitted by Lillian Cooper

Whew!! After all the effort put into our daily writing, drafting, revising, and editing, today was the day to turn in a favorite piece of our writing, to be published in the 2015 YWC Anthology. We celebrated in the afternoon by writing a piece, “I am a writer,” each student then choosing their favorite line to add to a group poem to be read on our final day of camp.

In teaching the writing process, especially with this year’s YWC focus on revision strategies, I found myself re-thinking re-vision. What does it mean to “re-see” something, and what does it mean to be a writer? Here’s where I always find myself getting clues from my students for my insights.   Yes, in their revisions, through our Writing Response Groups and individual conferences, students were encouraged to re-see their writing in new ways, with learned strategies such as adding detail, vivid verbs and adverbs, sensory imagery, and questioning.

But as a reader and listener, I realized these young 4th and 5th graders were giving me another definition of re-vision. They were also inspiring me, their audience, to re-see and re-think my world in new and different ways. Isn’t that what draws us to good authors—how they craft language to illuminate their purposes for writing, whether it’s fantasy, narrative, non-fiction, poetry, opinion, or whatever? Yes! My world will never be the same after re-visioning it through the unique voices of our writers.

In case you’re wondering what I mean:

I’ve visited the Falling Star many times, but from now on I will “see” this:

“The plants are as bright as a grassland spilled with red, purple, yellow, and orange paint, as if you’re looking at a painting.”

Or I will now re-think the meaning of color after reading our students’ odes:

To black, “for casting the shadow of my soul”

To “color blending and shaping the blue and green marble we call home”

I never before was persuaded that, “rock and roll is better than pop music because it is more for tomboys.”

How about avoiding getting eaten by becoming, through a series of escapes,

the first pizza to walk on Jupiter”?

Then there’s your True Name:

“I secretly know that my name means to give hope to the world.”

 Sometimes just one word can change a picture in your mind; I’ve always associated drifting with water, but now I can see “Leaves that drift off the tree.”  

These questions made me re-think what I would prefer, given a choice:

“Would you rather have a bossy sister or no sister at all?”

“Would you rather be only able to sing or only be able to whisper?”

“Would you rather have no friends or no parents?”

As for our celebration of writing, I feel that our young writers are thinking like writers. Here is a sampling of some individual lines:


I think words are the key to another world of wonder.

I believe that writing is a super power.

What I write is impossible yet not impossible.

I feel that writers use their imaginations as mentors.

I know my words make sense.

I use my surroundings for ideas.

I let my pencil glide across my paper

I believe writing takes you on a journey in your imagination.

I use writing to share my imagination.

I believe that writing opens your mind.

With my pen I can have more power than army on earth.

I believe writing gives you freedom to create anything.

My words create an image in the mind.

I make portals to new worlds and write stories.

Writing pours out on paper in any way.

I think writing is important because it lets you express your feelings.

I believe that there is a magical power in writing

Re-vision, re-thinking, publishing, and celebrating writing by hearing student voices—it was a great day at UCSD Young Writers’ Camp!

Kids These Days

Kids These Days—Submitted by Dave Mattas

As a teacher, I am sometimes confronted by people who talk about “kids these days.” It’s a thought that is usually followed by a bulleted list of the ways that previous generations were superior. It’s an argument that every generation seems to make. The past week and a half has made me more sure than ever that “kids these days” are doing just fine.

Working with the high school group at UCSD has been an engaging, enriching, and constantly surprising experience. Any uncertainty that students arrived with dissolved in the first days of camp and instead an atmosphere of trust and adventure began to develop. What thrills me most, both in terms of this camp and the future, is the imagination and thoughtfulness that our group has shown. Writing camps lend themselves to the ridiculous, and we have certainly had our share of crazy and absurd pieces. Through it all is a conscientiousness that blows me away. Put simply: our kids are deep. We’ve had pieces about relationships and abuse and religion… BIG topics. During drop off one morning, a long conversation developed around the idea that humans give objects meaning and resulted in some truly fantastic writing about shoes. That is not a typical “hallway conversation” for high school students to have. Then again, this place is not a “typical hallway.”

The space that we have at UCSD allows for all kinds of exploration. Our home base in the cross-cultural library is filled with comfortable chairs and words on the walls. When we leave, the campus provides all sorts of possibilities: giant stone bears, a long winding path shaped like a snake, a library named for Dr. Seuss, and a small house that looks like it’s fallen from the sky. It all helps to breathe life into writing and it has been fuel for the many creative minds in our room.

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