Make Cycles

graphic of class routinesYou can find our current Make Cycles here and on the Make Cycles page.


September 2020
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
August 31, 2020 September 1, 2020 September 2, 2020

All day: Discover: trace your literacies

September 3, 2020 September 4, 2020 September 5, 2020 September 6, 2020
September 7, 2020

All day: Read and Annotate in Perusall

September 8, 2020 September 9, 2020 September 10, 2020 September 11, 2020

All day: Write summary & memo

September 12, 2020 September 13, 2020

All day: Cycle 1 Make

September 14, 2020 September 15, 2020 September 16, 2020

All day: Discover: trace your quantified self

September 17, 2020 September 18, 2020 September 19, 2020 September 20, 2020

All day: Read and Annotate in Perusall

September 21, 2020 September 22, 2020 September 23, 2020 September 24, 2020 September 25, 2020

All day: Write summary & memo

September 26, 2020 September 27, 2020

All day: Cycle 2 Make

September 28, 2020 September 29, 2020 September 30, 2020

All day: Discover: literacy interviews

October 1, 2020 October 2, 2020 October 3, 2020 October 4, 2020

All day: Read and Annotate in Perusall



The intention of these assignments is to invite you to participate in the practices of a literacy researcher. Many of these assignments will allow you to collect and analyze your own data; other assignments will give us a chance to read and discuss current ideas in the field of literacy studies. I look forward to working together.

Our course is organized by two week “make cycles,” a term I borrow from Connected Learning. We’ll spend two weeks in each make cycle focused on an aspect of literacy studies. Each of these make cycles follow routines for our work together: discovering, reading, writing, and making. 

graphic of class routines

Discovering: these tasks will typically invite you to collect some data (like tracing your literacies for a couple of days). You can use this data for our larger projects and literacy research. The data you collect will also give you specific examples to consider as you’re doing the reading.

Reading: we’ll use the platform Perusall to annotate readings together. We’ll be able to see the kinds of questions we have about the readings, what insights we might add, and places that interest us in the readings. The readings can help us make sense of data. 

Writing: each cycle will include summaries of readings and the creation of memos; the memos are short, informal writing that support our data analysis. Think of these writing tasks as a series of drafts that can serve our larger projects. You’ll end up with a bunch of “paper starts” that you can use in more formal assignments. 

Making: we’ll use the “makes” as a way to play with the ideas we’re discovering in our data collection and our reading and informal writing. You have complete control over what you make. I’ll give suggestions in case you’re stuck, but you decide what “artifact” you want to make that amplifies what you’re learning about literacy. Take some risks here: sometimes the “make” won’t turn out the way you planned. We’ll write short reflections of these “makes” so you have a chance to explain what worked and what didn’t quite turn out like the picture in your head. You make a thing: I’ll give you points. Hope this is an invitation to play with ideas, platforms, digital tools, ways of representing what you’re learning.

Suggested pacing for our recurring, two week Make Cycles: 

Our course is completely asynchronous, which means you have some control over when you work on the ideas. When you are juggling a lot of online classes, I recognize that deadlines can still be helpful for pacing, so we have some that you can plan on consistently. Here’s a calendar to help you plan. We’ll follow this routine as we rotate through our Make Cycles every two weeks:

Week 1 of a Make Cycle: something due Wednesdays & Sundays

Week 2 of a Make Cycle: something due Fridays & Sundays


Make Cycles
Notes and writing shared in Currents Community and annotations in Perusall
Due: various due dates. New Make Cycle released every two weeks

Make Cycles: At a Glance

I’ll release the full descriptions for assignments and activities every two weeks. You can find the full descriptions linked here once they’re released, linked on the Make Cycle page, and in a drop down menu under the Make Cycle page. Trying to create lots of ways to find the information. ;-)

  • Getting Situated: Pre- Make Cycle (Aug 24-30; week 1)
    • Aug 24-25: Join accounts: Perusall & Currents Community. Bookmark our course website so you can find it this semester.
    • By Wednesday, Aug 26: Read Lunsford’s “Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast” and watch Baby Shark video (annotate in Perusall)
    • By Sunday, Aug 30: Write introductions and initial thoughts about literacy (see guiding questions on the Make Cycle page). Post in Currents Community.
  • Make Cycle 1: Our Literate Selves (Aug 31 – Sept 13; weeks 2 & 3)
    • By Wednesday, Sept 2: Discover: trace your literacies (share notes in Currents Community)
    • By Monday, Sept 7: Read: David Kirkland’s “The Skin We Ink: Tattoos, Literacy, and a New English Education” (annotate in Perusall)
    • By Friday, Sept 11: Write: Summarize Kirkland and Memo: what do we notice from tracing your literacies? (share writing in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Sept 13: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle. (share in Currents Community)
  • Make Cycle 2: Our Quantified Selves (Sept 14 – 27; weeks 4 & 5)
    • By Wednesday, Sept 16: Discover: trace your quantified self (share notes in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Sept 20: Read and annotate in Perusall Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris’ “A Guide for Resisting EdTech: The Case Against TurnitIn” AND
    • Choose one of these:
      • Audrey Watters’ “Building Anti-Surveillance EdTech” OR
      • Shea Swauger’s  “Our Bodies Encoded: Algorithmic Test Proctoring in Higher Education
    • By Friday, Sept 25: Write: Summarize one of the articles and Memo: what do we notice from tracing your quantified self? (share writing in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Sept 27: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle. (share in Currents Community)
  • Make Cycle 3: Our Literacy Sponsors (Sept 28 – Oct 11; weeks 6 & 7)
    • By Wednesday, Sept 30: Discover: literacy interviews (share notes in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Oct 4: Read: Deborah Brandt’s “Sponsors of Literacy” (annotate in Perusall)
    • By Friday, Oct 9: Write: Summarize Brandt and write up literacy interviews. (share writing in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Oct 11: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle. (share in Currents Community)
  • Make Cycle 4: Our Languages & Literacies as Multilingual (Oct 12 – 25; weeks 8 & 9)
    • By Wednesday, Oct 14: Discover: watch videos and internet rabbit holes (share notes in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Oct 18: Read: Gloria Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” and watch April Baker-Bell’s talk “We Been Knowin’: Toward an Antiracist Language & Literacy Education” (annotate in Perusall)
    • By Friday, Oct 23: Write: Summarize Anzaldúa or Baker-Bell and Memo: exploring languages. (share writing in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Oct 25: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle. (share in Currents Community)
  • Make Cycle 5: Our Literacies & the Politics of Form (Oct 26 – Nov 8; weeks 10 & 11)
    • By Wednesday, Oct 28: Discover: school literacies (share notes in Currents Community)
    • By Monday, Nov 2 (OMG, the election is the next day): Read: Morrel and Duncan-Andrade “Promoting Academic Literacy with Urban Youth through Engaging Hip-Hop Culture” (annotate in Perusall)
    • By Friday, Nov 6: Write: Summarize Morrel and Duncan-Andrade and Memo: exploring schooled literacies and anti-racist pedagogies. (share writing in Currents Community)
    • By Sunday, Nov 8: Make: Create an artifact that represents an idea from this make cycle. (share in Currents Community)
  • Make Cycle 6: Our Literacy Research (Choose Your Own Adventure) (Nov 9 – 20; weeks 12 & 13).
    • This make cycle will culminate in the Mini Ethnography assignment listed below.
    • Deadlines and tasks TBA: based on your project goals and timeline
  • Make Cycle 7: Literacy: the Game (Nov 30 – Dec 13; weeks 14 & 15)
    • Deadlines TBA: we’ll decide together
  • Reflections (Dec 14 – 18; final’s week).
    • See Reflection assignment options below. Due Wednesday, Dec 16.

Mini Ethnography
Google Doc shared with
Due: various due dates for notes/data collection. Draft due Nov 30; Revision due Final’s week
75 pts

Choose a group whose literacy practices you want to learn more about. The group can be a group that meets face-to-face or it can be an online group. Describe and analyze how reading and writing operates within the group. Use our readings and our discussions to guide your use of terms and concepts.

Begin by closely observing your group for a week. Take copious field notes. Do interviews (online or in person with a mask and social distancing in place) if appropriate and record and/or transcribe them. You often don’t know what’s an important detail until later. Then read and reread your notes, noticing what seems most important or interesting. Focus in on making a claim about your group, a claim that might consider (but not be limited by) the following questions:

  • What “work” does literacy do in the group?
  • How is literacy learning sponsored?
  • What genres are used? Why? To what extent is new media a component of the work? 
  • What does “literacy” in this group look like? What is its purpose?
  • What is the role of literacy for newcomers? How does literacy facilitate or inhibit membership in the group? What role does literacy play in leadership? How does literacy support a structure of the group? To what degree is the group’s organization hierarchical or egalitarian (or in between)? How does literacy create, support, or maintain that organization?

 Your mini-ethnography should be 4-6 pages long (some may grow longer and that’s fine) and include generous literacy examples from the group you are studying. The best ethnographies will use our readings to support their analysis.

Resources for data collection:

Interview Protocol

Data Matrix (helps to match research questions to data collection)

Examples from last fall:

Morgan’s Dungeons and Dragons and Identity, Oh My!”

Miguel’s Discovering Through Play: Minecraft’s Interactive Game Design & Multimodal Literacies”

Orion’s “Literacies of Autism’s sub/Reddit Community”

Bella’s “Rave Ethnography”


Due: Wednesday, Dec 16
20 pts

Option 1: Reflective Essay

Think of this reflection as a kind of manifesto, answering “this is what I believe about literacy learning and teaching…at this moment.” I invite you to write about your work in the course: what have you done well, what have you learned, how have your ideas related to literacy changed throughout this course? If you are a future teacher, what can you use in your future classroom and what kinds of questions do you still have about literacy? Support your ideas by using what you have learned from the course readings, discussions, and assignments.

Option 2: Ignite Talk

You can work individually or in pairs or trios to bring the ideas we’ve considered in class to life in an Ignite Talk. An Ignite talk is 5 minutes with 20 slides that auto advance every 15 seconds. You can record your talk and share the video with slides. I can walk you through some options for putting slides in your video. No reflection required for this one; just give your talk.

Here are some examples from the Ignite Site.

More examples: Rafi Santos Ignite TalkKim JaxonPeter Kittle and Jane McGonigal

Option 3: Multimodal Reflection

For this option, you control the product, process, materials, and distribution. You’ll include a short reflection about what your purpose is, goals, and what worked and what didn’t. Overall: your product should reflect what you’ve learned about literacy. (*For example, here is the website one trio created and the reflection portion HERE) (And another HERE)