2011 May Voices from the Middle, v18.4
Issue Theme: Looking Back and Moving Forward
Voices from the Middle
Volume 18, Number 4, May 2011Issue Theme: Looking Back and Moving Forward
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: The Last Stop: Itinerary from the Editors
Roxanne Henkin, Janis Harmon, and Elizabeth Pate
Voices Carry: A Content Analysis of Voices from the Middle
Melissa B. Wilson, Shannon Blady, Tracey Kumar, Honor Moorman, Lori Prior, Angeli Willson
Abstract: As educators who have been strongly influenced by this journal, the authors decided to do a content analysis of the "voices" from Voices from the Middle, from its inception to today. They listened closely to who is talking, what the authors are (and are not) discussing, the educational contexts of these conversations, and how the dialogue has changed over time. What they found were common themes that ran across the ongoing discussion, as well as issues in language arts teaching and learning being worked out in ongoing dialogue.
Honoring the Past; Looking to the Future
Abstract: Middle Section member Johnston traces the history of the Middle Section, from the growing acknowledgment that middle level teachers had specific needs and concerns that had to be addressed to voting for the Section’s establishment to presenting at the NCTE Annual Convention with a student who had once considered himself to be a non-reader. He urges readers to get involved and to reap the benefits—for them, for their students, and for the Section—of exchanging ideas, experiences, and dreams.
Future Directions: A Call for Actions
Abstract: The first part of this article is a discussion of the present contexts in which middle level teachers, students, and researchers learn and teach; it’s a rather dismal portrait constrained by legislation and policies. The second part, in which hope begins to present itself, introduces readers to some middle level students, their teacher, and a researcher who are working to (re)claim the reading and writing voices of the students. The final section is an introduction to five potential actions that could include the voices and actions of middle level students, their teachers, researchers, and others concerned with a progressive education agenda.
Renewing Two Seminal Literacy Pactices: I-Charts and I-Search Papers
Lori Czop Assaf, Gwynne Ellen Ash, Jane Saunders, with Joël Johnson
Abstract: In this article, the authors describe how Jenae, a seventh-grade English language arts teacher, modified I-Charts (Hoffman, 1992; Randall, 1996) and I-Search papers (Macrorie, 1988) to support the needs of her adolescent English Language Learners (ELLs). They highlight how she improved upon two timeless instructional practices by integrating technology and scaffolding the students into the research process. They include multiple examples for middle grade teachers to use with their students and highlight key components to make these two seminal literacy practices worthy of continued use in the future.
Looking Forward: Increased Attention to LGBTQ Students and Families in Middle Grade Classrooms
Corrine M. Wickens and Linda Wedwick
Abstract: Looking backwards, discussions around sexual orientation and sexual identity have been noticeably absent at the middle grades. As a result, middle grade teachers may find it difficult to know how to effectively select age-appropriate materials that include LGBTQ issues and content. To move the field forward, the authors specifically highlight four such novels: The Skull of Truth (Coville, 2007), From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (Woodson, 1995), So Hard to Say (Sanchez, 2004), and Totally Joe (Howe, 2005). They then connect these books to broader topics that could be used in a variety of instructional settings.
Next Steps in the Journey: Outgrowing the Current Self: A Case for Cultivating Conscious Competence and a Sense of Possibility
Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, editor
Abstract: Wilhelm takes another look at the content analysis of Voices from the Middle and condenses it into a search for answers to a couple of key questions: What makes effective literacy teaching and learning at the middle level? What makes a great middle level literacy teacher? In looking for those answers, he reflects on the complexity of teaching, the path to “conscious competence,” and the role of Common Core Standards. In the end, he concludes that in spite of the challenges, teaching is a “magical endeavor”!
Books for Young Adolescents: Coping through Literature
Shawn Bird and Vickey M. Giles, editors
Abstract: In their final column, Bird and Giles share some of their old favorites and some great new reads, all with their consistent goal of getting “books into the hands of kids who need them most: adolescents who often struggle with finding their place in this increasingly complex world.”
Stories along the Way: Voices to Lead Us
Penny Kittle, editor
Abstract: In the cacophony of voices that compete for our professional attention, Kittle believes it is vital to hear those that encourage us to do our own thinking about students and teaching—inspirational leaders like Donald Murray and Donald Graves and Maja Wilson; the teachers we trust and respect in our school and district; our NCTE and IRA colleagues. She urges each of us to join the conversation, at any and all levels, and to “preserve the dignity of this work and challenge the thinking that leads to despair in our students and in ourselves.”
New Puzzles, Next Moves: My Wishes for Beginning Teachers: A Coming Full Circle
Nancy Shanklin, editor
Abstract: Shanklin carefully considers the question, “Would you recommend teaching as a career?” and responds with a thoughtful, “Yes.” Even as she names some of the greatest advantages—meeting great people, sharing the gift of language to make sense of the world, experiencing some memorable adventures through students and colleagues—she encourages those considering teaching as a career or deciding whether to stay with it as a career to talk to many teachers they respect to gain insights about what keeps them optimistic, energized, and professionally satisfied.
Student to Student: Looking Back . . . to the Classics
Kim Ford, editor
Abstract: There is usually a reason a book is considered a “classic”—it continues to interest readers; it takes us to a place that seems familiar, in spite of its age or setting, because human nature hasn’t really changed that much; it still offers that mirror or window where we can examine ourselves and others in safety. Here are five titles that still speak to students and shouldn’t be missed in your classroom.
Technology Toolkit: Packing Up the Toolkit
Sandy Hayes, editor
Abstract: Hayes’s mantra has been consistent through five years writing a technology column for VM: “It’s not about learning to use the tool; it’s about using the tool to learn.” After NCLB’s disappointing lack of clarity about its requirement that every student become “technologically literate,” Hayes is heartened to see a different take in the National Education Technology Plan, especially when she sees new models of teaching that emphasize “discovery” over “delivery.” She expresses optimism that despite the current economical and political turmoil, we can re-make education.
Professional Reading for Middle Level Educators: Literacy Education—Past and Future
Penny Silvers, editor
Abstract: As literacy is redefined to include a range of media and technology, it is important to incorporate methods that embrace them, as our students certainly do. Reviewed are: Reading the Past, Writing the Future (Erika Lindemann, ed.), Bring It to Class: Unpacking Pop Culture in Literacy Learning (Margaret Hagood, Donna Alvermann, and Alison Heron-Hruby), Building Reading Comprehension Habits in Grades 6–12 (Jeff Zwiers), Literacies, the Arts, and Multimodality (Peggy Albers and Jennifer Sanders. eds.). Additional book recommendations are also listed.
Bumps in the Road: Do Reading and Reading Instruction Have to Live in the Same Space?
Wanda Hedrick, editor
Abstract: Hedrick thinks back to when self-selected books, read-alouds, and time to read during the school day launched her lifetime of avid readership. She ponders the potentially negative effects of making every reading minute of the school day a teaching minute (an example of her theme of iatrogenic practices), and advocates for a return to some truly free reading time.
Postcard from the Middle Level Section: Lessons from the Past
Lori Goodson, Middle Level Section Committee
Abstract: Goodson uses the metaphor of the rearview mirror, which allows us to move ahead while keeping an eye on what came before, to encourage membership in the middle level section. That connection with others and with the past can inform our future, making our decisions stronger and our success much more likely.
Index for Volume 18