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2013 January Language Arts, v90.3

Non-Member Price: $12.50

NCTE Member Price: $4.25

Issue Theme: Insights and Inquiries

Level(s): Elementary, Middle

ISBN/ISSN: 0360-9170


Language Arts
Volume 90, Number 3, January 2013
Issue Theme: Insights and Inquiries

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Thoughts from the Editors: Teaching Every Child in Heated Times
Teri Holbrook, Laura May, Peggy Albers, Caitlin McMunn Dooley, and Amy Seely Flint

Language Arts Teachers’ Resistance to Teaching LGBT Literature and Issues
Amanda Haertling Thein
Abstract: In recent years, scholars and other educators have encouraged language arts teachers to include LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) issues and texts in their classrooms. Despite these efforts, scholars have pointed out that LGBT perspectives are seldom included in language arts pedagogy. Studies of teacher attitudes toward addressing LGBT themes in the language arts classroom suggest that teachers’ conflicted beliefs about these issues are at play in this absence. This study examines the discursive strategies used by current and prospective language arts teachers in an online course on multicultural literature instruction to justify and qualify why they held anti-homophobic views but simultaneously could not or would not teach LGBT texts and issues in their classrooms. This study provides useful implications for language arts teachers and teacher educators aimed at questioning status quo discourses and taking up more active stances toward combating homophobia and heteronormativity in language arts classrooms.

Teacher Research as a Practical Tool for Learning to Teach
Judith Lysaker and Becky Thompson
Abstract: Teacher research has a long, rich history. However, teacher research is primarily limited to practicing teachers and those pursuing graduate education. It is only beginning to be used as means of understanding the instructional needs of English learners. In this article, a preservice teacher and her university instructor describe the role of inquiry in an early literacy course. They tell the story of a semester-long teacher-research project in which the preservice teacher learns about the role of inquiry and native language in responding to the instructional needs of a young English learner. It is a story in which thinking about teaching and learning as inquiry emerges as a powerful guide in finding one’s way as a preservice teacher on unfamiliar ground, one in which the practice of teacher research becomes a practical tool for seeing, valuing, and responding to difference.

What Does Vygotsky Provide for the 21st-Century Language Arts Teacher?
Peter Smagorinsky
Abstract: L. S. Vygotsky, the psychologist and teacher from Byelorussia who became a central figure in Soviet psychological and educational circles in the 1920s and 1930s, has become a frequent citation in 21st-century scholarship. He is most-often invoked to support some form of instructional scaffolding, based on his idea of the zone of proximal development, which is actually a relatively minor contribution in his original work. In this essay, Smagorinsky reviews how Vygotsky’s theory can more broadly inform our modern-day teaching, and he attends to Vygotsky’s work in the areas of the use of speech as a tool for thinking, the role of emotion in thinking, the social nature of thinking, an emphasis on meaningful activity, and how the construct of the zone of proximal development can contribute to effective language arts instruction.

Research and Policy: Information Texts and the Common Core Standards: What Are We Talking about, Anyway?
Beth Maloch and Randy Bomer
Abstract: This column responds to a recent push in education policy toward a curriculum that requires students to read and write more informational texts. Most evident in the now well-known Common Core State Standards, these policy moves echo, in some ways, a call by researchers for more informational texts, particularly in primary classrooms. In this column, the authors work to sort out the various ways that researchers and policy documents have defined terms like “informational texts” and “nonfiction.” In doing so, they hope to move toward more clarity and consistency in the use of such terms.  The discussion in this column lays the groundwork for, and continues in, a future column (July, 2013) in which they review the research on instruction relevant to informational texts.

Professional Book Reviews: Response to Intervention
Diane Stephens
Abstract: There are often vague calls for teachers to become “change agents.” It is frequently unclear, however, just what it is that teachers reasonably can do on a daily basis to make a difference. The federal initiative Response to Intervention (RTI) offers one possibility: classroom teachers can take responsibility for students who are not yet experiencing success as readers and “intervene” to change that pattern. The four books reviewed by Diane Stephens in this column offer information that can help teachers provide such instruction and, in so doing, function as “change agents”—as teachers who can change the trajectory of a child as a reader.

Children’s Literature Reviews: Picturebooks with Noteworthy Endpapers
Jonda C. McNair with Clemson University graduate students
Abstract: This children's literature review column features a collection of picturebooks with endpapers (also referred to as endpages) that are worthy of attention from children and teachers. Endpapers are defined as the first pages one sees when opening the picturebook and the last pages one sees at the end of the book before closing it.

Conversation Currents: Interrupting the Single Story: LGBT Issues in the Language Arts Classroom
Jill Hermann-Wilmarth and Caitlin L. Ryan
Abstract: Two literacy leaders acknowledge the challenges of teaching LGBT issues in the classroom. While children come from a variety of family structures, it is necessary to acknowledge that a gay individual was once a child sitting in a classroom. An argument against marginalization and an advocacy for inclusion of all learners is discussed.

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