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2014 July Language Arts, v91.6

Non-Member Price: $12.50

NCTE Member Price: $4.25

Level(s): Elementary, Middle

ISBN/ISSN: 0360-9170


Language Arts
Volume 91, Number 6, July 2014
Issue Theme: Insights and Inquiries

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Calls for Manuscripts

Thoughts from the Editors: Educational Dialogue: Improving How We Share the Same Sandbox

Interactive Digital Storytelling with Refugee Children
Toby Emert
Abstract: This article describes a literacy initiative—an interactive digital storytelling
project—designed to invite English language learners (ELLs) from refugee families to build new language competencies. The storytelling project served as the central assignment for a five-week summer-camp-style experience and required the children to draft narratives and then translate them to visual form, using advanced features of PowerPoint. The children who participated were members of a community-based soccer program for refugees that, in addition to teaching sportsmanship, offers academic support to the young players. The multi-phased process of composing and revising narratives, translating them to a visual medium, and ultimately presenting the projects to an audience of English speakers allowed the students to increase their language competency, technology proficiency, interpersonal skills, and academic confidence.

Coaching Teachers’ Talk during Vocabulary and Comprehension Instruction
Dana A. Robertson, Evelyn Ford-Connors, and Jeanne R. Paratore
Abstract: Research has established the importance of teachers’ talk as a tool of effective literacy instruction, yet it is often neither sufficiently explicit nor strategic to make a substantial difference in what children know and do. Despite evidence of talk’s value as a teaching and learning tool, teachers are often unaware of its power or have difficulty harnessing it for productive use. Helping teachers examine classroom talk as a tool for strengthening student learning is, then, an important focus of professional development. This article focuses on some of the approaches coaches can use to engage teachers in joint investigations of talk within the context of their instruction with their own students. Each approach maintains a focus on observing instruction and examining student outcomes, and on teachers and coaches working together as “co-investigators” to improve learning for all students. The approaches to coaching range along a Coaching Continuum that can be tailored to teachers’ needs and their “readiness” for coaching. Examples are provided to illustrate the range.

Research and Policy: A Four Resources Analysis of Technology in the CCSS
Jessica Zacher Pandya and Maren Aukerman
Abstract: In this column, we map some of the ways technology has been interpreted and emphasized in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards thus far, and suggest potential areas for research. To create our map, we applied Luke & Freebody’s four resources model to the interpretations of technology in the CCSS. The model suggests that literate people draw on four distinct resources as they read and write in the world: coding, pragmatic, semantic, and critical competencies. We engaged in a close reading of the Standards, looking for each of these competencies, and found technology most often visible as pragmatic and semantic competencies. We discuss these perspectives, as well as the troubling lack of attention to coding and critical competencies. We also address current responses to the CCSS, from the addition of media literacy standards to institutional hardware and professional development needs.

Professional Book Reviews: Building on Children’s Worlds: Shifting Instructional Focus
Amy Donnelly, Marcie Ellerbe, Melanie Keel, Michele Myers, and Kelli Criss
Abstract: This series of book reviews spotlights teaching as an act of social justice and, thus, as demanding instruction and curricula that is socioculturally responsive to the knowledge and experiences children bring to the classroom.  A bedrock of research verifies a universal reality: Children bring rich literacy experiences and cultures to school.  Unfortunately, children’s diverse literacies may not currently inform instruction and curricula to the degree it should, despite long-standing research.  Insights from Mexican American students, African American families, and parents, coupled with issues surrounding mandated curricula and new multicultural literature provide compelling perspectives to better inform ways classrooms and schools operate. Our nation is diverse and the books reviewed sound a clarion call for the absolute necessity of responsive pedagogy to promote equity and quality curriculum for all.

Children’s Literature Reviews: Our Favorite 2013 Poetry Books
Jonda C. McNair, Deanna Day, Karla J. Möller, and Angie Zapata
Abstract: This column presents what we consider to be the most notable poetry books published in 2013. We selected a total of ten titles; they focus on a range of topics such as animals, plants, fairy tales, imaginary creatures, and civil rights leaders.

Conversation Currents: Watercolor as a Form of Storytelling: An Interview with Jerry Pinkney
Jerry Pinkney and the Language Arts editors
Abstract: This column features edited selections from a conversation between well-known children’s book creator Jerry Pinkney and Language Arts editor Laura May. Mr. Pinkney’s work presents little-known sides to historical events and provides a level of detail that is unusual for a watercolorist. He discusses his artistic process, his work—including his two recent wordless picturebooks—and his thoughts on guiding children.

Index for Volume 91

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