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2014 March Voices from the Middle, v21.3

Non-Member Price: $18.75

NCTE Member Price: $6.25

Issue Theme: Narration, Persuasion, Argumentation: Teaching Writing with Purpose

Level(s): Middle, Secondary

ISBN/ISSN: 1074-4762

Description

Voices from the Middle
Volume 21, Number 3, March 2014
Issue Theme: Narration, Persuasion, Argumentation: Teaching Writing with Purpose

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Calls for Manuscripts

Editors’ Message: Writing Is a Job Requirement: How Can We Prepare Every Student?
Diane Lapp, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey

First Do No Harm
Carol Jago
Abstract: Many middle school instructors confuse their role as a writing teacher with that of a copy editor. Rather than correcting every word students produce, teachers should respond to student writing kindly and critically. We also need to help students read their own work with a revising eye.

“It’s a Juggling Act Sometimes”: Peers and Teachers Supporting Students’ Writing Lives
Shelley Stagg Peterson
Abstract: Drawing on research and my own experiences as a classroom and university teacher, I propose that reader-based feedback is a natural fit for peers and that criterion-based feedback is best provided by teachers, though both teachers and peers can give both types of feedback. While scaffolding is needed to support students' provision of criterion-based peer feedback, extensive formal teaching should not be needed to support reader-based peer feedback. In addition, teachers should encourage students to elicit feedback from peers as they develop a stronger sense of writing as a meaningful social practice, especially when feedback is focused on their own purposes for writing.

Spanish, Mathematics, and English: The Languages of Success in a Grade 8 Class
Jane Hansen and Kateri Thunder
Abstract: The English Language Learners in this eighth-grade, “standard”-level mathematics class used talk, reading, and writing in the languages of English, mathematics, and Spanish to succeed. Their mathematics workshop was open three days a week, and almost the entire 90 minutes of their block was devoted to work time, during which the teacher constantly conferred with the students. Overall, the mathematical procedures were problematic for these students. They needed translation of vocabulary, of course, but their need to understand English within mathematics posed a specific challenge because common English words became problematic in mathematics contexts. At year’s end, all passed their state test.

A Call for Action: Engaging in Purposeful, Real-World Writing
Lori Czop Assaf and Joël Johnson
Abstract: Knowing that students have little ownership when writing is presented as a school-based exercise, we describe how a seventh-grade English language arts teacher engaged her students in a persuasive writing unit. Understanding the importance of a spiral curriculum (Bruner, 1977) and deep scaffolding (Brown & Broemmel, 2011), we illustrate how using multiple, complex mentor texts, inquiry-based instruction (Ray, 1999), and a variety of writing activities facilitated a deep understanding of persuasive devices and a sense of purpose and audience. Students not only learned how to write persuasively but also came to understand the power of writing in the real world.

Developing Argument Writing through Evidence-Based Responses to Student-Generated Questions
Wolfram Verlaan, Evan Ortlieb, and Sue Oakes Verlaan
Abstract: Effectively writing text-based arguments is the first of the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing. One of the more significant challenges that educators face when teaching argument, however, is ensuring that students adequately comprehend the text that forms the basis for the writing assignment. How can teachers ensure student comprehension at both the recall and inferential levels? In this article, the authors describe how using student-generated questions to a text forms a foundation for effective writing by: a) fostering increased engagement with the text, b) increasing inferential comprehension of the text, and c) providing authentic subject matter for students’ arguments.

Aristotle in the Classroom: Scaffolding the Rhetorical Situation
Paula M. Carbone
Abstract: Preparing students for meaningful participation in democratic society begins with constructing arguments around issues important to them. Argumentative writing is important not only for students' abilities to enter the conversations on topics of individual, community, national, and international importance, but also for developing critical thinking and understanding of academic writing in general. This article describes a process for bringing rhetoric to the classroom for facilitation of students' writing fluency—formulating ideas and expressing them in writing. First, the author discusses helping students understand what rhetoric means. She then explains how to model Aristotle's triangle and the rhetorical square to scaffold construction of arguments.

Accuracy in Digital Writing Environments: Read Up, Ask Around, Double-Check
Thomas DeVere Wolsey
Abstract: Increasingly, students are held accountable for the accuracy of what they write—by their teachers, by state and national standards, and on assessments of their learning. This article outlines three approaches to accuracy in writing that go beyond spelling and punctuation. New expectations include the use of sources to inform writing in many discourse modes. Digital environments have the potential to improve the accuracy of student writing. This article proposes that students learn to read digital and traditional materials in order to inform their written work, use digital tools to interact with peers during writing processes, and double-check their work for accuracy.

Four Reasons to Write List Articles with Middle School Students
Denise N. Morgan, Leslie Benko, and Gayle Marek Hauptman
Abstract: In this article, we examine the benefits of writing list articles with students. Within a unit of study approach to teaching this kind of writing, students naturally meet many of the writing Common Core State Standards. Drawing from the writing experiences of 260 7th-grade students, we highlight what students gain from their opportunities to write list articles.

Young Adult Literature: Teaching Argument: Resources for Teachers
Barbara Moss, editor
Abstract: This column provides middle grade teachers with print and digital resources for teaching students to read and write argumentative texts. It includes reviews of digital resources such as Room for Debate, a New York Times blog, instructional units from the Delaware Department of Education, and nonfiction young adult books.

Teaching the Common Core: Writing in Common: Lessons from Kentucky Middle Schools
Brenda J. Overturf
Abstract: Kentucky was the first state to adopt the CCSS, so how do middle school teachers there ensure that their students meet those Standards? Brenda Overturf takes us inside three successful classrooms from three schools where different curricula and different approaches have four things in common: Writing-focused professional development; the view that reading writing, speaking/listening, and language are interwoven and inseparable; teamwork; and an awareness that it takes time to reach a comfortable level of familiarity and competence with Standards implementation.

CODA: Writing as Struggle: Embracing the Power of Practice
Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, editor
Abstract: This article explores the complexity and struggle of becoming a proficient writer and the manifold payoffs of doing so.  This complex challenge of composing specific narrative, informational, and argument text requires teachers who provide specific assistance with the conventions of particular text structures, as well as lots of focused and scaffolded practice to master those conventions.

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