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2015 May Voices from the Middle, v22.4

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Issue Theme: Deepening Student Interactions with Text

Level(s): Middle

ISBN/ISSN: 1074-4762

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Voices from the Middle
Volume 22, Number 4, May 2015
Issue Theme: Deepening Student Interactions with Text


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Editor's Message: What Do We Mean When We Say . . .?
Denise N. Morgan, guest editor

Why Should Students Want to Do a Close Reading?
J. Luciano Beltramo and Jamy Stillman
Abstract: This article explores the issue of student interest in close reading. In particular, it raises questions about the limited focus on student engagement in much of the current discourse about close reading and considers how teachers might build and sustain the student interest necessary for literacy activity, especially close reading. Specifically, we draw on sociocultural perspectives on literacy and emerging findings from our own research on teachers' work with the Common Core Standards to describe a set of classroom practices we believe hold promise for facilitating engagement in close reading, particularly among students from historically underserved communities.

Learning Cycles That Deepen Students’ Interactions with Text
Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp
Abstract: It is important for students to develop as readers over the course of their educations in order for them to become adults who can successfully interact with various texts and interpret them throughout daily life. In order for teachers to help facilitate this development, they must initiate and return to a cycle of asking compelling questions to engage students initially with a text, teaching students techniques to read closely, fostering collaborative conversations about the text, and finally, showing how such reading inspires further thought.

Using Writing to Support Close Reading: Engagement and Evidence from the Text
Michelle Medlin Hasty and Katie Edwards Schrodt
Abstract: Data from a yearlong study of 12 eighth graders with reading difficulties demonstrate how literacy notebooks support close reading. The study's data show that as students recorded words, phrases, and personal responses while reading, they became curious about the text, cited evidence from the text to support their responses, were engaged in the story, and were motivated to continue reading. Developing the habit of close reading using literacy notebooks helped students to understand the text deeply and therefore to enjoy reading in a way that most of the students had not previously done.

Collaborative Read-Alouds: Engaging Middle School Students in Thoughtful Reading
Susan E. Elliott-Johns and Enrique A. Puig
Abstract: Renewed conversations about close reading in relation to implementation of the Common Core Standards offer numerous opportunities to hone both traditional and innovative instructional practices. Two experienced teacher educators explore the features and benefits of collaborative read-alouds, using crossover picture books, the importance of attending to student voice in contemporary learning environments, and deepening student interactions with texts. The article also emphasizes the role of teachers' reflective practices, critical thinking, and the need to look beyond the Common Core Standards when planning for instruction. A resource list of twenty recommended picture books for collaborative read-aloud is included.

Beyond the Book Response: Digital Writing and Reflection for Deeper Engagement
Abstract: Even though book responses have, in recent years, begun to take on new forms such as blogs, podcasts, or short digital films, students can still suffer from shallow thinking about what they have read. To counteract this problem, this article proposes ways to teach “beyond the book response,” requiring students to push toward deeper analysis of characters, plot, and setting while documenting the process behind the digital products they create with the technology of screencasting. Using the MAPS
heuristic—mode, media, audience, purpose, and situation—teachers can encourage metacognition and reflection, using digital writing tools for deeper engagement.

Young Adult Literature: Closely Reading the Voices of Peers
Nancy Roser, Stephanie Finger, Kathlene Holmes, Brenda Calder, and Saba Vlach
Abstract: The reviewers recommend first-person accounts of historical events told from the points of view of adolescents to foster deeper understanding of those events, arguing that the voice of a peer seems more relevant, compelling, and meaningful to all readers, including middle schoolers.

Teaching the Common Core: Using Paired Text to Teach CCSS Anchor Standards in Reading
William P. Bintz
Abstract: The Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts (CCSS) encourage recognizing connections across texts but offer little direction for incorporating this idea into curricula. The author suggests using paired text as a way to introduce intertextuality, especially across subject matter, and uses examples from physical science to demonstrate. An added bonus of using paired text is that it requires teachers to be readers, thus keeping them current with literature available to their grade level. The author provides resources with which to discover appropriate paired text for teaching the CCSS Anchor Standards.

CODA: Teaching Texts to Somebody! A Case for Interpretive Complexity
Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
Abstract: While the Common Core State Standards seem to encourage reading outside of regular classwork, their definition of “complex” texts seems to marginalize most of the texts students actually read, including graphic novels/animé and most genre fiction. The author argues that the measure of complexity should be on the interpretive work students do to understand the texts they read, not on the texts themselves. Rather, teachers should focus on answering three key questions when selecting student texts, including considerations of students’ interest, cognitive capacity, and other factors that motivate students to develop reading strategies.

Index for Volume 22, September - May 2015

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