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NCTE Linda Rief Voices from the Middle Award

2017 Award Winner

Voices from the MiddleMatthew Homrich-Knieling for “An Offense to Their Human Rights”: Connecting Bud, not Buddy to the Flint Water Crisis with Middle School ELA Students," September 2016

This article explains how a middle school ELA teacher used Christopher Paul Curtis's Bud, not Buddy to engage students in a research project on Flint, Michigan's water crisis. The article offers insights into the capabilities of middle school students by highlighting their work and their voices. The students in this classroom displayed an ability to demonstrate critical perspectives and genuine empathy, pose challenging questions, make thoughtful connections between their research and the novel, and employ complicated rhetorical strategies to convey their idea, all of which challenge the oftentimes low expectations of young students, especially students-of-color and low-income students.

Matthew Homrich-KnielingMatthew Homrich-Knieling is a third-year middle school ELA teacher in southwest Detroit. He formerly taught ELA in Springfield, Massachusetts. Matt is particularly interested in culturally-sustaining pedagogy, restorative justice, language/literacy practices of youth, and activist pedagogy. His writings have appeared in Voices from the Middle, Teaching Tolerance, the Literacy & NCTE blog, and Education Week. In addition to teaching, Matt serves on the Reader Advisory Board for the education news organization Chalkbeat and volunteers with education-justice organizations 482Forward and Detroit Independent Freedom Schools. His work as an educator centers on making schools humanizing, liberatory, community-driven, and collaborative spaces.

NCTE Annual ConventionThe award presentation will be held at the Middle Level Luncheon on Friday, November 17 during the NCTE Annual Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.




Nomination are not accepted for this award.

Purpose:  This award recognizes an outstanding publication in Voices from the Middle written or cowritten by classroom teachers or literacy coaches. Many of today’s recognized authors and experts published their early work in Voices from the Middle, and this award aims to support the development of future voices to lead our profession forward.

Voices from the MiddleEligibility:  The outstanding work must have been published between September and May of the previous volume year. At least 50% of the named contributing authors must be middle level preservice or practicing teachers or literacy coaches at the time of publication. This may include those on leave or on special assignment.

All published works that meet this eligibility requirement will be considered; no additional submission is required. The published work may be print or digital, article, vignette, or other form. Up to two honorable mentions may be named each year.

Award Criteria:  Upon meeting eligibility requirements, a published work will be selected based on the following four criteria:

  • Timeliness to the field
  • Features authentic classroom voices
  • Practical application of ideas to other middle level classrooms
  • Significant attention to craft and intended audience

Award Specifics:  The award will be recognized at the Middle Level Luncheon during the NCTE Annual Convention. The winning recipient(s) will each receive a ticket to the Middle Level Luncheon and their name(s) will appear on a plaque. Honorable mention author(s) will receive a certificate.

The award is named in recognition of Linda Rief, esteemed middle level educator, longstanding member of and leader within the Middle Level Section, and one of the original editors of Voices from the Middle

Judging:  Annually, the Voices from the Middle journal editors will propose a maximum of five recipients to the Middle Level Section Steering Committee by June 1 of each year. The Middle Level Section Steering Committee and/or award subcommittee will select the outstanding work and up to two honorable mentions by August 1.


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