We publish articles of general interest as space is available. You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to EJ readers. Remember that EJ articles foreground classroom practice and contextualize it in sound research and theory. As you know, EJ readers appreciate articles that show real students and teachers in real classrooms engaged in authentic teaching and learning. Regular manuscript guidelines regarding length and style apply.
Writing Is Power: Helping Students Craft Their Wor(l)ds
Guest Editors: Vicki McQuitty and Pamela J. Hickey
Submission Deadline: May 15, 2017
Publication Date: January 2018
As English teachers, we believe strongly in the power of words. We recognize that our words—particularly when written down and then carefully revised—have the power to create new realities and change our world. We strategically use writing to position ourselves within important conversations and add our voices in purposeful, meaningful, and powerful ways.
Yet, too often, students experience writing as a disempowering act. Though they write constantly, texting and posting to social media, in school they write to get a grade rather than to say something important. They ask, “How long does it have to be?” rather than “How can my words make a difference?” They mechanically follow the rubrics rather than critically and strategically crafting their voices.
This issue of English Journal seeks articles about how teachers empower their students as writers in the twenty-first century. What writing assignments—including texts that mix images, audio, and spatial patterns of meaning with words—do you use to inspire your students? How do you help them add their voices to important conversations? How do you support them as they learn to think critically and strategically about what and how they write? How can teachers help their students experience writing as meaningful and powerful?
We invite manuscripts of 2,500–3,750 words, written to an audience of educators in grades 7–12.
The Essence of Improvement: Leadership in English Language Arts Instruction
Submission Deadline: July 15, 2017
Publication Date: March 2018
John Quincy Adams wrote, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” Leadership, then, does not necessarily stem from those who hold titles or positions of authority; and if what Adams says is true, then anyone can be a leader. Though he made this statement in the early 19th century, current educational research focusing on school improvement supports his belief. As we look back at nearly 40 years of school reform efforts, it is clear that there is no “cookie cutter” approach to improving the teaching and learning process; that there is no set of “best practices” that can be uniformly applied to all children in all schools. What has emerged from the literature on school reform is the indispensible role of leadership; and that leadership may come from traditional sources such as a school district superintendent or a building principal. However, when tracing the success of a school, research has found that leadership may come from, for example, a department chair, a teacher, a reading specialist, a curriculum coordinator, a content area specialist, or even a parent group.
We invite you to share experiences related to the improvement of English language arts instruction on a broad basis (beyond a single classroom); experiences that had an impact on, for example, an entire grade level, department, school building, or school district. While crafting your manuscript, consider these questions: What grade level, department level, or school district level curricular issues/concerns needed to be addressed? How were these issues/concerns identified? What efforts had been made in the past to address the issues/concerns? How did leadership emerge? How was the leadership able to forge a consensus on what needed to be done to address the issue/concern? What steps were taken to achieve administrative, faculty, staff, and parental support? How was “success” measured?
Embracing Enduring Tensions in English Education
Submission Deadline: September 15, 2017
Publication Date: May 2018
Should spelling count? Does Shakespeare belong in high school classrooms? Can grammar be taught effectively without being embedded in student writing? Can students write poetry before they master basic literacy skills? Are rubrics useful for assigning and assessing writing, or do they lead to formulaic compositions that erase student voices?
Language is an evolving cultural medium. It shapes our understandings of the world, and its changes reflect social transformation. A quick flip through the last 100+ years of English Journal reveals considerable change. Terms such as digital literacy and critical embodied pedagogies would have been mystifying to English teachers reading the journal in the early 20th century. Despite vast changes to language and to teaching, our field, like most professions, features some enduring tensions.
These tensions connect to philosophical approaches related to essential tenets of practice: teachers, students, and texts. Excellent teachers can have differing beliefs about these three components of our work. For example, is it the role of the teacher to lead students toward knowledge or to facilitate their construction of knowledge? Should students choose what to read or engage in shared analysis of a common text? Does choice in mode of assessment result in increased engagement or decreased equity? Consideration of instructional approaches complicates matters further. Some educators and researchers believe that advanced technologies enhance instruction; others can demonstrate that traditional, paper-and-pencil pedagogies strengthen learning and foster human interaction.
In the spirit of investigating the spaces of struggle that mark the heart of inquiry, we invite you to share your experiences with the enduring tensions of our practice. How have these tensions influenced your students, your classroom, and your development as a teacher? How have these issues resurfaced into new contexts and influenced your teaching? How does your classroom reveal that “the more things change, the more they stay the same”? And how can we continue to grow while honoring philosophies that have shaped our profession?
Speaking My Mind: We invite you to speak out on an issue that concerns you about English language arts teaching and learning. If your essay is published, it will appear with your photo in a future issue of EJ. We welcome essays of 1,000 to 1,500 words, as well as inquiries regarding possible subjects.
Teacher photographs of classroom scenes and individual students are welcome. Photographs may be uploaded to Editorial Manager at the address above in any standard image format at 300 dpi. Photos should be accompanied by complete identification: teacher/photographer’s name, location of scene, and date photograph was taken. If faces are clearly visible, names of those photographed should be included, along with their statement of permission for the photograph to be reproduced in EJ.
Cartoons should depict scenes or ideas potentially amusing to English language arts teachers. They can be submitted to Editorial Manager at the address above; we can accept any standard graphics format at 300 dpi.
For information on writing for the EJ columns, see the Columns and Column Editors page.
For EJ Submission Guidelines, click here.
For more information, contact Englishjournal@ncte.org.