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Language Arts, Vol. 87, No. 6, July 2010

Cover Art for Language Arts, Vol. 87, No. 6, July 2010

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Inquiries and Insights

  • Call for Manuscripts

  • Writing a Relationship: Home–School Journals

    Amy M. Kay, Andrea Neher, and Lindsey Hall Lush

    Abstract: Three elementary teachers share how they engaged in active listening with the families of children in their classrooms by using home–school journals. Their use spans pre-Kindergarten to fifth grade, and the techniques and responses by each teacher vary based on need and intended purpose. The authors share explanations of process, findings, and implications of using dialogue journals as related to relationships with families and student learning. Taking ideas from Davis & Yang’s (2005) Parents and Teachers Working Together and Shockley, Michalove, & Allen’s (1995) Engaging Families: Connecting Home and School Literacy Communities, these three educators adapted the use of home–school journals to meet the needs of students in their classrooms and their families. Freire serves as a foundational underpinning across the teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and actions within the classroom walls and beyond as all of the teachers express a strong belief in the benefits of meaningful home–school relationships and the positive effects of ongoing dialogue. As this is intended to be an authentic account, not a panacea or “one size fits all” suggestion for involving families, the authors identify challenges faced in the implementation of dialogue journals and share openly about their experiences.

    Keywords: Literacy, Writing, Elementary, School/Community

  • Artisan with Words: Transnational Funds of Knowledge in a Bilingual Latina’s Narratives

    Kimberley K. Cuero

    Abstract: Jeniffer, a self-proclaimed “schoolgirl” who was a bilingual Mexican American fifth-grade student, lacked confidence in her abilities in reading and language arts. However, her dialogue journal correspondence with her teacher in her native language of Spanish describing her transnational experiences demonstrated vivid, descriptive writing with artisan-like qualities that mirrored the gifts of her father (a carpenter). In this qualitative case study, Jeniffer’s journal entries are highlighted and demonstrate her metacognitive strategies and strong voice. Implications point to the importance of validating and including students’ language(s), experiences, and funds of knowledge into their literacy engagements in school.

    Keywords: Diversity, Language, Literacy

  • Beyond Picture Walks: Revaluing Picturebooks as Written and Pictorial Texts

    Catherine Maderazo, Prisca Martens, Keri Croce, Ray Martens, Michelle Doyle, Stacy Aghalarov, and Rob Noble

    Abstract: This article shares findings from a collaborative, qualitative research project investigating what happens to first and third graders’ comprehension of picturebooks if we intentionally teach them the language of art—Elements of Art and Principles of Design. Work with the art teacher and two classroom teachers transformed the traditional picture walk and art lessons into authentic art and literacy engagements with picturebooks, empowering the students as readers and deepening their thinking. It is time to rethink traditional methods/strategies to revalue the written text and pictorial text.

    Keywords: Literacy, Literature, Elementary

  • Teaching, Learning, and Resistance

    Geraldine Van de Kleut and Connie White

    Abstract: This article is a discussion of the importance of using student resistance to inform and change teacher practice. The authors relate two narratives of practice, one of which takes place in a constructivist second-grade classroom in Ontario, and a second that takes place in a preservice classroom in California. In the first, a student uses the class message board to highlight her own social difficulties and breaks several classroom rules to do so. In the second, a group of preservice teachers resist their instructor’s attempt to provide an alternative to the Open Court Reading mandated in California schools. The authors reflect on the narratives in terms of their similarities in highlighting the limited identities offered to these students, despite their teachers’ practice of alternative pedagogy, and demonstrate that student resistance is a valuable source of information for reflecting upon the limitations of teacher practice.

    Keywords: Literacy, Pedagogy, Elementary

  • Research Directions: Technologies and Truth Games: Research as a Dynamic Method

    Dawnene D. Hassett

    Abstract: This article offers a way of thinking about literacy instruction that critiques current reasoning, but also provides a space to dynamically think outside of prevalent practices. It presents a framework for both planning and studying literacy pedagogy that combines a practical everyday model of the reading process with Michel Foucault’s (1988c) theoretical concepts of technologies and truth games. This combined framework is used to upset some of the reasoning that binds our practice regarding texts, methods, and student outcomes. A few examples of research questions are considered, with the understanding that individual teachers and researchers will have other ways of pushing the boundaries based on the issues that concern them the most. The article concludes with a discussion of how this type of research can be used as a dynamic method for classroom change.

    Keywords: Literacy, Pedagogy, Technology

  • Profiles and Perspectives: Keeping It Real: How Realistic Does Realistic Fiction for Children Need to Be?

    Barbara O’Connor

    Abstract: O’Connor, an author of realistic fiction for children, shares her attempts to strike a balance between carefree, uncensored, authentic, realistic writing and age-appropriate writing. Of course, complicating that balancing act is the fact that what seems age-appropriate to her might not seem so to everyone. O’Connor suggests that while it may be easy to romanticize the idea of being so immersed in writing that you wouldn’t even think about setting limits, there comes a time when authors must step back and examine their work with a discerning eye, asking, “Is this too real for my intended audience?” She explores this question through examinations of five story elements: dialogue, character, family relationships, economic class, and endings.

    Keywords: Literature, Writing

  • Professional Book Reviews: Read to Lead: Resources That Help Teachers Enhance Literacy Leadership

    Jennifer Turner, Chrystine Hoeltzel & Jiahang Li

    Abstract: Working from the belief that teachers enhance their capacity for literacy leadership by keeping their own professional knowledge current, the authors acknowledge the important role of professional reading, reflection, and learning in transforming their pedagogy (McAndrew, 2005). Because classroom teachers must “read to lead,” we highlight three professional resources in this column that may be useful to teachers who are striving to work as literacy leaders within their own classrooms and schools. Resources reviewed include Boushey and Moser’s The CAFÉ Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment and Instruction, Miller’s The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, and Taffe and Gwinn’s Integrating Literacy and Technology: Effective Practice for Grades K–6.

    Keywords: Literacy, Pedagogy, Elementary

  • Children’s Literature Reviews: Poetry for Children at Its Best: 2009 Poetry Notables

    Barbara A. Ward, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Elaine Magliaro, Jonda C. McNair, Mary Napoli, and Terrell A.Young

    Abstract: However you like your poetry, whether in free verse or rhyming couplets, each year seems to bring new delights in the world of poetry, and this one was no exception. It seemed as though our poets simply got better and the poems they created were even more memorable than before. In this year’s list of the 20 notable poetry books, members of the NCTE Excellence in Poetry Committee hope readers discover a poem or two that will help you imagine all the possibilities of the spoken and the written word.

    Keywords: Literature, Elementary, Middle

  • In Closing…: Puzzle

    Janice Ewing

    Abstract: Our In Closing . . . feature, a poem by Janice Ewing, highlights how the process of fitting the pieces of a puzzle together can be varied for all. She encourages us to think about our goal in connecting the pieces of our lives: do we work for one, standard outcome that matches the picture on the box, or for a unique creation comprised of our own musings, instincts, thoughts and ideas?

    Keywords: Literature

  • Guest Reviewers for Volume 87

  • Index for Volume 87

* Journal articles are provided in PDF format and can be opened using the free Adobe® Reader® program or a comparable viewer. Click here to download and install the most recent version of Adobe Reader.

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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts