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Language Arts, Vol. 91, No. 3, January 2014

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Insights and Inquiries

  • Calls for Manuscripts [FREE ACCESS]

  • Thoughts from the Editors: Considerations for New Editors [FREE ACCESS]

    Caitlin McMunn Dooley, Amy Seely Flint, Teri Holbrook, Laura May, and Peggy Albers

  • Returning to Reciprocity: Using Dialogue Journals to Teach and Learn

    Jamy Stillman, Lauren Anderson, and Kathryn Struthers

    Abstract: In this article, the authors revisit Dialogue Journaling, a practice that has fallen in and out of popular attention over the years. They argue that Dialogue Journals can serve as powerful tools for nurturing the literacy learning of students representing nondominant groups, and especially English Learners. They also argue that Dialogue Journals are particularly well positioned to facilitate authentic teacher learning about such students’ lives and language(s). Throughout the piece, the authors offer examples of English Learner students’ written dialogue with their teacher and with one another to demonstrate how Dialogue Journals can support the development of reciprocal relationships, subvert traditional power dynamics in the classroom, as well as provide teachers with knowledge about students that can be leveraged to facilitate academic learning. They argue that—when used well—Dialogue Journals can generate the kinds of learning opportunities that are especially crucial at a time when accountability-driven policies and practices tend to undermine authentic relationship building and otherwise limit students’—especially English Learners’— access to quality literacy instruction.

  • Out of the Shadow of SSR: Real Teachers’ Classroom Independent Reading Practices [FREE ACCESS]

    Sherry Sanden

    Abstract: Nearly a decade ago, the National Reading Panel concluded that there was insufficient research evidence supporting the classroom use of independent reading. While not an outright indictment, the resultant practical outcome called into question independent reading as classroom practice. One troubling aspect of this fallout was the limited scope of the NRP examination, based primarily on sustained silent reading (SSR) or similar programs, which may or may not reflect the ways that independent reading is enacted in real practice. This inquiry project identifies how eight highly effective teachers think about and use independent reading and illuminates important differences between SSR and their independent reading practices. Some vital components of their programs include teacher support for students’ reading independence, a focus on students’ reading growth, and a commitment to student-centered practices. Outlined in conjunction with accumulated scholarship, this examination provides insight into independent reading through the lenses of these highly effective teachers, allowing independent reading as a classroom practice to be drawn out of the shadow of SSR and better positioning it to reclaim its credibility in elementary literacy instruction.

  • Research and Policy: The Danger of Canonizing Research within Early Childhood Literacy Policies

    Tamara Spencer

    Abstract: This article examines the collective research that informs the current federal reform initiative, Preschool for All.  The author specifically homes in on the conditions that led to the initiative, which has called for “rigorous curriculum” in the preschool years.  The author offers a critique that suggests that the research that informs this policy can be viewed as a “canon” in which only select perspectives and methodologies are put forward. In so doing, there is a counterproductive effect that narrows what counts as language and literacy, as well as a positioning of academic deficits and poverty as synonymous.  The author explores multiple interpretations of widely cited research studies and calls for a breadth of methodological perspectives within policy discussions.

  • Professional Book Reviews: Language, Communities, Multimodalities, and Leadership [FREE ACCESS]

    Beth Buchholz, Diane DeFord, Abbey Duggins, Barbara Gilbert, and Pamela Jewett

    Abstract: The four books reviewed in this column carry messages about students of all ages as well as their teachers and ask questions about the influence of economics and technology on language use, the impact of low-income communities on learners, the necessity of exploring multimodalities with 21st century learners, and the effect of teacher learning on student learning. They represent important professional resources for supporting students’ academic lives and for extending educators’ understanding of the interrelated nature of language, communities, multiple modalities, and learning. The four books reviewed in this column carry messages about students of all ages as well as their teachers and ask questions about the influence of economics and technology on language use, the impact of low-income communities on learners, the necessity of exploring multimodalities with 21st century learners, and the effect of teacher learning on student learning. They represent important professional resources for supporting students’ academic lives and for extending educators’ understanding of the interrelated nature of language, communities, multiple modalities, and learning.

  • Children’s Literature Reviews: Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Award [FREE ACCESS]

    Jonda C. McNair, Alan R. Bailey, Sam Bloom, Deanna Day, Diane Foote, Kathleen T. Horning, Claudette S. McLinn, Karla J. Möller, and Angie Zapata

    Abstract: This column offers a tribute to the Coretta Scott King Book award by showcasing a number of titles. Some of the books were published recently while others were published several decades ago.

  • Conversation Currents: Teacher Performance Assessments in Chicago and Beyond

    John Barker and Mark Conley

    Abstract: This issue’s Conversation Currents is about teacher performance assessments. In the past few years, almost every state in the nation has implemented some form of performance assessment to evaluate teachers. This caused us to wonder, What can we learn from these early evaluative models? How are they taking shape? What can we do to improve them? What can teachers learn with them? The Chief of Accountability addresses these questions for Chicago Public Schools and a professor working with beginning teachers at a university. Both discuss the performance assessment systems that are emerging, as well as the related challenges and opportunities in the long historical context of teacher evaluation.

  • NCTE’s 2013 Outstanding Educators in the English Language Arts: Yvonne and David Freeman

* 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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