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Voices from the Middle Call for Manuscripts

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Greetings from the editors
As former middle level English language arts teachers, we know well the joys and challenges of teaching middle level learners. We hope that Voices from the Middle will continue to serve you as a vibrant source of professional development, highlighting best practices in the craft of middle level teaching, pieces from middle grades and young adult authors, and even ideas, responses, and celebrations from the students we serve. We hope to do so with a growing attention to offering our readers interactive and multimodal content. We welcome your participation in growing YOUR journal in ways that make an impact on your students and your teaching.

—Sara Kajder (The University of Georgia) and Shelbie Witte (Oklahoma State University)

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What’s Next? Digital Tools, Social Media, and the Literacy Practices
May 2018
The emergence of digital tools, social media, and new/next literacy practices in our English classrooms brought new opportunities for reading and writing alongside our students. Together, we’ve learned to situate our thinking on the practices that new tools invite (rather than the tools themselves) and we’ve connected, networked, and created. So now, what’s next? How do we update learning to be responsive and relevant for our learners who have grown up in literacy environments marked by access to tools that are dramatically different from what those before them have known? What is relevant and most needed? How do we select which “new” things to pay attention to? What do we do to build equity in access, in equipment, and in teacher capacity to purposefully and creatively develop digital and media literacy skills in student readers and writers? How do you put students’ digital content to work outside of your classroom spaces?  What does innovation look like now? How do we ensure that we are doing better things and not just “things better” (which might largely be a moment of replicating non-digital lessons in digital spaces)? We encourage you to take risks in this issue and to think beyond the printed page in what you share/create. We invite submissions that encompass all sorts of modalities and media. Submission deadline: August 1, 2017

Where “Art” Thou?
September 2018
Over the past twenty years, there has been a steady decline in the offering of the “arts” in our schools. We define the arts broadly here, in an effort to encompass music, art, dance, design, drama, and other artistic expressions of thought. As budgets and standardized curricula drive the choices schools make, our classrooms and, ultimately, our students, pay the price for the lack of creativity and opportunities for artistic expression in our schools. As is typically the case, middle level teachers are working tirelessly to supplement and to provide artistic outlets for our students. This issue asks a simple question: Where “Art” Thou? Where is art found within your curriculum? In what ways are your students given the agency to use their artistic talents and curiosities to express their understanding of themselves and of their world? How are literacy educators working with art educators within your districts to draw stronger ties between the core and elective curriculum? How are you using the arts and creativity to combat the test-driven culture so prevalent in today’s schools? What are some suggestions for how teachers can better implement artistic and thinking into their curriculum? We welcome traditional manuscripts and other artistic expressions for this issue. Submission deadline: January 1, 2018

“Novel Lessons” with YA texts 
December 2018
Middle grades and young adult literature are now essential elements of our middle level ELA curriculum and classroom work. To that end, this issue invites you to share your most compelling texts, strategies, units, or lesson ideas that lever the YA lit that speaks to you and your students. What has teaching with particular YA texts brought to you and your students’ reading lives? What conversations do they make possible? What do we want and need in middle grades and YA lit? What is “novel” in teaching with particular YA texts? We especially invite coauthored submissions from YA authors and the teachers and students who are using their work for this issue. Submission deadline: March 1, 2018

Asking Real Questions 
March 2019
As middle level teachers, our students are at the center of our teaching: their needs, their curiosities, their discoveries, and their questions. This issue is focused on the ways in which we guide and empower students to generate and pursue paths of inquiry that move in purposeful directions. How do you build students’ ownership, agency, and engagement through inquiry-driven teaching? What questions do your students pose and pursue? Are there strategies or protocols or tools that you use in supporting their discovery? How have students’ projects or pursuits impacted the community outside of your classroom? How do we safely invite risk and failure in students’ learning? Whether you are using PBL, inquiry units, Genius Hour, design thinking, hackathons, or other approaches in guiding students to wonder, join us in exploring what it means to bring authentic inquiry and critical thinking into our middle school ELA classrooms. Submission deadline: June 1, 2018

What’s Next in Teaching Writing?
May 2019 
Through a long history of composition theories and pedagogical applications, we teachers have come to know what works in the teaching of writing. Process writing, traits of writing, genres of writing, mentor texts, writing workshops, responses to writing, multimodalities of writing, and rhetorical situations of writing have guided our approaches to the teaching of writing at the middle level. So, what’s next? How might we continue to evolve as teachers of writing? In what ways do teachers take up the idea of the power of language with their middle level students? How do students come to understand message and audience in our 21st-century world? How do we continue to make time for writing? How do we balance the fundamental aspects of the craft of writing with the art required to bring the words to life? And while our “What’s Next?” issues seem to suggest something new is waiting in the wings to be introduced, what has been at our disposal all along that requires a new focus? Submission deadline: August 1, 2018

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