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Preparing Our Students as Writers
January 2012. Learning how to write effectively is a language process that begins early in life for the majority of students. As parents and teachers encourage young children to craft and illustrate early oral exchanges, they begin to view writing as an additional process of communication. During the primary grades, their developing knowledge of writing often becomes tangential to learning to read. Students then meet the middle school teacher who is tasked with preparing them to write effectively across many genres. Because this is indeed a complex task for middle school teachers, this issue of Voices focuses on preparing students as writers.We welcome articles that expand our views about how to know our students as writers and subsequently support their development as writers. Investigations of questions similar to the following will fuel this discussion while sharing possible insights: What is a profile of how well middle school students write? What are middle schoolers writing inside and outside of the classroom? What type of a curriculum remix is supporting students as writers? What are the best ways to assess student writing? When students write collaboratively, how can each contributor be assessed? What does writer’s workshop look like in the 21st century? What classroom contexts realistically support writing instruction? How can the voices of all students be applauded and developed? How can teachers be better prepared to teach writing? Deadline: January 3, 2011
May 2012. When one thinks of the term “new literacies,” the plurality of the term literacy immediately suggests that there are multiple forms of literacy. The use of new signals a realization of expanded epistemologies, methods, contexts, and meaning-makers who are engaged with computer literacy, visual literacy, performative literacy, Internet literacies, digital literacies, information literacy, new media literacies, multiliteracies, and information & communication literacies. For this issue, we invite articles that illustrate how these new literacies can be remixed with the best instructional practice for adolescent learners. In preparation of these articles, it is important to illustrate that new literacies are additions to, rather than replacements for, the literacies that have traditionally enabled students to communicate and collaborate within both their school and out-of-school communities. The focus of these articles should address questions such as: Where is an active teacher in this new remix of learning? How are these new literacies accommodating guided instruction, grouping practices, and collaborative and independent work? How are teachers broadening their knowledge base through the outside-of-school literacies they are inviting their students to incorporate into school tasks? Remember to offer readers myriad classroom examples of how teachers have engaged and motivated literacy development among their students by incorporating new literacies into the instructional mix.
Deadline: May 2, 2011
Background Knowledge and Vocabulary
September 2012. Students differ in a number of ways, including their background knowledge. They have different experiences, have read different books, and have had different teachers. Yet we know that background knowledge is critical to understanding. Is there anything that teachers can do to build and activate their background knowledge so that relevant information is available for reading and learning? What ways, direct and indirect, have teachers ensured that student knowledge is valued and used? How do you determine what their background knowledge is, and what do you do to address these differences? Background knowledge is expressed through the words students know and use, so what might be the instructional relationship between vocabulary and background knowledge? We hope to highlight the importance of background knowledge, despite its current lack of popularity. We also hope to provide teachers with useful classroom ideas that will ensure students’ funds of knowledge are validated and extended. Deadline: September 1, 2011
Grouping in Middle School: Why? How?
December 2012. When middle school teachers are asked why they hesitate to incorporate productive group work into the instructional plan, they often mention problems with assessment, tasks, and questions about grouping practices.
They wonder if the benefits are worth the effort. We invite papers that view group work as an essential part of the classroom community. Articles should address teachers’ concerns about grouping by providing examples that will offer an understanding of the purposes for grouping, how to form groups, and the multiple roles that students can play
in a group as problem solvers and idea generators. Authors should also address how to manage, monitor, and assess productive group work in ways that scaffold and support learning for each student.
Deadline: December 1, 2011