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Feed-Forward: Linking Instruction with Assessment
December 2013. Feedback is an important part of the learning process, and students deserve to know how they are doing. But feedback alone is not sufficient to radically improve understanding. In addition to feedback, effective teachers plan instruction based on student performance. For this issue, we focus on the ways in which assessments of student work inform instruction. What tools have you found helpful in determining which students understood the content and which students did not? How can you re-teach content for students who still need it while not sacrificing those who understood? How are lessons planned to ensure that checking for understanding occurs throughout the lesson? How can teachers be responsive to the current performance of their students?
Deadline: December 1, 2012
Narration, Persuasion, Argumentation: Teaching Writing with Purpose
March 2014. The Common Core State Standards renew our focus on writing for many purposes. Narrative writing, the traditional focus of middle school English classrooms, is sharing the stage with persuasive forms, as well as with writing for argumentation. In this issue, we explore the ways in which a rich writing diet can support student learning within the English classroom and across the school day. How do you teach your students to engage in rhetorical writing? In what ways do you integrate narrative forms with complex texts? How do you collaborate with colleagues in other disciplines to ensure that your students hone their writing skills? How do students support the writing lives of their peers? What innovative approaches are you using to expose students to early college and career writing experiences? Deadline: March 1, 2013
Remixing the Roles of Teacher and Learner
May 2014. Many teachers realized at the turn of the century that in order for effective instruction to continue in their classrooms, they must be open to the many ways that new literacies could enhance their teaching and their students’ learning. Inviting new literacies into the 21st century classroom remixes the lines between teacher and learner and teaching and learning. Transmission models of teaching become less relevant in a digitized world where people constantly interact with great quantities of unfiltered information, and expert knowledge is quickly checked and challenged as more and more information comes from websites that are communally managed (such as wikis). In the flurry of growing data sources, the validity of information must be closely scrutinized. For this issue, we’d like to focus on all of the changes that have occurred in your teaching and learning community because of new literacies. What great examples of new literacies instruction can you share? What roles, strategies, and instruction have been remixed in your classroom or school? What should new literacies educators be considering? Has anything of value been lost in the remix? Deadline: May 1, 2013
Speaking and Listening
September 2014. The Common Core State Standards include specific expectations for middle school students and their ability to communicate orally. Unfortunately, these are often forgotten when schools focus their attention on reading and writing. How have you ensured that students develop their oral language skills? What connections do you make between speaking and listening and reading and writing? Are there effective ways for facilitating students’ listening comprehension and presentation skills? In this issue, we explore the oldest of our communicative abilities and look forward to innovative ways that speaking and listening are addressed in the classroom.
Deadline: September 1, 2013