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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 13, No. 1, September 2005

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 13, No. 1, September 2005

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Closing the Achievement Gap

  • EDITOR'S MESSAGE: Equal Protection from the Precipice of Failure

    Kylene Beers, editor

    Abstract: In spite of solid research and substantial anecdotal evidence, legislation and school policies continue to ignore the basic truth that given unequal learning conditions—lack of supplies, lack of technology, lack of parental support—the achievement gap will not disappear, and taking away money from schools (read: students) who already have too little, is self-defeating. Kylene Beers applauds those who understand that even in this environment, a student’s best hope is a committed teacher, and she urges each of us to be that teacher.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • A HAND UP: Walk Along and Understand

    Chris Crutcher, editor

    Abstract: “I’ve said before that you have the toughest job there is: that of combining relationship with academics.” It is his respect for kids, for teachers, and for the balancing act they both perform that comes through in Chris Crutcher’s anecdote of being there for one child. There is wisdom for all of us in his words: “Most of the time you can’t fix it, but you can walk along and understand.”

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Literacy on the Edge: How Close Are We to Closing the Literacy Achievement Gap?

    Donna E. Alvermann

    Abstract: Alvermann introduces us to a new metaphor for thinking about the ways in which teachers might intervene in their students’ reading lives: re/mediation. Ultimately, it involves fixing the conditions in which students learn rather than attempting to fix the students per se (remediation).

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Narrowing the Gap between Readers and Books

    KaaVonia Hinton and Gail K. Dickinson

    Abstract: So much hinges on putting the right book in a students’ hands. Motivation to read is the foundation from which knowledge, reading competency, and comprehension grow. But how do we do it? Here, Hinton and Dickinson offer practical advice for how to reach kids through a partnership with library media specialists and a commitment to promoting books across subjects, locations, and seasons.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Behind the Pine Curtain: Lessons Learned on School Achievement

    Jan Lacina with Tara Newman

    Abstract: “Achieving academic excellence takes more than just inspiration. It requires teachers who know how to implement specific language learning strategies and administrators who help create a school community that provides cultural and social support needed for high achievement.” East Texas, home to a large ELL population, is the setting for a successful program that offers students support for both language development and subject-matter learning.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • It Begins with Belief: Social Demography Is Not Destiny

    Eric J. Cooper

    Abstract: Cooper, president of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, dismisses the contention that some children are just not able to learn. His organization, in partnership with school districts, has studied the causes of and potential solutions to the achievement gap and has seen encouraging progress in several school districts where teachers and administrators have focused on five factors: Instruction, Leadership, Organization, Professional Development, and Community Engagement.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Fluency beyond the Primary Grades: Helping Adolescent Struggling Readers

    Timothy Rasinski and Nancy D. Padak

    Abstract: The authors outline a research study that explores the plight of students who direct so much effort into decoding that comprehension suffers. They make the case that difficulties in reading for older readers (intermediate, middle, and high school) could be due to reading fluency difficulties, and they offer strategies for helping these students improve comprehension, overall reading achievement, and content-area knowledge.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Vocabulary Instruction for ELL Latino Students in the Middle School Science Classroom

    Kimberley Gomez and Christina Madda

    Abstract: Many teachers find themselves working with ELLs in content-area classes without the arsenal of tools and training that will help them help their students. This is a recounting of how one teacher, with the help of thoughtful observers and a commitment to teaching all of her students, worked to create strategies that improved language learners’ English, science vocabulary, and content understanding.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Literacy Specialists in Math Class! Closing the Achievement Gap on State Math Assessments

    Lori L. DiGisi and Dianne Fleming

    Abstract: If you were ever intimidated by word problems in math, imagine how it would feel to take a math test when you didn’t speak the language! Here, literacy specialists worked with classroom and ESL teachers to help ELLs recognize the critical components of math concepts and problems, and become familiar with math vocabulary. As a result, there were increases in scores, learning, and confidence.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • ONE LAST THOUGHT: Learning Rich or Working Poor

    Jeffrey D. Wilhelm with George Hillocks and Michael W. Smith

    Abstract: Poverty is the single biggest factor in creating the achievement gap. Wilhelm advises three broad “fixes”: widen notions of text, help students become active learners, and provide contextualized assistance. Teachers, especially those who are getting the meaningful support they need, can make a difference right now.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • THE WORD MARKET: Knowing a Word or Defining a Word--It's a World of Difference

    Janet Allen, editor

    Abstract: Allen reminds us that there is a big difference between “defining a word” and “actually knowing the word in its forms and shades of meaning.” She offers several strategies for introducing words and reinforcing meaning.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • TEACHER'S TOOLBOX: Creating Programs that Close the Achievement Gap

    Jim Burke, editor

    Abstract: Burke lists the features common to established (and local) academic success programs, organized around his “four C’s of academic literacy.”

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • THE LITERATURE CIRCLE: Six Ways of Looking at the Achievement Gap

    Harvey Daniels, editor

    Abstract: The gap exists, and is getting worse. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there are schools out there that are beating the odds. Daniels hits on 6 points that provide perspective and hope.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • LITERATURE: ELEMENTS OF STYLE: Closing the Achievement Gap One Element at a Time

    Carol Jago, editor

    Abstract: What possible use is literary vocabulary to someone on the wrong side of the achievement gap? Jago explains that being able to articulate your reaction to something you’ve read deepens understanding and broadens thinking. What more obvious requirements for narrowing that gap?

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • RESPONSE TO READING: Disguising the Achievement Gap

    Bob Probst, editor

    Abstract: Perhaps, Probst posits, it would be smarter to let educators work to close the achievement gap and let the politicians do something else. With legislative blessing, test publishers rake in the money and school goals morph from “educated students” to “higher scores.” Our best hope—and the students’—is to stick with what we know, learn more, and find a way to fit it into our teaching.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • WRITERS' WORKSHOP: Ad-dull-escence

    Linda Rief, editor

    Abstract: Apathetic expressions. Excuses to leave the classroom. Students unprepared for class. Sound familiar? Even veteran teacher Linda Rief faces a few unmotivated students in her classes. She fights back by finding out their interests and matching them with the right book, by giving them choices about the kind and format of writing they’ll do, and by finding or creating an audience for their finished product. Finally, she advocates for capitalizing on students’ interests by offering vocational-technical classes for those who want them as early as eighth grade.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • FROM THE COACHES' CORNER: FAQs about Literacy Coaching

    LeAnne Robinson, Kathy Egawa, Marsha Riddle Buly, and Tracy Coskie, editors

    Abstract: If you are among those interested in introducing your district to literacy coaches, you’ll find here the answers to commonly asked questions about the role and process of working with them.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • TECH CONNECT: Technology and the Achievement Gap

    Nancy Patterson, editor

    Abstract: The definition of “literate” continues to evolve as the expectations of society grow. Today, technological literacy is just as important as print literacy. Patterson encourages teachers to initiate conversation with parents, administrators, and policymakers about the importance of access to technology and its impact on learning.

    Keywords: Elementary, Middle

  • PROFESSIONAL BOOK REVIEWS: Gathering Toolsto Close the Gap

    Leigh Van Horn, editor

    Abstract: Reviewed are: Bridging the Literacy Achievement Gap, Grades 4–12 edited by Dorothy Strickland and Donna Alvermann; The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research (2nd ed.) by Stephen D. Krashen; Becoming One Community: Reading and Writing with English Language Learners by Kathleen Fay and Suzanne Whaley; Going Graphic: Comics at Work in a Multilingual Classroom by Stephen Cary.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • BOOK TALK: Censorship: The Mind You Close May Be Your Own

    Teri S. Lesesne, editor

    Abstract: Here’s a treat! Not only are 7 young adult novels that deal with censorship featured, but an interview with Chris Crutcher, author of the new The Sledding Hill, follows. It’s a fascinating peek into this therapist/author’s thought process as the book evolved.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • STUDENT TO STUDENT: Returning to School and Well-loved Books

    Kim Ford, editor

    Abstract: Students’ annotated recommendations of After, Guitar Girl, one of those hideous books where the mother dies, A Single Shard, Daddy-Long-Legs, Night, The Tale of Despereaux, Give a Boy a Gun, and The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary


    Howard M. Miller, Chair

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Call for Manuscripts

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

* 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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