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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 13, No. 3, March 2006

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 13, No. 3, March 2006

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Building Cultural Understanding through Literature

  • EDITOR'S MESSAGE: Boundaries

    Kylene Beers

    Abstract: Beers discusses the tension between globalization—the process that unites people and business at the global level—and retribalization—the reaction to globalization that drives people to rebuild boundaries and to seek out those who share their own looks, values, and beliefs. Teachers are our most equipped force to take up the challenge of stretching boundaries and teaching language as a uniting force rather than a divisive one, and books are teachers’ most powerful tool. This issue on multicultural literature will offer ideas for which books can help open eyes and ways to help those eyes evaluate and value what they see.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • A HAND UP: Maybe It Should Be Called Cultural Literature

    Chris Crutcher, editor

    Abstract: Crutcher puts forth the perspective that the very acknowledgement of some literature as “multicultural” is a racist reference—however unintentional--in itself. African American writers are writers, as are their counterparts from cultures around the world. Their stories of hardship, courage, love, humor, and challenge speak to us all.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Stories in Our Classrooms: Diverse Human Lives, as Narrated by Standardizing Policies

    Randy Bomer

    Abstract: Bomer challenges the logic and effectiveness of current educational policy, noting that just as educational practice was becoming interdisciplinary and promoting holistic growth, philanthropic organizations pulled away from the effort with the expectation that government and other funding entities would pick up the responsibility. They didn’t. Bomer makes a plea to begin reform toward a policy of literacy education that seeks to develop excellence and flexibility, and promotes inquiry into and enrichment of the varied languages and literacies of students.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Understanding the Questions: A Community-Centered Approach to the Teaching of Multicultural Literature

    Emily S. Meixner

    Abstract: This professor of preservice teachers challenges her students to expand their understanding of “culture” beyond racially specific contexts and into the many roles people play within the communities to which they belong—local, regional, national, racial, religious, language, etc.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Nourishing the Mind to Improve Literacy

    Tom Romano

    Abstract: Romano reviews Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap by Alfred Tatum. He finds Tatum’s vision “imbued with intelligence, wisdom, and passion,” and highly recommends the book to anyone teaching literacy skills to adolescents.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Considering the Possibilities: Using Multicultural Literature to Transform Practice

    Theresa McGinnis

    Abstract: A Los Angeles County middle school filled with students who bring a wide range of talents, languages, and cultures serves as the context for McGinnis’s reflections on her teaching of multicultural literature through a critical pedagogy lens. With the realization that her teaching can transform students’ lives, she focuses on building an atmosphere of trust and respect, encouraging students to celebrate difference, and offering a choice in books so that students can make personally meaningful connections.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • When a Story Must Be Told

    Teri Lesesne with Chris Crowe

    Abstract: Chris Crowe, a university professor and author of young adult novels, sits with Lesesne to discuss his writing of both Mississippi Trial, 1955 (fiction) and Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Murder Case (nonfiction), related books that tell the story of a murder case that speaks to us from a half-century ago. Detailing his motivation, his research, and the reaction to a white man telling a story steeped in the racial inequities of the 1950s is enlightening and fascinating.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Rene Saldaña’s The Jumping Tree: Exploring Childhood Universals through a Hispanic Novel

    Beatrice Mendez Newman

    Abstract: Introduced to The Jumping Tree by a participant in her summer graduate seminar, Newman and her students created activities around this young adult novel that would introduce children to a culture apart from mainstream American culture while also demonstrating that childhood holds universal experiences across cultures.

    Keywords: Elementary, Middle

  • One Last Thought: We Often Miss This Point: Diversity Always Brings Vitality

    Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, editor

    Abstract: Wilhelm references the work of Peter Rabinowitz and Michael Smith in Authorizing Readers to make a case for creating classroom contexts in which difference is a resource for learning, democratic understanding, and work, not an obstacle to be overcome. He also reminds us that we must examine more than our personal response to literature, but use the characters’ perspectives to become more aware of lives outside of our immediate world.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary


    Sandy Hayes

    Abstract: Election news; Halle Award information; NCTE business tidbits

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • THE WORD MARKET: Where’s the Common Ground

    Janet Allen, editor

    Abstract: Taking the time to explore central themes and concepts prior to a unit of study can bring students into some common understanding of the concept. Once students understand words and concepts, their ability to use those words effectively is directly related to their understanding that we change our language depending on audience and purpose.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • TEACHER'S TOOLBOX: Making Connections

    Jim Burke, editor

    Abstract: We expect students to make connections to their reading, but we forget that this process is not always intuitive. Burke offers a graphic organizer that helps students step through this process while it is unfamiliar, and finds that it often results in more focused class discussion.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • THE LITERATURE CIRCLE: The Hunt for Magic

    Harvey Daniels, editor

    Abstract: Daniels offers six pointers for building community in the classroom, which he posits is the single most important task of any effective teacher.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • FROM THE COACHES' CORNER: Sharing Literature, Sharing Lives

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

    Abstract: The role of community is vital in the professional lives of teachers and coaches. Here, Egawa collaborates with South Carolina middle level coach of coaches Janet Files to share how demonstrating living literacy influences coaches’ work with teacher study groups and their understanding of what it means to be a coach.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • LITERATURE: ELEMENTS OF STYLE: The Element of Context: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

    Carol Jago, editor

    Abstract: Independent readers are adept at identifying clues and absorbing unfamiliar details while constructing a context for their reading. Dependent readers, however, shy away from the unfamiliar and thus live in the narrow world of the familiar. Teachers can push these students into the broader world with Jago’s tips.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • TECH CONNECT: Online Communities: Linking Teacher to Teacher

    Nancy Patterson, editor

    Abstract: With a premise of “Teaching is an isolating profession,” Patterson traces her growing use of and appreciation for online communities, including e-mail and listservs, where teachers can support each other, learn from one another, and come to care about one another amidst a hectic and demanding schedule.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • PROFESSIONAL BOOK REVIEWS: Considering Cultures

    Leigh Van Horn, editor

    Abstract: Reviewed are: Reading Native American Literature: A Teacher’s Guide by Bruce A. Goebel, Connecting Children with Children Past and Present: Motivating Students for Inquiry and Action by Eula T. Fresch, Happily Ever After: Sharing Folk Literature with Elementary and Middle School Students edited by Terrell A. Young, and Inquiry-Based English Instruction: Engaging Students in Life and Literature by Richard Beach and Jamie Myers.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • BOOK TALK: Finding Ourselves between the Covers of a Book

    Teri S. Lesesne, editor

    Abstract: Teachers know that there are essential stages children must go through in order to become lifelong readers. One of those is reading autobiographically—in other words, finding themselves between the covers of a book. Here, Lesesne provides a list of (not necessarily new) books that feature many characters your readers will recognize.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • STUDENT TO STUDENT: Cultures and Classrooms

    Kim Ford, editor

    Abstract: Embracing a broad definition of multicultural (“all of them have the power to take kids to another place, another culture, maybe even another galaxy”), students offer selections that guaranteed to open the imagination to new worlds.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary


    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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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts