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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 14, No. 1, September 2006

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 14, No. 1, September 2006

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Recognizing and Sharing Effective Teaching and Learning: Our Journey Begins

  • Editors' Message: The First Stop: Itinerary from the Editors

    Roxanne Henkin, Janis Harmon, and Elizabeth Pate

    Abstract: The new editors kick off their first issue by introducing themselves, this month’s authors, and an invitation to come along on a journey of reflection and innovation in language arts teaching in the middle school.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • The Legacy of Leadership

    Kylene Beers

    Abstract: Outgoing VM editor and incoming Vice-President Kylene Beers remembers the origins of NCTE, the long struggle to establish the best curriculum and assessment practices possible, and the frustration with the current emphasis on teaching to the test. Leaders who have wrestled with these issues are inspiring, and Beers reminds us that we all have a part in that legacy.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Parallel Journeys: Teaching, Learning, and Hurricanes

    Richard J. Meyer

    Abstract: Hurricane Katrina becomes a metaphor for the current educational landscape in Meyer’s honest look at how, in spite of good intentions, children have little shelter against the damaging power of NCLB. Like New Orleans, those who set educational policy and those who teach in individual classrooms have the power to rise from the wreckage and shape a new world, exploiting our strengths, establishing constructive dialogue, and offering all students hope.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Meeting Readers: Using Visual Literacy Narratives in the Classroom

    Sara Kajder

    Abstract: Pacey, a likable and literate eighth-grader, saw school as “a place that kills your reading.” With this alarming condemnation in mind, Kajder uses literacy narrative--a short, concise, digital video in which students meld still images, motion, print text, and soundtrack in communicating ideas/insights/discoveries about who the student is as a reader and writer--to tap into his out-of-school literacies, engage his interests, and get him reading and writing successfully inside the classroom.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Thinking outside the Book Box: Using BOOKMATCH to Develop Independent Book Selection

    Linda Wedwick & Jessica Wutz

    Abstract: When Wedwick and Wutz realized that successful book selection is not a natural skill for all learners, they developed a tool they called “Bookmatch” (an acronym for Book length, Ordinary language, Organization, Knowledge prior to the book, Manageable text, Appeal to genre, Topic appropriateness, Connection, High interest). Aside from enhancing students’ attitudes about and interest in reading by helping them find “just right” books, teachers also learned much about middle school readers and about their own students through conferencing and book choice.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Storytelling: Eight Steps That Help You Engage Your Students

    Jo Anne Ollerenshaw

    Abstract: Storytelling is an often-overlooked teaching and learning strategy that often helps your students comprehend the “big idea” in class lessons. Here, Ollerenshaw, a storyteller and teacher for more than 28 years, describes indigenous and contemporary views of storytelling, explains how storytelling meets the needs of young adolescents, and offers eight steps to effective storytelling, along with a list of resources.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Embarking on the Road to Authentic Engagement: Investigating Racism through Interactive Learning Centers

    Monica Taylor & Gennifer Otinsky

    Abstract: Taylor and Otinsky provide readers with a road map for interactive learning centers as a means to ground students as they develop their authentic questions about complex issues such as racism. Using interactive learning centers, students are invited to engage with a large number of collaborative experiences with texts of multiple media, the goal of which is to gain information and perspective that lead to an authentic inquiry question. The authors walk us through the experience, offer examples, and share what they’ve learned, concluding with advice for using this technique in your own classroom.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Call for Manuscripts

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Next Steps in the Journey: Strategies Need a Situation!

    Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, editor

    Abstract: Wilhelm, editor of the column “One Last Thought” during the former editor’s term, says that in his “similar but expanded” role, he will “play the role of travel guide, taking a look into the future and exploring where the ideas in each issue might lead in terms of our thinking and practice.” In this issue, he focuses on strategic knowledge, because “if students do not learn to use important concepts and procedures as ‘tools,’ . . . it is hard to identify any meaningful teaching or learning.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Books for Young Adolescents: Beginning the Journey: Get Packing

    Teri Lesesne, editor

    Abstract: Lesesne explores the variables that affect reading, especially those over which teachers have no control: age, gender, and intelligence. Then she suggests books that might appeal to readers for whom those factors make it hard to find that “just right” book.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Stories Along the Way: September

    Penny Kittle, editor

    Abstract: It’s the first day of a new school year and a teacher fairly vibrating with energy and anticipation greets 28 students. Who are they? What makes them unique? The first writing exercise, one they share, will begin to tell her. As they write through the year together, it will begin to tell them, too.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • New Puzzles, Next Moves: Getting Off to a Positive Start: Learning to Use Data Well

    Nancy Shanklin, editor

    Abstract: In this new column, Nancy Shanklin and others will tackle problems you face routinely and suggest “next moves.” This month, she takes on the problem of having to use test results to make decisions about students you haven’t yet seen, and offers 11 questions that you or, preferably, your team or department can ask as you analyze data and extract information that will support good decisions.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Student to Student: Patterns? Don't Even Try

    Kim Ford, editor

    Abstract: “The pattern is, there is no pattern.” That familiar saying sums up adolescents’ reading habits. That’s why we must be familiar with and open to a wide variety of options. Here are 9 books that have caught the interest of a middle school reader.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Technology Toolkit: Mapping the Journey

    Sandy Hayes, editor

    Abstract: Technology in the classroom is poorly used and poorly understood, yet student surveys tell us that more--and more engaging--Internet activities would improve their attitudes toward school and learning. Here, Sandy Hayes reminds us that students don’t need to learn to use the tools, they need to use the tools to learn, and they, in many cases, can be our guide. Hayes adds to this discussion with a “toolkit” in table form that matches forms of technology with specific skills and instructional goals.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Professional Reading for Middle Level Educators: Re-visioning the Journey

    Penny Silvers, editor

    Abstract: The four books reviewed here embrace literacy as social practice: What If and Why? Literacy Invitations for Multilingual Classrooms by Katie Van Sluys; Imagination and Literacy: A Teacher’s Search for the Heart of Learning by Karen Gallas; Engaging Adolescent Learners: A Guide for Content-Area Teachers by Releah Cossett Lent; Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning by Peter Johnston.

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary

  • Bumps in the Road: This Year's Password: Iatrogenic

    Wanda Hedrick, editor

    Abstract: Borrowing the medical term iatrogenic (conditions inadvertently induced by a physician’s treatment or diagnosis of a patient), Hedrick applies it to literacy practices, meaning “an idea with good intentions that somehow failed because of unintended consequences.” The “Bumps in the Road” column will explore those roads “paved with good intentions,” in the hope that learning from the past will positively inform the future. To add your experiences with iatrogenic initiatives within the themes of either computerized reading management programs or the emphasis on fluency practice in secondary reading programs, go to

    Keywords: Middle, Secondary


    Sandy Hayes, Chair

    Abstract: In an effort to step back and take in the broad view of NCTE’s work and influence, Hayes reprints the NCTE statement (adopted in August, 2005), “How NCTE Serves the Public Interest.” Future columns will look at the work of the Council in general and the Middle Level Section specifically, in hopes of finding more ways for the committed, professional teachers in NCTE to understand the reach of our work and to be a part of it.

    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