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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 15, No. 2, December 2007

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 15, No. 2, December 2007

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Cultural Indicators: Signs to Literacy Success

  • Cultural Literacy: Negotiating Language, Culture, and Thought

    Ellen Riojas Clark and Belinda Bustos Flores

    Abstract: Our schools see increasing numbers of students who reflect the wide diversity of this country’s population, but too often these differences—culture, language, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicity are viewed from negative or deficit perspectives when they are, in fact, the cultural capital that enriches discussion, broadens viewpoints, and encourages appreciation of difference. The authors examine the different lenses that define culture and identity, discuss the concept of “borderlands” and negotiation of unfamiliar cultures, and the role of the teacher in establishing a climate of openness or perpetuating the status quo.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Jeremy

    Rachel Rymer

    Abstract: A violent incident at school led Rymer to an uncomfortable confrontation with a student. In its aftermath, she felt moved to reconsider the word “racist” and its layers of meaning within the context of the school, the nation, and individual lives.

    Keywords: Middle

  • “Stuck in the Middle”: Helping Students Begin New Literacy Lives

    Barbara Radcliffe

    Abstract: Radcliffe describes how one middle school teacher works with her struggling eighth-grade readers to break the cycle of failure and begin new literacy lives. Five principles guided her over-age middle school students toward success after years of failure: accepting the challenge, building strong teacher–student relationships, creating literacy-rich environments, connecting readers to text, and supporting readers with strategic literacy instruction. Reflecting students’ voices as well as the teacher’s, this article shares classroom practices that enable those left behind to get “unstuck” and move on to high school with positive attitudes concerning learning.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Writing Workshop Meets Critical Media Literacy: Using Magazines and Movies as Mentor Texts

    Emily Skinner

    Abstract: Teachers are coming to understand the value of using a student’s interests, habits, and questions as a starting point for instruction. In this article, Skinner introduces “Teenage Addiction,” a voluntary seventh-grade after-school writing/popular culture club that helped students view popular culture through a critical lens and then write about it. Her work with “Rachel” gives us a glimpse into this process by showing us how one girl used popular culture mentor texts to deepen her thinking and develop her writing skills.

    Keywords: Middle

  • “That Was Basically Me”: Critical Literacy, Text, and Talk

    Jenifer L. Wilson and Tasha Tropp Laman

    Abstract: Discouraged by the common practice of having students read alone and then take computerized tests, the authors advocate for engaging students in meaningful literature discussion that provides opportunities for new and deeper understandings of texts.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Editors' Message

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Next Steps in the Journey: Learning to Play the Literacy and Learning Games-A Question of Enculturation

    Jeff Wilhelm

    Abstract: Understanding that learning must be relevant and purposeful to be effective and engaging, Wilhelm emphasizes the value of teaching students “how to participate in meaningful activity in ways that make them increasingly expert in creating culture and . . . cultural meanings.” He offers bullet points that suggest starting with students’ experiences, interests, and knowledge, and then designing curriculum to deepen and expand their understandings while increasing engagement.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Books for Young Adolescents: Lessons of Hope

    Shawn Bird and Vickey Giles

    Abstract: The authors review books, not all new, that address problems and situations that many of their students face. For the characters in these books, life can be messy, cruel, lonely, or just plan unfair, but at the end of the day, they each find a reason to look to the future with hope.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Stories along the Way: Heather

    Penny Kittle

    Abstract: In a poignant story, Kittle remembers a “forgotten” student, and shares her regrets about not holding onto her tightly enough. A more recent student, however, reaps the benefits of those hard lessons, and hangs on to finish school.

    Keywords: Middle

  • New Puzzles/Next Moves: Cultural Understandings: Ways to Begin Significant Dialogue as a Beginning Teacher

    Nancy Shanklin

    Abstract: Beginning teachers sometimes have the advantage, at least in one area. They are more prepared than ever to deal with the many “differences” their students bring to school. But as new teachers, they may also feel the most helpless to make needed changes. Here, Shanklin advises all of us on how to move forward within your classroom and your school.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Student to Student: Never Enough Silver and Gold

    Kim Ford

    Abstract: Ford at once celebrates the students who continue to send reviews and visibly grow in their writing and welcomes new reviewers who are taking this step for the first time. Here are five of their favorite books, including a very creative review format for Flipped.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Technology Toolkit: The MySpace Culture

    Sandy Hayes

    Abstract: Hayes reviews the audience and content of some major online social communities and suggests two (Whyville and Ning) that can be used to guide students in navigating the Internet safely.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Professional Reading for Middle Level Educators: Discovering New Directions

    Penny Silvers

    Abstract: Reviewed are: Developing Critical Awareness at the Middle Level: Using Texts as Tools for Critique and Pleasure (Holly Johnson and Lauren Freedman); Shades of Meaning: Comprehension and Interpretation in Middle School (Donna Santman); Bringing the Outside In: Visual Ways to Engage Reluctant Readers (Sara B. Kajder); Process Drama and Multiliteracies: Addressing Social, Cultural, and Ethical Issues (Jenifer Jasinski Schneider, Thomas P. Crumpler, and Theresa Rogers, Eds.)

    Keywords: Middle

  • Bumps in the Road: Test Madness

    Wanda B. Hedrick

    Abstract: There’s accountability and then there’s the testing craze an iatrogenic practice that undermines real learning. Hedrick documents the negative effects of testing, giving teachers another weapon in their arsenal against mindless preparation for high-stakes tests.

    Keywords: Middle

  • Postcard from the Middle Level Section: Blogging Isn’t Just for Kids Anymore

    Jim Johnston

    Abstract: The blog for the Middle Level Section ( is the perfect place to read about the latest Middle Level news, share ideas, and check up on current NCTE policies. Thanks to the foresight and energy of people like Sandy Hayes, we have a new and powerful tool at our disposal. Now is the time to find out what all the excitement is about!

    Keywords: Middle

* 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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