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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 16, No. 4, May 2009

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 16, No. 4, May 2009

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: On a Quest for New Discoveries: Effective Professional Development

  • Call for Manuscripts

  • Editors’ Message: On a Quest for New Discoveries: Effective Professional Development

    Roxanne Henkin, Janis Harmon, Elizabeth Pate, and Honor Moorman

    Abstract: “Any time educators come together with the intent to share and learn from each other, community is formed and change occurs.” The editors emphasize the importance of meaningful and ongoing professional development, offering some resources and highlighting how each of the authors in this issue has found value in a different context for their own professional growth.

  • Good Talk about Good Teaching

    Kathryn A. Egawa

    Abstract: Borrowing her title from Parker Palmer’s Courage to Teach, Kathy Egawa revisits her own professional learning journey and contrasts traditional, one-size-fits-all professional development with her own more meaningful learning from teaching. Her stories and research from the field focus on 1) learning from students, 2) learning among colleagues, and 3) learning from experts, including teacher research. Finally, she uses Etienne Wenger’s work with “communities of practice” to consider whether successful participation in teacher learning communities must be voluntary or can be assigned.

  • Opening Up the Classroom Door: Writing for Publication

    Anne Elrod Whitney

    Abstract: While publishing has not typically been part of the official job description of teachers in the same way it has been for university scholars, a significant portion of articles in journals like Voices from the Middle are written by practicing teachers. Writing about your teaching practice or classroom inquiry for an audience of fellow teachers can foster significant changes in both the way you teach writing and the way you function as a professional and a person.  This article discusses reasons teachers write and offers practical suggestions for teachers who wish to write articles about their work for professional journals.

  • Regaining Momentum: Teacher Inquiry as Ongoing Professional Development

    Janice Wirsing

    Abstract: A classroom teacher reflects on the benefits of professional development leading to improved and energized student writing.  Although traditional professional development sparked interest and encouraged modifications, the support of a teacher inquiry group as ongoing professional development provided the impact needed to effect significant change in both teacher practice and student learning.

  • Creating a Circle of Learning: Teachers Taking Ownership through Professional Communities

    Robyn Seglem

    Abstract: Through the participation in professional learning communities, teachers can reinvigorate their teaching careers. Support systems like the National Writing Project allow teachers to build upon their own strengths, as well as learn from others across all grade levels and disciplines. While more traditional professional development options often consist of one-day workshops, professional learning communities continue to push members to grow as learners and educators, ultimately impacting student learning. These communities can provide a model for teachers to use in their own classrooms, providing tools to unlock student potential, as well as teacher potential.

  • Next Steps in the Journey: Talking about Teaching: Establishing Trust amidst Uncertainty

    James E. Fredricksen, guest columnist

    Abstract: Few would argue that teaching in community—sharing ideas, constructively critiquing, talking out decisions—expands our knowledge, our experience, and our sense of support. There are some important differences, however, between talking with our teaching colleagues and talking to other stakeholders. Fredricksen urges us to hold these discussions in the context of the larger educational conversation and offers some suggestions for making that happen.

  • Books for Young Adolescents: Portals to New Discoveries

    Shawn Bird and Vickey M. Giles

    Abstract: An adolescent’s world is always shifting—internally and externally—often leaving them feeling isolated in their varied struggles. The book featured this month can be the “portals” that help them discover that they are not alone in the situations they encounter each day.

  • Stories along the Way: Notes from a Life Scientist

    Penny Kittle

    Abstract: An anecdote from one of Kittle’s strong memories of middle school serve to add humor and perspective to her heartfelt mantra: Let me never forget how hard it was to be 13. Never.

  • New Puzzles/Next Moves: Being Proactive about Your Professional Learning: What’s the Payoff?

    Nancy Shanklin

    Abstract: Teachers are busy. And sometimes that results in putting off valuable professional development. But the face of professional development is changing, as are our need for it and our options for getting it. Shanklin makes a case for PD starting early in any teaching career and suggests several outlets for ongoing, in-depth PD that can make a strong impact on our daily teaching.

  • Student to Student: Roadmaps for the Treacherous Journey

    Kim Ford

    Abstract: When our students leave school for the summer, some look forward to camps, vacations, and fun with friends. Others head into unknown situations, “vacation time” that is frightening or neglectful or even dangerous. The books reviewed here offer “roadmaps” as their protagonists face situations like these with courage and perseverance.

  • Technology Toolkit: Mapping 21st Century Instruction

    Sandy Hayes

    Abstract: Hayes equates the NCTE Definition of 21st Century Literacies to a “satellite” view of language arts teaching, and the NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment to the popular Google Maps Street View. This reminder to take advantage of these resources is underscored by several bullet points naming important elements from the documents and exemplars of classroom practice.

  • Professional Reading for Middle Level Educators: Effective Professional Development: Making a Difference in Our Teaching and Our Students’ Learning

    Penny Silvers

    Abstract: These books offer ideas for dynamic professional development, theories about good teaching practices, ways to collaborate with colleagues, and important ideas and information about current issues in education. Reviewed are: Teamwork: Setting the Standard for Collaborative Teaching, Grades 5–9 by Monique Wild, Amanda Mayeaux, and Kathryn Edmonds; Teachers in Professional Communities: Improving Teaching and Learning by Ann Lieberman and Lynne Miller; Put Thinking to the Test by Lori Conrad, Missy Mathews, Cheryl Zimmerman, and Patrick Allen; and What Really Matters in Response to Intervention by Richard Allington.

  • Bumps in the Road: No Writing Allowed! This Is a Reading Class

    Wanda B. Hedrick

    Abstract: Hedrick makes a case for using writing as a tool in reading instruction, gives a brief outline of how this can work, and cites the research to support this stance.

  • Postcard from the Middle Level Section

    Shelbie Witte

    Abstract: The National Day on Writing (October 20, 2009) and the ongoing writing activity it will generate can be an invaluable focal point for motivating students to write, helping them see themselves as writers, and providing them with an authentic audience. Here are some ways to participate.

  • Index for Volume 16 [FREE ACCESS]

* 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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