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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 17, No. 2, December 2009

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 17, No. 2, December 2009

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: The Toll We Pay: Critical Literacy

  • Calls for Manuscripts

  • Editors’ Message

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

  • Critical Literacies in Schools: A Primer

    Allen Luke and Annette Woods

    Abstract: This article serves as a condensed history of the evolution of “critical literacy” and offers a context—social, cultural, and economic—that allows readers to understand its purpose and impact on teaching practices. This “family of approaches . . . share[s] a commitment to the use of literacy for purposes of equity and social justice. They aim for nothing less than readers, writers, listeners, and viewers who have cogent, articulated, and relevant understanding of texts, their techniques, their investments, and their consequences.”

  • Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Critical Stance in the Middle School Classroom

    Mitzi Lewison and Lee Heffernan

    Abstract: This study focuses on ways that sixth graders reacted to the question of book awards and awards in general, positioning themselves as reflective inquirers as they engaged in the regular sixth-grade beginning-of-the-year curriculum—reading books that have been nominated for the state book award.

  • Who Is an American?: Challenging Middle Schools Students’ Assumptions through Critical Literacy

    Joellen Maples and Susan Groenke

    Abstract: The authors unpack a unit in which students were asked to consider the question, “Who and what is an American?” The activity originated with a discussion of 6 fictional profiles; students were asked to place these people along a continuum from “least American” to “most American.” The resulting discussions broadened perspectives, changed thinking, and helped students articulate assumptions that had previously gone unexamined.

  • Next Steps in the Journey: The Power of Teacher Inquiry: Developing a Critical Literacy for Teachers

    Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

    Abstract: While developing critical literacy in our students is a priority for all of us, Wilhelm believes that we must develop a critical literacy of teaching, as well. He asserts that this can best be achieved by 1) teaching through an inquiry context, and 2) taking on a teacher-researcher stance to think both reflectively and reflexively about our teaching. In other words, we must always learn from our students how best to teach them.

  • Books for Young Adolescents: Angst and Adolescence: Easing the Pain through YAL

    Shawn Bird and Vickey M. Giles

    Abstract: One only needs to listen to conversations in a middle school cafeteria to understand just how fragile middle schoolers really are. Furthermore, if a YA book can help a middle school child open up and seek help from an adult about a serious issue, it is well worth the time to put a quality book in their hands. The books presented in this column all deal with the angst that many of our students are dealing with on a daily basis.

  • Stories along the Way: Andrew

    Penny Kittle

    Abstract: Andrew is among the forgotten, the written-off, the hopeless . . . at least to many of the adults in his life—police, teachers, even family. But when you see that glimmer, that potential, you can’t turn your back. Andrew stands as a person, but also a metaphor for believing that each student has a chance to succeed.

  • New Puzzles/Next Moves: Using Critical Literacy to Engage Learners: What New Teachers Can Do

    Nancy Shanklin

    Abstract: Shanklin knows that as school populations become more culturally and linguistically diverse, perspectives such as critical literacy become of interest to students themselves and act as keys to their engagement. Critical literacy marks an exciting shift in thinking toward English/language arts, global education, English language learners, and ways to produce and view genres with new technologies. Here is guidance, especially for the new teacher, about how to introduce the concept and activities that will broaden students’ perspectives and abilities to navigate increasingly diverse texts.

  • Student to Student: Growing Pains . . . and Positives

    Kim Ford

    Abstract: Growing pains are not new to any given generation, including your students’ generation. Here are books about people from myriad times who have had to overcome, rise above, and cope with realities that never seem to change.

  • Technology Toolkit: Change Writers: Bridging Gaps and Divides

    Sandy Hayes and Gail Desler

    Abstract: The Change Writers project was born in the Title I schools of Elk Grove, California, when Gail Desler, a technology integration specialist, became motivated to open up the district’s mandated Open Court curriculum to better serve intermediate-grade students. Through writing, technology, and imagination, a larger conversation was possible among students, thus increasing interest, motivation, and exposure to varied perspectives.

  • Professional Reading for Middle Level Educators: Critical Literacy

    Penny Silvers

    Abstract: Reviewed are Rethinking Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial and Cultural Justice, edited by Wayne Au; Middle Ground: Exploring Selected Literature from and about the Middle East, by Sheryl Finkle and Tamara Lilly; Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do about It, by Kelly Gallagher; Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones: Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For, by Thomas Newkirk.

  • Bumps in the Road: Reading the Word and the World: The Double-Edged Sword of Teaching Critical Literacy

    John Wesley White, guest author

    Abstract: White acknowledges that critical literacy is central to literacy instruction today, but warns that asking those untrained in critical literacy to teach critical literacy could have undesirable consequences. He suggests three potentially undesirable outcomes and offers advice for preventing them.

  • Postcard from the Middle Level Section: Critical Literacy: It Isn’t Just for Students

    Nancy Patterson

    Abstract: Recognizing missteps in her own early teaching, Patterson empathizes with those who are teaching writing with insufficient preparation and mandated practices. She identifies three categories of resources from NCTE that can help: Grammar Instruction, Adolescent Literacy, and Technology Integration.

* 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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