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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 17, No. 4, May 2010

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 17, No. 4, May 2010

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Young Adult Literature

  • Call for Manuscripts

  • Ice Cream / I Scream for YA Books

    Don Gallo

    Abstract: From a 40-year perspective, Don Gallo examines the field of young adult literature, comparing it to ice cream—its various flavors and levels of richness. The article proclaims the profundity of the field and the quality of its writers, summarizes historical highlights, defends it against its detractors, and explains the importance of helping students make informed choices by talking about books and having them available in our classrooms. The author also states his personal preferences along with his concern about the increasing length of YA books.

  • How Hard Can It Be?

    Jane Yolen

    Abstract: Jane Yolen, the award-winning author of over 300 books, shares her writing process and invites us to understand the differences between writing for picture books, writing narratives, and collaborating on a graphic novel, as she experienced while writing her first graphic novel Foiled. The relationship between the illustrations and the text is central in creating graphic novels and essential to producing a quality book. Not only is the author asked to be “part art director, part movie director, part set designer and costume designer, part storyboarder,” the production of graphic novels necessitates collaboration between author, artist, and editor. The sophistication with which graphic novels are written and, as a result, read has helped Jane Yolen embrace this art form, and she encourages us to do the same.
    “How Hard Can It Be?” Copyright ©2009 by Jane Yolen. All rights reserved.

  • Exploring Mystery in Fifth Grade: A Journey of Discovery

    Claudia Sharp, Miriam Martinez (Beth Maloch, Nancy Roser, Amy Burke, Audra Roach, Angie Zapata, Katie Russell)

    Abstract: An instructional framework that included the use of a touchstone text, literature circles, and independent reading and writing created a rich context for the study of mysteries in a fifth-grade classroom. Key points include a) the complexity of the touchstone text as a key factor in shaping the instructional goals in this genre study, and b) the complexity of the genre as a challenge for writing instruction, demanding careful teacher planning and scaffolding, in spite of the promise that the mystery genre holds for fostering rich reading instruction.

  • Raising “Hot Topics” through Young Adult Literature

    Susan Groenke, Joellen Maples, Jill Henderson

    Abstract: While young adult literature increases adolescents’ motivation to read, and adolescents choose to read young adult novels over more canonical works when given opportunities to choose, the authors present yet another reason for teaching young adult literature in the middle school classroom: it provides a medium through which adolescents and their teachers can raise “hot topics,” and confront and grapple with the social contradictions and complexities that comprise adolescents’ lives. In this article, the authors describe three young adult novels and related activities they have used to raise the topics of disabilities, immigration, and racism in the language arts classroom.

  • Next Steps in the Journey: Literacy and Neuroplasticity: Transforming Our Perspectives and Ourselves

    Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

    Abstract: Wilhelm applies two of his core beliefs—that anyone can learn the next appropriate concept or process if they are provided with a meaningful situation and proper assistance, and that literacy and the kinds of texts we call literature provide a unique and powerful way of knowing and of transforming the self—to a look at how recent research on the brain can affect how we teach.

  • Books for Young Adolescents: Books That Hook

    Shawn Bird and Vickey M. Giles

    Abstract: Tackling controversial or sensitive themes can be an awkward and difficult endeavor, but with the help of young adult literature, adolescents have an opportunity to test the waters of difficult situations, relationships, and self-reflection through the experiences of a character they can relate to. Here are some titles that will appeal to different audiences so that each student might “find the journey to their true self a little easier.”

  • Stories along the Way: Reasons to Fish

    Penny Kittle

    Abstract: Kittle remembers—with fondness and latent nervousness—sitting patiently as Don Murray, a writer and teacher extraordinaire, read something she had written. As she waited for his response, and used his comments and questions to push her thinking, she came to appreciate again the value of conferencing. Through her captured memory, she encourages teachers to take the time to conference with students, even if you don’t always know what to say.

  • New Puzzles/Next Moves: Embracing Adolescent Literature: Actions for New Teachers

    Nancy Shanklin

    Abstract: Shanklin offers new teachers, or others planning to incorporate adolescent literature into their teaching for the first time, several “action steps” that will make this potentially daunting process smoother and more productive. The bullet list looks like this: begin with short pieces of adolescent literature; match students and texts; teach reading and comprehension strategies; move students to longer texts; engage students in great discussion; gradually build an adolescent literature collection.

  • Student to Student: Mirrors and Windows

    Kim Ford

    Abstract: Here are student reviews of books that serve as “mirrors”—when we see ourselves in characters and familiar situations—and “windows”—when we look out into the unfamiliar and wonder. From classics to recent releases, every student will find a mirror or a window in these favorites.

  • Technology Toolkit: Making the Shift: YA Lit 2.0

    Sandy Hayes

    Abstract: After a quick walk through the short history of Internet use in education, Hayes opens a treasure chest of websites that offer online book clubs, wikis, book reviews, book trailers, podcasts, fan information and creativity, and author and publisher sites. With this wealth of resources, teachers can launch any number of classroom discussions, activities, and products.

  • Professional Reading for Middle Level Educators: Young Adult Literature

    Penny Silvers

    Abstract: Reviewed are Shattering the Looking Glass: Challenge, Risk, and Controversy in Children’s Literature by Susan S. Lehr; Interpretive Play: Using Critical Perspectives to Teach Young Adult Literature by Ann O. Soter, Mark Faust, and Theresa Rogers; Core Collection for Children and Young Adults by Rachel Schwedt and Janice DeLong.

  • Bumps in the Road: Let’s Not Leave Advanced and Gifted Readers “Behind”

    Christine Weber, guest author, with Wanda Hedrick

    Abstract: Weber issues a challenge to teachers grappling with the demands (and failures) of NCLB, and asks them to make certain that advanced and gifted readers are not left behind. To that end, she shares characteristics of gifted readers, ways to support them, and tips for teaching that will result in doing “a much better job of providing appropriate levels of challenge for all students.”

  • Postcard from the Middle Level Section: Adolescent Literacy: What It Means for Today’s Educator

    Kerry Stephenson

    Abstract: With the undeniable premise that students are more literate than ever outside the classroom, Stephenson offers ways to use plentiful NCTE resources to help them expand that literacy inside the classroom. From Web seminars (live and available in the bookstore) to the different strands available on Pathways to the plethora of position statements and policy briefs, NCTE is supporting you so that you can support your students on their journey to improved literacy.

  • Index [FREE ACCESS]

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