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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 18, No. 2, December 2010

Cover Art for Voices from the Middle, Vol. 18, No. 2, December 2010

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Talk about Talk

  • Call for Manuscripts

  • Editor's Message

  • Making the Most of Talk

    Carol Gilles

    Abstract: Research supports what many teachers have long known: talk is a valuable tool for learning. But how can we incorporate talk and still keep students on task, thinking collectively and deeply? Gilles offers a solid theoretical foundation for incorporating talk throughout the curriculum, and then provides practical help for implementing it, with criteria for successful talk, ways around the most common challenges, and advice on making the process visible to students.

  • “Wouldn’t She Notice He Had Mud on His Shirt?: Scaffolding Meaningful Discussions

    Laura A. Chiaravalloti

  • Paying Attention: Talking about Social Justice in a Reading Intervention Program

    Danielle Johnson

    Abstract: Attempting discussions about social justice issues in a junior high classroom can be a daunting but critical task. Uncertainty about how to get conversations started, along with fear about where such talk might lead, can make the task easy to dismiss. In this paper, one teacher tells her story of inviting rich discussion about a variety of issues—including racism, sexism, and poverty—in a classroom targeting 8th and 9th graders in a reading intervention program. Strategies to encourage discussion included inviting all students, modeling critical questioning, being open and honest, sharing control with students, and finding the right texts.

  • The Chicken and the Egg: Inviting Response and Talk through Socratic Circles

    Mary E. Styslinger and Timothy Pollock

    Abstract: This collaborative inquiry answers the following questions: 1) What is the nature of talk during Socratic Circles? 2) What is student response to talk? 3) How might knowing more about student response to talk and the nature of talk improve teaching during Socratic Circles? The article first describes the process of implementing Socratic Circles, followed by a discussion of thinking around the nature of talk and student response to talk. The article concludes with suggestions for teaching based on what we have learned, including: talk to students about talk; create spaces for unobserved talk; create a “choice” of response in talk; start with short, more accessible texts; provide students an opportunity to give honest feedback about talk; and create opportunities for students to learn from one another.

  • One Question Leads to Another: The Value of Talk in the Choral Reading of Poetry

    Ann Trousdale, Jacqueline Bach, and Elizabeth Willis

    Abstract: This qualitative study of sixth graders in a language arts classroom explores how interpreting poems for choral reading deepened, enriched, and expanded their interpretations of poetry. Key factors in the process included students’ sense of freedom to interpret poetry in multiple ways, listening to their own and others’ voices speaking the lines of the poems, intimacy and trust developed in small-group work, and the opportunity to express their feelings through performance of the poems.

  • Next Steps in the Journey: Creating “Third Spaces”: Promoting Learning through Dialogue

    Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

    Abstract: Wilhelm offers us a definition of “third spaces” as “more democratic and dialogic spaces than a classroom, as well as a metaphor for a space in which new, hybrid, and challenging discourses and real-world knowledge and applications are created.” With helpful background and examples, he urges us to create such spaces for our students, adamant that the resulting learning becomes “separate from both home and work/school, while drawing on the resources of both. It becomes new, interesting, and real.”

  • Books for Young Adolescents: Books That Will Get Them Talking

    Shawn Bird and Vickey M. Giles

    Abstract: Books that engage students and promote meaningful talk are invaluable in the language arts classroom. The six young adult novels described here will encourage dialogue and give teachers an opportunity to guide productive and academic discussions through the safe distance of true-to-life characters.

  • Stories along the Way: one boy, one book, one principal

    Penny Kittle

    Abstract: This inspiring snapshot of a principal’s impact on one “lost” student is motivation for every teacher to look past the daily pressures and mandates and see the students we have a chance to help each day. Kittle watches the positive interaction taking place in the principal’s office and says, “I leave his office determined to work harder.”

  • New Puzzles/Next Moves: Inventing Your Way into High-Quality Student Discussions

    Nancy Shanklin

    Abstract: Shanklin understands the value of civil, public discourse in a democratic society and the need to impart that to our students. She tells us that “when students enter a community where their use of growing literacy abilities is both respected and expected, they are more likely to use what they do know, and even to push themselves further, to accomplish what they consider to be meaningful tasks.” Here are tips on getting started with discussion and on linking reading, writing, and discussion, thereby laying a foundation for action that offers students motivation and purpose.

  • Student to Student: Reading Reality Can Be Scary, Too

    Kim Ford

    Abstract: The books reviewed by students this month reflect the desire of many readers to find characters who live in the real world and struggle with the same things they do—school, family, getting in trouble, making mistakes. These “reality readers” may find the perfect book in this column.

  • Technology Toolkit: Talking about Media Literacy and Fair Use: A Conversation with Renee Hobbs

    Sandy Hayes

    Abstract: In a conversation with Renee Hobbs, a leading authority on media literacy education in the United States, we learn about exciting new media options, how those options are being used by authors and in schools, and what we need to know about fair use to share these options with students.

  • Professional Reading for Middle Level Educators: All about Talk!

    Penny Silvers

    Abstract: As we prepare students to become successful learners and citizens, talk is one of our most powerful tools. Here are three books that suggest ways to use talk for positive learning outcomes, for inquiry and reflective assessment, and for supporting differentiation, collaboration, and active learning. Reviewed are: The Reading Turn-Around: A Five-Part Framework for Differentiated Instruction; Inviting Students to Learn: 100 Tips for Talking Effectively with Your Students; Classroom Reading Assessments: More Efficient Ways to View and Evaluate Your Readers.

  • Bumps in the Road: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: Clickers in the Classroom

    Angeli Marie Willson, guest author

    Abstract: Willson describes the increased usage of “clickers”—a remote-control-style device allowing students to answer multiple-choice questions and see a graph reflecting classroom totals for each option. Potential drawbacks—time needed to develop relevant questions and concern about shallow thinking—have been addressed through software help and by adding processes that include classroom discussion.

  • Postcard from the Middle Level Section: The Power of Teacher Talk

    Nancy Patterson

    Abstract: An early experience with isolated teaching taught Patterson the value of collegiality and professional conversation. She reminds us all that in an ironically isolating profession, there is help through NCTE, from conventions to the new Connected Community.

* 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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