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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 21, No. 4, May 2014

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Remixing the Roles of Teacher and Learner

  • Calls for Manuscripts [FREE ACCESS]

  • Editors' Message [FREE ACCESS]

    Diane Lapp, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey

  • Media at the Core: How Media Literacy Strategies Strengthen Teaching with Common Core

    David Cooper Moore and Theresa Redmond

    Abstract: The key concepts of media literacy education offer many ways to strengthen English language arts (ELA) teaching through the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This article focuses on connections between effective practices in media literacy education and alignment with the Common Core State Standards, including an expansion of teachers’ conception of texts to include understanding and creation in a variety of media forms; integrating media and technology across school subjects; modeling strong research practices in an increasingly information-rich environment; analyzing and creating various genres of nonfiction texts; and engaging students in civic participation. This media literacy education framework encourages teachers using the CCSS to consider a variety of nonprint texts beyond “exemplary” materials, reflect on the role of technology tools in the classroom, and balance analysis activities with media creation.

    Keywords: CCSS, critical thinking, educational technology, ELA, media literacy education, middle level learners, young adolescents

  • Writing Needs a Place to Play: Leaving Room for Rehearsing through Revision Centers [FREE ACCESS]

    Lauren Gibbons

    Abstract: How do we get middle level students to write at the level for narrative writing that the Common Core State Standards require? To assist students in recognizing the various nuances found in narrative writing, young adolescents utilize a resource called revision centers. In revision centers, students read a text that uses a specific element of craft (in this case repetition), discuss the meaning and the effect of that element with their groups, find places in their own writing where they could replicate such a technique, and then rehearse possible ways to infuse skills into their own writing with a partner. Then, after ten minutes, students are asked to stand up and try it all over again at a different station, with a different text. This read-reflect-rehearse-repeat format encourages students to creatively imagine how their writing could look, ultimately enabling them to make a “move” that enhances content, instead of merely demonstrating a writing technique.

    Keywords: Standards, Revision, Common Core, author study, narrative writing

  • Bitstrips and Storybird: Writing Development in a Blended Literacy Camp [FREE ACCESS]

    Jessica A. Wertz

    Abstract: This article describes the integration of Web 2.0 technologies in writing instruction with upcoming fifth- and sixth-grade students during a Summer Digital Literacy Camp, and shares how the students and the author learned alongside each other as they "played" with digital literacy to write persuasive comic strips and digital storybooks using the websites Bitstrips and Storybird. Through these literacy experiences, students used new literacies practices that emphasized multimodalities as they also situated social practices and the students’ own identities and lived experiences to learn key components of persuasive and narrative writing.

    Keywords: Writing, Middle School, Digital Literacy, Web 2.0

  • “Hear a Story, Tell a Story, Teach a Story”: Digital Narratives and Refugee Middle Schoolers

    Toby Emert

    Abstract: In spring 2013, nine ESL refugee middle schoolers participated in the “Hear a Story, Tell a Story, Teach a Story” project, a digital storytelling unit designed as an extended-hours literacy intervention. Working with a lead instructor and five undergraduate interns one afternoon a week for eight consecutive weeks, the refugees learned about traditional story structures by telling an autobiographical story and then translating the narrative to film, using simple moviemaking software. Though they struggled with reading and writing in English, the students exhibited a sense of academic confidence when presented the opportunity to compose a digital story.

    Keywords: English Language Learners, Digital Storytelling, 21st-century literacies, arts-based instructional interventions, multicultural education, refugee education

  • “Miss Alaineus” Thoughts on Vocabulary Instruction in 21st-Century Classrooms

    Ruth McQuirter Scott

    Abstract: Traditional approaches to vocabulary instruction reflect a transmission model in which teachers control words to be learned and information provided to students. This often means single exposure to new words, delivered during scheduled language arts time. Twenty-first century classrooms, however, call for more student-centered approaches involving multiple encounters with words throughout the school day across all subject areas. Preservice teachers often see only traditional approaches to vocabulary instruction in their practicum placements. This paper describes a study in which preservice students are immersed in a vocabulary experience that models best practices in vocabulary instruction.

    Keywords: Teacher Education, 21st century learning, vocabulary instruction, multiliteracies

  • The Promise of Remix: An Open Message to Educators

    Crystal V. Shelby-Caffey, Ronald Caffey, Cameron A. Caffey, and Kolbi A. Caffey

    Abstract: The roles of teacher and learner have been redefined and educators are beginning to tap into the benign yet seemingly unappreciated activities that adolescents engage in outside of school as a means to foster critical thinking as well as to engage them in the new literacies needed for active participation in global citizenry. In this article coauthored with two adolescent sons, the authors consider remixing as they have experienced it in their various roles as parents, educators, artists, and middle school students. An opportunity exists to explore additional avenues regarding the impact of new literacies on teaching and learning. How do the experiences of adolescents, parents, and educators reflect the remixing of roles, strategies, and instruction? What should educators be considering?

    Keywords: Technology, New Literacies, Student Engagement, Remix

  • Teaching the Common Core: Reading, Learning, and Even Arguing across Multiple Texts

    Diane Baron

    Abstract: This article focuses on reading, learning, writing, and talking across multiple texts. Student examples are shared as a teacher navigates her students across multiple texts, including electronic texts. To support students in learning how to read, write, and talk about nonfiction texts, the teacher utilized a text feature bulletin board and had students create a poster centered on a nonfiction topic utilizing text features. Through these experiences, students increased their scientific knowledge as they learned about the construction of nonfiction texts.

    Keywords: 21st Century Literacies, Nonfiction, Digital Literacy

  • CODA: Moving toward Collaborative Cultures: Remixing Classroom Participation

    Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

    Abstract: This commentary explores how the digital world encourages a move away from the information transmission teaching models that have dominated American classrooms. Likewise, the next generation of standards worldwide (e.g., the Common Core in the US) and assessments (e.g., SBAC and PARCC) require this move away from purveying information and toward a remixed sociocultural, community-of-practice–based apprenticeship model of teaching. This apprenticeship model is robustly supported by the last half-century of research in cognitive science and is all about cultures of collaboration: between teachers and students, students and students, and students and the wider environment, including a remixing of and with the digital environment.

    Keywords: Standards, Middle School, Digital Literacy, Collaborative Learning, CCSS

  • Index for Volume 21

* 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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