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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 22, No. 3, March 2015

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Learning, Creating, and Sharing Information across the Disciplines

  • Calls for Manuscripts

  • Editors' Message: Learning, Creating, and Sharing Information across the Disciplines [FREE ACCESS]

    Diane Lapp, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey

  • Disciplinary Literacy Comes to Middle School

    Timothy Shanahan and Cynthia R. Shanahan

    Abstract: Recently, many states adopted educational standards that emphasize the teaching of “disciplinary literacy” in Grades 6–12. This article explains the concept of disciplinary literacy and distinguishes it from the more widely known idea of “content area reading.” Teaching students effectively to understand how literacy is used to create, communicate, and evaluate knowledge in science, math, history, and literature requires an instructional commitment from the teachers in those fields. Useful resources for helping teachers to deliver such instruction are provided.

    Keywords: Middle School, Interdisciplinary Methods, CCSS, Disciplinary Literacy

  • Teaching from a Disciplinary Literacy Stance

    Kristine E. Pytash and Lisa Ciecierski

    Abstract: Disciplinary literacy is not simply a change in terminology; rather this is a conceptual shift in how middle school teachers should approach literacy instruction in content area classrooms. The goal for this article is twofold. First, we aim to explore and provide insight into the term “disciplinary literacy.” Second, we provide specific examples of teaching from a disciplinary literacy stance. To support these suggestions, we present examples from our work with middle school students and science preservice and inservice teachers.

    Keywords: Professional Development, Middle School, New teacher induction, Disciplinary Literacy

  • Would You Mortgage Your DNA? Prompting Meaningful Reading and Writing in Science with Genome [FREE ACCESS]

    William G. Brozo

    Abstract: As the influence of the Common Core State Standards expands, there has been a growing recognition of the central role of literacy and language in the learning of science. Developing proficiency in the language of science for middle-grades’ learners will present ever-increasing challenges for teachers of science and their literacy colleagues. The read-aloud approach used by Jared, the science teacher, and supported by the author, a literacy professional, exemplifies an effective instructional practice with one graphic novel. The teacher took full advantage of the graphic novel to gain and sustain students’ attention, build knowledge, and support disciplinary literacy.

    Keywords: Graphic Novels, Middle School, CCSS, Disciplinary Literacy, read-aloud, science education

  • Developing Disciplinary Literacy through Classroom Blogging

    Corrine M. Wickens, Michael Manderino, and Elsa Andreasen Glover

    Abstract: Classroom blogging can be an effective tool through which to apprentice students in appropriate disciplinary thinking and reasoning skills. Inquiry is the basis for disciplinary literacy. Effectively framed blog posts can situate learning tasks from an inquiry stance. Another key component of disciplinary literacy is “insider” disciplinary discourse. The article demonstrates how a specific teacher effectively invites students into the disciplines and facilitates students’ introduction into reading, writing, and talking as disciplinary specialists. Lastly, we note how the blogging tasks facilitate students’ interpretation of disciplinary texts and production of arguments around central questions in the discipline. This article focuses on one middle grade teacher to demonstrate how such classroom blogging activities can facilitate the development of disciplinary thinking and reasoning with historical texts and literature, especially through engaging students in teacher-framed inquiry, supporting their reading of disciplinary texts, and encouraging student interpretation and writing through their classroom blog.

    Keywords: 21st Century Literacy, Middle School, Blogging, Disciplinary Literacy

  • Secrets, Lies, and Algebra: Using a Novel to Explore Mathematics Concepts

    Christopher C. Jett

    Abstract: In this article, the author recounts his experience teaching mathematics through the novel, Secrets, Lies, and Algebra, with preservice teachers. With the emphasis on infusing literary aspects (i.e., reading, writing, speaking, and listening) into mathematics, the author shares this mathematical text useful for doing this work with middle level students and educators alike. In so doing, he shares an innovative instructional strategy to engage middle level constituents in this interdisciplinary work. He recommends for other middle level educators to conjoin literature and mathematics in their pedagogical practices. 

    Keywords: Literature, CCSS, mathematics education, middle level education

  • Improving Argumentative Writing through Mathematics and Collaboration

    Angela Falter Thomas and Jonathan Bostic

    Abstract: Every middle school teacher has heard an argument from students as they try to persuade, manipulate, or change the minds of others who do not agree with them. These arguments are often heated and in most cases they are “I win; you lose!” situations. Seldom based on evidence, they typically involve opinions and emotions. This, however, is not argumentation, which is mandated by the Common Core State Standards. Making logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence is a cornerstone of the new writing standards. We discuss a collaborative project that supported students’ argumentative writing in this manuscript.

    Keywords: CCSS, Argumentation, mathematics education, middle level education

  • Researching and Writing History through Community Collaboration

    Elizabeth Berg Leer

    Abstract: The SCOPE (Student Community Outreach Program Experience) program is a model for engaging students in literacy activities across disciplines. It serves as an exemplar for what is possible when students are provided the opportunity for authentic learning, adequate guidance to support the learning, and necessary resources through community support and collaboration. Not only are students developing literacy skills, but they are directly applying those skills in important, real-world contexts. They are learning that literary practices have relevance beyond the classroom, and that through these practices, they have the power to positively impact their communities.

    Keywords: Collaboration, Disciplinary Literacy, community outreach

  • Teaching the Common Core: Using the Common Core to Support Disciplinary Literacies

    Roni Jo Draper

    Abstract: Disciplinary literacy instruction holds potential for preparing young people to understand and take on pressing human problems. However, the emphasis on literacy and numeracy, as expressed in the Common Core State Standards, has the potential to undermine the disciplines by deemphasizing some disciplines or by not placing value on the texts central to participation in the disciplines. In this essay, the author argues for instruction that supports the acquisition and learning of disciplinary literacies, suggests how the Common Core State Standards may provide support for such instruction, and includes examples from the arts to demonstrate that these literacies are those needed to prepare children and youth to participate in a complex and changing world. 

    Keywords: Interdisciplinary Methods, CCSS, Disciplinary Literacy

  • CODA: Teaching Literacy in the Disciplines: More Complicated Than We Think!

    Jeff Wilhelm

    Abstract: This article makes the case for Shulman’s notion of “pedagogical content knowledge” when it comes to disciplinary teachers teaching students HOW to read and compose texts from the discipline and that do disciplinary work. Using examples from science, this article explores how next-generation standards and assessments, such as the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, require teachers to know HOW to teach students HOW to do the discipline, including how to read, compose, and solve problems in the discipline. The article further explores ideas for framing and delivering instruction that helps students to read and compose complex texts in disciplinary settings in ways that meet next-generation standards as well as the demands of disciplinary expertise.

    Keywords: Professional Development, CCSS, Disciplinary Literacy

* 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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