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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 24, No. 3, March 2017

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Culturally Responsive Teaching within the Middle Grades

  • Calls for Manuscripts[FREE ACCESS]

  • OFFICE HOURS: Learning Is in the Wobble [FREE ACCESS]

    Shelbie Witte and Sara Kajder

  • Ask. Agitate. Act. Ally: NCTE Affiliate Intellectual Freedom Award acceptance speech, 2016 NCTE Annual Convention, Atlanta, GA

    Dan Reynolds

  • LEADING THE CALL: What Would it Mean for English Language Arts to Become More Culturally Responsive and Sustaining? [FREE ACCESS]

    Randy Bomer

    Abstract: The teaching of English Language Arts can be, at its worst, an enforcement of Whiteness, a staunch insistence that all students comply and bend their affiliations to a culture not their own. But such a colonizing agenda does not work, and it is not ethical. The author breaks down the varied responses to culture and demonstrates ways to provide culturally sustaining instruction that allows students to use the literacy strengths they already possess to support classroom learning and help position them as community members.

    Keywords: middle school literacy, Student-led Learning, CRT, culturally sustaining pedagogy

  • Critical Literacy and Our Students’ Lives

    Linda Christensen

    Abstract: The US West Outstanding Teacher of the Western United States for 1990 discusses here how winning the award only led her to recognize the ways she needed to improve instruction in her classroom of students who were seen as “disadvantaged” because they were remedial readers, mostly impoverished, and largely African American. By focusing on the passions and skills her students already had, the author was able to create a sancocho (thick stew)-style curriculum with a basic process that helps students see their experiences in the context of the larger world.

    Keywords: Reading Instruction, Critical Literacy, Writing Instruction, middle school students

  • An Undeniable Force: Supporting Middle School Students as Scholars and Citizens through Debate

    Nicole Mirra and Gabriel Pietrzak

    Abstract: The authors undertook a study of the Middle School Quality Initiative, a program of the New York City Department of Education that integrates debate into the middle school curriculum. They discovered that debate can bolster students’ academic literacy skills along with inspiring them to be an engaged citizen. The article highlights debate as a best practice that sustains students’ linguistic, cultural, and civic identities.

    Keywords: Adolescent Literacy, Middle School, Curriculum Reform, debate

  • YA VOICES: Say That to My Face: On Teaching and Learning Diverse Literature for Empowerment and Transformation (Or, On Feeling Itchy) [FREE ACCESS]

    Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

    Abstract: The author of Two Naomis and 8th Grade Superzero discusses the events in her life that drove her to become an author and how reading—and writing—gave her the community she needed, even when her physical community did not.

    Keywords: Writing, Middle School, adolescent literature

  • Social Action and Social Justice: A Path to Critical Consciousness for Engagement

    Dana M. Stachowiak

    Abstract: Culturally relevant teaching (CRT) places the classroom focus back on the student and allows teachers to dream big about “real” social action projects. With this article, the author increases understanding of what a CRT foundation needs to be, a strategy for preparing students for this work, and examples and suggestions for ways to strengthen and sustain social justice education.

    Keywords: Critical Literacy, Social Justice, community literacy, CRT

  • NEW VOICES: Culturally Relevant from the Start

    Christopher Lehman

    Abstract: The New Voices column explores the struggles, successes, and dreams of early-career middle level educators, from preservice through sixth year. In this issue, early-career teachers discuss student-centered instruction.

    Keywords: early-career teachers, student-centered instruction

  • Lessons for the Teacher: Gaining Perspective

    Wendy Zagray Warren

    Abstract: In this article, the author reflects on the kinds of learning she has undertaken in order to more competently practice culturally relevant teaching (CRT). As a White, middle-class teacher who received a Eurocentric education, she found it necessary to learn ways to broaden her perspective by seeking out world-views she may not have previously encountered. This process has not only benefited her students; it has enriched her life.

    Keywords: Culturally Relevant Teaching, Social Justice, cultural literacy, reflection, CRT equity, Indian Education for All, teacher as learner

  • Hacking Heteronormativity and Remixing Rhymes: Enacting a [Q]ulturally Sustaining Pedagogy in Middle Grades English Language Arts

    Jon M. Wargo

    Abstract: Recent re-theorizations of resource-based pedagogies have shifted the paradigm away from deficit-based responses toward difference and work to sustain it. Gender and sexuality, however, are never taken up as central features in these more pluralistic pedagogies. Developing a [q]ulturally sustaining pedagogy, centering gender and sexuality, this article explores how prospective teachers and their students hacked heteronormativity to remix traditional reads of gender expression and identity in literature. Focusing on prospective teachers enacting a [q]ulturally sustaining stance in pedagogical moments of talk, reflection, and creation, this article highlights the fixity and fluidity of combatting gender inequality, heterosexism, and homophobia in middle grades classrooms.

    Keywords: Gender Studies, cultural literacy, LGBTQ studies

  • Courageous Literacy: Linguistically Responsive Teaching with English Language Learners

    Luciana C. de Oliveira and Melanie Shoffner

    Abstract: While literacy is a right for all students, it is a crucial component for English language learners in defining there place in the world around them. This article explores what linguistically responsive teaching includes and how teachers can develop the skills necessary to help English language learners better prepare for the critical literacy demands of the twenty-first century.

    Keywords: English Language Learners, cultural literacy, language acquisition, linguistically responsive teaching, LRT

  • STUDENT VOICES: Bastille Day, or Why We Need Books More Than Ever in Our Students’ Lives

    Linda Rief

    Abstract: Linda Rief crafts this column, writing alongside her middle school students, to show the beauty and possibilities that lie within the words our students use to make sense of their world. In this issue, she discusses books and stories of everyday heroes that teachers can share with students to help them “understand, forgive, and reimagine the world, even in the worst of its behavior.”

    Keywords: Mentor Texts, YA Literature, CRT, middle grade/level literature

  • COLLABORATIVE VOICES: Partnering with Families and Communities: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy at Its Best

    Katherin Garland and Kisha Bryan

    Abstract: For decades, teachers and teacher educators have generally accepted the premise and promise of culturally relevant pedagogy however, implementation of it has sometimes been challenging.The authors use a sociocultural framework to demonstrate how teachers can partner with families and community members to negotiate classroom cultures and curricula that actually reflect the communities where students develop and grow.

    Keywords: Media Literacy, YA Literature, cultural literacy, culturally responsive teaching, CRT, culturally relevant pedagogy, placed-based learning, school partnerships

  • “Everybody Have Their Own Ways of Talking”: Designing Writing Instruction That Honors Linguistic Diversity

    Nadia Behazideh

    Abstract: Enacting culturally sustaining pedagogy includes supporting students’ development and use of their primary languages and dialects. A commitment to honoring linguistic diversity requires explicit attention in both instruction and assessment practices. Based on the experience of teaching a four-week summer writing class to mostly African American middle school students, the author describes instruction that was specifically designed to align with the concepts of code-meshing and constructivism, as well as an assessment that encourages the use of multiple dialects and languages. Descriptions of lesson plans are included.

    Keywords: Writing Instruction, Code-Meshing, writing assessment, CRT, culturally sustaining pedagogy, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), constructivism

  • Connecting Classrooms and Communities with Language and Technology: A Multimodal Code-Meshing Project

    Mark B. Pacheco, Blaine E. Smith, and Stephanie Carr

    Abstract: The authors explore how students in an English language arts class connect their classroom to their communities through creating digital projects that leverage multiple languages and multimodal composition in a process they call “multimodal code-meshing”—. Drawing from student examples, teachers detail how multilingual students respond to a text about heroism by interviewing "everyday heroes" in their communities, creating multimodal compositions and sharing these compositions with classmates in a type of community literacy that pushes students to both critique and create community texts.

    Keywords: English Language Learners, Digital Literacies, Multimodal composition, community literacies, multilingual writing

* 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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