Voices from the Middle
Voices from the Middle offers middle level teachers innovative and practical ideas for classroom use that are rooted in current research; this is a journal for teachers, by teachers.
Voices from the Middle
Vol. 26, No. 4, May 2019
Shelbie Witte and Sara Kajder
This article focuses attention back to the value of conferring with and among students about their writing. It is an easy reminder that the joy in teaching writing can be found in talking with students about their writing and their own processes, and Anderson brings us back to the importance of that practice.
YA author Cynthia Kadohata discusses revelations she had on a trip to a site of historical tragedy and expresses how the world is on the cusp of enormous change.
This piece invites educators to reconsider—to redefine—what writing "is" in order to make room for more students to engage in the writing process and to self-identify as writers, leading to a more inclusive set of voices and a wider range of stories within our world. Within this piece, the author explains what it means to "redefine" writing, argues specifically why we ought to do, and offers a variety of ways that educators might begin this important, and long overdue, pedagogical shift.
Maria Secoy and Haley W. Sigler
This paper describes one teacher's classroom as she reimagines writing workshop inside a schoolwide one-to-one computing initiative. Specifically, it describes how she uses technology, within an otherwise traditional writing workshop, to facilitate differentiated mini-lessons, confer with writers, and offer writers opportunity for peer response. In the end, she balances ways of streamlining workflow digitally, while maintaining the integrity of writing workshop and offering greater differentiation to meet the needs of writers in her middle school classroom.
Michelle M. Hasty and Allyson Hauptman
This article describes a collaborative project involving university professors, classroom teachers, and published authors. The project drew on established components of writing instruction, such as writer's workshop and writer's notebooks, but we develop a new idea: the dual lens. Using a dual lens means that as teachers build identities as writers, as they try possibilities presented by authors, and as they read the world as a writer, they also continuously think about using this learning in their classrooms. Increasing teachers' awareness of the transfer to classrooms is an effective way to empower and motivate students to see themselves as writers.
In her final column for Voices from the Middle, Rief discusses the current state of writing instruction and wonders whether students are learning the realities of writing.
Emily Machado, Rebecca Woodard, Rick Coppola, and Andrea Vaughan
Although classrooms are sites of robust language diversity, students are rarely invited to use linguistic varieties other than Dominant American English in their writing at school. We argue that writing instruction must include opportunities for students to use all of their linguistic and cultural resources. Using qualitative methods, we explore how three seventh grade students engaged in translanguaging during one unit on writing poetry. We document how and why these students composed in and through Polish, Spanish, Hebrew, and Yiddish, with particular attention to ways that their writing helped them to connect with their peers, their families, and their faiths. We share suggestions and considerations for teachers interested in supporting translanguaging in their writing classrooms.
Sarah Brown Wessling
As the year ends, this column goes back to contributing teachers to find out how they cope with being an early career teacher.
Heather K. Olson Beal, Lauren Burrow, and Chrissy Cross
This article shares examples of student inquiry, ownership, and empowerment in writing, as made possible for youth participating in the Barrio Writers community program. In Barrio Writers, youth participants are encouraged to use their voice to advocate for social change through creative writing. The authors, who act as writing advisers in the program, discuss how the successes realized are connected to the learning environment that is intentionally set up to create safe spaces that foreground youth's voices to encourage authentic writing. The article concludes with suggestions for how Barrio Writers' strategies can be transferred into traditional middle school ELA classrooms.
Blaine E. Smith, Ji Shen, and Shiyan Jiang
This article describes how middle school students collaborated in small groups to propose creative solutions to a variety of socioscientific issues through composing digital multimodal science fictions. In particular, we illustrate the various ways students explored socioscientific issues (e.g., climate change) through their multimodal sci-fi narratives, embodied different roles (e.g., scientist, designer, and writer) while collaboratively composing, and infused elements of their identities into their sci-fis. We conclude by discussing key strategies for integrating collaborative multimodal sci-fi narratives into different classroom contexts in order to support adolescents in creatively exploring and proposing solutions to challenging socioscientific issues.
Teaching students a discourse of "nexting" invites the writer to have hope, not just for the content they are writing about, but also for the act of writing they are engaging in too. This article answers the question, "What's next in teaching writing?" by considering a "next steps" Writing Hope Framework for students and teachers to work within. When we guide students to access their hope and talk about what's next for them as writers, we are encouraging them to set self-determined goals and consider what their future writing lives will look like. We ask them to look towards the next writing activities they might engage in, and we commit to supporting students along the way. This article provides hope-filled approaches to teaching writing that encourage students to think about what's "next" for their academic and personal writing lives through engaging in vision quests, hope moments, and intentional hope discourses.
In this column, Griffith discusses incorporating graphic novels into writing instruction.
This issue takes a look at affiliate happenings in IN, MN, NC, and VA.
Hale reminds readers to acknowledge the work that comprises the foundations of writing instruction.