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. 25, No. 4, May 2018
Sara Kajder and Shelbie Witte
The author, a leader in bringing digital tools into the writing workshop and writing classroom, discusses how the use of digital tools in the classroom has evolved in the first decade of this century, especially in the writing workshop. He examines ways several ELA teachers are using specific tools to assist with literacy learning in the classroom right now and makes some recommendations regarding the future of digital writing instruction.
Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Two bestselling middle grades authors discuss their process in collaborating for the first time on their novel, Bob, which will be released this month.
Cornelius Minor, Lakisha Howell, and Arlène Casimir-Siar
Framed by a hard look at current inequalities through a personal lens, the authors suggest that the questions that guide the future of education, equitable access, digital literacy, and educational technology are no longer about what tech to use or even how to use that tech specifically. Rather, the focus should be on determining how we can use these tools to approach and work through the difficulties associated with the "dystopia of now." One solution may be to use design thinking with instructional technology to update classroom practices to be more appropriate for twenty-first-century students.
Jennifer S. Dail and Anete Vásquez
This manuscript explores the use of Google Drive to engage teachers in collaboration as they discuss Tyrell and Saint Iggy through critical literacy literature circles. It offers a model for organizing collaborative learning outside of classroom time. It describes affordances and constraints of the digital space and the process used. It also offers insight to how teaching in online spaces looks different from face-to-face instruction and how to support students.
Linda Rief and Sam Fremin
This column brings the voices of middle school students to the fore. In this issue, Rief and one of her former students discuss the ways students and teachers can help each other learn to use classroom digital tools. The important factor is mutual trust between teacher and student so that teacher-learner roles can be fluid.
James S. Chisholm and Kathryn Whitmore
Digital photography has transformed how we document our lives, perceive the world, and learn about the lives of others in distant places. So why shouldn't digital photographs also transform our English language arts classrooms? We describe how middle grades teachers and students used digital photographs to reflect on their own learning and to access nonlinguistic ways of making meaning. We share our approach to taking, selecting, and analyzing digital photographs, which we call the Visual Learning Analysis (VLA), and invite teachers to adapt it for their own assessment processes in their local contexts.
Raven Bishop and Erin Counihan
"Literacy" continues to change, and ELA teachers continue to adapt to engage students who learn differently and whose texts come in a variety of new literacy formats. To make learning relevant, teachers need to emphasize not only the media through which students take in information but also the media through which students put out information. This article suggests that today's students need new literacy skills to comprehend—and to produce coherent arguments with—words, images, numbers and emerging technologies.
This column focuses on teachers in the first 3 to 5 years of their teaching careers. In this issue, two early-career middle grades teachers discuss the ways they have been working to provide greater access to digital tools for their students.
Summer Pennell and Bryan Fede
In this article the authors share critical literacy strategies for middle school students reading online articles on social justice topics. The examples draw from a qualitative study of an interdisciplinary middle school class. Results found that students need support with information literacy and critical literacy to understand underlying belief systems and power structures working within a text. Furthermore, the authors posit it is necessary to combine critical literacy with mathematics so that students learn to question these power structures with numbers as well as texts. These strategies can help students determine if news sources are reliable or merely "fake news."
Lindsay Yearta, Katie Stover Kelly, Brian Kissel, Megan Schonhar
In this article, the authors describe how one teacher encouraged her students to better understand and advocate for social justice issues by creating infographics. Students reflected upon and responded to the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by selecting a focus topic related to a social justice issue and then researching and creating an infographic to share with audiences within and beyond the classroom.
Katherine Sokolowski, Cindy Minnich, Colby Sharp, and Donlayn Miller
Members of the Nerdy Book Club list their favorite digital tools for classroom use.
In this final research column, Lisa Scherff discusses "The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation," published in England. Study authors Higgins, Xiao, and Katsipataki summarized 48 meta-analyses and quantitative studies published from 1990–2012 regarding the impact of technology on learning. Scherff shares recommendations and findings that can help today's teachers choose the correct digital tools for their students.
This column helps show readers ways to raise their voices in advocacy, expanding on methods discussed at everydayadvocacy.org—A Toolkit for Teachers. In this fourth and final column, Fleischer discusses how to make advocacy part of teachers' day-to-day lives.
Shanetia P. Clark and Diallo D. Sessoms
This column gives an update of the new digital presence and inspirations of the Middle Level Section Steering Committee and Voices from the Middle.
In this column, the author shares some results of a small survey of middle school English teachers in urban areas.