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Calls for Manuscripts

OFFICE HOURS The Importance of Urban Literacies
Guest editors: Jamal Cooks and Tonya Perry

LEADING THE CALL What’s Radical about Youth Writing?: Seeing and Honoring Youth Writers and Their Literacies
Marcelle M. Haddix
Abstract: The author discusses her powerful writing experience with her urban out-of-school writing project, Writing Our Lives. Students find a safe space to express their thoughts and share with peers, even voluntarily, on Saturdays! She discovered that urban students do want to write, but it is up to the teacher and community to listen to the students as they guide us through the process to engage their voices and create radical, aware citizens.

Using Texts to Nurture Reading, Writing, and Intellectual Development: A Conversation with Alfred Tatum
Tonya Perry
Abstract: Guest editor Perry talks to Alfred W. Tatum, scholar and dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Tatum’s work in the field spans K–12 and currently focuses on developing reading and writing skills with urban youth, especially boys.

“Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people”: Literacies Within and Without
Ayanna F. Brown
Abstract: This article presents urban literacies as set of instructional practices deeply connected to a set of beliefs about teaching and learning and building community within a seventh-grade ELA classroom. The author identifies Black student identity, including language and culture, as a critical component for building successful learning communities and correlates the study of literacies and Black education as cornerstones for pedagogy that resists the deficiency paradigms that dominate discourses for Black student achievement. The article builds in students' voices twenty years later, where they reflect on their experiences in the ELA classroom.

Breaking Stereotypes and Boundaries: Latina Adolescent Girls and Their Parents Writing Their Worlds
Tracey T. Flores
Abstract: The author shares her learnings working alongside Latina adolescent girls and their parents in Somos Escritores/We Are Writers, a six-week writing workshop that invites families to write and share stories from their lived experiences. She shares what led her work with families, providing an overview of the practices of the space. Next, she shares what she learned from families about why they write. Finally, she discusses the importance and pedagogical possibilities of creating space in literacy classrooms and family involvement spaces that center the voices, stories, and ways of knowing of families.

Cultivating Urban Literacies on Chicago’s South Side through a Pedagogy of Spatial Justice
Andrea Vaughan, Rebecca Woodard, Nathan C. Phillips, and Kara Taylor
Abstract: The authors examine a middle school teacher's food justice unit on Chicago's South Side through a lens of a pedagogy of spatial justice that highlights attention to how spaces, places, and the people in them are constituted over time. Spatial justice is particularly important in urban contexts where marginalized community members are perpetually "fighting for the right to the city." The article considers the ways students' urban literacies were cultivated as they (1) drew from their local knowledge (of self, culture, and place), (2) critically situated their local knowledge in broader sociopolitical contexts, and (3) crafted counter narratives.

Classics in the Inner City: The Teacher Making It Work
Jim Johnston
Abstract: This article looks at the necessity of finding connections to the lives of inner city students in order to deepen the understanding of the classics in addition to increasing the motivation of students to read and synthesize their experiences with those in the text to generate new meanings and understanding. In this case, the book is The Diary of Anne Frank.

(CHAT)ting at Home: A Family’s Activity Theory System
Tisha Lewis Ellison and S. R. Toliver
Abstract: This article examines how two African American urban middle school learners and their father engaged in using a household DIY project and the effect it had on their learning. Cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) was used to focus on the ways activity systems played in human interaction. Findings include how their learning was based on the roles they played, how agency and apprenticeship were constructed, and how familial experiences were supported by one another. The article concludes with implications for teachers of urban middle school learners that contribute to students' learning in informal settings.

Popular Culture as a Scaffold for Critical Analysis
Kathryn Scott Nelson
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which seventh graders in a diverse setting demonstrated critical literacy perspectives while analyzing pop culture media and how students later applied this critical analysis to more challenging texts. Student discussions revealed that they built upon the knowledge gained in the stereotyping unit and deepened their critical analyses. The use of pop culture media was a powerful scaffold for learning critical analysis, and middle level students deepened their critical literacy practices as they transferred their critical analyses to more challenging texts.

NOTES FROM THE NERDY BOOK CLUB Book Floods and Book Deserts
Donalyn Miller, Colby Sharp, Cindy Minnich, and Katherine Sokolowski
Abstract: In this issue’s column, members of The Nerdy Book Club discuss ways to ensure students have access to books, including examining school library policies regarding fines, summer reading, classroom libraries, and digital resources.

NEW VOICES Shifting from “Saviors” to Effective Teachers in Urban Middle Level Classrooms
Christopher Lehman
Abstract: In this column, Chris Lehman shares discussions with early-career teachers as they begin their practices. This month, two teachers discuss what they’ve learned from teaching in urban classrooms.

STUDENT VOICES Stone Walls and City Lights: It’s All in the Same Direction
Linda Rief and Jennifer Ochoa
Abstract: In this column, renowned teacher and literacy expert Linda Rief shares her middle school students’ perspectives. This month, Linda compares her New Hampshire students’ daily routines and concerns with her colleague Jennifer Ochoa’s New York City students’.

EVERYDAY ADVOCATES Working in Ways That Are Strategic and Savvy
Cathy Fleischer
Abstract: In the latest of her series of columns about ways teachers can be advocates, Cathy Fleischer shares ways to be a Savvy Advocate.

RESEARCH VOICES Making Race Visible: Literacy Research for Cultural Understanding
Lisa Scherff
Abstract: This column helps show how to apply current research to today’s classroom. In this issue, Lisa Scherff looks at two chapters in the book Making Race Visible: Literacy Research for Cultural Understanding, edited by Stuart Greene and Dawn Abt-Perkins, that speak specifically to how our identities and practices may perpetuate inequity and injustice.