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OFFICE HOURS The Wonders of Community

Calls for Manuscripts

LEADING THE CALL Who We Are Together: Emphasizing Community in the Work We Do

Individual writers achieve more when they belong to and are engaged with a larger community of writers that respects the many communities an individual belongs to. Such community requires communication, organization, mentoring, mindfulness, Ubuntu, and networking for teachers and youth. In this "Leading the Call" a National Writing Project director reflects on 24 years of teaching writing in K–12 schools. Using Writing Activity Genre Research as a theoretical blueprint, he concludes that written communication has no purpose without a community to embrace it. It’s who we are together that matters most.

LEADING THE CALL Narrating the Story of a Community with Google Tour Creator

This article explores using Google Tour Creator to engage students in place-based pedagogy to create a virtual tour that narrates the story of their community. It offers a model for how the tool was used with preservice teachers, explains requirements and restrictions of using the tool, and aligns student practices to Common Core English Language Arts and ISTE Student standards. It also offers suggestions for how to use the tool with middle school students.

YA VOICES We Can’t All Afford Good Toilet Paper: Why You and Your Kids Need to Read Stories about Kids Who Struggle Financially

Author Donna Gephart discusses stories about youth with family financial struggles and how to share these with students in order to foster community understanding.

Revising Resistance: A Step toward Student-Centered Activism

The author examines his efforts to encourage teen activism through his lesson plans, ultimately devising an activism-based curriculum through allowing his students to help him shape the curriculum to reflect their interests.

Rediscovering the Familiar: Exploring Place-Based Literacy Projects

As teacher educators interested in place-based pedagogy and writing, we want to encourage the teachers in our courses to take up place-based literacy projects in their classrooms. We have successfully engaged teachers in place-based pedagogy through Keri Smith’s book How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Art Life Museum. Place-based exploration projects, like the ones created by the teachers in this article, are exciting opportunities to encourage students to critically examine their local environments. 

Engaging the Humanity of Middle Schoolers through Community Interviews

Situating middle school literacy practice within community spaces is a pedagogical opportunity to engage middle school youth as experts and researchers on their own community. In this article, the author uses the blog Humans of New York to create a summer literacy activity the fosters empathy and community engagement, ultimately allowing youth to recognize their place in community.

Building Community, Empathy, and Engagement through LGBTQ Book Clubs

Curricular and community transformation is possible. While many schools avoid conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTQ book clubs provide eighth graders with an opportunity to advocate for themselves and others. Using heteronormativity as a framework, students close-read books with LGBTQ content, apply critical lenses, and enact school-wide advocacy projects.

STUDENT VOICES The Communities We Create

Middle level teacher Katherine Sokolowski discusses what it takes to create a writing community, sharing the voices of adolescents writing about their own impressions of life at age thirteen.

TEACHING WITH YA LIT Reading Together: Building Community around Young Adult Literature

This column features advice, examples, and anecdotes on using young adult literature as a tool for building community in the classroom from Dr. Tracey Flores, Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy at the University of Texas at Austin and winner of NCTE’s 2019 Promising Researcher Award.

NEW VOICES Your Words, Your Voice

In this issue’s column, teachers discuss reasons why they became teachers and why they continue to innovate in the classroom.

NWP IN THE MIDDLE Civic Awareness and Action Beyond the Classroom: Engaging Students with Their Communities

In this column, the author describes a research-to-action process in which seventh graders work to know, appreciate, and improve their rural town.

AFFILIATE VOICES State Affiliates Stepping Up for Their Students

This month, we look at activities with NCTE affiliates in California, Oregon, Arizona, New Jersey, and Kansas.

NOTE FROM THE MIDDLE LEVEL SECTION Captain Marvel and Superman: Middle Level Language Arts Teachers' Colleagues

Designing successful classroom activities is nothing short of a superpower, and effective middle school language arts teachers don figurative spandex supersuits as they prepare for each and every day. The author shares science-based principles for creating these activities.