English Journal is NCTE's award-winning journal of ideas for English language arts teachers in junior and senior high schools and middle schools.
Calls for Manuscripts
All manuscripts should be submitted via the Editorial Manager system.
General Interest Submissions
We publish articles of general interest as space is available. You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to EJ readers. Remember that EJ articles foreground classroom practice and contextualize it in sound research and theory. As you know, EJ readers appreciate articles that show real students and teachers in real classrooms engaged in authentic teaching and learning. Regular manuscript guidelines regarding length and style apply.
Submission Deadline: March 15, 2020
Publication Date: November 2020
Editor: R. Joseph Rodríguez
. . . I’m practicing the poems in my dreams.
And the more I write the braver I become.
—Xiomara Batista in The Poet X: A Novel by Elizabeth Acevedo
As English language arts teachers, we believe in the power of students’ forms of expression. Like the character Xiomara in Elizabeth Acevedo’s novel in verse, students live in a world that calls for introspection and courage. Students are often guided by their teachers who invite them to write reflectively and also with bravery. Sometimes students struggle to understand themselves in writing, and their teachers encourage them to persist. Especially with classroom writing assignments, students may have questions about who they are writing for and about the purposes for their writing.
For this issue of English Journal, the editors invite stories about the writing lives and practices of students and teachers. When do your lessons and assignments engage students to write especially with bravery and conviction about their experiences? What beliefs and understandings unfold as they write and express themselves? How has students’ writing been complemented by the reading and study of literature? Which assignments invite them to write with bravery and to strengthen their writer identities? How are important conversations between teachers and students established and sustained by writing together?
The Play’s the Thing
Submission Deadline: May 1, 2020
Publication Date: January 2021
Editor: Toby Emert
By allowing participants to step into the shoes of another, drama can compel people to challenge their assumptions and learn.
—Paula Ressler, Dramatic Changes: Talking about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with High School Students through Drama
Many educational theorists have argued that imaginative discourse is central to language arts development. Drama-based activities—with their emphasis on oral language, characterization, and improvisational play—involve students, encourage creativity, and make learning memorable. Theater’s lessons linger.
Drama has not traditionally been widely valued as an instructional tool in high school classrooms. But students benefit when ELA teachers find opportunities to incorporate performance-inspired exercises drawn from creative dramatics, process drama, and devised theater methods into their lessons. Drama work invites learners to reflect, socialize, imagine, interpret, and empathize. From reading and discussing scripts as literary texts to improvisational role play, to staged readings and elaborate performance, drama-based instruction calls for students to engage their bodies and their intellects.
This issue of English Journal is devoted to teachers’ stories about creative uses of plays, scripts, and drama-based instructional activities in the ELA classroom. How have you used drama as a tool to invite interest and boost comprehension? Which exercises and games from creative dramatics do you regularly call on to build community and foster camaraderie? What plays do you teach and how do your students respond? How do filmed adaptations of texts you read with students extend their understanding, and how do you discuss the “dramatization” of texts? When have you tried a drama-based activity that did not go as planned, and what did you learn? Whose ideas about using drama-inspired instruction have most influenced you? How have drama activities enhanced a classroom moment, lesson, or unit?
Sounds of Music and Language Arts
Submission Deadline: July 1, 2020
Publication Date: March 2021
Editor: R. Joseph Rodríguez
Oh, Alexander Hamilton
America sings for you
Will they know what you overcame?
Will they know you rewrote the game?
The world will never be same, oh.
—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: The Revolution, from Act 1 (2016)
The sounds of music surround us. Sounds in all forms can awaken our feelings and memories. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is an actor, composer, lyricist, playwright, rapper, and writer, uses various arts-based modes to make meaning. One of these modes is music education with language arts.
In his 2016 Tony Awards acceptance speech, which was written as a sonnet, Miranda explained, “We chase the melodies that seem to find us / until they’re finished songs and start to play. / When senseless acts of tragedy remind us / that nothing here is promised, not one day.”
For this issue, we invite forms of melodies, musicals, popular music, rap, spoken word, and sounds that complement language arts education in our classrooms. More specifically, we are interested in the merging of music across the learning domains toward appreciation and performance.
Consider the following: Which music pedagogies speak to your students that include the traditional, contemporary, and popular in their everyday lives? How have you introduced and maintained the sounds of music in the practice and study of literacy and literature? What have you found promising in your teaching that awakens students’ interests in music, musicals, and performance toward learning and understanding? Which works have you adopted or adapted for inclusion in your music, theatre, and language arts classroom?
Poetry: Muses and Musing
Submission Deadline: September 1, 2020
Publication Date: May 2021
Editor: Toby Emert
And wishes … are a part of what poetry is all about.
—Kenneth Koch, Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry
In her essay “My Father’s Love Letters,” poet Tess Gallagher describes connecting with her distant father through a poem she wrote for his birthday, which, when she read it to him, provoked him to say simply, “Now, that’s something.” Poetry is a powerful art with the capacity to express—often in abbreviated form—our wishes, lies, and dreams and to help us connect—often in unexpected ways—with readers and listeners. It engages our imagination, loosens our vocabulary, and indulges our penchant for sound and song and metaphor. Anyone can write a poem. Anyone can be touched by a poem.
In this issue of the journal, we invite writers to share their musings about interactions with poems and poets, as well as stories about the muses that inspire their writing, the writing they ask students to do, and the lessons that have kindled students’ affections for poetry. Which poets do students want to read again? How do you engage students as critical readers of poetry and also encourage them to develop lasting relationships with poems? What connections do you make between contemporary poetry and the poems often included in the canon? When and how do poems influence lessons that are not specifically about poetry? Who are your poetry muses and how do you help students to find theirs? What obstacles hinder students’ love of poetry and how have you tackled those obstacles? What does poetry do for students that other literary forms cannot? When have students responded to poetry in a way that echoes Gallagher’s father response, declaring a poem “something”?
Speaking My Mind
We invite you to speak out on an issue that concerns you about English language arts teaching and learning. If your essay is published, it will appear with your photo in a future issue of EJ. We welcome essays of 1,000 to 1,500 words, as well as inquiries regarding possible subjects.
Editors: Peter Elliott, Lone Star College, University Park, Texas; and Alexa Garvoille, MFA Program, Creative Writing, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
“To live in this world / you must be able / to do three things: / to love what is mortal; / to hold it / against your bones knowing / your life depends on it; / and, when the time comes to let it go, / to let it go.” These words from Mary Oliver’s poem “In Blackwater Woods” speak not only to how to live in this world but also to how we learn and teach. As teachers, we hold against our bones so much that our lives depend on—helping a student, learning a difficult concept, speaking up for justice, or reading a favorite text—but then must learn to let go. In the pages of English Journal, we look to publish well-crafted poems that connect our readers to topics central to English education: the impact of reading and writing on young people, words and language, classroom stories, and reflections on teaching and learning. Poetry reminds us, as educators, how to live in this world.
Submit your work by emailing an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the subject line “Poetry Submission for Review.” The first page of the attached document should be a cover sheet that includes your name, address, email, and a two-sentence biographical sketch. In your bio, include how long you have been a member of NCTE, if applicable, and a publishable contact email. Following the cover sheet, include from one to five original poems in the same document. Though we welcome work of any length, shorter pieces (thirty lines and under) often work best for the journal. Poems must be original and not previously published. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, though writers must immediately withdraw from consideration any poems that are to be published elsewhere by contacting the editors via email.
Poets whose work is published will receive two complimentary copies of the issue in which their work appears. Additional inquiries about poetry submissions may be directed to the coeditors at email@example.com. We look forward to reading and celebrating your work.
Teacher photographs of classroom scenes and individual students are welcome. Photographs may be uploaded to Editorial Manager at the address above in any standard image format at 300 dpi. Photos should be accompanied by complete identification: teacher/photographer’s name, location of scene, and date photograph was taken. If faces are clearly visible, names of those photographed should be included, along with their statement of permission for the photograph to be reproduced in EJ.
Cartoons should depict scenes or ideas potentially amusing to English language arts teachers. They can be submitted to Editorial Manager at the address above; we can accept any standard graphics format at 300 dpi.
For information on writing for the EJ columns, see the Columns and Column Editors info below.
For EJ Submission Guidelines, see Write for Us.
For more information, contact Englishjournal@ncte.org.