Calls for Manuscripts
Upcoming Voices from the Middle Themes
Editors Shanetia Clark, Robyn Seglem, and Matt Skillen offer the following calls for manuscripts. For more information, read the submission guidelines. Questions for the editors may be directed to email@example.com.
Placed in the Middle
Situated between elementary and secondary school, middle school is often seen as a place of afterthought. However, those of us who teach and advocate from the middle understand the unique conditions that exist in this space. In this volume year, we want to proclaim the middle as an integral place for students to develop agency, build community, and determine who they want to be. And if we pair this place with other places within local and global communities, we can position our students to be changemakers of the future.
In their book, The Power of Place: Authentic Learning through Place-Based Education, Tom Vander Ark, Emily Liebtag, and Nate McClennen make the case that powerful learning is connected to place. To assist in their argument, they share the six design principles of place-based education that were developed by the Teton Science Schools, whose mission is to “inspire curiosity, engagement, and leadership through transformative place-based education”: (1) community as classroom, (2) learner-centered, (3) inquiry-based, (4) local to global, (5) design thinking, and (6) interdisciplinary. This volume year, we aim to demonstrate that the sciences aren’t the only disciplines that can inspire curiosity and engagement through explorations of place.
See details on each issue’s call for manuscripts pertaining to Vol. 32 below.
Learning can happen anytime and anywhere. Rather than limiting our lesson design to the classroom, integrating the community into learning experiences can deepen student learning. How can we assist students in learning more about their communities while also learning the language arts? How do we build belonging by partnering with community members? How do we structure experiences within the community to assist students in building social capital? In this issue, we invite you to share how you assist students in experiencing the community as an important place of learning. How do you nurture students’ curiosities through community explorations? In what ways have you partnered with community members, programs, and organizations? What challenges exist in the community that students have helped to address through your curriculum? How have you used field trips to extend student learning about a concept? What resources have you co-authored with community members, providing students with authentic audiences? What other ways have you leveraged the community as a classroom?
Manuscripts Due: December 15, 2023
For our Field Trips section we are looking to publish a series of short episodes or illustrations about ways in which you’ve used space creatively to engage your students in lasting and memorable learning opportunities. How have you used digital or analogue tools to bring a community-centered experience into your classroom? How have your students met and interacted with people and organizations to expand their perspectives?
Submissions Due: March 15, 2024
The rise of the accountability movement has led to an increased reliance on boxed curricula, and no matter how many included texts represent diverse perspectives, boxed curricula will always be content-centered, not learner-centered. When engaging with these materials, students often struggle to see themselves in work they complete. This is because learners are connected to place, not content. How can we assist learners in understanding how place has shaped their experiences? If tied to boxed curricula, how do we help students connect these texts and lessons to their personal experiences? We invite you to share ways you have centered students in your learning designs. How have you co-constructed learning experiences with students? What strategies have you used for personalized learning? How have you emphasized competencies over grades or even standards? How have you assisted students in finding and developing their passions and talents? What roles do goal setting and reflection have in your classroom? How have you centered students in exploring place?
Manuscripts Due: March 15, 2024
For our Field Trips section we are looking to publish a series of short episodes or illustrations about ways in which you’ve used space creatively to engage your students in lasting and memorable learning opportunities. Where do you go to explore with your students? How did that opportunity to explore change the direction of your teaching? When did a greater understanding of place change the trajectory of your students?
Submissions Due: June 15, 2024
Technology has made the world a much smaller place. Where once we may have been limited to learning in local places, we can take learning to the global stage. Even local challenges can be linked to global issues. And by moving into local communities, we can assist students in discovering why the wicked problems of the world matter and why they should care. We can demonstrate to students how tackling a problem at the local level can impact the larger world. And through these investigations, students can expand their perspectives beyond their own lived experiences and cultures. So, in this issue, we ask you to contribute ways you’ve shifted learning to global spaces. How has technology assisted you in taking students to places they’ve never been before? In what ways have you used virtual or augmented reality to transport students to new experiences? How have you aided students in discovering global influences on local contexts? What role do global texts play in your classroom, and how do you use them to investigate their places of origin? How have you integrated the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? How have you connected your students to students in other places?
Manuscripts Due: June 15, 2024
For our Field Trips section we are looking to publish a series of short episodes or illustrations about ways in which you’ve used space creatively to engage your students in lasting and memorable learning opportunities. How do you use technology to bring the world to your students? What texts or activities do you use to zoom in and zoom out? Who have you partnered with to open up the world to your students?
Submissions Due: September 15, 2024
Too often, schools place different disciplines in silos. And while the middle school model encourages cross- and interdisciplinary learning, content-specific tests, educational policies, and traditional curricular models encourage content-specific teaching and learning. Yet, the world doesn’t divide up disciplines. One cannot engage in a scientific experiment without utilizing literacy skills, and interpreting geographic data requires fluency in math. So, how do we, as educators, design interdisciplinary learning experiences? How do we take students out into the world so they can identify interdisciplinary connections? In this issue, we invite you to reimagine an ELA classroom that is not solely ELA. To this end, we ask you to share how you integrate other disciplines into your curriculum. What role does problem-based or project-based learning play in your year? How does place connect to these projects? How do you collaborate and design units with teachers in different disciplines? with experts from different disciplines? What kinds of essential and driving questions encourage students to explore concepts from multiple disciplines and multiple spaces?
Manuscripts Due: August 15, 2024
For our Field Trips section we are looking to publish a series of short episodes or illustrations about ways in which you’ve used space creatively to engage your students in lasting and memorable learning opportunities. Who is your number one ally in another department? How has your partnership helped expand opportunities for your students? How has your collaboration with this ally changed the landscape of your school?
Submissions Due: November 15, 2024
Speculating from the Middle
Volume 31 of Voices from the Middle draws from the work of Nicole Mirra and Antero Garcia who offer a new approach for blending literacy and civic education in their upcoming book Civics for the World to Come: Committing to Democracy in Every Classroom.
Mirra and Garcia draw upon the lessons of speculative fiction to create a vision of speculative civic literacies that positions all teachers as world-builders who assist students in interrogating the world as it currently exists and in imagining and innovating toward new realities. They argue that amid all of the challenges facing public schools today, from the pandemic to political polarization, the failure of our systems to imagine new educational possibilities is, in fact, the greatest challenge of them all. Mirra and Garcia propose that education should be a tool used to design new futures and that youth must be respected as experts in their communities who are ready and able to create equitable social change. We agree! This volume year, we want to speculate alongside them and examine ways teachers can and do enact their five commitments of world-building civic education: inquiry, storytelling, networking, imagination, and advocacy. Through these commitments, we can empower young people to build a joyful, just, and interconnected world.
Interrogating the World through Inquiry (September 2023)
Why are things this way? In order to speculate about possible futures, it is important for youth to first understand how structures came to exist and who benefits from those structures. And it is vital that teachers create space for students to ask their own questions. So how do we make that space? How do we assist students in drawing upon their own lived experiences to frame questions that allow them to speculate about possible futures? In this issue, we invite you to share your approaches to using inquiry in and out of the classroom to help students interrogate the world. What questions do you use to guide your interrogation of your own curriculum? How do you assist students in formulating the questions they most want to explore? How can you structure learning experiences that use inquiry to shape how students interact with the world? What role does critical pedagogy play in these processes? How do you extend learning beyond the classroom and create authentic opportunities for students to explore their questions with community partners?
Manuscripts no longer accepted.
Stories of Inquiry
Story connects humans together. We learn new perspectives and ways of being through story. Speculative literacies are about reimagining and telling new stories, but they are also about listening to stories of the past. Through story, we can learn new questions to ask. So we ask you, what stories can you share about students’ experiences with inquiry? Who can you highlight? What did you or your students learn? How do the stories your students share shape your teaching practice? What lessons have you learned from your students through stories? How have the stories of your colleagues inspired your work and teaching craft? We invite you to share those stories in short, narrative pieces of 500–750 words.
Manuscripts no longer accepted.
Gaining Perspective through Networking (December 2023)
Networking means connecting human to human, whether face-to-face or online. Inquiry cannot happen in isolation. It requires people to come together, considering “what ifs” in ways we cannot speculate on our own. Digital tools can allow us to connect to people who in the past we never knew existed. They can allow us to forge new relationships and understandings, to gain a broader perspective of our local communities and the wider world. Yet, so often, schools shut down those avenues, limiting students’ access to other ideas. How can we push against these constraints so that students can interact with others around the world in safe but meaningful ways? How can we leverage networking to help students become interactive, productive citizens? We invite you to explore with us the possibilities of networking. How can we network with our local communities to ask questions that are meaningful to our neighbors? What tools and skills can we use to effectively connect our students to others around the world? How do we build our own networks to reimagine our own practices and build new pedagogies? How do we use networking to amplify student inquiry? How do we find fissures within structures that limit networking in order to teach our students how to effectively interact with others? How can networking be used to speculate new worlds?
Manuscripts no longer accepted.
Stories of Networking
In this issue, we continue to use story to connect humans together. Through networking, we can learn others’ stories. What stories have you or your students learned through networking? What stories can you share about students’ experiences with networking? Who can you highlight? What did you or your students learn? What have you learned from your students’ experiences and stories? We invite you to share those stories in short, narrative pieces of 500–750 words.
Manuscripts no longer accepted.
Building Change through Advocacy (May 2024)
Advocacy allows students to move from speculation to action. As Mirra and Garcia remind us, schools are connected to communities, which means that civic learning and engagement cannot be confined to the classroom. Students must be encouraged to take their ideas into the neighborhoods to which they belong. So, how do we, as educators, weave advocacy into the fabric of our classrooms? How do we help our students enact their imaginations to make change in the world? In this issue, we are advocating for a new approach to pedagogy that centers students as changemakers. Thus, we ask you to share how you integrate advocacy into your curriculum. How do you provide students with avenues for communicating their ideas with stakeholders in the community? Where do you model advocacy for your students? What role do youth activists play in your curriculum, and how do you help students see themselves using their voices in similar ways? How do you use genres such as protest art to model various ways to advocate within the community? What changes have been made due to students’ actions?
Manuscripts no longer accepted.
Stories of Advocacy
In this issue, we celebrate stories of advocacy. Where have students found platforms to push for change? What stories can you share about students’ experiences with advocacy? Who can you highlight? What did you or your students learn? We invite you to share those stories in short, narrative pieces of 500–750 words.
Submissions Due: November 15, 2023