FUTURE READY LEARNING
A Glance Inside
The North Carolina Middle School Journal publishes manuscripts on all topics related to the education of young adolescent learners. During 2012 we received a number of submissions and are pleased to offer you four for your consideration. Allow me to highlight some of our reviewers comments about the articles in this issue of NCMSJ.
Slack, Johnson, Dodor and Woods employ a quantitative methodology that is appropriate for the measures of effectiveness applied to a mentor program. Their work, “Mentoring 'At Risk' Middle Schools Students: Strategies for Effective Practice.” is certainly of interest to middle grades educators. The effective strategies gleaned from their study are relevant not only to formal mentors but to adult educators working with young people in middle grades schools. Strategies for working with students at-risk are certainly relevant to teachers in North Carolina. The specific recommendations and strategies for mentors working with at-risk youth which they offer are clear and helpful.
In “Empowering Teachers and Students Using Literature Discussion Groups: Escaping the Straitjacket of Mandated Assessment” Pittman and Schlichting present their findings from an action research project they conducted on literature discussion groups within a seventh grade class. These authors have good information to share. The types of activities they have developed and the responses from students suggest a vibrant community of readers. They offer teachers who have not used LDGs a compelling reason to explore the option in their teaching practice. They conclude that LDGs improve student learning, assist with motivation, and enable teachers to meet the expectations of the Common Core Standards in Language Arts.
In their article entitled “Middle Schools: Lessons Learned from the Process of Improvement,” Townsend and Brown provide a relevant qualitative program intervention case study. Their emphasis on the importance of collaborative leadership and support to improve student achievement is consistent with the increasing development of professional learning communities in low-performing middle schools. The findings and recommendations are congruent with the power of effective school leadership and positive school cultures. The linkages between the school and the district, as well as the community, highlight the significance of initiating and implementing structures and processes to ensure a high quality PLC as part of the program intervention.
With “Hybrid and Sustainable: An Appalachian Model for Developing Online Teaching and Learning” Smith does exactly what she said she would do, “describe” their new program. Smith offers a nice starting point to help guide other teacher education programs finding themselves with reduced enrollments. Included in this article are appendices which outline specific topics used by Smith and her colleagues in professional development. Data from their faculty discussion forum helps the reader see the nature of their conversations and thinking more clearly. While still in its early stage, Smith shares with us her conviction that it is the right way to go. She assures us that she and her colleagues will continue to keep good data and make improvements as the program unfolds.
Please feel free to engage in continued dialogue with these authors. E-mail addresses are included at the end of each article.
Kathleen Roney, Editor
Professor, Watson School of Education
University of North Carolina Wilmington