Subscribers should prepare themselves before heading to the mailbox. The excitement could be overwhelming.
Thrilling changes and new features are in store for The Reading Teacher, IRA’s most prominent journal and the best-known resource for classroom teachers in the elementary and middle school grades. A new editorial team has been vetting submissions over the past year and also working on a graphic redesign. As subscribers will soon discover, the new look is bold and the content sizzles.
The inaugural issue, which releases in September, includes a treasure trove of classroom strategies and teaching tips that can be readily utilized as teachers start the new school year. Insightful and easy-to-read articles authored by active teachers and leading literacy professionals provide lots of takeaways for new and experienced teachers alike. Book lists, schematic action charts, sample student work, online screen shots, and helpful links, offer only a glimpse of the resources that The Reading Teacher provides, and it’s all presented with the classroom in mind.
Strict Focus on the Practical
According to the editors, Diane Barone, University of Nevada, Reno, and Marla Mallette, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, RT’s focus has been deliberately adjusted. Barone and Mallette say they will continue to seek “well-written, original descriptions of research based instruction that improves literacy learning of children through age 12,” but the articles will be written with a different intention.
RT will now stress the practical application of research-supported strategies in the classroom, while deemphasizing the kind of theoretical analysis that is more properly found in hard core research journals such as IRA’s own Reading Research Quarterly. As Barone and Mallette explain in their opening editorial, the journal will “focus more on the application of research than original research.” The result is a journal filled with tools that can be applied directly to the classroom, just in time for school to begin.
Solutions that Address Pressing Needs
When you’re standing in front of your class, chances are you’re not dwelling too much on theory. Exploiting the teachable moment often requires a carefully considered game plan with a variety of strategic options that can be deployed as circumstances warrant and as the rigor of differentiated instruction demands.
But you also want the confidence that comes from knowing that the approaches you’re using have strong support in research.
The new RT takes you right there in a flash. In the first issue, you’ll find important guidance, analysis, and suggestions for dealing with a slew of challenges, including:
• Developing author voice in your own students
• Making better use of children’s literature
• Using structured shared reading routines to help learners with developmental disabilities
• Using Vocabulary Quilts to build word knowledge in English learners
• Seeing the pitfalls in assessment systems biased toward constrained skills
• Teaching mathematical measurement with literature
• Using Word Walk to enhance vocabulary instruction of young children
A “Wow!” Feature for New Teachers
If you’re new to teaching, you won’t want to miss the next volume year of RT. Barone and Mallette have come up with a special feature, The Inside Track, in which a number of the literacy field’s leading figures will offer practical, plain-English guidance and suggestions to you on how to approach key issues in your classroom pedagogy and professional development.
Authors of The Inside Track series have been carefully selected by special invitation of the editors. Each expert author was charged with answering the question: “What are the most important things every literacy educator should know about (blank)?” Leading off in the September issue, Nell Duke, Michigan State, and Nicole Martin, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, respond on the crucial subject of research.
Want to know who’s coming in the rest of the lineup? You’ll have to subscribe to RT!
These changes alone would make RT a peerless resource, but there’s still more to the exciting publishing plan the editors have prepared. Barone and Mallette believe very strongly that RT must address “the most critical issues that need to be brought before the journal’s readership in the next two to five years.”
To round out the coverage, they have decided on six departments, and invited dynamic,
highly regarded and insightful scholars to serve as the supervising editors. Two of these items will run in each issue. The roster reads as follows:
• Integrating Children’s Literature – Frank Serrafini
• Research Into Practice – Katherine Stahl
• Literacy and Language Learners – James Cummins
• From the Start: The Effective Reading Teacher – Kathleen Roskos and Susan Neuman
• Perspectives on RTI – Karen Wixson and Marjorie Lipson
• From Policy to Practice – Norm Stahl
Ideal for In-House PD
All of these adjustments to RT were also made with today’s harsh economic realities in mind. The fact is that many schools and districts will not have funds available in the coming year to invest in the professional development of their teaching staffs. Many schools will be in a position of having to develop in-house programs to make up the difference in the interim.
As the editors will tell you, the new RT is an ideal resource for professional learning communities. Aside from its carefully vetted articles and accentuated practical focus, the new journal has retained the Take Action, More to Explore, Pause and Ponder, Toolkit, and Voice from the Chalkboard features introduced under the prior editorship. “These enhancements are ideal for facilitators and small group leaders, as well as for self-directed development,” Barone and Mallette said.
As for the look and feel of the revamped journal, the editors describe it as “pink vanilla.” Primarily a reference to the color tone that runs through the new graphics, pink vanilla also reflects Barone and Mallette’s perspectives on innovation and continuity in the life of a professional periodical.
Vanilla speaks to RT’s legacy and what continues unbroken in the history of this outstanding journal. Longtime subscribers will enjoy this part of the opening editorial in which Barone and Mallette reflect on the recurring topics the journal has addressed over the many years it has published. The editors acknowledge the paths blazed by their predecessors and include a historical chart listing all of the journal’s editorial teams since its inception.
Pink might suggest a new twist and spin, the novel ingredients that constitute the personal mark this editorship will leave for posterity. In this respect, two changes are immediately evident.
First, the rigid separation of articles from feature and department pieces has been completely eschewed in the layout. Starting in the first issue, these will be totally intermixed. As Barone and Mallette explain, there is no second or third class ranking of content within the journal. “If a piece is in RT, it’s in there because it is important.”
Secondly, the editors have tried as much as possible to avoid the use of stock photographs within the journal and on its cover. “We want to capture authentic literacy moments as they happen in today’s classrooms.” To this end they are soliciting digital photographs taken of actual teachers and students in class. In forwarding files containing images of children, be sure to include the appropriate releases.
Advice for New Teachers: Take The Inside Track
The new RT includes a special year-long series designed specifically for new teachers called The Inside Track. In each issue a leading member of the literacy field will provide easy-to-read professional guidance especially tailored to beginners in a “What are the Most Important Things You Need to Know about (blank)” format. An equivalent access to mentors this notable would be next to impossible to find. The topics lined up for the series include:
• Reading Research
• Classroom Conversations
• New Literacies
• Classroom Organization
Want to Publish a Piece in RT? Here’s What the New Editors Advise
The new editors are adhering to a strict insistence on practical applications in all of the submissions which receive an accepted adjudication after peer review. Consequently, they advise all prospective authors to proceed using one of two basic approaches:
Write a practitioner-oriented article based on previously published research.
If your article is based on your research study, abandon the traditional research report genre, and only include a brief summary of the research methods employed, along with a link to an online research supplement containing a more detailed description.
For an example of the latter approach, see the article on iPED, a new technology for digital text production, in Volume 65 Issue 1 of The Reading Teacher.