Emily Neil Skinner and
Margaret Carmody Hagood
This fall marks the debut of a new editorial team for the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (JAAL), the International Reading Association’s premier research publication for literacy professionals focused on readers in the middle school grades and beyond. Margaret Carmody Hagood and Emily Neil Skinner, both of the College of Charleston, South Carolina, have been adjudicating JAAL article submissions for the better part of a year. As of this writing they report that the submission pipeline is thriving and that enough accepted articles have been processed to fill the first five issues.
Hagood and Skinner, who were appointed to the JAAL editorship in 2011 by the IRA Board of Directors, bring a bold new vision to the journal. They aim to position it as the central resource for a literacy community challenged both by integrating emergent technologies in instruction and by improving foundational literacies. They strive to provide a multitude of perspectives on current relevant topics such as the pressures of the new Common Core State Standards designed to insure college and career readiness. Their approach, evidenced in the content and component elements of the redesigned publication, is to refract the concepts of text and literacies into the spectrum of concurrent issues which teachers and researchers must address every day.
Prismatic Scope of Topical Coverage
To Hagood and Skinner, “text” as a focus category for the literacy community is not one thing but many, including print-based and digital, personal, and professional. Likewise literacy is not merely reading, but also writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and designing.
What’s more, the prismatic scope of their topical coverage is firmly grounded in a strong emphasis on praxis. They prize above all pieces where clear and detailed strategies for practical implementation are buttressed by quality research and supporting theory.
True to form, they have been accepting multimodal articles in which print text is supported by video elements and other items made available online. Most of all, Hagood and Skinner have an innate appreciation of the often overlooked reality that all media is, by definition, social. They are keen to position the new JAAL at the center of a professional literacy community that is in continual dialogue about critical issues and best practices.
Forming a Participatory Culture
In their inaugural editorial, the editors lay out the general vision that will drive their efforts: “Our vision for JAAL is grounded in connecting contexts (e.g., local and global), stakeholders (e.g., policymakers, scholars, and practitioners), and literacies (e.g., foundational, print-based, and new digital).”
Hagood and Skinner imagine JAAL as a participatory culture (Jenkins 2006) where JAAL readers not only consume content but also produce new ideas through conversations. In this way, they explain, “JAAL will serve as a forum for discussion of innovative research and practical applications to address content, motivation, engagement, and assessment of diverse populations of literacy learners in print and online formats.” They emphasize that JAAL will have a balance of coverage between print and digital literacy.
Multimodal and Social Media Support
Hagood and Skinner welcome multimodal texts such as video that accompany authors’ print submissions. So far the invitation has been a growing success, for they report that there is at least one video component for each journal issue they have completed. Short podcasts highlighting journal article content are also in the works. Moreover, the editors want everyone to know that JAAL has a new Facebook page.
“Please ‘Like’ us and join in the conversation,” they ask. (The link is given in the sidebar to this article.) Hagood and Skinner have regularly been posting resources and queries on Facebook and are grateful to JAAL subscribers who have already posted responses, shared resources, and initiated inquiries.
New Features and Departments
Hagood and Skinner seek to accomplish their new vision, in part, by means of several new features and which they have instituted in the journal. These include:
- Meeting of the Minds, a column bringing together print and online communities, drawing on Facebook conversations, and readers’ dialogue on previous JAAL content and related literacy topics.
- Literacy Lenses, short first person nonacademic essays that spotlight diverse perspectives on teaching and learning literacies. The editors hope to have pieces from middle and high school teachers, media specialists, librarians, literacy coaches, curriculum specialists, administrators, pre-service teachers, and adolescent and adult learners.
Four new departments will also run every other month in JAAL
, each of which will be prepared by an assigned editor. These include:
- Policy and Advocacy, Fenice Boyd, University of Buffalo, Editor
- Content Area/Disciplinary Literacy, Zhuihui Fang, University of Florida, Editor
- Pop Culture/Digital Literacies, Jesse Gainer, Texas State University, Editor
- Multiliteracies: Production and Consumption, Gloria Jacobs, Unaffiliated/Independent Scholar, Editor
Each department editor will organize one “water cooler” column per volume year, in which different stakeholders will be brought together to converse about a specific literacy issue.
Hagood and Skinner are also seeking adolescent and adult submissions of cover art, including photographs and artwork that answers the question “How are literacies enacted in the lives of adolescents and adults and what do they look like?”
Text Review Forum
A new Text Review Forum will focus on the changing face of texts in literacy teaching and learning. Three main text types will be covered by assigned editors:
- Print Based Texts, James Blasingame, Arizona State University, Editor
- Visual and Digital Texts, Gwynne Ash, Texas State University, Editor
- Professional Resources, Roni Jo Draper, Bringham Young University, Editor
Across these three areas, connections will be emphasized between work and pleasure, academic and pop culture, and print and nonprint uses by adolescents and adults to both consume and produce texts.
In sum, the new JAAL is a resource practitioners in the field cannot afford to skip. If you’re not reading JAAL, you’re missing out on the most cutting edge scholarship as well as the opportunity to network within an important community of researchers, teachers, administrators, and others dedicated to improving literacy skills in older students and adults. Don’t be left out. Don’t fall behind. Order your subscription now!
This article was reprinted from the August/September 2012 issue of Reading Today. IRA members can read the interactive digital version of the magazine. Nonmembers: join today!