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ERIC Number: EJ915528
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-0094-0771
"Way-In" Books Encourage Exploration in Middle Grades Classrooms
Bintz, William P.
Middle School Journal (J3), v42 n3 p34-45 Jan 2011
Developing and implementing curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory is central to successful middle grades education (Erb, 2005; Jackson & Davis, 2000; National Middle School Association [NMSA], 2003, 2010). However, as one language arts teacher suggests, it can be difficult to create curricula that meet these criteria and engage students. This teacher is a good example of a reflective practitioner who understands the difficulty of engaging unmotivated students and the challenge of sparking interest in learning content area material that they believe is uninteresting or irrelevant. This teacher is an inquirer driven by a question all middle grades educators should consider: When addressing student motivation and engagement, is the curriculum a problem, a solution, or both? This article was inspired by this language arts teacher's inquiry. It focuses on the exploratory aspect of effective middle grades curriculum and describes "way-in" books as a tool for encouraging student exploration of content in all subject areas (Keene & Zimmerman, 1997). "Way-in" books are high-quality, often award-winning texts that provide students a "way in"--an unexpected entry into a world of topics they might find interesting to explore. This article describes how these books can be used to support student exploration across the curriculum. The author shares his collections of "way-in" books, organized by content area, along with strategies for using them in the classroom. (Contains 16 figures.)
National Middle School Association. 4151 Executive Parkway Suite 300, Westerville, OH 43081. Tel: 800-528-6672; Tel: 800-528-6672; Fax: 614-895-4750; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Intermediate Grades; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A