We had an unbelievable response to the call we put out in February for new co-authors and contributing writers. It’s my pleasure to announce our new team members.Each of them will bring something different to this blog. I’m confident you’ll connect with them in a unique way. But first, I want to share some shifts in our present team.
I’m delighted to announce that Lainie Levin, who joined TWT as a contributing writer last year, is now a co-author. Lainie is a language arts specialist who serves the needs of gifted/talented elementary school students. As you may know from reading her existing TWT posts, she’s a passionate educator and an excellent storyteller. I’m thrilled that all of us will get to learn from Lainie more often now that she’s a co-author.
After seven years of being an outstanding collaborator on Two Writing Teachers, Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski has decided to transition from co-author to contributing writer at the end of July. Kathleen reimagined and strengthened the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge a few years ago. She will work with one of our new co-authors to continue making the annual Classroom SOLSC a meaningful experience for students. As a contributing writer, we’ll continue to learn from Kathleen’s expertise as a third-grade teacher, but on a more limited basis.
Regretfully, Therapi Kaplan is departing our team as a contributing writer. (Click here to read Therapi’s past posts, which have focused on topics such as essay writing, note-taking, supporting EAL students, and vocabulary development.
We’re welcoming four new co-authors to our team. In addition to sharing regular blog posts, the co-author team collaborates on three blog series weeks each year and shares co-hosting responsibilities for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.
Morgan Davis is a K-5 Instructional Coach in Golden, CO. As a coach, she strives to align her practices to the workshop experience, including whole-group anchor experiences, small-group learning communities, and one-on-one coaching cycles. It is through these parallel practices and her willingness to dive into the work teachers are doing that she learns (and coaches) best.
Growing up, she always wanted to be a teacher and earned her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Elementary Education from Regis University in Denver in 2002. However, Morgan’s passion for teaching writers was ignited when she experienced workshop for herself while pursuing a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2008.
Since then, she has shared her love of literacy with her own elementary-aged students as well as with colleagues within her district and across the state of Colorado. She specializes in the design of learning experiences that engage educators as adult readers and writers even as they plan for their own students. Her favorite workshops include, of course, writer’s workshop, as well as mentor texts, writing to learn, and conferring with student writers.
Morgan is working on a professional manuscript about the integration of content and strategy in literacy instruction. She has been piloting these ideas as well as a framework for whole-group reading and writing-to-learn strategies at Denver’s annual CCIRA conference as well as local council meetings since 2016.
Leah Koch began her career in second grade, and now teaches kindergarten in St. Louis. MO. Leah holds a B.A. from Graceland University in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Reading, in addition to a MSEd from Missouri State University in Elementary Education with a Literacy Certificate. She credits the TCRWP Summer institutes with helping to form her philosophy of literacy and love for the workshop model.
Leah is passionate about honoring student voice and identity through writing. She believes that in order for children to see themselves as writers, they deserve trust and autonomy to learn more about themselves and their writing process. If students can identify as authors, the motivation, skills, and craft will follow!
Leah is energized to join the Two Writing Teachers team. She feels the best PD is learning from other teachers and is excited to support and learn from educators through TWT. You can find Leah on Twitter @LeahKoch_.
Jenna Komarin is a Head English teacher in a bilingual English / Chinese Kindergarten classroom at Avenues: The World School in New York City. This is her tenth year teaching Kindergarten and her third year at Avenues. Jenna has previously taught in both charter school and public school settings in NY and NJ.
Jenna prioritizes play and self-expression as essential components of her teaching. She particularly loves teaching the writing workshop at the Kindergarten level because young children are such natural storytellers, unselfconscious illustrators, and prolific ‘makers’ of all sorts of things.
As an educator, Jenna endeavors to create a tolerant and mindful learning community in which children are encouraged to think for themselves, explore their creative and intellectual passions, collaborate authentically with classmates, solve real-world problems together, and share their learning and hard work with others. She believes that when children are given opportunities to wonder, ask questions, make discoveries, and think critically about the world around them, they gain vital habits of mind that guide them in the pursuit of knowledge and inquiry for the rest of their lives.
Jenna holds a BA in Art History from Smith College and an MAT in Elementary Education from Brown University. She lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and young daughter. This is Jenna’s first blogging experience and she is so excited to learn and grow from the Two Writing Teachers community of passionate educators and writers.
Sarah Valter is the district Literacy Coordinator for Lindbergh Schools in St. Louis, MO. In her two decades in education, Sarah has taught in the primary and intermediate grades, mentored new teachers, coached at the building and district levels, and led professional development in literacy. She is also an adjunct instructor at St. Louis University, working with undergraduate and graduate students. She believes strongly that all children and adults should not only have the skills to read and write, but also the motivation to live as lifelong readers and writers.
Sarah holds a BA in Early Childhood Education and Psychology from St. Louis University, a MEd in K-12 Special Reading from Maryville University, and an EdD in Teacher Leadership from Maryville University. She is also National Board Certified in Early and Middle Childhood Literacy: Reading-Language Arts. She is a longtime member of the International Literacy Association, serving as chair of the Social Media Committee for the Missouri Literacy Association. She was also a co-recipient of the ILA Teacher as Researcher Award for her work with Novel Engineering and is currently on the Practitioner Review Board for The Reading Teacher.
Sarah is a wife and mother, spending her evenings driving from practice to practice and her weekends cheering in audiences or on the sidelines. You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @LitCoachValter or on her blog Read.Reflect.Teach.
We are welcoming four new contributing writers to our team. Contributing writers share about eight posts per year on Two Writing Teachers.
Jessica Carey has worked as an educator in Westport, CT since 2005. She began her career as a classroom teacher where she fell in love with helping her students grow to see themselves as readers and writers. Jessica’s love for literacy is alive every day. She shares that love with her three daughters, her husband, and everyone she meets. Jessica is currently a K-5 literacy coach, working alongside passionate educators, and championing children daily. She believes in discovery, collaboration, and community. Her favorite place to be is working in classrooms, alongside teachers and children.
Jessica holds a B.A in Elementary and Special Education from Providence College, as well as, a Masters and Sixth Year in Literacy from Sacred Heart University. She is a regular contributor to the Teachers | Books | Readers blog. You can connect with Jessica, and get a glimpse into her life as a mom, wife, and coach on her blog, Where There’s Joy, or Twitter, @jcareyreads.
Shawnda Fukano is a primary literacy coach at Mount View Elementary, a dual-language school in the Highline School District in Seattle, Washington. She supports teachers and students in both English and Spanish classrooms as they develop biliteracy. Shawnda has had a passion for educating multilingual learners since she began teaching in 2004. She spent many years as a classroom teacher for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade newcomers, and was then the Dual Language Coordinator when her school first transitioned to the dual-language program. She also taught English to adult refugees from Burma for several years.
Shawnda has always loved writing. She grew up filling spiral notebooks with the chapter books she was constantly composing. As an educator, writing is her favorite subject to teach and coach because of the intimate way you get to know students through their writing, as well as the confidence students gain when they find their voice as a writer.
Shawnda has a B.A. in Spanish, Sociology, and Elementary Education from the University of Denver. She earned her ELL endorsement and advanced TESOL Certification from Seattle University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in English as a New Language and is an OCDE Project GLAD® Trainer. Shawnda lives in Seattle with her husband, son, and twin daughters and writes slices of her life as a mom and teacher at ShawndaStories or follow her on Twitter @ShawndaFukano.
Pam Koutrakos is an experienced and enthusiastic educator known for her positive outlook and energy. She has worked in PreK-8 education for over twenty years in roles including classroom teacher, interventionist, literacy coach, instructional coach, and consultant. Pam currently works in New Jersey as an instructional coach, collaborating with teachers and students in all subject areas. She also supports numerous school communities as an educational consultant. Pam finds extraordinary joy and fulfillment in partnering with students and educators as they connect, work, and play in schools each day.
As an undergraduate at Rutgers University, Pam focused on Psychology and English. After graduation, she completed a post-bachelor teacher certification program at Oglethorpe University. Later, Pam pursued her M.Ed. in Language Arts Literacy. She also holds a Supervisory Certificate and has completed additional graduate coursework in special education. Pam is the author of Word Study That Sticks: Best Practices K-6), The Word Study That Sticks Companion: Classroom-Ready Tools for Teachers and Students, K-6, and Mentor Texts That Multitask: A Less-Is-More Approach to Integrated Literacy Instruction, K-8. Pam has blogged for ILA, NCTE, CCIRA, Peter Reynold’s Word Collectors, Learning Without Tears, MiddleWeb, Gravity Goldberg LLC, Two Writing Teachers, and Corwin Connect. She regularly presents at conferences and events across the country. Connect with Pam on Twitter (@PamKou), Instagram (@Pam.Kou), and LinkedIn.
Krista McGowan is an international educator, currently teaching grade six humanities in Nairobi. 18 years ago, she began her teaching career in Washington State and has since taught in Taiwan, China, and now in Kenya. Krista attended George Fox University, receiving her Bachelor’s in International Studies. After traveling the world, she leaned into her passions and obtained a Post Bac in Elementary Education from Western Washington University. Krista taught five years in public schools and then made the leap to teach abroad. At the start of this journey, she completed her Masters of Science in Curriculum and Instruction at Western Governors University. She also received her International Literacy Coach license through NESA.
A passionate learner, Krista continues to hone her practice in reading and writing workshop through various professional development opportunities such as institutes with TCRWP and UNH. Krista has led workshops around incorporating notebooking across the curriculum and has published experiences of her transdisciplinary work in the EARCOS Journal. Krista has also served as an EAL coordinator in a K-12 setting, and was instrumental in developing an EAL program while in Taiwan. During her time as an instructional coach in Beijing, Krista supported the implementation of writing and reading workshop within the middle school.
Krista lived the life of a writer from a young age. At six years old, she home published her first story when her mother taught her how to hand bind books. From that day on, she was hooked on writing. Krista’s love of writing was supported and encouraged by her grade 7 English teacher, Mrs. Wark, who introduced her to keeping a writing journal. Krista’s practice of keeping a writing notebook continues to this day and is a cornerstone of her teaching practice.
Today, Krista is a strong advocate for all learners, beginning with her two internationally adopted daughters, one of whom is deaf. She is inspired by students, such as her own daughter, who don’t always have the language to share the beautiful stories that live within them. Krista’s passion lies with engaging striving writers and helping them develop confidence in their writing, while also bringing themes of equity and social justice into her work.
Krista cherishes summers spent in the Pacific Northwest with family. As each June arrives, thoughts of slowly drizzling rain, long hikes through the forest, and strong cups of coffee call her home to Bellingham.
You can find Krista on Twitter @kristamcgowan14 and on her blog, McGowan’s Mutterings: A Middle School Teacher’s Rambling Thoughts.
To recap: Our co-author team is now be comprised of me, Betsy Hubbard, Beth Moore, Melanie Meehan, Amy Ellerman, Lainie Levin, Morgan Davis, Leah Koch, Jenna Komarin, and Sarah Valter. Our contributing writers are Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski, Nawal Qarooni, Jessica Carey, Shawnda Fukano, Pam Koutrakos, and Krista McGowan.
While our team has nearly doubled in size, you can expect many things to stay the same here at TWT: We’ll continue to host a blog series around a specific topic three times each year. (We’ll be meeting soon to discuss our August blog series.) The Slice of Life Story Challenge will continue on Tuesdays year-round and for all 31 days of March. Finally, this blog will continue to be a place:
- For teachers to be fueled with a passion for teaching, writing, and living.
- For teachers to see the latest in research and ways to apply it in their classrooms.
- For us to “practice what we preach” by sharing our own writing.
- To bring writing teachers together to share ideas and stretch each other’s thinking.
- To reflect on our teaching – celebrating when it goes well and working it out when it doesn’t.
I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).
I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.