Author Biographies

Jacqueline B. Koonce is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Koonce’s work has appeared in the International Journal of Multicultural Education, The Qualitative Report, the Journal of Literacy and Technology, Annual Editions: Multicultural Education, 17th Edition; Journal of Language & Literacy Education; and the Language Arts Journal of Michigan. Her current research focuses on early literacy development and the impact of caring on all students, but particularly, students of color. She is also studying African American women’s language and literacy practices. She can be reached at BMain 2.110; Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies; UTRGV; One West University Boulevard; Brownsville, Texas 78520; USA. E-mail: jacqueline.koonce@utrgv.edu.

In her 19 years of service in public education, Melissa has taught 8th and 9th grade English Language Arts, English methods and adolescent literacy courses to teacher candidates, and served as a field instructor for teacher interns. She has conducted and published research in the areas of struggling readers, struggling writers, and parental involvement in student writing. After serving as a K-12 Literacy Consultant for a public school district, she now serves as the Coordinator of Instruction for an educational service agency supporting 14 school districts. Melissa helps to create teacher instructional leaders by supporting and forming networks for ongoing professional development around literacy and equity in instruction.

Kathleen Gibson is an elementary teacher in the Ann Arbor Public School District in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a teacher-leader in SOEL who, through her Teacher Action Research, helps colleagues with their writing pedagogy in her school.


Whitacre (2019) and Curtis (2017) found that participants’ efficacy impacted their writing instruction and ability to engage students. We share our experiences with a professional development program aimed to improve teacher efficacy and literacy of elementary teachers. In this professional learning network, the Study of Early Literacy (SOEL), a higher percentage of teachers reported to a Hanover Research survey that they felt less confident in teaching writing than other areas of literacy. To address this need, one of the authors developed a subgroup to specifically address the teaching of writing with an inquiry-based action research component. Most of the teachers in this group reported greater teacher efficacy, student motivation, and student achievement after this year of intentional teacher research.

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