The Teacher's Desk

Jacquie's Gold Stars

Clip art image of a gold star

Each month I honor an individual, team, program, school, or piece of legislation that is helping to promote a quality education for kids. I welcome your nomination for this honor, and I will consider thoughtfully any name(s) you recommend. You can use the "Contact " link to make a nomination. Please explain why you think your nominee should be honored, and let me know how I can contact you for verification. And if you're one of a group that has gone the extra mile, tell me about it. It doesn't hurt to blow your own horn once in awhile. And besides, nobody will ever accuse you of bragging because I don't ever reveal the nominator's name.


March Gold Stars go to...

Stacey Shubitz
Anna Gratz Cockerille
Betsy Hubbard
Beth Moore
Dana Murphy
Tara Smith

Much of what I know about the teaching of writing came through these six remarkable ladies — and that is NOT hyperbole. These gals, along with occasional guest contributors, publish a daily blog solely devoted to the teaching of writing. I urge you to check them out at And while you're there, you may want to sign on to receive their daily post via email — along with the 21,631 educators who are already on the list.

Now, without further ado, let me introduce you to these very talented and energetic writing teachers.

Stacey Shubitz is a certified literacy specialist who consults with public school districts and independent schools that support teachers with balanced literacy instruction. She is a former classroom teacher who taught fifth grade at P.S. 171 in East Harlem, NY and fourth grade at The Learning Community in Central Falls, RI. Additionally, Stacey has worked as an adjunct professor at Penn State — Harrisburg.

Stacey is the co-author of Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice (Stenhouse, 2010). She's presently writing a second book for Stenhouse, with the working title of Craft Moves: How to Use Mentor Texts in the Classroom. She has a M.A. in Literacy Education from Teachers College at Columbia University and a M.S. Ed. in Childhood Education from Hunter College of the City of New York. A Kappa Delta Pi Teacher of Honor, Stacey presents at local, state, and national conferences and has published articles published in Instructor Magazine. She is also on the editorial review board for The Language and Literacy Spectrum, the New York State Reading Association's Journal.

Anna Gratz Cockerille is an editor for Heinemann Publishing. In addition, Anna blogs, writes for journals, and consults in schools. She lives with her family in New York City.

Anna has taught in K-8 classrooms all over the world in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; and Auckland, New Zealand. Anna has been a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP) and an adjunct instructor for the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College. She frequently presents at TCRWP institutes, where she helps teachers and administrators learn balanced literacy and reading and writing workshop fundamentals. She also presents at national conferences, such as NCTE and IRA (now ILA) Conventions. Anna also conducts on-site staff development in schools, helping teachers hone their balanced literacy practices.

Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction in the Reading Units of Study series (Heinemann, 2010). Anna is branching out into writing for children. Her article, "Different Voices", about the Children's Crusade in Birmingham, 1963, appears in the October 2013 issue of Appleseeds magazine. Anna can also be found blogging at AnnaGCockerille Literacy and tweeting at @AnnaGCockerille.

Betsy Hubbard is a certified early childhood educator. She received her B.A. in Early Childhood Education in 2001. Her teaching career began in Kalamazoo, MI with preschool and kindergarten students. She has continued to teach early and primary grades and is currently a K/1 looping teacher in Olivet, Michigan. She is a poetry advocate and would like to see more educators share a poetry appreciation with their students. Betsy is the creator of Chalk-A-Bration, a monthly celebration of poetry and poem illustrations using chalk. She loves music, running and blowing on dandelions. She is a wife and mother residing in Battle Creek, Michigan. Betsy can also be found at I Think in Poems, Teaching Young Writers, and on Twitter @Betsy writes.

Dana Murphy is a Literacy Coach in Midlothian School District 143, located in the south suburbs of Chicago. After teaching in the classroom for nearly 10 years, Dana is currently embracing her role as Literacy Coach in a K-8 building. Dana holds both a B.A. in Elementary Education and a M.A. in Educational Administration from Governors State University in Illinois. She also serves on the board of the local chapter of the Illinois Reading Council. Dana resides in Illinois with her husband and two daughters.

Tara Smith teaches sixth grade Language Arts, Writing Workshop and Social Studies at a middle school in suburban New Jersey. Before becoming a teacher she was an editor and the mother of three. And before she was either of those, she was an avid reader and writer and history devotee. She says these experiences informed and enriched her teaching practices, as well as her thinking and writing about teaching practices. Tara is currently collaborating with contributor Bonnie Kaplan on a multi-media documentation of integrating the "Slice of Life" writing into writing workshop. She also blogs about her teaching experiences at A Teaching Life.

Jacquie McTaggart is deeply indebted to these six ladies. If it weren't for them, I could not (would not) be teaching summer workshops on the teaching of writing, nor would I be speaking about the craft of writing at teacher's conferences. As you know, all areas of the curriculum are taught (or should be) much differently than they were when I was in the classroom full-time. I try very hard to keep current on the latest research regarding the teaching of writing, and to be knowledgeable about what works and what doesn't work in the classroom. This month's Gold Star recipients have helped me meet my objective. Thank you, ladies. I couldn't have done it without you.

smiling star

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