Tanya S. Wright
SOLID Start Project
Tanya S. Wright is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Dr. Wright is a former kindergarten teacher whose research and teaching focus on curriculum, instruction, and policy in language and literacy during the early childhood and elementary years. Her research examines instruction that promotes oral language, vocabulary, and knowledge development for young children. Dr. Wright is co-author of several books for teachers and parents. Her work has been published in journals such as American Educator, The Elementary School Journal, The Reading Teacher, Reading and Writing, Reading Research Quarterly, the Journal of Literacy Research and the Journal of Teacher Education. Dr. Wright’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and the CREATE for STEM foundation at MSU.
Amelia Wenk Gotwals
SOLID Start Project
Amelia Wenk Gotwals is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She is a former middle school science teacher whose research and teaching focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment in science in elementary and middle school. Her research examines how students learn to engage in science practices with core ideas and the ways that curriculum and assessment materials interact with teacher instruction to support student learning. Gotwals has been PI or co-PI on multiple National Science Foundation and Michigan Department of Education grants and her work has been published in journals such as Science Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and Journal of Teacher Education.
Debra Simon is the Project Manager for the SOLID Start Research Study and a former pre-school teacher. Her interests are in Early Childhood Education and she majored in accounting. The perfect combination for tracking and organizing all the different components of our research.
Amber S. Bismack
Amber S. Bismack is a postdoctoral research associate on the SOLID Start project. Her research interests include studying how teacher education and curriculum materials can support knowledge and practices for equitable elementary science teaching. In particular, she is interested in how teachers develop their knowledge of students’ race, gender, and identities in relation to science and their knowledge of how science relates to social, historical, and political contexts.
Arianna Pikus is a doctoral candidate on the SOLID Start project. Her research is focused on early childhood science education. Specifically, her work focuses on improving science in preschool classrooms through professional development and curriculum materials. She is a former outdoor/environmental educator and preschool teacher.
Samantha Richar is a doctoral student on the SOLID Start project. Her research interests are in elementary science education. Specifically, Samantha is interested in the integration of engineering and computer science in the elementary science classroom. She is a former middle school science and K-5 STEM teacher.
JoAnne West is a doctoral student and research assistant on the SOLID Start project. Her research interests are children’s writing across genres and teacher instructional practices in early litearcy, specifically writing instruction. As a former Kindergarten teacher and instructional coach, JoAnne is particularly interested in how early elementary children use genre knowledge to compose texts across genres for specific audiences, and how teachers’ literacy instruction supports genre knowledge. She views writing as a way of valuing childrens’ individual voices and experiences and as a way to support children’s integration of component literacy skills.
Former Curriculum Developers
Blythe Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Buffalo, SUNY. Her research focuses on instructional practices, professional development, and curriculum that promote oral language and vocabulary development. Specifically, Blythe is interested in generative approaches to vocabulary instruction that promote curiosity for and interest in words and support students with developing tools for independent word learning.
Ellen Daugherty Durr is a curriculum consultant on the SOLID Start project. She has a M.A. in Literacy Instruction from Michigan State University, and is a former first and second grade teacher. As a curriculum writer, she contributed to Scholastic’s Information In Action and Buzz About IT.
Lisa Domke is an assistant professor of language and (bi)literacy education in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University. Her research interests center around biliteracy – specifically, how elementary children develop reading and oral language skills in multiple languages. She also has interests in children’s literature and disciplinary literacy with a focus on language learners. She received her Ph.D. at Michigan State University and contributed to work related to teacher professional development and curriculum development for SOLID Start.
Kirsten Edwards is a doctoral candidate and former research assistant on the SOLID Start project. Her research focus is on designing high-quality science learning environments that integrate support for literacy. On the SOLID Start project, she contributed to the development of the curriculum units and to studying their enactment in classrooms.
Christa Haverly is a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University working with James Spillane on a research study investigating how school systems are designed across the United States to support standards-based reform efforts in elementary science. She received her Ph.D. at Michigan State University, specializing in elementary science teacher education with a focus on equity. In particular, her research focuses on how elementary teachers notice and respond to students’ scientific sense-making as well as their cultural repertoires of practice in the classroom. While at MSU, she contributed to the curriculum development work on SOLID Start.
Eleanor Kenimer is a former graduate assistant on the SOLID Start project. Her research interests are in informal science education for elementary aged youth. She has worked in outdoor and environmental education and is interested specifically in how informal educators in these settings learn to teach.
Former Undergraduate Student
Madeline Korte is a former research assistant on the SOLID Start project. She is a second year undergraduate student studying Elementary Education with a focus in social science. Madeline is specifically interested in how curriculums and professional development courses are developed, and the ways teachers interact with early elementary students to create meaningful discussion about science.