WE HELP SCHOOLS REACH THEIR LITERACY POTENTIAL

About Us

We have worked to raise students literacy skills for years, as educators, researchers, and instructional leaders.

Who we are and how we got here

Our Story

Joshua Lawrence and Jacy Ippolito started collaborating ten years ago when they were both working as literacy coaches and researchers in the Boston area. They were approached by the Massachusetts Department of Education to develop a set of materials to support adolescent literacy across the Commonwealth. These materials became the basis for a series of professional development workshops that they offered, which grew into ongoing collaborations with schools across the state, including Brookline, Acton, and Newburyport public schools, among many others. This work has now formed the basis for Reading Ways, a new endeavor —led by Josh Lawrence. Reading Ways works with schools nationwide to grow a network of expert coaches and literacy instructional leaders. Contact Reading Ways at contact@readingways.org for more information.

Our Mission

To ensure high quality literacy instruction in on content areas

We believe that all students should leave secondary school able to use reading and writing to participate effectively in society in a variety of roles, be it as a private individual, citizen, or employees.

Our Goals

To improve reading scores and create a new generation of pupils able and willing to critically engage with texts in digital environments.

To create and sustain a community of teachers who reflect deeply on their practice and push one another to improve it​.

To embed high-quality research based pedagogical tools in schools and classrooms, and to work with teachers to adopt them.

To use a research-based model of higher-order thinking that aligns the instructional mission of teachers across content areas​.

Meet the team

Leadership Team

Joshua Lawrence
https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshflawrence/https://twitter.com/Josh_F_Lawrencehttp://readingresearch.info/

Joshua Lawrence

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Principle Researcher & CEO

Josh Lawrence is currently a Professor at the University of Oslo in the Faculty of Educational Sciences. Since deploying an open-source PHP bulletin board to host “writers' workshops” in middle school classrooms (Fahey, Lawrence, & Paratore, 2007), he has been using online collaborative tools to support teaching and learning. He completed a three-year postdoc at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  During his time there he worked with Catherine Snow and the SERP institute to conduct an evaluation of the Word Generation curriculum. He was subsequently hired in the Language, Literacy and Technology Specialization at the University of California, Irvine School of Education where he published extensively on secondary literacy interventions, literacy and second language development, and technology. He is the lead developer of the OASIS PD Model and creator of Reading Ways. He is also currently the CEO of Reading Ways, a member of the Board of Directors, and the Chair of the Research Advisory Board. You can find out more about his research at http://readingresearch.info/.

Selected grant funding

Selected publications
Jenny Michelle Thorbjørnsen
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennymichelle/https://twitter.com/jennymichelle91

Jenny Michelle Thorbjørnsen

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Director of Digital Strategy and Learning Analytics

Jenny Michelle Thorbjørnsen recently graduated from the Department of Education at the University of Oslo with a Masters's degree in Comparative Education and a thesis on Literacy Plans. Before joining Reading Ways, she served as a substitute teacher at several high schools in Oslo and as a research assistant for Joshua Lawrence on two projects: Understanding Teachers as Designers and Critical Thinking in Middle Schools. Behind the scenes at Reading Ways, Jenny employs her understanding of technology, design, and pedagogy to deliver creative and strategic solutions.  


"I appreciate the way the rest of the Reading Ways team focuses on student’s needs even when working on national or other levels that are more removed from the students. At the end of the day, our goal is to ensure that students are prepared to meet a world in flux - a goal I will continue to work hard towards achieving." - Jenny Michelle 


Selected grant funding
Selected publications

  • Lawrence, J. & Thorbjørnsen, J. (In press) Å utvikle elevers kritiske tenkning gjennom lesing, argumentasjon og debatt. In Bråten, I. (Ed.) Leseforståelse. Oslo: Cappelen Damm akademisk.
  • Thorbjørnsen (2020) European Perspectives on Local Literacy Plans. [Master Thesis]. https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/80469

Erin Kourafas
https://www.linkedin.com/in/erin-kourafas-160bbb109/

Erin Kourafas

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Director of Partner Success

Erin Kourafas has years of experience working with students with disabilities at the secondary and university level. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts of Boston with a Masters degree in Education she transitioned from teaching special education to working with the same population at the university level, most notably establishing a partnership program at Salem State University that offered transition-age students currently enrolled in their high schools a college experience. After moving to Norway, she was eager to remain in the educational field and is delighted to be continuing her work in education. Although a slightly different venture from her past, it fits well with her personal mission to offer support to every student in reading, writing, speaking, and learning across content areas through the building of instructional leadership and disciplinary literacy in schools.  


Selected grant funding
Selected publications
John Fahey

John Fahey

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Director of Business Development

John Fahey is our Director of Business Development and has an extensive background in sales and marketing from the technology industry. John has also held a variety of positions in non-profit organizations and holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Starr-King School for Ministry from the University of California, Berkeley. John is currently a student at the Claremont Graduate University and is an active member of the Claremont Institute for Process Studies.

Selected grant funding
Selected publications

Adolescent Literacy Research and Practice Consultant

Ali Wilson

Ali Wilson

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Adolescent Literacy Research and Practice Consultant

Ali has 15 years of experience working in the fields of Literacy and Special Education. For the past 8 years, Ali has designed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in special education, adolescent and disciplinary literacy, and reading development at multiple universities on the East Coast as a clinical and assistant professor. In addition, Ali serves as a consultant to support teachers and leaders in developing and implementing strong literacy instruction across the disciplines. Prior to working in higher education, Ali worked as a special educator and literacy specialist and partnered with school leaders to develop district-wide literacy systems for assessing, scheduling, instructing, and progress-monitoring students. She earned her Masters in Special Education and Reading at the University of Washington, and her Ed.D. in Reading at Appalachian State University.

Selected grant funding
Selected publications

Technical Staff

Maria Ferreia

Maria Ferreia

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Web Assistant

Maria Ferreira is studying architecture at Instituto Superior Técnico, part of University of Lisbon, Portugal. She is currently working on her thesis and is taking on part-time, freelance jobs related to marketing and design. After winning one of Reading Ways’ design contests, she has been part of its team, working as a web assistant that focuses on designing resources, website management and video production.

Selected grant funding
Selected publications
Quanah Lawrence

Quanah Lawrence

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User Experience Designer

Quanah Lawrence graduated from York University with a Film Production BFA. She specializes in editing and post production work and is excited to bring these skills to the Reading Ways team. The unique and impactful work at Reading Ways appeals to her interest in education which has been fostered in her family by generations of educators. While she focuses on video production, she enjoys the many opportunities Reading Ways provides to work in a variety of fields, including resource development, research, and customer success.

Selected grant funding
Selected publications

Advisory Board

The Research Advisory Board provides insight into matters relating to instructional practice, adolescent literacy, child development, and academic language. The board meets at least once a year and is chaired by Josh Lawrence, Reading Ways founder.

Dianna Townsend

Dianna Townsend

Research Advisory Board Member

Dr. Townsend’s research centers on the academic language development of adolescent students, with specific attention to academic vocabulary, comprehension, and disciplinary literacy. She examines both the unique academic language demands of the disciplines and effective instructional strategies to help students understand and use academic language in and across academic disciplines. Her current project, funded by the Spencer Foundation, is an intervention study comparing how different types of background knowledge and academic vocabulary scaffolding impact the reading comprehension of multilingual adolescents. Dr. Townsend’s work has been published in Reading Research Quarterly, The Elementary School Journal, The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and Topics in Language Disorders, as well as in other journals and multiple books.

Selected publications

Journal Publications, Refereed (*student co-authors)

  • Townsend, D., Taboada Barber, A., Carter, H., & Salas, R. (2020). More than words: Older adolescents’ Linguistic resources in the context of disciplinary achievement and academic risk. Journal of Reading Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/02702711.2020.1782291.
  • Townsend, D., Baxter, A., Keller, A. & Carter, H. (2020). Word walls in social studies: One solution to the “Vocabulary Conundrum”. Social Education, 84 (5), 313-318.
  • *Freeman, N., Townsend, D., & Templeton, S. (2019). Thinking about Words: First Graders’ Response to Morphological Instruction. The Reading Teacher, 72(4), 463-473.
  • *Sweeney, M. & Townsend, D. (2018).  An Analysis of Discipline-Specific Academic Language Learning in Middle-School Students. Middle Grades Research Journal, 12(1), 9-21.
  • Townsend, D., Brock, C., & Morrison, J. (2018). Engaging in vocabulary learning in science: The promise of multimodal instruction. International Journal of Science Education, 40(3), 328-347.
  • *Carter, H., *Crowley, K., Townsend, D., & Barone, D. (2016). Secondary teachers’ reflections from a year of professional learning related to academic language. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 60(3), 325-334.
  • Townsend, D., Bear, D., Templeton, S., & *Burton, A. (2016). The implications of adolescents’ academic word knowledge for achievement and instruction. Journal of Reading Psychology, 37(8), 1119-1148.
  • Townsend, D. & Kiernan, D. (2015). Selecting academic vocabulary words worth learning. The Reading Teacher, 69 (1), 113-118.
  • Townsend, D. (2015). Who’s using the language? Supporting middle school students with content area academic language. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 58 (5), 376-387.
  • *Larson, L., *Dixon, T. & Townsend, D. (2013). Students' active academic vocabulary use in social studies classrooms. Voices from the Middle, 20 (4), 16-21.
  • Taboada, A., Townsend. D., & Boynton, M.J. (2013). Mediating effects of reading engagement on the reading comprehension of early adolescent English language learners. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 29 (4), 309-332.
  • Townsend, D., Filippini, A., Collins, P., & Biancarosa, G. (2012). Evidence for the importance of academic word knowledge for the academic achievement of diverse middle school students. Elementary School Journal, 113, 497-519.
  • Nagy, W.M. & Townsend, D. (2012). Words as tools: ‘Learning academic vocabulary’ as language acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly.
  • Martinez, M. & Townsend, D. (2011). Specific language as constituents of intelligence. The American Journal of Semiotics. 27, 95-112.
  • Townsend, D. & Lapp, D. (2010). Academic language, discourse communities, and technology: Building students’ linguistic resources. Teacher Education Quarterly, Special Online Addition. Retrieved from http://teqjournal.org/townsend_lapp.html.
  • Townsend, D. (2009). Building academic vocabulary in after school settings: Games for growth with middle school English learners. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 53, 242-251.
  • Townsend, D. & Collins, P. (2009). Academic vocabulary and middle school English learners: An intervention study. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 22, 993-1020.
  • Townsend, D. & Collins, P. (2008). English or Spanish? Assessing Latino/a children in the home and school languages for risk of reading disabilities. Topics in Language Disorders, 28, 61-83.

Books

  • Templeton, S., Bear, D., Invernizzi, M., Johnston, F., Flanigan, K., Townsend, D., Helman, L., Hayes, L. (2014). Words their way: Vocabulary for middle and secondary students, 2E. Boston, MA: Pearson.
  • Brock, C., Lapp, D., Salas, R., & Townsend, D. (Eds.). (2009). Academic literacy for English learners: High quality instruction across content areas. New York: Teachers College Press.

Research Handbook Chapters

  • Townsend, D., Taboada Barber, A., & *Carter, H. (in press). Academic language and accessing text. In Moje, E.B, Afflerbach, P., Enciso, P., & Lesaux, N.K. (Eds.) Handbook of reading research, v5. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Strickland, D. & Townsend, D. (2010). The development of literacy in the elementary school. In Lapp, D. & Fisher, D. (Eds.) Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts, Volume III. New York: Routledge, 46-52.
  • Pennington, J., Brock, C., Thompson, G., Townsend, D., & Lapp, D. (2009). Academic English & African American Vernacular English:  Exploring possibilities for promoting the literacy learning of all children. In L.M. Morrow, R. Rueda, & D. Lapp (Eds.) Handbook of research on literacy instruction: Issues of diversity, policy, and equity. New York: Guilford.  

Book Chapters

  • Townsend, D. (in press). Academic Vocabulary: When and for Whom? All the Time, for All Students! In Ganske, K. Mindful of words. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Townsend, D. (2011). If you want them to learn academic English - teach it to them. In Lapp, D. & Moss, B. (Eds.) Teaching with rigor: Supporting multiple ways of learning. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Brock, C., Pennington, J., Oikonomidoy, E., & Townsend, D. (2010). “It’s just like telling them they will never be scientists”: Helen’s journey transforming linguistic and racial categories. In Li, G. & Edwards, P. (Eds.) Best practices in ELL instruction. New York: Guilford, 328-352.
  • Townsend, D., Brock, C., Lapp, D., & Salas, R. (2009). Designing meaningful integrated instruction to promote academic English proficiency: Some tips for teachers. In Brock, C. Lapp, D. Salas, R., & Townsend, D. (Eds.) Academic literacy for English learners: High quality instruction across content areas. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Martinez, M. & Townsend, D. (2006). IQ and the brain. In Feinstein, S., (Ed.) Learning and the brain: An Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Other Professional, Non-Refereed Publications

  • Townsend, D. (2017). Report of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Vocabulary Panel. National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, U.S. Department of Education) and Educational Testing Service (ETS).
  • Townsend, D. & Kiernan, D. (2016). Galena High School Authentic Literacy Committee: Strategies for supporting literacy in the disciplines. Reno, NV: WCSD Striving Readers Grant & University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Townsend, D., Tovinen, L., Johnson, L., & Kiernan, D. (2015). Active academic vocabulary practice in all content areas: A summary report. Reno, NV: WCSD Striving Readers Grant & University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Nagy, W. & Townsend, D. (2012). Response to Krashen (response to letter to the editor). Reading Research Quarterly, 47, 234.
  • Townsend, D. (2008). WCSD Academic English and Diverse Middle School Students Study: Phase 1 Summary Report. Research report prepared by D. Townsend and submitted to Washoe County School District.

Works in Progress

  • *Carter, H. & Townsend, D. (under review). Secondary teachers’ reflections on writing in the content areas. Under review with Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice.
  • Townsend, D. & *Carter, H. (revised and resubmitted). What’s the purpose? A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Disciplinary Reading in High School Classrooms. Under review at Reading Research Quarterly.
  • Townsend, D. (contracted book in progress). Words worth using. Contract with Teachers College Press, deadline June 12, 2020

Selected professional services
SARAH LUPO

SARAH LUPO

Advisory Board Member

Dr. Sarah Lupo is an Assistant Professor in the Early, Elementary, and Literacy Department at James Madison University. She has extensive teaching experience as an ESL teacher, English teacher, reading specialist, and literacy coach in grades K-12 in Washington D.C., Istanbul, Turkey, Phoenix, AZ, and Charlottesville, VA. Dr. Lupo’s has published dozens of articles and chapters in publications such as Reading Research Quarterly, Reading Teacher, Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literacy, and Literacy Today. Her research focuses on exploring the influence of various aspects of text complexity on readers’ comprehension, such as knowledge, and how instruction can be differentiated to support all readers’ understanding of challenging texts across the content areas. Her work strives to position all learners’ as capable and bringing cultural and linguistic assets to the reading experience. Dr. Lupo strives to put theory into practice to find practical ways teachers can improve comprehension for K-12 students in order to enhance literacy instruction for all students, especially those from nondominant backgrounds.

Selected publications
  • Lupo, S. M., Hardigree, C., Thacker, E., Sawyer, A., & Merritt, J. (in press). Teaching disciplinary literacy in grades K-6: Infusing content with reading, writing, and language. New York: Routledge.
  • Tortorelli, L., Lupo, S. M., Wheatley, B., (2021). Examining teacher preparation for code-related reading instruction: An integrated literature review. Reading Research Quarterly, second special issue on the science of reading.
  • Hwang, H., Lupo, S. M., Cabell, S., & Wen, S. (2020). Leveraging the literacy block for knowledge building: What the research says about teaching content during literacy. Reading in Virginia.
  • Hattan, C., & Lupo, S. M. (2020). Rethinking the Role of Knowledge in the K-12 Literacy Classroom. Reading Research Quarterly (S2), 83-98. doi:10.1002/rrq.350

Selected professional services
JACY IPPOLITO

JACY IPPOLITO

Research Advisory board member
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacyippolitohttps://www.linkedin.com/in/jacyippolitohttps://www.linkedin.com/in/jacyippolito

Jacy completed his doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on literacy coaching and school reform. He is a national leader in coaching and professional learning. He has published over a dozen articles on coaching and school leadership, written or edited five books on adolescent literacy or instructional leadership, and currently co-directs the Educational Leadership program at Salem State University, where he has also served as department chair. Jacy advises Reading Ways on matters related to coaching and professional learning.

Selected publications
  • Fahey, K., Breidenstein, A., Ippolito, J. & Hensley, F.  An UnCommon Theory of School Change: Leadership for Reinventing Schools. (Teachers College Press, 2019).
  • Ippolito, J., Dobbs, C. L. & Charner-Laird, M. Disciplinary Literacy: Inquiry and Instruction. (Learning Sciences, 2019).
  • Bean, R. M. & Ippolito, J. Cultivating coaching mindsets: An action guide for literacy leaders. (Learning Sciences International, 2016).

Selected professional services
  • Department Chair, Salem State University, School of Education, Salem, MA, Secondary and Higher Education Department
  • Lead writer for Standard 6, International Literacy Association Standards Revision Committee, charged with revising U.S./International Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals (2017), serving from 2015-2018
  • Board Member for the Specialized Literacy Professionals SIG (Special Interest Group), an affiliate of the International Literacy Association (2017-2019)