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Dorothy Barnhouse is an independent literacy consultant and staff developer. She works closely with elementary and secondary teachers in New York City public schools—and throughout the country—to elevate student reading, writing, and thinking. A frequent presenter at national conferences, Dorothy is the coauthor, with Vicki Vinton, of What Readers Really Do.
Dorothy received her bachelor's degree in history from Oberlin College and her MFA in writing from Columbia University. Her specialties include the teaching of reading, with an emphasis on close reading of complex texts, and teaching through inquiry.
While studying at Columbia, Dorothy responded to an ad for a teaching assistant at the Teachers College Writing Project. "I was immediately drawn to what felt like a truth—that writing is a process and needs to be taught as such," Dorothy says. "I felt compelled to help articulate that process, and I began to teach as a writer-in-the-schools."
When asked about her passion for teaching, Dorothy says: "I think students actually crave opportunities to think and be challenged, to see something in a new light, and to be surprised by what they can do. I live for those moments when [students] say 'Oh!'—and for the chance to work with teachers to ensure that more of those moments happen."
Dorothy believes in the collaborative nature of learning and teaching. Effective professional development allows educators to "study together, look closely at our students, ask questions, and seek answers as we engage in the day-to-day process that is education."
Dorothy's latest book, Readers Front & Center: Helping All Students Engage with Complex Texts, looks at reading conferences and small-group instruction in a new light, making them more relevant to the standards outlined in the Common Core. Using an instructional method called "stepping up," teachers can build students' abilities as complex thinkers of complex texts while simultaneously nurturing student independence and agency. The book is packed with classroom-based examples and chapter toolboxes to guide teachers in "putting students at the front and center of the classroom to make meaning rather than take meaning."
The daughter of a medical missionary, Dorothy was raised in India, which inspired a lifelong love of travel. She enjoys fiction writing, exercise, and outings to New York City's many museums, galleries, and theaters. Her favorite way to spend a day is with a book, whether on a park bench or curled up on her couch. Dorothy lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.