Eastern Michigan University
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Rebecca Sipe

Professor/ Director of Honors College

Honors College



MA, University of Alaska
EdD, Boston University


Interests and Expertise

I began my teaching career in Anchorage, Alaska, where I taught in the secondary schools and served as Coordinator for English Language Arts for the Anchorage School District. At that time the Anchorage system comprised a student population of over 40,000 students and 100 languages. Teaching in such a vibrant district and directing an exemplary program for teachers offered me the opportunity to work with a host of amazing teacher-leaders and leaders in English Education from all over the country. Together, we established one of the first National Writing Project sites, developed teacher institutes to support literature teaching, professional inquiry/teacher-research, and cross-disciplinary teaching, and designed a creative K-12 program for students.

My Masters degree in English Education and my Administrative Certification were both from the University of Alaska. By 1990, I had discovered many questions that I wanted to investigate, so I entered a doctoral program at Boston University, from which I received my degree in 1995. Between 1995 and 1997, I co-directed a large grant from the U.S. Department of Education that involved 120 teachers in a year-long institute to support classroom-based research and standards implementation.

Since coming to Eastern Michigan University in 1997, I have been fortunate enough to serve as a Co-Director of the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, work with service learning projects; teach each methods, writing, and graduate course; advise students; and serve as the Coordinator for Undergraduate Studies for the English Department.

My research interests are highly student- and school-centered. I find working with teacher-researchers essential. Creating authentic learning engagements, working with school-based writing across the curriculum, and assisting school through change initiatives are all strong interests I pursue.

My work focuses strongly on supporting developmental learners as they gain confidence and competence with reading and writing. Recently, those efforts have led to the publication of a text book series, Strategies for Writers (Zaner-Bloser Publishers) that supports students in grades 1-8 as they enter new and unfamiliar genres of writing. In addition, in July of 2003, Heinemann Publishers released They Still Can’t Spell: Understanding and Supporting Challenged Spellers in Middle and High School, written in collaboration with four outstanding teacher researchers: Tracy Rosewarne, Karen Reed-Nordwall, Dawn Putnam, and Jennifer Walsh.

Working at Eastern Michigan University has afforded me a rich opportunity to continue working with a diverse student population, including many first generation college students and nontraditional students. In addition to my teaching, I currently serve as the Chair of the Secondary Section for the National Council of Teachers of English.


Teaching Secondary English
Writing for Writing Teachers
Secondary Literature Methods
Writing for Elementary Teachers
Literacy and Writing
Eastern Michigan Writing Project Invitational Institute
Varied Eastern Michigan Writing Project Open and Advanced Institutes

Recent Publications and Presentations

They Can’t Spell? Understanding and Supporting Challenged Spellers in the Middle and High Schools, Heinemann, in press, July 2003

Strategies for Writers, K-8 text series, Zaner-Bloser, 2003. 

"Sweating the Small Stuff: When Spelling is More than Small Stuff," Middle School Mosaic, NCTE, 2000.

“It’s About Passion.” English Journal, NCTE, in press, July 2003

“Growing Professionally, Leading the Way,” English Journal, July 2002

“Supporting Challenged Spellers,” Voices from the Middle, March 2002

“Academic Service-Learning: More Than Just Doing Time…,” English Journal, March 2001

"Creating and Supporting Changes that Last: Supporting Curriculum Reform Initiatives," Principal, January 2001

“Virtually Being There: Creating Authentic Experiences Through Interactive Exchanges,” English Journal, November 2000