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S. Rebecca Leigh, Ph.D.

Research interests: Multiple Ways of Knowing; Semiotics; Writing; and Teacher Education. My major area of research investigates how art serves as a pathway to literacy learning. In particular, I am interested in how illustration study supports students as writers.

Past research activities/experience:

  • How “visual hooks” in drawings provides children an effective visual device for extending ideas in writing (Leigh, 2012).
  • How Portal Writing (Leigh 2010; 2012; 2013), an independent writing strategy for revision, provides students an alternative yet creative genre for finding a narrative’s focus.
  • How students in the elementary, middle, and high school grades experience intention, abstraction, and interpretation in their writing through Artist/Writer Partnerships, a three-year collaborative project on constructing meaning through art and language.

Current research activities:

How 70-minutes of drawing instruction a week through the Michigan-based Drawing Children into Reading program supports first grade students in their writing pursuits and thinking about writing.

Selected Publications:

Leigh, S.R. (in press). Wounded writers ask: Am I doing it write? Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Leigh, S.R. & Ayres, L.J. (in press). Writing influences: A timeline of teaching writing as a process. Michigan Reading Journal.

Leigh, S.R. (2013). Portal writing: Helping writers re-think their writing. In J. Richards & C. Lassonde (Eds.), Strategic Writing Mini-Lessons for All Students, Grades 4-8 (pp. 155-162). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Leigh, S.R. (2013). The circus of design. In R. Meyer & K. Whitmore (Eds.),Reclaiming Writing Composing Spaces for Identities, Relationships, and Actions (pp. 38-41). Routledge.

Leigh, S.R. (2012). The classroom is alive with the sound of thinking: The power of the exit slip. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 24(2), 189-196.

Leigh, S.R. (2012). “Writers draw visual hooks”: Children’s inquiry into writing. Language Arts, 89(6), 398-406.

Leigh, S.R. (2012). Re-seeing story through portal writing. Journal of the Assembly on Expanded Perspectives in Learning, 17, 83-94.

Leigh, S.R. (2012). The power of the sketch (book): Reflections from high school English students, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(6), 539-549.

Research goals/plans for future projects:

As society embraces a culture more visually aware, schools are called to accept broader definitions and practices of literacy (Crafton et al., 2007). Understanding the positive effect of drawing on children as writers and how classroom teachers can facilitate drawing instruction defines my focus for future research projects. 

Workshops, In-Service Institutes, and Community Events

  • Launching the Writer’s Notebook
  • Using quick-writes to generate story ideas
  • Using reading/writing strategies for the content area classroom
  • Using Portal Writing to help middle level students with revision
  • Building a library of picture books for older readers
  • Creating Visual Hooks for extending written ideas

: or 248-370-4684
Vita available upon request