Martha Joseph Watts, Author, Instructor, Content Developer, Independent Educational Consultant, and Teacher Trainer
Author of children’s fiction and educational resources for teaching writing (grades K+)
Dr. Martha Joseph Watts—known affectionately as “Aunty Marcella”—is a former English teacher, who currently serves as a literacy coach with Brevard Public Schools in Brevard County, Florida. She is best known for her Writing to Respond (WTR) process, an approach for guiding students through evidence-based writing, and has published several educational resources to support the implementation of the WTR process, including books, workbooks, classroom charts, and student and educator wheels.
Her latest focus has been on children’s fiction. Dr. Watts’ Adventures of Iyani series is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she studied and resided for 15 years. The first book in the series, Adventures of Iyani: The Voyage West debuted in 2018, and the second book, Adventures of Iyani: The Incredible Beginning, was just released in March 2019.
Dr. Watts is a native of the Commonwealth of Dominica, but currently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband, George Watts, and her son, Vaughn Registe.
The most important thing the author wants readers to gain from her books:
Educational Resources: The Writing to Respond Process
Students should never have to struggle to read or write in high school if they were in school their entire lives. WTR ensures that students read and write habitually in their area of interest and in any discipline. It ensures that students interact with text in a fun and un-coerced manner.
Children Fiction: The Adventures of Iyani Series
Good friendships are important. However, sometimes circumstances change our situations and to continue living successful lives, we must be resilient, and willing to pursue even when everything seems bleak. Readers also need to be sensitive to others by focusing on fairness and empathy. I also would like young readers to take pride in helping others.
Why the author is an authority on the subject:
Dr. Martha Marcella Joseph Watts grew up at a time in a country where high school was not for everyone. For the average child raised 40 miles from the city, the chances of attending high school became slimmer after the thirteenth birthday. It could be even more bleak for those who had no relatives in the city. This means that being able to write organized paragraphs increased one’s chances of passing the high school entrance exam before age 13. She was one of those to make it through at age 12.
When Dr. Watts migrated, she noticed that although students had more opportunities, much more exposure, and even more years in a classroom before moving to high school, their writing habits on Grade 10 level were far from commendable. Her desire to ensure that no child passed through her class without being able to communicate effectively through writing led her to create the WTR, which has since been utilized by educators, parents, and schools to improve reading and writing performance on tests and in classrooms.
The WTR encourages the use of any text across disciplines. Yet, students in some settings do not encounter sufficient text that they can connect with culturally. Adventures of Iyani is an attempt to contribute to cultural literature in a Caribbean setting. Readers encounter aspects of aspects such as food, music, activities, plants, fruits, and issues of migration. The stories provide opportunities to focus on any subject matter while building awareness and instilling values like charity, and kindness that mean a lot to the author.
While working as an English teacher in the US Virgin Islands, Dr. Watts was awarded the Heath Humanities Award for excellence in teaching the humanities.
Speaking Engagements and School Presentations:
Since sharing WTR with the English and Business department in the school where she worked in 2009, Dr. Watts has had many speaking engagements in schools, different islands, conferences on how best to develop and cultivate the habit of reading and writing in students with visible success:
Since the WTR process works for any group, she presents to educators, and parents of students on any grade level. However, the largest focus has been the early years, from Grades 3-6. All presentations have been geared towards building and cultivating a habit of successful writing before high school
Dr. Watts has been presenting aspects of WTR from 2012. She has done so at in-school PDs, in other private, public and parochial schools, at district conferences and major conferences, and the NWP Summer Writing Seminars.
In 2017, she and her colleague presented to 60 administrators and 60 teacher leaders, in her home country of Dominica, over a three day periods on how to implement school-wide cross content reading and writing initiatives that yield results.
Here are a few of the topics between 2013-2018:
Cultivate a Habit of Reading and Writing without added Burden
Utilizing Higher Order Questions to Guide Analytical Writing
Using Structure to Guide the ELL
Utilizing Structure as a Crutch not as a Hindrance to Creativity
How to Master the Argumentative Essay
Writing my (any) Class
Writing that lasts beyond the test
Florida, Dominica, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Willing to Travel
Education/College Preparation/Special Education