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Stories about Language and Literacy Program

By Bobby Dorigo Jones 05/15/2017 3:23 PM EDT
Asil Yassine
Over the course of her teaching career, Asil Yassine has witnessed many broken promises to the children of Detroit. She’s seen, she says, “poisoned water fountains, a dearth of books, or mice shooting through the hallways” of buildings. Yassine enrolled in the Language and Literacy (L&L) Program to learn how to better fight these systemic failures, and find strategies to teach English to her many immigrant students. At HGSE, Associate Professor Paola Uccelli’s Bilingual Learners course gave her important new perspective. “Before we even touch pedagogy, we have to deeply understand what it...
By Lory Hough 05/27/2015 12:00 AM EDT
Zohal Atif
Growing up during civil war in Kabul, there are things that Zohal Atif doesn't want to remember, but she does. Like autumn 1992. She was six years old, in first grade. One morning, a group of militia attacked her school, setting it on fire.

"I didn't know what was going on," she says. "It was chaos." Two older siblings — a brother in third grade, a sister in second — grabbed her and ran home. She never knew who survived and who didn't. Now a student in the International Education Policy Program, Atif talks about leaving Afghanistan and helping a new generation back home. There was...
By Jill Anderson 05/21/2015 10:57 AM EDT
Pamela Mason
Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan announced that Pamela Mason, director of the Language and Literacy (L&L) master's program and the Jeanne Chall Reading Lab, has been promoted to the rank of senior lecturer. An expert in reading instruction and development, and literacy interventions and assessment, Mason joined the HGSE faculty in 2006. Her research focuses on the effects of text structure on comprehension, the interaction of text complexity and background knowledge, the interaction of literacy learning, culture, and multilingualism, and school-wide literacy program...
By Marin Jorgensen 05/18/2015 12:41 PM EDT
Heather Elgin
When thinking about what she will change in the field of education, Heather Elgin draws upon the words of activist and civil rights lawyer Monica Ramirez – a recent guest in her Ethnic Studies course — “Sometimes there aren’t doors. You have to create them.” San Francisco native Elgin has taken Ramirez’s words to heart. “I aim to create doors,” she says. “More importantly, I aim to support young people to walk through the doors that their elders put in place for them and break down the walls where they think other doors ought to be.”  Having come to the Ed School with 12 years of classroom...
By Mary Tamer 10/31/2014 3:25 PM EDT
Photo of student Christina Grayson
Do you want to be the sage on the stage or the guide on the side? It’s a question that Lecturer Pamela Mason poses to her Language and Literacy students each spring, right before she drops the bomb that causes the class to squirm; namely that part of their final grade will be based on based on a self-reflection they’ll write after watching a video of themselves teaching. As soon as the lesson is explained, “all of the air gets sucked out of the room,” says Mason. But once students understand that they are not being judged on their video performance — but rather on how they reflect on their...