Master’s Degree: Reading and Writing Concentration

The Reading and Writing concentration prepares experienced educators for leadership roles in literacy education through programs of study leading to the M.Ed., including the option of Massachusetts licensure as a Reading Specialist (K-12). The concentration is designed to:

  • increase understanding of critical multiliteracies (i.e., reading, writing, listening, speaking, representing, and viewing) as complex social practices through which people communicate, express feelings and thoughts, learn, share experiences, generate knowledge, construct social relations, and act on their social worlds
  • prepare educational leaders to define and design environments in which the linguistic, cognitive, social, and cultural strengths of all learners are valued and nurtured and in which equitable access is offered to multiple literacies required for full participation in a multicultural, multilingual democratic society
  • prepare educational leaders to design teaching approaches that maintain the integrity of multiliteracies as practices of communication, meaning-making, and social participation and action
  • prepare educational leaders to develop and share knowledge and insights about reading, writing, listening, speaking, representing, and viewing with colleagues, administrators, families, and learners in ways that engage all participants meaningfully and purposefully

The knowledge base for the Reading and Writing concentration involves four areas: (1) knowledge about speaking, listening, writing, reading, representing, and viewing; (2) knowledge about learning/teaching multiliteracies; (3) knowledge about learners; and (4) knowledge about the dynamism among the sociocultural processes and practices of schools, families and communities. 

Each of these areas involves three types of knowledge: knowledge acquired from disciplinary fields (e.g., anthropology, sociocultural theories of learning, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, educational research, etc.); knowledge about how to generate knowledge (e.g., modes of inquiry, teacher research); and knowledge from reflection on one's own experiences and social practices as a language user, speaker, listener, reader, writer, designer (e.g., enlisting multimodalities for representing learning), viewer, learner, and teacher.

Students in this concentration will have a  variety of learning experiences, including coursework, field-based projects in both schools and community settings, and, for those seeking licensure, a practicum. All students are required to upload assessments to their master’s- and/or licensure-related online portfolios (i.e. TK20). 

Admissions Criteria

Admission to the concentration requires: (1) a Bachelor's degree, preferably with a major in a language-related field (e.g., English, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, or education); (2) a record of one year full-time teaching experience, or the equivalent, which demonstrates high-quality teaching and professional growth.  (If  students plan to obtain Reading Specialist Licensure, they must have completed one year of full-time experience under an initial licensure in elementary, early childhood, a foreign language, English or language arts, before applying for their Reading Specialist License;) (3) evidence (including, but not limited to, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and previous academic record) of the ability to successfully carry out an intellectually challenging graduate program. (Candidates for licensure as a Reading Specialist must hold an initial, and preferably a professional, Massachusetts teaching license at the early childhood, elementary, middle or high school level, or the equivalent.)

In addition, admission is based on (1) a teaching philosophy compatible with the philosophy of the concentration, (2) a demonstrated commitment to the profession (e.g., participation in professional learning experiences in the school district and/or in professional organizations), and (3) a commitment to equity in education and a deep respect for and great interest in cultural and linguistic diversity evidence by such things as activities in community organizations, instructional experiences working with underserved populations, and other sustained professional engagements with these communities. 

While not a requirement for admission, fluency or near-fluency in a language other than English and experience in multilingual and multicultural settings are considered highly competitive advantages.

Highlights

The Reading and Writing concentration faculty have formed the ACCELA (Access to Critical Content and English Language Acquisition) alliance, an award-winning, federal and state-funded professional development collaboration between UMass Amherst, the Springfield, Holyoke and Amherst, Mass., public school districts, and several community organizations in western Massachusetts.

ACCELA supports academic literacy development of linguistically and culturally diverse students attending public schools by providing their teachers with research-informed (i.e., analysis of student data and research literature) professional learning opportunities.

Required Courses

A complete listing of the required courses, licensure requirements, links to course descriptions, and the LLC student handbook can be found at the following link on the LLC website

Contact Information

Coordinators: Maria José Botelho (Associate Professor) and Denise K. Ives  (Associate Professor) 

Email Contact: mbotelho@educ.umass.edu

Associated Faculty

Theresa Austin (Professor), Maria José Botelho (Associate Professor), Denise K. Ives  (Associate Professor), Barbara Hruska (Lecturer),  Marie Christine Polizzi (Lecturer), K.C. Nat Turner (Associate Professor), Laura A. Valdiviezo (Associate Professor), Jerri Willett (Professor Emerita).