Warner School of Education

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Joanne Larson

Joanne Larson

Michael W. Scandling Professor of Education and Chair of the Teaching and Curriculum Program
Teaching & Curriculum

LeChase Hall 478
Office Phone: (585) 275-0900
Fax: 486-1159

UR Research Page


PhD, University of California - Los Angeles (curriculum)
BA, University of California - Los Angeles (fine arts)

Joanne Larson joined the Warner School faculty in 1995 and currently serves as chair of teaching and curriculum and teaches master’s level literacy courses, as well as doctoral level courses on curriculum, teaching and change, and introductory and advanced qualitative research methods.
Larson serves as the director of the Genesee Valley Writing Project where she leads the Annual Summer Institute, a Young Writers Summer Camp, and all follow-up school year programs focused on improving the quality of student writing and learning in urban, suburban, and rural PK-16 schools across Monroe County and surrounding counties. She serves on the editorial board of several peer-review journals, including Research in the Teaching of English, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, and Reading Research Quarterly. She was appointed by Kris Gutierrez to serve as AERA program chair for the 2011 conference in New Orleans.
 She is chair of the UR/East High School Collaboration’s Family and Community Partnership Committee, which is part of the University’s effort to help transform East High School.
Larson’s ethnographic research examines how language and literacy practices mediate social and power relations in literacy events in schools and communities. She is currently collaborating with Rochester community residents on a participatory action research project examining changes associated with transforming a local corner store into a cornerstone of healthy living. Her book, Radical Equality in Education: Starting Over in U.S. Schooling (Routledge, 2014), chronicles how the United States has reached a crisis point in public education and offers suggestions for a complete reboot of the current K-12 educational system. She is the editor of Literacy as Snake Oil: Beyond the Quick Fix, Second Edition (Lang, 2007) and co-editor of Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy, Second Edition (Sage, 2014). Her book, Making Literacy Real: Theories and Practices in Learning and Teaching, Second Edition (2015), co-authored with Jackie Marsh, explores the breadth of the complex and important field of literacy studies, orientating literacy as a social practice grounded in social, cultural, historical, and political contexts. Larson's journal publications include research articles in Research in the Teaching of English; Written Communication: Linguistics and Education; Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, and Discourse and Society. 

Larson has branched out from traditional publication venues to collaboratively produce documentary films with filmmaker David Smith. The first was a professional development film that focused on teaching literacy in the current reductionist pedagogical context. The second, entitled A Life Outside, was a film documenting the teaching life of Lynn Astarita Gatto, 2004 New York State Teacher of the Year. They are currently documenting the corner store transformation project. 

In the News


EDU427 Theory and Practice in Teaching and Learning Literacy in Elementary School
EDU442 Race, Class, Gender, and Disability in American Education
EDU498 Literacy Learning as Social Practice
ED507 Qualitative Research Methods
EDU526 Theory and Research in Curriculum and Change
ED527 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
ED581 Discourse Analysis in Education Research
ED582 Critical Literacy


Analyzing participation frameworks in kindergarten writing activity: The role of overhearer in learning to write.
Challenging autonomous models of literacy: Street’s call to action.
Challenging dominant discourses across geographies in early childhood.
Co-authoring classroom texts: Shifting participant roles in writing activity.
Community co-authoring: Whose voice remains?
Connecting language and literacy learning: First graders learning to write in a whole language classroom.
Cultural tensions in the scripted classroom: The value of the subjugated perspective.
Discussing expanded spaces for learning.
Editors for special issue.
Indexing instruction: The social construction of the participation framework in Kindergarten journal writing activity.
Introduction to the special issue: Power and positioning in purposeful community change.
Language borders: Recitation as hegemonic discourse.
Multiple Literacies, Curriculum, and Instruction in Early Childhood and Elementary School.
Narrating Identities: Schools as touchstones of endemic marginalization.
Packaging process: Consequences of commodified pedagogy on students’ participation in literacy events.
Script, counterscript and underlife in the classroom: James Brown versus Brown v. The Board of Education.
Speaking truth to policy.
Tactical underlife: Understanding students’ perspectives.
Taking a closer look: The challenge of microanalysis.
Talk matters: The role of pivot in the distribution of literacy knowledge among novice writers.
The participation framework as a mediating tool in kindergarten journal writing activity.
“We call him Dr. King”: Reciprocal distancing in urban classrooms.

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