The online Master of Science in Education, Literacy Specialist (Birth–12) curriculum helps classroom teachers and other education professionals enhance their knowledge of reading pedagogy through coursework, mentorship, and hands-on experiences. Graduates who complete the MSEd, LIT degree are eligible for an advanced or professional certificate in the teaching of literacy in New York state.

Program Structure

The MSEd, LIT is a 30-credit hour program that can be completed on a full or part-time basis. Each course accounts for 3 credit hours and is seven weeks long. Full-time students who take three to four classes per semester can complete the program in 1.5 years.

Following a 12-credit core curriculum, literacy specialist students take a 12-credit sequence of courses in their chosen concentration. The program then concludes with a 14-week practicum featuring clinical and school experiences and a teacher-as-researcher capstone project.

Course Descriptions

Fall Core Courses

This course examines literacy development for children with diverse learning needs related to cognitive, behavioral, linguistic, cultural, and gender factors. Issues explored include the identification/special assessment/intervention process, the impact of mandated state literacy assessments on compensatory literacy programs, and the role of the literacy specialist in supporting students both through inclusion and pull-out programs. There will be a focus on remedial reading/writing strategies to support students experiencing difficulty in decoding/encoding, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.
This course will facilitate candidates’ active exploration of the reading and writing processes and practices that support the literacy development of children in the intermediate to middle school grades (i.e., 4-8). Candidates will apply current research focusing on this specific population as they investigate models of assessment and instruction. This class will build competencies in technology to mediate information and to coach/mentor educational professionals and community members. Field experience is required.
This course deepens understanding of the repertoire of strategies for writing with children and explores models of integrated writing programs. Writing is examined as a recursive, developmental process, and candidates will explore the writing process through their own experiences as well as through as investigation of relevant professional reading and current research. Formats and strategies for media production will be introduced and applied in classroom assignments. This class will build competencies in knowledge of information, application of strategies in classrooms, and coaching/mentoring activities for professionals and community members. Field experience is required.

Spring Core Courses

This foundation course focuses on research and theory regarding the processes of literacy development from the emergent to the proficient reader/writer. Theories of language and cognition are considered within historical/social context. Topics include the developmental nature of reading and writing, factors that affect literacy acquisition, the relation between oral language and literacy development, and the impact of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and brain research on literacy acquisition.
This course reviews the developmental aspects of literacy acquisition and provides insights into early literacy processes and instructional practices from multiple perspectives. Candidates will investigate current research on early childhood instructional models and best practices. They will examine their assumptions regarding the concept of balance in integrated literacy programs, as balance relates to the literate environment, organization, and management of early literacy programs, word study, the construction of meaning, the utilization of literature-based programs, differentiation of instruction, and authentic assessment.

OR

This course considers a wide range of children’s and adolescents’ literature, and focuses on the selection and evaluation of literature in the genres of fiction and non-fiction for instructional and recreational purposes. This course scrutinizes current theories, research, and issues related to literature study, critical literacy, literary elements, genres, and narratives/expository text structures. The utilization of children’s literature in reading and writing instruction across the disciplines will be emphasized, as well as the promotion of lifelong reading habits in children and respect for diversity through multicultural literature. This class will build competencies in knowledge of information, application of strategies in classrooms, and coaching/mentoring activities for professionals and community members. Technological approaches to creating digital formats for storytelling will be learned and applied in classroom assignments. Field experience is required. (Note: ED 754 can also be taken as a summer course.)

Summer Core Courses

This course will inform students about various techniques and tools to assess literacy development, birth through grade 12. Students will have the opportunity to administer various assessments and measurement instruments including standardized tests, IRI, and the respective statewide literacy instruments used to assess reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students will gain experience in administering and interpreting various tests and using actuarial data in processing instruction and sharing test results with parents and stakeholders.
This course considers a wide range of children’s and adolescents’ literature, and focuses on the selection and evaluation of literature in the genres of fiction and non-fiction for instructional and recreational purposes. This course scrutinizes current theories, research, and issues related to literature study, critical literacy, literary elements, genres, and narratives/expository text structures. The utilization of children’s literature in reading and writing instruction across the disciplines will be emphasized, as well as the promotion of lifelong reading habits in children and respect for diversity through multicultural literature. This class will build competencies in knowledge of information, application of strategies in classrooms, and coaching/mentoring activities for professionals and community members. Technological approaches to creating digital formats for storytelling will be learned and applied in classroom assignments. Field experience is required. (Note: ED 754 can also be taken as a spring course.)

Final Semester Courses

This course deepens knowledge of the burgeoning need for the integration of literacy and technology in the content areas. The course will focus on research-based strategies for building reading comprehension, constructing meaning, building fluency through the use of non-fiction selections, digital literacy, and new media applications in the content areas. Candidates examine and apply approaches for developing vocabulary and skills in studying, listening, writing, and speaking in print and non-print (i.e. new literacies) formats for disciplinary knowledge. This course will introduce practical experiences with technology. In addition, candidates will learn new media strategies to work with and teach students in grades 4-9 classrooms. This class will build competencies in knowledge of information, application of strategies in classrooms, and coaching/mentoring activities for professionals and community members. Field experience is required.
In this course, students will develop the skills of reflection and inquiry within the context of their own teaching. Students will practice using different tools for reflective inquiry as they explore issues relevant to novice teachers, i.e., creating and maintaining caring, inclusive, and productive learning environments. Students will design and implement a research project in their classroom that focuses on an issue of relevance to them in their present teaching situation. The course will integrate theory and practice so that students may develop the skills and dispositions needed for conducting action research throughout their professional careers.
Students will develop their teaching skills through working with students, integrating theories of language and literacy acquisition. During this one-semester experience, students will assume increasing responsibility for the classroom environment and design and management of the curriculum, reflecting regularly on all aspects of their teaching.
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