Transforming Literacy Education for Today and Tomorrow

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The overarching goal of the Missouri Language and Literacies Center (MLLC) is to transform education to meet the complex language and literacies needs of the 21st century.

The MLLC gathers University of Missouri scholars from various disciplines and across UM system campuses with invested stakeholders from Missouri Public Schools to bring contemporary, research-based understandings of language and literacy into preK-12 classrooms.

The language and literacy skills students need to be successful have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Today, politicians tweet national policy, being a YouTuber is a lucrative profession, and memes serve as vehicles of social change. In addition to supporting all students’ reading and writing development with standard English print literacy, we must prepare teachers to support students for the linguistically and textually complex world we all live in.

The MLLC will host a range of ongoing collaborative projects and professional development opportunities to positively impact language and literacy learning in Missouri schools, its rural, suburban, and urban communities, and beyond.

The beginning cadre of faculty comes from linguistics, theatre, reading, and preK-12 language and literacy studies. Our interdisciplinary team of lead faculty and affiliate members bring contemporary arts-based learning approaches, extensive linguistics knowledge, decades of reading and writing research and teaching expertise, as well as knowledge in related fields such as journalism and digital storytelling. By using a more expansive view of language and literacies the MLLC not only invests in Missouri teachers’ language and literacy content and teaching knowledge but also invests in Missouri’s economic and civic future.


Comprehensive Literacy State Development Program

MLLC will collaborate with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Show Me Literacies Collaborative to enhance and develop the language and literacy learning across the state of Missouri. Through the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Program, funded by the United States Department of Education, $18 million will be distributed over five years, allowing the state to advance literacy skills for children from birth through grade 12. 

Led by PI Dr. Angie Zapata and Co-PI Dr. Candace Kuby, MLLC will partner with early childhood providers and families in economically distressed areas of Missouri to support language and literacy learning among young children. Together, MLLC partners and participants will collaborate to establish vibrant learning spaces for play, language acquisition, and early literacy foundations including concepts of print, book handling, phonemic awareness, phonics, and other essential knowledges of emerging readers and writers. Central to this collaboration will be a continued emphasis on the community and family literacies that children and their loved ones already practice in their homes as a critical pathway towards school literacies. Through professional learning opportunities that include research-based readings, case studies, practice, and discussion, MLLC aims to affirm and sustain the language and literacy resources already present in families’ homes to positively impact their children’s learning. 


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