Lori Norton-Meier, Ph.D.

Director, Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy & Professor, Literacy Education

Lori Norton-Meier

113 Schindler Education Center

(319) 273-2053

Lori Norton-Meier, Ph.D.

Director, Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy & Professor, Literacy Education

What drove your interest in your discipline? It was sitting beside children early in my career that I became fascinated by the ways young children play with language. As many as seven different languages were represented in my urban kindergarten classroom at any given time, including American Sign Language. As a kidwatcher, I witnessed how children were curious about language and easily and naturally explored new words and new meanings. Yet, I soon realized that giving young children the time to play with language was not valued by the school system, nor was thinking of reading as a language process. I found my way to graduate school to seek answers to this perplexing dilemma and it was there that my colleagues and mentors helped me to put words and meaning, theory and philosophy to the layers of teaching and learning I experienced sitting beside children. The emphasis of my work is the study of the language and literacy practices of children, adolescents, teachers, and families as they engage in the act of inquiry.

Why do you enjoy what you do? I grew up as an Iowa farm girl in the small rural town of Lowden, Iowa. It was in my teenage years that I longed to leave my rural roots behind and go live in the big city as a fashion designer. However, instead of designing clothes for children, I quickly found myself wanting to be a teacher and I took my first teaching job in the urban setting of Des Moines, IA. The push/pull to engage in urban educational settings and honor my rural roots has been a tension throughout my career. I have worked at Wichita State (urban), Kansas State (rural), Iowa State (rural), and the University of Louisville (urban). At UNI, I can stay true to my mission to understand the unique challenges of teaching and learning in more urban spaces, but I also can go just a few miles out of the city to explore how children’s rural ways of knowing impacts the way they make sense and negotiate new understandings in all parts of the curriculum.

What is your teaching philosophy? I believe that every teacher (pre-service and in-service) is a researcher and I want to support them in their own inquiries. Every class I teach is developed to situate my students as researchers, asking their own questions about language and literacy, teaching and learning while supporting their active inquires by providing opportunities to dialogue and present that research to others. The power of the teacher’s voice in contributing to our research knowledge base in literacy education is critical and essential to understanding the teaching and learning dynamic.

What do you hope students learn from you? Not only how to research but also how to share that research to impact policy and practice.


Research Interests: 

Literacy as a social practice
Argument-based inquiry
Teacher learning
Texts and technology
Qualitative methodology as well as mixed methodology
Examining discourse patterns and pedagogical moves that challenge deficit assumptions related to children and youth, language and literacy, texts andtechnology, families & teachers

Professional Accomplishments: 

Norton-Meier, L., Hand, B., Hockenberry, L. & Wise, K. (2008). Questions, claims, & evidence: The important place of argument in children’s science writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Hand, B., Norton-Meier, L., Staker, J. & Bintz, J. (2009). Negotiating Science: The critical role of argument in student inquiry. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 
Hand, B. & Norton-Meier, L. (Eds.) (2011). Voices from the Classroom: Elementary teachers’ experience with argument–based inquiry. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Hand, B., Norton-Meier, L., & J. Y. Jang (Eds.) (2017). More Voices from the Classroom: International teachers’ experience with argument–based inquiry. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. 
Norton-Meier, L. & Overstreet, M. (Eds.) (2020). Clinical partnerships in urban elementary settings: An honest celebration of the messy realities of doing this work. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Publishers.

Book Chapters
Hand, B., A. Cavagnetto, & L. Norton-Meier. (2019). Immersive approaches to science argumentation and literacy: What does it mean to “live” the language of science. In Hand, B. & Prain, V. (Eds.) Theoretical Perspectives on Language and Literacy in the Learning of Science. (pp. 99-112). Dordrecht: Springer.
Linebarger, D. & L. A. Norton-Meier. (2016). Scientific Concepts, Multiple Modalities, and Young Children. In Hand, B., Prain, V., & McDermott, M. (Eds.), Using Multimodal Representations to Support Learning in the Science Classroom. (pp. 97-116). Dordrecht: Springer.
Norton-Meier, L. A. & Hand, B. (2013). When the water goes bad and other essential reasons to argue and write about science in elementary classrooms. In Whitmore, K. & Meyer, R. Reclaiming Writing. (pp. 58-69). New York, NY: Routledge.
Norton-Meier, L. A. (2013). “So my grandpa knows what way to drive the tractor:” Children engage rural ways of knowing. In Whitmore, K. & Meyer, R. Reclaiming Writing. (pp. 193-196). New York, NY: Routledge.

Journal Articles
Hand, B. & Norton-Meier, L. (2018). I will just SWH it: The learning lens of teachers as they engage in the exploration of Argument-Based Inquiry. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 62(2), 223-226. doi: 10.1002/jaal.872
Chen, Y.-C., Hand, B, & Norton-Meier, L. (2016). Teacher roles of questioning in early elementary science classrooms: A framework promoting student cognitive complexities in argumentation. Research in Science Education. 1-33. doi: 10.1007/s11165-015-9506-6 
Ardasheva, Y., Norton-Meier, L. & B. Hand. (2015) Negotiation, embeddedness, and non-threatening learning environments as themes of science and language convergence for English language learners. Studies in Science Education, 51(2), 201-249.