Lori Norton-Meier

Lori Norton-Meier

Director, Early Childhood Research Center

Department of Special Education, Early Childhood & Prevention Science
Room 123A - College of Education and Human Development
Office: 502-852-1316
Fax: 502-852-1497
lori.nortonmeier @ louisville.edu

Dr. Norton-Meier's curriculum [PDF]


I grew up as an Iowa farm girl in the small rural town of Lowden, IA (population barely 700). 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 then found her way to the University of Louisville in 2009, where I experience “the best of both worlds”. At UofL, I can stay true to my urban mission to understand the unique challenges of teaching and learning in large cities but I also can go just a few miles out of the city to explore how children’s rural ways of knowing exploring impacts the way they make sense and negotiate new understandings in all parts of the curriculum.

My husband and I love to ride bikes, travel the world, analyze movies, delight in all sports (particularly watching the Chicago Cubs), and spoil our two 20-something children.

My research examines the role of play and inquiry in teaching and learning particularly related to language and literacy practices of teachers, children, youth, and family members. I study the role of play in understanding media literacy, how play and inquiry in families fuels learning in and out of school settings, and argument-based inquiry in teaching and learning particularly related to science. I teach courses online, face-to-face and in hybrid environments for undergraduate (literacy methods) and graduate students (Literacy Learning and Cultural Difference, Literacy Teaching and Technology, and a variety of courses for doctoral students).

Educational Background

  • PhD, Language, Literacy and Culture Early Childhood/Elementary Education, University of Iowa, 1998
  • MA, Early Childhood Education, University of Iowa, 1995
  • B.S., Child, Parent and Community Services, Iowa State University, 1986

Teaching Areas

  • Literacy Research and Theory
  • Literacy Learning and Cultural Difference
  • Literacy Teaching and Technology
  • Emergent Literacy

Research Interests

  • The International Science Literacy Project: Research studies of inquiry-based science, language and literacy
  • Play, literacy, and the pursuit of happiness: An ethnographic study across the life span
  • Parent-Kid-Teacher Investigators (PKTI): A study of the development of a learning community


  • Center for the Expansion of Language and Thinking (CELT), board member
  • College Faculty Personnel Committee
  • College Curriculum Committee

Professional Memberships

  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • International Reading Association
  • Literacy Research Association
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children

Selected Publications

  • 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.
  • Norton-Meier, L., Drake, C., Tidwell, M. (2009). Writing a Mathematics Community: A Pen Pal Inquiry Project. Language Arts. 86(4). 245-256.
  • Norton-Meier, L. (2009). In defense of crappy literature: When the book is bad but the literary thinking is rich! Language Arts. 86(3). 188-195.
  • Ackay, H., Hand, B., & Norton-Meier, L. (2010). Creative writing and promoting understanding in science: Alternative ways to interest students in writing about science. School Science Review, 92(339), 49-53.
  • Cavagnetto, A., Hand, B. & Norton-Meier, L. (2010). The nature of elementary student science discourse in the context of the science writing heuristic approach. International Journal of Science Education, 32(4), 427-449.
  • Norton-Meier, L. & Drake, C. (2010). When third space is more than the library: The complexities of theorizing and learning to use family and community resources to teach elementary literacy and mathematics. In Ellis, V., Edwards, A., & Smagorinsky, P. (Eds.). Cultural-Historical perspectives on teacher education and development. London: Routledge.
  • Hand, B. & Norton-Meier, L. (2011). Voices from the Classroom: Elementary teachers’ experience with argument–based inquiry. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.