For Students, Faculty, and Staff: MyU One Stop



Lori Helman

Associate Professor
Ph. D., University of Nevada, Reno
literacy education

Curriculum and Instruction
360 Peik Hall

159 Pillsbury Dr S E
Tel: 612/624-2034

Office hours:
by appointment

Areas of Expertise

Literacy development in the elementary grades, effective instructional practices with multilingual learners, teacher development and leadership, assessment and instruction to support aspiring readers K-6

Research Summary

At the heart of my research is a quest to understand the literacy development of students from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and apply this understanding to effective classroom practices. Many years of bilingual teaching at the early grades, as well as a background in teacher education from the pre-service through the accomplished veteran level have contributed to this academic pursuit. My leadership in new teacher induction programs allowed me to work with beginning teachers and the mentors that served them during their first years in the profession. Most recently, I have designed professional development courses and support structures for literacy specialists as they take on greater leadership roles at their school sites, and have engaged teachers at all levels to enhance their instruction with students who have been traditionally underserved by schools.

My research is deeply connected to the educational needs of students learning English as a new language. Bilingual students engage in a web of psychological, socio-cultural, linguistic and educational environments that affect their literacy development. My particular research focuses on the interaction of language, literacy and educational practices. I have compared the orthography of students’ home languages to English, and used examples of early literacy behaviors such as alphabetic spellings to examine how the funds of knowledge that students bring from their home language may influence their literacy learning. I have analyzed large data sets of literacy assessments to better understand how language proficiency has an impact on the kinds of specific responses that students make. I have conducted longitudinal research with English learners as I investigate how the acquisition of literacy in English looks the same or differs for native speakers and second-language learners. As I compare the literacy behaviors of students from different language backgrounds, I seek to apply the insights I gain to a broader view of literacy development that encompasses both multilingual and English-only students.

Selected Publications

  1. Templeton, S., Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., Johnston, F., Townsend, D., Flanigan, K., Helman, L., & Hayes, T. (2015). Vocabulary Their Way 2nd Edition. Boston: Pearson.

  2. Johnston, F., Invernizzi, M., Helman, L., Bear, D. R., & Templeton, S. (2015). Words Their Way for PreK and Kindergarten. Boston: Pearson.

  3. Helman, L. (2012). Literacy instruction in multilingual classrooms: Engaging English learners in elementary schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

  4. Helman, L. A., Bear, D. R., Templeton, S., Invernizzi, M. & Johnston, F. (2012). Words their way with English learners: Word study for phonics, vocabulary and spelling instruction, 2nd Edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

  5. Helman, L. A. (Ed.) (2009). Literacy Development with English Learners: Research-Based Instruction in Grades K-6. New York: The Guilford Press.

  6. Burns, M. K. & Helman, L. A. (2009). Relationship between language skills and acquisition rate of sight words among English language learners. Literacy Research and Instruction 48(3), 221-232.

  7. Helman, L. (2008). English words needed: Creating research-based vocabulary instruction for English learners. In A. E. Farstrup & S. J. Samuels (Eds.). What Research Has To Say about Vocabulary Instruction (pp. 211-237). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  8. Helman, L. A. & Bear, D. R. (2007). Does an established model of orthographic development hold true for English learners? In D. W. Rowe, R. Jimenez, D. L. Compton, D. K.Dickinson, Y. Kim, K. M. Leander, and V. J. Risko (Eds.), 56th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference (pp. 266-280).

  9. Helman, L. (2004). Building on the sound system of Spanish: Insights from the alphabetic spellings of English language learners. The Reading Teacher, 57, 452-460. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.