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Curriculum, Teaching  & Learning

Rob Simon
Associate Professor

email: rob.simon@utoronto.ca  
website: https://utoronto.academia.edu/RobSimon

Department: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Research Overview

Rob Simon is associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at OISE. Drawing on insights from practitioner research, critical literacy, and New Literacy Studies, Dr. Simon’s scholarship explores how educators develop understandings, curriculum, and pedagogy from students’ diverse cultures, languages, and literacy practices. The aim is to re-imagine schools and classrooms as places oriented to increased equity and educational opportunity for all students.

In 2015, Dr. Simon received the Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation for a project called "Addressing Injustices: Teachers and Adolescents Coauthoring Social Justice-Oriented Literacy Curriculum". He is the principal investigator of The Minecraft Project, a SSHRC-funded study of teachers' and youths' perspectives on the educational affordances of the online game Minecraft for urban classrooms, and the principal investigator of the Teaching to Learn Project, a Connaught-funded study that investigates a research community made up of teacher candidates, early-year literacy teachers, and youth.

Curriculum Vitae


Academic History

Ph.D., Reading/Writing/Literacy, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2009

MA in Secondary Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2003

Single-Subject Teaching Credential, English, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2001

Master’s of Theological Studies, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA, 1997

BA, Liberal Arts, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, USA, 1991

Teaching Overview

Dr. Simon has taught graduate courses including Literacy: Social and Educational Perspectives, Practitioner Research, Teaching English/Language and Literacy in Middle and Secondary Schools, and Research on Writing and the Teaching of Writing.

Dr. Simon currently teaches CTL3034: New Literacies: Making Multiple Meanings, CTL1799: Practitioner Inquiry in Education, and a course in the Master of Teaching program, CTL7020: Curriculum and Teaching in English: Intermediate and Secondary.

Representative Publications


Beach, R., Appleman, D., Fecho, B., & Simon, R. (Forthcoming: March 2016). Teaching Literature to Adolescents, 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Edited Book:

Kosnik, C., Rowsell, J., Williamson, P., Simon, R. & Beck, C. (Eds.). (2013). Literacy Teacher Educators: Preparing Teachers for a Changing World. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Link to e-book in University of Toronto Library: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/9105228


Simon, R. (Producer), Kalan, A. (Director), and the Teaching to Learn Project (2015). After Night. (Documentary film). Toronto, ON. Film, related articles, and curriculum resources available at: www.afternightfilm.com

Select Articles and Book Chapters:

Simon, R. (2015). “Just don’t get up there and ‘Dangerous Minds’ us”: Taking an inquiry stance on adolescents’ literacy practices in urban teacher education. In J. Lampert & B. Burnett, Teacher Education for High Poverty Schools (pp. 235-251). New York: Springer. Link to e-book in University of Toronto Library: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/10246173

Simon, R., & Kalan, A. (In Press). Adolescent literacy and collaborative inquiry. In D. Appleman & K. Hinchman (Eds.), Adolescent Literacy: A Handbook of Practice-based Research. NY: Routledge.

Simon, R. (2015). “I’m fighting my fight, and I’m not alone anymore”: The influence of communities of inquiry. English Education, 48(1), 41-71.

Simon, R. & Campano, G. (2015). Hermeneutics of literacy pedagogy. In K. Pahl & J. Rowsell (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies. NY: Routledge. Link to e-book in University of Toronto Library: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/10264974

Simon, R., and The Teaching to Learn Project: Bailey, A., Brennan, J., Calarco, A., Clarke, K., Edwards, W., Fujiwara, C., Kalan, A., Kruja, J., McInnes-Greenberg, E., & Pisecny, A. (2014). “In the swell of wandering words”: The arts as a vehicle for adolescents’ and educators’ inquiries into the Holocaust memoir Night. Perspectives on Urban Education, 11(2), 90-106. Available online at: http://www.urbanedjournal.org/sites/urbanedjournal.org/files/pdf_archive/9%20Simon%20et%20al.%20%20POUE%20Vol.%2011_Issue%202.pdf

Simon, R. (2014). Making critical sense and critical use of the Common Core State Standards. Language Arts, 91(4).

Simon, R., Brennan, J., Bresba, S., DeAngelis, S., Edwards, W., Jung, H., & Pisecny, A. (2014). Investigating literacy through intergenerational inquiry. In H. Pleasants & D. Salter (Eds.), Community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects: Questioning assumptions and exploring realities (pp.159-180). NY: Peter Lang.

Simon, R., Acosta, A., Houtman, E. (2014). “Memeration”: Exploring academic authorship in online spaces. In Pytash, K., and Ferdig, R. (Eds.), Exploring Multimodal Composition and Digital Writing (pp. 54-68). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Simon, R. & Campano, G. (2013). Activist literacies: Teacher research as resistance to the "normal curve". Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 9(1), 21-39. http://jolle.coe.uga.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Teacher-Research.pdf

Simon, R. (2013). “Starting with what is”: Exploring response and responsibility to student writing through collaborative inquiry. English Education, 45(2) 115-146. http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/EE/0452-jan2013/EE0452Starting.pdf

Ghiso, M.P., Campano, G., & Simon, R. (2013). Grassroots inquiry: Reconsidering the location of innovation. Language Arts 91(2), 105-112.

Simon, R., Campano, G., Broderick, D., & Pantoja, A. (2012). Practitioner research and literacy studies: Toward more dialogic methodologies. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 11(2), 5-24. http://edlinked.soe.waikato.ac.nz/research/files/etpc/files/2012v11n2art1.pdf

Simon, R. (2012).  “Without comic books there would be no me”: Teachers as connoisseurs of adolescents’ literate lives. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 55(6), 516-526. http://web.a.ebscohost.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=90c7d8a5-11ca-4cac-80af-788fe33a5a1c%40sessionmgr4003&hid=4212

Simon, R. (2011). On the human challenges of multiliteracies pedagogy. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 12(4), 362-366http://www.wwwords.co.uk.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/rss/abstract.asp?j=ciec&aid=4825&doi=1

Simon, R. (2009). Constructing a language of learning to teach. In M. Cochran-Smith and S.L. Lytle (Eds.), Inquiry as stance: Practitioner research for the next generation (pp. 275-292). NY: Teachers College Press.


Research Grants and Contracts

Current research includes:

"Addressing Injustices: Teachers and Adolescents Coauthoring Social Justice-Oriented Literacy Curriculum," a five-year project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation involving a collaboration between grade 8 students at Delta Alternative School in TDSB and Master of Teaching students at OISE co-authoring critical literacy curriculum for young adult novels addressing social issues.

"Teaching to Learn: Collaborative Teacher Research in Community," a Connaught-funded research study that involves adolescents and educators as partners in designing social justice-oriented literacy curriculum. The Teaching to Learn Project has resulted in two publications co-authored with youth and teachers, multiple conference papers, several publications in progress, an art exhibition, and a film, After Night, currently in post production.

"The Minecraft Project: Exploring videogames as a platform for teaching, learning, and curriculum," funded by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant. This study investigates Minecraft—an online, collaborative “sandbox game” that offers players endless choices to construct and even program their own inventions, structures, and narratives. The Minecraft Project will support the development of a Gaming Pedagogy Framework based on case studies of gameplay and interviews with educators and youth who use Minecraft across varied purposes and locations. Findings will inform how educators can use gaming for increasing student learning and engagement, developing curriculum and critical pedagogy, and teaching digitally in Ontario classrooms.

Honours and Awards

2015 - Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation

2013 - Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, OISE.

2009-2010 - Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

2009 - Ralph C. Preston Award for Scholarship and Teaching Contributing to Social Justice and Educational Equity.

Dr. Simon has been nominated for teaching awards including: Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and the Excellence in Initial Teacher Education awards at OISE/University of Toronto, 2011-2012; The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Teaching and Learning’s Graduate Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, 2006-2007, and the Graduate School of Education’s Teaching Excellence Award, at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006.

Professional Activities

Recent Plenary Session:
Ethnography in Education Research Forum, 2014:

Recent Interviews:
“Youth and Teachers Respond Collectively to Art Spiegelman’s Maus Through Art and Inquiry: An Interview with Professor Rob Simon and Delta Senior Alternative School Teacher Sarah Evis.” Interview with Jasmine Wong, Facing History and Ourselves, December 22, 2015. Available at: http://onnetwork.facinghistory.org/youth-and-teachers-respond-collectively-to-art-spiegelmans-maus-through-art-and-inquiry-an-interview-with-professor-rob-simon-and-delta-senior-alternative-school-teacher-sarah-evis/

"Critical practitioner research at the Centre for Urban Schooling: An interview with Dr. Rob Simon." April 24, 2015. Audrey Hudson. http://cus.oise.utoronto.ca/UserFiles/File/CUS-Simon-Final.pdf

“Collaborative Inquiry using NIGHT: An Interview with Professor Rob Simon.” April 8, 2013. Available at: http://onnetwork.facinghistory.org/collaborative-inquiry-using-night-an-interview-with-professor-rob-simon/.

Research Centres:
Acting Academic Director of the Centre for Urban Schooling (CUS)
Member, Centre for Media and Culture in Education (CMCE);
Member, Centre for Educational Research in Language and Literacy (CERLL).

Professional Service:
Member, Board of Directors, Life Learning Academy High School, San Francisco, CA.
Area Chair, Area 1, Literacy Research Association
Officer, Literature SIG, AERA

Co-editor, with Korina Jocson and Keisha L. Green:
"Youth literacies and social justice": Special issue of English Teaching: Practice and Critique. Publishing date: December 2016.

Professional journals and publishers I have reviewed for include:
English Education; Pedagogies; Curriculum Inquiry; Language and Literacy; Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood; Teachers College Press; Routledge English Language and Linguistics; Sage. I am on the Faculty Advisory Board for Curriculum Inquiry.

I have served as reviewer for the following professional organizations:
The American Educational Research Association (AERA), The Literacy Research Association (LRA), and the Language and Literacy Researchers in Canada, Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE)