Our Faculty

Christine Leighton

Associate Professor of Education

Contact Information


Office Hours

Office: Cardinal Cushing Library, Room G08E


Ed.D., Boston University; M.Ed., George Washington University; B.S.LA., Georgetown University


Dr. Leighton earned her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University with a Spanish major and an Arabic minor. While teaching at a language immersion, elementary public charter school in Washington, D.C. she earned her M.Ed. from George Washington with licensure to teach Spanish and ESL. She continued to pursue her interest in bilingualism and biliteracy at Boston University where she earned her Ed.D. in the field of literacy and language. Dr. Leighton joined Emmanuel College in the fall of 2010. She is committed to instructing undergraduate and graduate students in effective literacy practices as they prepare to teach an increasingly diverse student population.

Dr. Leighton is interested in working with students and teachers in multilingual and multicultural classrooms to ensure meaningful and equitable learning opportunities that foster language and literacy development. She collaborates with practicing teachers to explore areas they identify as critical to their development as literacy instructors and to their students' academic growth. Their work is iterative as they explore instructional approaches (e.g. teaching with complex and culturally relevant texts, engaging students in critical reasoning discussions) to promote academic engagement, rich classroom discourse, and authentic literacy and language experiences.

What I Love About Emmanuel: 

I love working with my students here at Emmanuel. It is inspiring to work with pre-service teachers, to share with them my experiences as a former classroom teacher, and to give them tools that will help them transform the lives of others through education.

Courses I Teach

  • EDUC1111: The Great American Experiment
  • EDUC3211: Literacy and Literacy Methods I
  • EDUC3212: Literacy and Literacy Methods II
  • EDUC3300: Sheltered English Instruction: Teaching ELLs
  • EDUC5202: Literacy and Literacy Methods I
  • EDUC5204: Literacy and Literacy Methods II
  • EDUC5207: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Practices I
  • EDUC5208: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Practices II
  • ENGL3307: Survey of Literature for Children and Young Adults

Publications + Presentations

Selected Publications

  • O’Brien, L.M., Carocca, F.A., Enos, B., Leighton, C.M., & Caffey, E. (2021). Empowering Teachers to Reimagine Instruction that Builds Students’ Literacies. MRA Primer, 49(2), 9-27.https://issuu.com/vshinas/docs/2021_primer_journal
  • Leighton, C.M., Ford-Connors, E., Proctor, C. P., & Wyatt, J. (2021) Teacher talk that supports young multilingual students’ participation in Exploratory Discourse. Reading Psychology. doi: 10.1080/02702711.2021.1888354
  • Giunco, K., & Leighton, C.M., Balthazar, K. (2020). Enhancing reading engagement through the use of representative texts and grade-level “literacy partners”. MRA primer, 48(2), 24-38.
  • Leighton, C.M., Ford-Connors, E, Proctor, C.P., & Wyatt, J. (2019). Engaging Second-grade ELs in Complex Texts, Topics, and Tasks. Literacy and Research Instruction. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2019.1638473
  • Leighton, C.M., Ford-Connors, E., Robertson, D.A., Wyatt, J., Wagner, C.J., Proctor, C.P., & Paratore, J.R.. (2018). "Let's FaceTime tonight:" Using digital tools to enhance coaching. Reading Teacher, 72(1), 39-49. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1676
  • Leighton, C.M., O'Brien, L.M, Giunco, K. (2017). Advancing English learners' disciplinary knowledge and academic language using complex expository text. New England Research Association Journal, 52(1), 7-18.
  • O'Brien, L.M. & Leighton, C.M. Use of Increasingly Complex Text to Advance ELLs' Knowledge and Academic Language (2015). Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice. 64(1), 169-192. doi: 10.1177/2381336915617579 
  • O'Brien, L.M., Paratore, J. R., Leighton, C.M., Cassano, C., Krol-Sinclair, B., & Greif Green, J. (2014). Examining the differential effects of a family literacy program and the language and literacy growth of linguistically diverse children with varying English vocabularies, Journal of Literacy Research, 46(3), 383-415. doi: 10.1177/1086296X14552180.

Book Chapters

  • Ossa-Parra, M., Wagner, C.J., Proctor, C.P., Leighton, C.M., Robertson, D.A., Paratore, J.R., & Ford-Connors, E. (2016). Dialogic reasoning: Supporting emergent bilingual students' language and literacy development. In C.P. Proctor, A. Boardman, & E.H. Hiebert (Eds.), Teaching emergent bilingual students: Flexible approaches in an era of new standards (pp. 119-137). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Ford-Connors, E., Robertson, D. A., Leighton, C., Paratore, J. R., Proctor, C. P., & Carney, M. (2015). Comprehension Instruction within the Context of Common Core Standards. In S. R. Parris & K. Headley (Eds.). Comprehension Instruction: Research Based Best Practices, 3rd edition. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Social Media

Selected Presentations

  • Giunco, K., Leighton, C.M., & O’Brien, L.M. Sixth-grade students’ evolving reading identities when literacy is positioned as a tool for change. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association Conference, Atlanta, GA, December 1, 2021.
  • Leighton, C.M., O’Brien, L.M., & Giunco, K.M. Supporting positive reading identities in a fifth-grade classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, virtual, December 2, 2020
  • Leighton, C.M., Giunco, K., & O’Brien, L.M. Fostering agentic engagement: A teacher and her fifth-grade students ongoing efforts. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Tampa, FL, December 4, 2019.
  • Leighton, C.M. & Ford-Connors, E. Helping Students Use Their Voice: Teacher Talk that Supports Young Emergent Bilinguals' Participation in Exploratory Discourse. Presented at annual LRA conference, Indian Wells, CA, November 30, 2018
  • O'Brien, L.M., Leighton, C.M., Guinco, K. Reexamining Instructional Contexts for ELs. Presented at annual LRA conference, Indian Wells, CA, November 28, 2018
  • O'Brien, L.M., Leighton, C.M., & Giunco, K. Strategic Use of Teacher Talk to Advance English learners' Learning. Paper presented at the annual American Educational Research Association, New York, NY, April 17, 2018.
  • Leighton, C.M. & Ford-Connors, E. Engaging Second-grade ELs in Complex Texts, Topics, and Tasks. Paper presented at the annual Literacy Research Association conference, Tampa, FL, November 30, 2017.
  • O'Brien, L.M. & Leighton, C.M. Optimal Text Selection to build Young Children's Concept and Vocabulary Knowledge, and Informational Text Comprehension. Presented at the annual preconference institute conference of the International Literacy Association, Boston July 8, 2016 
  • ELICIT Team, Can we talk? Dialogic reasoning as a pathway to young children's development of language and world knowledge. Presented at the annual preconference institute conference of the International Literacy Association, Boston July 8, 2016 
  • ELICIT Team, Dialogic reasoning: A discursive approach to literacy learning and knowledge development. Presented at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Reading Association, Boston, April 7, 2016 
  • O'Brien, L.M., Leighton, C.M., Paratore, J.R., Ford-Connors, E. Exploring Relations between Classroom Talk and Young ELLs' Disciplinary Learning. Paper Presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Carlsbad, CA, December 2, 2015.
  • Giunco, K., & Leighton, C.M. Enhancing reading engagement through the use of representative texts and grade-level "literacy partners". Sylvia D. Brown Scholarship, MRA ($990.64).
  • Emmanuel College Faculty Excellence in Teaching award recipient (2016-2017)
  • 2010: Elsbeth Melville Scholarship, Boston University Women's Guild
  • 2010: Invited alumni-graduation speaker, EWS Community Freedom Public Charter School
  • 2001: Nominated as DC Charter Schools' Teacher of the Year

Research Focus

Dr. Leighton is involved in several research projects to help deepen understanding about language and literacy learning. The first study is a collaboration with an in-service teacher that uses the teacher's experience, questions, and concerns to guide literacy interventions while keeping track of students' literacy learning outcomes. She is also working with a colleague at Merrimack College to explore the relations between between text, talk, and young English learners' disciplinary learning. She was part of a project called "Enhancing literacy instruction through coaching and interactive technology" (ELICIT).  This work brought researchers from Boston University and Boston College together with Boston public school teachers to focus on literacy instructional needs and literacy outcomes for multilingual students. Her collaboration with a second-grade teacher during this project serves as the basis for articles and presentations around engaging English learners with complex texts, topics, and tasks. 

Explore Emmanuel

Let's Get Started.

Emmanuel is a place where students broaden their sense of what’s possible and prepare for inspiring careers in an ever-changing world. Be here.