Mary Lee Griffin

Professor of Education, Emerita


Ph.D University of Rhode Island
M. Ed Rhode Island College
B.S. Wheelock College


My passions continue to lie in teaching and research, most specifically in the area of literacy. My current research centers on mindfulness’ impact on teaching and learning, especially students’ reading and writing. Over the past six years, my Wheaton research partners and I have taught mindfulness to elementary readers and writers using teaching protocols we revise and refine each year.

My Wheaton teaching involves courses related to literacy theory, process and pedagogy. I also greatly enjoy supervising and mentoring each cohort of Wheaton student teachers.

I have been fortunate to find powerful, invigorating intersections between my teaching, scholarship and service to the Wheaton community. I have integrated contemplative practices into many of my courses and I am proud to be a founding member of Wheaton’s Contemplative Studies Initiative (CSI). To be a part of this diverse, committed group of faculty, staff, students, alums, parents and community members has been a great privilege for me.

Main Interests

Mindfulness practices and connections to reading and writing, early literacy development, social contexts of reading and writing, job-embedded professional development designed to support “balanced K-3 literacy programs.” Visualizing the reading/thinking process. Readers’ and writers’ active engagement. Visualizing thinking when engaged in literate tasks.


Writer to Writer: Fluency and Craft in Multilingual Settings, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007.

Writing Partnerships: Building Strategies and Independence Together. PRIMER, MA Reading Association, 2004/2005.

Reader to Reader: Building Independence Through Peer Partnerships, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2005.

With Nancy Witherell, Fluency In Focus: Comprehension Strategies for Young Readers Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004.

Using Peer Partnerships to Scaffold Reading. Chapter in, Rodgers, A. & Rodgers, E. Scaffolding Literacy Instruction: Strategies for K-4 Classrooms, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004, 121-142.

Online Commentary and Discussion, with Evelyn Vuko, Educational Columnist, Washington Post. What No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Means for Your Kids, Washington Post Online discussion and commentary, March 9, 2004.

Commentary, Bush School Program Puts Thinking on Hold. The Providence Journal, September 23, 2003, B,5.

Hooked On Phonics: We Should Lose This Addiction. Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2002. (commentary)

Pictures of Patricia Reilly Giff: Really Looking and Seeing ‘The Way Things Are’. Under the Spell of Books: The Rhode Island College Journal About Literature for Young People. Vol. 2 (1). Spring, 2003.

Focus on Alphabet Would Rob Pupils. PROVIDENCE JOURNAL. April 21, 2002. (also published in the BANGOR DAILY NEWS)

Focus on Alphabet Would Rob Pupils. Radio broadcast. The Best of Our Knowledge, NPR (National Public Radio), May 20. 2002. (broadcast on other dates as well).

Why don’t you use your finger?: Paired Reading in First Grade. THE READING TEACHER.Vol. 55 (6). pp. 766-774.

Contributor (book reviews). Chapter 14: Early Reading Books. 2002 NCTE ADVENTURING WITH BOOKS. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2002.

Social Contexts of Beginning Reading. LANGUAGE ARTS. Vol. 78 (4). March 2001.pp. 371-377.

Writing support for “Rhode Island Individual Professional Development Plans” (I…Plans), Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2000.

Principal writer, “Rhode Island Policy Frameworks for K-3 Reading,” Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 1999.

“Rhode Island Job-embedded Professional Development”. Written under contract for the Rhode Island Department of Education, In, SALT WORKS, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 1999.

“Job-embedded Professional Development”. Written under contract for the Rhode Island Department of Education. In, SALT WORKS, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 1998.

Teaching Interests

Early literacy, reading and writing curriculum, social contexts of teaching and learning, generative curriculum models, multiple perspectives on literacy, multicultural children’s literature (graduate course for Wheelock College). Mindfulness practices and their connections and relevance in the academy. Bringing mindfulness practices to bear on students’ reading, writing and cognitive pursuits.

Student Projects

For the past six years, I have worked in local public schools on the effects of mindfulness practices on students’ literate engagement.

Mars Summer Research, 2009: Worked with two Wheaton students, Caity Vomastek and Katie Powers to conduct a review of literature on mindfulness and learning, and planning a two-day retreat for out WRP research team, August 26 and 27, 2009.

WRP Student/Faculty Research Project, 2001-2002: With Wheaton student, Heather Brennan, conducted a yearlong study of peer reading partnerships in a local elementary school.

Wheaton Internship, Brighton, England. June 2004. Developed and led this program that brought seven Wheaton students to England where they were placed in classrooms at he Woodingdean Primary School just outside of Brighton.

Research Interests

I am currently researching mindfulness practices and their effect on readers and writers’ engagement with literate tasks. Early literacy development social contexts of reading and writing (specifically paired reading and writing), elementary language arts curriculum development, creating student-centered classrooms, reading fluency and relations to comprehension and job-embedded professional development models. How readers’ visualizations about literate thinking serve to engage them more deeply in the reading process.