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Chris Carson

Instructor, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education


My story:

I came to teaching with an undergraduate education that prepared me to study complicated scientific problems, but gave me little preparation for the complexities of teaching and learning. Armed only with a few summer courses and the knowledge that our education system perpetuated gross inequalities, I plunged into classroom teaching.

Over the next 11 years, my appreciation for teaching and my awareness of its complexities grew as I worked as a public school teacher in diverse classroom settings and subject areas across three states. Throughout these years, I was pushed to constantly adapt and change my practice for each new subject and each new group of learners: general or introductory science for middle school and early high school students; chemistry and physics for college bound juniors and seniors; creative writing for middle schoolers in treatment for mental health issues; elementary summer school for a class of boys in the foster care system; physical education for students with significant learning disabilities; and English language acquisition for emerging bilinguals. In each of these settings, the recognition I received or successes I enjoyed were tempered by problems and questions about my practice.

I was fortunate to be able to engage in graduate studies through most of my years of teaching, earning an MA in Education from the University of Mississippi and then an MA in Linguistics from University of Utah. In the best graduate classes, I was able to explore the deeper issues that surround and underscore both the challenges and successes of classroom teaching, such as the impact and intersection of language and identity. In the last few years of classroom teaching, I became more focused on the use of meaningful science and engineering practices, connected to community problems, as a way to develop language and literacy.

Though my work at CU Denver involves preparing teachers to work in all grade levels and all content areas, I continue to explore and promote learning environments where students engage in meaningful inquiry that facilitates language acquisition.

My students at University of Colorado Denver:

I feel very fortunate to work at an institution that supports a partnership model for teacher training. In addition to teaching classes toward culturally and linguistically diverse education (CLDE) endorsement, I supervise and coach pre-service teachers in our partner schools. Working with my students in classrooms is a powerful way to connect theory to practice.

My research interests:

I have been a part of CU Denver's ongoing efforts to encourage linguistically responsive teaching in science and math (the eCALLMS design team), authoring professional development modules and facilitating research on the efficacy of this approach. My conference presentations focus on linguistically responsive teaching in the content area.

Classes I teach at the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development:

  • CLDE 4020: Creating Culturally Responsive Classroom Communities
  • CLDE 5030: Language Development of Multilingual Learners, Advanced
  • CLDE 5820: Teaching Multilingual Learners, Advanced
  • CLDE 5050: Assessment and Advocacy for Diverse Learners
  • CLDE 5070: Linguistic Analysis of English—Implications for Teaching
  • CLDE 5810: Literacy for Bilingual Learners
  • CLDE 5140: Language, Culture and Educational Equity


Like most parents, I love spending time with my kids. I have a life-long love of climbing up, running through, or simply being in mountains. I love listening to and making music, as well as storytelling and writing. My best days are when all of these things come together.


CU Denver School of Education &
Human Development

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