María   G.  Leija

Assistant Professor  

Office: EEDUC 2.616
Phone: (956) 665-3409
Email: maria.leija@utrgv.edu

Dr. María G. Leija

María Leija, Ph.D., earned her doctorate at The University of Texas at Austin and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her research focuses on elementary Latina/o preservice and in-service teachers’ pedagogical practices in Spanish/English bilingual classrooms. She utilizes Latino Critical Race theory to examine classroom discourse and pedagogical practices. She has examined and published on the use of children’s literature for teaching the social studies and language arts by capitalizing on themes such as immigration and Latino community cultural practices.

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Bilingual preservice and inservice teachers' pedagogical practices
    • Biliteracy, bilingualism, and biculturalism
    • Latino children's literature
    • Read alouds
  • Education

    • PhD, Curriculum and Instruction, The University of Texas - Austin, 2017
    • MEd, Bilingual Education, Boise State University, 2007
    • BA, Elementary Education, Boise State University, 2003
  • Currently Teaching

    READ 3350 03 - Lit & Disc Learn Elem Sch:
    Syllabus
    Course Evaluations
    Textbooks
    RLIT 6329 90L - Lit Assess & Instr Decision:
    Syllabus
    Course Evaluations
    Textbooks
    READ 3350 04 - Lit & Disc Learn Elem Sch:
    Syllabus
    Course Evaluations
    Textbooks




Selected Publications


  • María Fránquiz, Maria Leija, and Irene Garza. "“Figuring” Bidirectional Home and School Connections Along the Biliteracy Continuum," Bilingual Research Journal 38, no. 2 (May 2015): 152-171.

  • Gilberto Lara and Maria Leija. "Discussing Gender Roles and Equality by Reading Max: The Stubborn Little Wolf.," Social Studies and the Young Learner 27, no. 2 (2014): 22-25.



Selected Grants and Fellowships


  • Maria Leija. Reflections on Teacher Education Practices of First-Year Tenure Track Professors at an HSI, 2017-2018 HSI SIRG Research Initiative, College of Education and P-16 Integration, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, $1,250.00 (September 2017 - August 2018)

  • Maria Leija. CNV Fellow, NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), (June 2018)

  • Maria Leija. Travel Award, Faculty Travel Support Program, $800.00 (April 12, 2018 - April 17, 2018)

  • Maria Leija. Travel Award, Faculty Travel Support Program, $600.00 (November 28, 2017 - December 2, 2017)



Selected Presentations


  • Maria Leija. "Critical Literacy," EDUC 3303 Teaching in Diverse Classrooms, Edinburg, TX (April 2018)

  • Maria Leija, Gilberto Lara, Gerardo Aponte Martinez, and Hitomi Kambara. "Reflections on Teacher Education Practices of First-Year Tenure-Track Professors at a Hispanic Serving Institution," Hispanic Serving Institution, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, McAllen, TX (April 2018)

  • María Leija. "Read-Alouds on Immigration: Second Graders Learning About Multiple Meanings of Words ," American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference, New York, New York (April 2018)

  • Gilberto Lara and Maria Leija. "Identity Texts: Literature that Affirms Intersecting Languages and Literacies," National Association of Bilingual Eduction (NABE) Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico (March 2018)

  • Gilberto Lara, Gerardo Aponte Martinez, and Maria Leija. "Lessons in Mentoring Young Education Researchers: A Holmes Cadets Partnership between UTRGV and the South Texas," 70th AACTE Annual Meeting , American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), Baltimore, MD (March 2018)

  • Gilberto Lara and Maria Leija. "Recognizing Heterogeneity in Latino Cultural Knowledge," Literacy Research Association (LRA) Annual Conference, Literacy Research Association (LRA), Tampa, FL (November 2017)

  • Gilberto Lara and Maria Leija. "Culturally Relevant Children's Literature as Mentor Texts," Literacy Research Association (LRA) Annual Conference, Literacy Research Association (LRA), Tampa, FL (November 2017)

  • Maria Leija and Manuel Martínez. "Using Interactive Read Alouds to Discuss Immigration Issues," Biliteracy: Construyendo puentes y uniendo culturas, TABE, McAllen, TX (October 2017)

Current Courses

READ 3350 03 - Lit & Disc Learn Elem Sch:
Syllabus
Course Evaluations
Textbooks
RLIT 6329 90L - Lit Assess & Instr Decision:
Syllabus
Course Evaluations
Textbooks
READ 3350 04 - Lit & Disc Learn Elem Sch:
Syllabus
Course Evaluations
Textbooks

Previous Courses