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Education

NIU has a long-standing tradition of working in partnerships with schools across the northern Illinois region. Collaborating with local educators, NIU faculty and staff deliver professional development, conduct grant-funded projects, and share expertise.

Nearly 500 schools provide sites for NIU's teacher candidates to do their clinical observations and student teaching. In these schools and others, NIU faculty gain information about the impact of new mandates and the emerging needs of teachers and students.

These relationships result in higher student achievement in the schools, improved teaching, and better preparation for new teachers graduating from NIU.

  • By Grade Level
  • By Location
  • By Subject Area

Partnerships by Grade Level


Early Childhood

Project in Kenya

Three NIU specialists in early childhood education work in a village in rural Kenya to address problems such as a distant water supply to improve the quality of education for the youngest children, who sometimes spend several hours each day carrying water.

Certificate Programs

The College of Education and the College of Health and Human Sciences deliver an interdisciplinary program for early childhood certification.

Clinics

The Literacy Clinic, part of the College of Education, assists K-12 students who are struggling to read, provides practicum experiences for graduate students and offers professional development opportunities for reading specialists.

The Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, part of the College of Health and Human Sciences, provides diagnostic testing and treatment for children having difficulties in communication, including reading.

Both clinics are located at the NIU Family Health, Wellness and Literacy Center at 3100 Sycamore Road in DeKalb.

Facilities

The College of Health and Human Sciences operates a Child Development Laboratory on campus that houses a popular pre-school.

Special Projects

The College of Education also supports these projects.


Elementary Schools

Brooks Elementary School, DeKalb District 428

An after-school reading program for at-risk first and second grade students at Brooks involves 21 NIU students in Communications Disorders, College of Health and Human Sciences. The NIU students are trained to diagnose communications difficulties and implement appropriate interventions that help struggling readers.

Chesebro Elementary School, DeKalb District 428

Focused on the needs of English language learners, the Chesebro partnership intends to conduct bilingual classes by 2011.

Nelson and Rolling Green Elementary Schools, Rockford District 205

Five NIU colleges and NIU Outreach collaborated with the Rockford Public Schools and Rock Valley College in a $5 million, federally-funded project from 2003-2008. Project REAL resulted in higher student achievement, especially in mathematics. Sustaining the project’s successful innovations, NIU faculty and teachers at Nelson and Rolling Green Elementary Schools continue to work together on addressing needs identified in school improvement planning. These include improving performance of English language learners at Nelson and increasing reading and language arts skills at Rolling Green.

Wright Elementary School, DeKalb District 428

Three NIU colleges – Education, Health and Human Sciences and Visual and Performing Arts – participate in the Wright school partnership. A professional development school, the Wright partnership focuses on integrating arts and technology across the curriculum.


Middle Schools

College to Careers Clubs and Camps

Launched by Project REAL, College to Careers clubs are in action at Flinn Middle School in Rockford and expanding to other District 205 middle schools in 2009. The clubs encourage at-risk students to prepare for higher education by attending school regularly, taking rigorous courses, and altering behavior. Members gain opportunities to work with mentors and tutors, visit college campuses, and attend a summer camp at Rock Valley College.

GetWISE Clubs and Summer Camp

Engineering clubs, an extra-curricular activity, exist in six middle schools in Aurora District 129 and Rockford District 205. Funded by the E.E. Carter Foundation and led by NIU faculty, staff, and students, these clubs motivate young people to prepare for college and to consider careers in engineering. A popular summer camp at NIU provides in-depth, hands-on experiences with engineering.

Girl Scouts – Enhancing Engineering Pathways

This Saturday program for 48 middle school and high school girls provides hands-on engineering activities and information on engineering careers. Located at NIU Naperville, the program is funded Motorola and led by NIU engineering faculty and NIU student mentors.

Huntley and Clinton Rosette Middle Schools, DeKalb District 428

NIU and District 428 began planning in fall 2008 to establish professional development schools at DeKalb’s two middle schools.

M.S. in Teaching, Rockford District 205

The Department of Mathematical Sciences at NIU offers a unique master’s degree specialization that provides middle school math teachers in Rockford with a highly advanced level of expertise as they reach out to students and make important connections between math and the real world.

The degree program was launched as the centerpiece of “Excellence in the Middle,” a $1 million multi-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Illinois State Board of Education through a grant to NIU. Mathematics professors Helen Khoury and Mary Shafer are directing the project.

Read about the program in the Chicago Tribune.

Rockford Environmental Sciences Academy Middle School (RESA), Rockford District 205

Project REAL, a $5 million, federally funded program in Rockford, included the Rockford Environmental and Science Academy (RESA) during 2003-2008. Ongoing, post-grant activities include professional development to continue the upward trend in math performance during Project REAL. Another continuation of Project REAL includes popular career exploration trips provided by Rock Valley College for upper primary and middle school students.

Summer Camps

Get WISE engineering camps; Sci-Camp; and numerous academic, arts, and athletics camps are available for high school students on the NIU campus in June and July.


High Schools

Five NIU colleges prepare educators for working in high schools. Faculty and staff in these colleges work directly with high school teachers and students on grant-funded projects related to their disciplines, in partnerships, and on other activities.

DeKalb High School, District 428

new professional development school is in the planning stages and will be fully implemented with the opening of the new DeKalb High School building in August 2011.

West Aurora High School, Aurora District 129

Get WISE engineering club will be organized in 2009 at this school for the purpose of recruiting young people, especially minority women, into engineering. Get WISE also offers a summer camp at NIU for high school students.

Jefferson High School, Rockford District 205

The College to Careers club at Jefferson helps at-risk high school students raise their sights and prepare for college. A continuation of a very successful Project REAL activity, College to Careers provides tutors, mentors, campus visits, and summer camps at Rock Valley College and at NIU.

Summer Camps

Available for high school students on the NIU campus in June and July -- Get WISE engineering camps; Sci-Camp; and numerous academic, arts, and athletics camps. The College of Health and Human Sciences offers a Rural Health Professions camp for high school students to help recruit future healthcare professionals.


Community Colleges

Community College Partnerships strengthen transitions between associate degree programs and NIU, plus expand conveniently located NIU offerings.

Baccalaureate Completion Partnerships

NIU offers baccalaureate degrees in partnership with the following local community colleges:

Economic and Workforce Development

The Community College Partnership Office joins NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies and community colleges in collaborating with local agencies to address current and future workforce needs.

Rock Valley College, Rockford

Rock Valley College (RVC) and NIU work together to continue successful activities launched by Project REAL, a $5 million, federally-funded program in 2003-2008. These include extra-curricular clubs and summer camps for middle-school and high school students, mentors for future teacher clubs in the schools, and career exploration visits to RVC.

Other Colleges and Universities

HEARRR

The Higher Education Alliance of the Rock River Region is a consortium of four institutions – NIU, Rockford CollegeRock Valley Community College and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. The Alliance partners work together to build economic vitality, a skilled workforce and a rich cultural life for this dynamic region. Recognizing an urgent need to raise the quality of the workforce, the Alliance currently is focusing on encouraging students and parents to set their sights on a more education after high school.


Adult Education

Oak Crest Retirement Center

NIU students in kinesiology and physical education work in clinical settings with residents at Oak Crest.

programs start with pre-schools and extend up the education continuum to colleges and universities.


 

Partnerships by Academic Subject Area

NIU’s partnership activities range across all the academic areas, plus career exploration, technology, test preparation and other topics.


Biology

Anatomy

In a very popular and innovative program, high school students come to NIU for an intensive anatomy lesson that includes dissection of human cadavers.


Economics

Illinois Council on Economic Education (ICEE)

Based at NIU, the ICEE brings principles of economics and personal finance in standards-aligned projects to schools throughout Illinois. Home of the famous stock-market game.


Engineering

Competitions

A bridge-building competition is sponsored by the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. Because of the value of hands-on activities that teach engineering concepts and of team-based exercises, the college plans additional competitions in coming years.

GetWISE Clubs and Summer Camp

Engineering clubs, an extra-curricular activity, exist in six middle schools in Aurora District 129 and Rockford District 205. Funded by the E.E. Carter Foundation and led by NIU faculty, staff, and students, these clubs motivate young people to prepare for college and to consider careers in engineering. A popular summer camp at NIU provides in-depth, hands-on experiences with engineering.

Girl Scouts – Enhancing Engineering Pathways

This Saturday program for 48 middle school and high school girls provides hands-on engineering activities and information on engineering careers. Located at NIU Naperville, the program is funded Motorola and led by NIU engineering faculty and NIU student mentors.

Master of Science in Teaching

Aurora District 129 and Harlem Middle School have joined a new M.S. in Teaching, Emphasis in Engineering Education funded by the Illinois State Board of Education's Math-Science Partnership program.

Project Lead the Way

Project Lead the Way is bringing pre-engineering curriculum to schools in Freeport, Rockford and Elgin as part of a statewide project. The dean of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology serves on the state coordinating committee for Project Lead the Way.


Fine Arts

Arts Across the Curriculum

NIU faculty work with teachers and students at Wright Elementary in Malta and in the Rockford schools to integrate fine arts across the curriculum.  Music, visual arts, theater and dance help students learn to read and to understand mathematical concepts and processes. 

Community School of the Arts

The NIU Community School of the Arts brings many of the most talented teachers in the region together with children, teens, and adults at all levels of ability.

Competitions

The College of Visual and Performing Arts at NIU sponsors annual competitions in the visual arts, including the regional Scholastic contest, and master classes and contests for a wide variety of musical and theater groups.

Halloween Concerts

Families are encouraged to come early for tricks and treats before 6 p.m. at the Halloween pops concerts by the NIU Philharmonic. Call (815) 753-1546 for information.

Music Theory for Teachers

Reaching out to Rockford area music teachers, Dr. Edward Klonoski teaches an SRO graduate course in music theory at NIU Rockford. For information, call (815) 753-1450.

Service Learning: Tents of Hope

Mira Reisenberg, her art education students at NIU, teachers and students at Thayer Hill Middle School in Naperville, and students at a homeless shelter worked together on painting a tent and creating other art projects to raise public awareness about the genocide in Darfur.  "My students learned about local and global connections. They learned about service-based learning, doing work that benefits others and connects with the community," Reisberg said. "They're learning about the natural world, depth and radial symmetry, how to paint, how to create value, how to make things look sensational, color theory and that art can make a difference."  After local exhibitions, the painted tent was sent to refugee camp children in Darfur as part of an international project.

Summer Camps

The College of Visual and Performing Arts has been enriching the lives of junior and senior high school students for more than 25 years at intensive summer camps.


History

Making history come alive for students requires exciting teaching. American history expert J.D. Bowers is implementing a grant to improve the teaching of history in Rockford and Elgin schools.

Competitions

Northern Illinois Regional History Fair


Mathematics

M.S. in Teaching, Rockford District 205

Rockford middle school teachers have joined a new M.S. in Teaching, Emphasis in Middle School Mathematics. Taught by NIU faculty, the new degree program is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education's Math-Science Partnership Program. Read about the program in the Chicago Tribune.

Rockford Environmental Sciences Academy (RESA)

Project REAL, a $5 million, federally funded program in Rockford, included the Rockford Environmental and Science Academy (RESA) during 2003-2008. Ongoing, post-grant activities include professional development to continue the upward trend in math performance during Project REAL. Another continuation of Project REAL includes popular career exploration trips provided by Rock Valley College for upper primary and middle school students.

STEM Outreach

NIU’s STEM Outreach delivers off-campus programs and on-campus activities designed to increase Chicago Tribunescience, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and enthusiasm among
P-12 students, their families, and educators. The office provides a central place to find information on the numerous outreach programs offered by NIU’s STEM departments and the colleges.


Paleontology

Jane

A spectacular addition to the Burpee Museum in Rockford, Jane is a complete juvenile tyrannosaurus rex. NIU faculty and students are making new scientific discoveries that are becoming part of the dinosaur education programs at the museum.


Physics

Physics Olympics

Each spring NIU’s Department of Physics and its Society of Physics Students sponsor a Saturday of challenging and fun physics competition for high school students.  While most of the competitions are tackled in the laboratory, one session is dedicated to a set of three “twisted problems” designed by NIU Physics faculty for each team to work through together.   A team of 5 students will have one hour to complete three twisted problems and justify their decisions.  A “twisted problem” meets the following requirements: 

  • Can be solved using basic high school physics concepts without the use of calculus
  • May have steps in which students will have to make estimates and justify their numbers
  • Involves several “steps” and perhaps several seemingly unrelated concepts
  • Requires critical thinking
  • Cannot be completed by one student within an hour. 

The individual experimental and design challenges vary from year to year.  Past challenges have included building a tower from a single sheet of paper, navigating a laser maze, safely packing and mailing a Pringle’s potato chip, and deciphering circuits. 

Information is available each January at http://www.outreach.niu.edu/stem/olympics.shtml. Contact Pati Sievert, STEM Outreach Coordinator, at psievert@niu.edu or 815-753-1201.

Cosmic Ray Detectors

A group of high school students and teachers spent a week at the QuarkNet center jointly run by NIU and Argonne National Laboratory. Detecting and measuring cosmic rays was part of developing cutting-edge research into high school science curriculum.

Frontier Physics

NIU’s Frontier Physics program is known far and wide for its traveling road show. In recent years, more than 25,000 K-12 students have learned about physics from these demonstrations and hands-on experiments.

Spooky Science Saturday

NIU’s physics and chemistry departments turn devilish around Halloween. STEM Outreach takes a traveling laboratory with dozens of hands-on physics experiments on Halloween themes to DeKalb, Dixon, Freeport, Oglesby and Pecatonica. From age 5 on up, children of all ages may participate.

STEM Outreach

NIU’s STEM Outreach delivers off-campus programs and on-campus activities designed to increase science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and enthusiasm among
P-12 students, their families, and educators. The office provides a central place to find information on the numerous outreach programs offered by NIU’s STEM departments and the colleges.


Reading

Brooks Elementary School, DeKalb District 428

An after-school reading program for at-risk first and second grade students at Brooks involves 21 NIU students in Communications Disorders, College of Health and Human Sciences. The NIU students are trained to diagnose communications difficulties and implement appropriate interventions that help struggling readers. For information, contact Dr. Sherill Morris at srmorris@niu.edu.

 


Sciences

Competitions

Northern Illinois Region V IJAS Science Fair
Physics Olympics

Diversity in the Geosciences

Science and social science teachers in middle and high schools with large Hispanic enrollments visit important geological sites in Mexico and attend workshops on teaching sciences as part of a five-year National Science Foundation grant.  The purpose is to expand culturally relevant and scientifically exciting lessons.

 

Did it ever rain on Mars?

NIU faculty work with high school students to investigate climate, terrain, and the possibilities for "life" on Mars using data supplied by NASA's instruments on the Red Planet.

Learning Sciences

Educational psychologists Jennifer Schmidt and M Cecil Smith (College of Education) are studying how children learn science, including how they respond to various teaching techniques. The high-tech project includes recording classes with video cameras and and recording students' responses via pagers. The project is funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

Science for Special Education Students

Colleges of Education and Liberal Arts and Sciences are working with special education faculty to develop science curriculum and use technology to reach special needs students in this area.

Spectrum School, Rockford

The College of Education is working with this private school to develop a K-12 science curriculum.

STEM Outreach

NIU’s STEM Outreach delivers off-campus programs and on-campus activities designed to increase science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and enthusiasm among
P-12 students, their families, and educators. The office provides a central place to find information on the numerous outreach programs offered by NIU’s STEM departments and the colleges.


Writing

 


Other Topics

Technology for Students in Teacher Education

A grant from the English family allocates computers for disadvantaged youth entering NIU teacher education programs.

Problem-Solving Certificate

The College of Education in collaboration with the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy offers a Certificate of Graduate Study in Problem-Based Learning. The certificate is designed to provide educators with a framework needed for successful implementation of problem-based learning.