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Interdisciplinary Literacy Projects

Intersections

Combines literacy and art education to improve reading skills for bilingual students

The Intersections project combines literacy education that emphasizes critical thinking and response to literature with the visual arts. Culturally-specific children’s literature is the main pathway used for both the integration of critical thinking and art activities. The overarching goals of the program are 1) to develop higher level thinking skills for bilingual elementary school students by using an arts-based literacy approach and 2) to develop teaching skills for pre-service teachers working with English Learners in literacy supported through art. Through this project, bilingual elementary students are able to improve their oral and written language expression, reading comprehension, and art appreciation skills.

Collaborative partnerships involve teachers at Cortland Elementary School, NIU faculty members, and NIU teacher candidates. Project directors are Dr. Chris Carger, Literacy Department, College of Education; and Steve Ciampaglia, School of Art, College of Visual and Performing Arts. Funding for culturally specific books and art supplies comes from the P-20 Center.

Literacy in Motion: Bunnies in Space

Kinect-based interactive game increases vocabulary for elementary readers

NIU faculty and students from literacy education, educational technology, communications, video game development, and art created Bunnies in Space, a video game which appeals to elementary students while also supporting their vocabulary development. During the spring semester 2013, the NIU Literacy Clinic is pilot-testing the Kinect-based, interactive literacy which uses bodily movement for game control. Dr. Wei-Chen Hung, Education Technology, Research, and Assessment (ETRA) in the College of Education acted as faculty coach for the two-semester project. Student members of the interdisciplinary development team came from Computer Science and Communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Time Arts and Illustration in the College of Visual and Performing Arts; and ETRA in the College of Education. Clinic Director Dr. Laurie Elish-Piper acted as the client for the experiential learning team which developed the game with support by the Digital Convergence Lab. NIU Outreach and the P-20 Center provided funding for development of Bunnies in Space.

STEM Teen Read Online Book Club

Teen readers learn the science behind the fiction in live and virtual activities

As part of STEM Outreach and The Virtual Laboratory School, the STEM Teen Read program stimulates knowledge and enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Throughout the year, teens read science fiction books, participate in interactive online programs, and then meet up virtually or live at Northern Illinois University for free discussions and Q&A sessions with experts who explain the science behind the fiction. While reading each book, teens can participate in virtual chats, find cool science articles and videos, connect with other teen science fiction fans, and share questions and fan fiction stories with other readers and experts. Other project partners include the P-20 Center, which funds the project; Education, Technology, Research, and Assessment Department and Literacy Department in the College of Education; University Libraries; public libraries in DeKalb, Sycamore, and Cortland; and high schools in DeKalb and Sycamore. Gillian King-Cargile of the P-20 Center manages the online book club.

SmartSpace@NIU Common Core Technology Integration Module

Teachers use classroom technologies to address both Common Core and National Education Technology Standards for Students

The Common Core Technology Integration Module (CCTIM) provides an online, self-directed paced module for learning effective technology integration and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching the Common Core State Standards in face-to-face, hybrid, and virtual educational settings. Designed for current teachers and pre-service candidates, CCTIM encourages individual and collaborative curriculum design.

The goal is help teachers and teacher candidates acquire the skills they need to utilize the National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) alongside Illinois CCSS during the instructional design, delivery, and evaluation processes. By participating in the CCTIM, teachers and teacher candidates are better prepared to design learning experiences which facilitate student critical thinking, multimodal literacy, and creativity which are part of the Common Core State Standards. Mary Baker, P-20 Center, coordinates this project in collaboration with eLearning Services; Rhonda Robinson from the Educational Technology, Research, and Assessment Department in the College of Education; and Kristin Brynteson from the P-20 Center. The P-20 Center funded development of the CCTIM live course and the online module.

SmartSpace@NIU eTutoring Program

NIU students will tutor struggling middle school students in a virtual environment

SmartSpace@NIU will offer an eTutoring program to provide field experiences in an online academic setting for NIU students pursuing an educational career. NIU students work with 4-8th grade students to provide individualized learning experiences in an effort to increase academic achievement. This project, which will be piloted in spring 2013, involves multiple NIU departments, partnership schools, 4th-8th grade students, and NIU students.

SmartSpace@NIU eTutoring helps future teachers acquire the skills they need to utilize the National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) alongside Illinois curriculum standards during the instructional process. By training NIU students to virtually deliver instructional services related to a variety of topics, eTutoring enhances their capacity to utilize K-12 eLearning opportunities. Each NIU student must complete a workshop on eTutoring prior to offering eTutoring services to 4th-8th grade students. The training helps ensure that 4th-8th grade students receive quality instruction and assistance from NIU students. Mary Baker manages the eTutoring project in partnership with Lara Luetkehans, Rebecca Hunt, and Casandra Hughes from the Educational Technology, Research, and Assessment Department in the College of Education; Sharon Smaldino from the Partnership Office in the College of Education; and Melanie Bickley from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Teacher Education program.

STEAMspace Virtual Studio

Online art studio integrates visual art, technology, English language arts, and personal growth for K-12 students

SmartSpace@NIU, with support from the P-20 Center, is developing STEAMspace, a virtual learning community which integrates visual art and technology to meet the Common Core English Language Arts and Illinois Social Emotional Learning Standards for K-12 learners. Students working in the virtual studio are able to use art as a self-expressive medium. The virtual setting allows for a more indirect approach in building students’ self-confidence in their writing and multimedia creation abilities, their communication with others, and personal reflection.

The Virtual Studio employs online tools to train teachers and teacher candidates to facilitate multidisciplinary learning in a virtual setting. This project also encourages participants to collaborate in community-based art and literacy projects, as well as to share and discuss their productions with one another. The goal is to engage learners in a positive environment which fosters personal and group expression, self- and social-awareness, innovation, and collaboration.

Mary Baker of the P-20 Center manages the STEAMspace project. College of Education partners include Charles Myers from the Department of Counseling, Adult, and Higher Education; Lara Luetkehans, Rebecca Hunt, Casandra Hughes from the Educational Technology, Research, and Assessment Department; Sharon Smalindo from the Partnership Office; and Donna Werderich from the Literacy Department. Lilly Lu from the College of Visual and Performing Arts Art and Design Education program is also a partner on this project. Nicole Bozzano serves as an art therapy consultant and is also an integral team member.