Education and learning

John Zuber

On this week’s show: John Zuber. He talked with host Peter Medlin about teaching in the time of coronavirus. John is particularly fascinated by how it’s impacted his relationships with his students. He thinks so far doing classes online from his couch while traversing technical difficulties has made them more casual and maybe more personable.


NIU Moves All Summer Courses Online

Apr 2, 2020

Northern Illinois University has moved all summer courses online instead of face-to-face. That’s because of continuing uncertainty regarding the extent of the State’s stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. NIU President Lisa Freeman and Provost Beth Ingram issued a joint statement Thursday. April 6 is the first day of registration for summer classes.

Northern Illinois University

Universities across the state have canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester. But how do you learn acting, music or dance from home?

There’s no replacing the immediacy of live theatre. And there’s no replacing a live concert or recital.

But Alexander Gelman says it’s worth remembering that art’s greatest enemy can be a lack of limitations. He’s the head of Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre & Dance.

Spencer Tritt

Illinois schools are using distance and e-learning until students can return to the classroom. Parents and educators are trying to meet the challenge of teaching students with special needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

Corena Steinmeyer is the director of the Lee County Special Education Association. It serves just over 500 special ed students in Dixon as well as the Paw Paw School District.

Steinmeyer says one of the Association’s biggest jobs in the current situation has been communicating with parents and giving them options on how to meet their kids’ needs from home.

The Northern Almanac Ep. 9 - 'World War II'

Mar 30, 2020


Welcome to The Northern Almanac, a WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU's 125th anniversary.


The Sound of Science - 'Ada Yonath'

Mar 27, 2020


Alexis: I’m Alexis from NIU STEM Outreach and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. Today I’m joined by Idalia. 

Idalia: We’re wrapping up our Women’s History Month episodes with Crystallographer Ada Yonath. 

Alexis: Dr. Yonath was born in Guela, Israel in the mid 1900’s. Her childhood was revolved around both her father’s medical conditions along with her constant desire to understand the principles of the nature around her. Her time in the army’s medical corps cemented her interest in clinical and medical issues. 

The Northern Almanac Ep. 8 - 'The Great War'

Mar 26, 2020

When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, Northern’s enrollment was 424 women and 58 men. By the fall of 1918, enrollment plummeted to 223 women and no men. Many male students enlisted, some were drafted, while others left to tend family farms or provide other services for the war effort. Several male faculty and staff also enlisted. There was no football team from 1917 to 1919. Nearly the entire baseball team enlisted as a unit in the Hospital Corps of the 129th Infantry. 


Spencer Tritt

During the dash to prepare students and families to learn from home, the rural Oregon Community School District issued what amounted to a disclaimer. 


John Zuber is an Oregon high school English teacher. He says the district had to say e-learning simply won’t be at the same level of education they get in the classroom. It’s just not possible.


“Which is a good admission, I think. It's like we can't replicate what we would normally do, but we're trying," he said.


The Sound of Science - 'Nina Tandon'

Mar 20, 2020

Alexis: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Alexis from NIU STEM Outreach.  


Idalia: And I’m Idalia. Today we will be discussing American biomedical engineer, Nina Tandon.  


Alexis: Dr. Tandon grew up in New York City with two siblings with visual impairments. It’s no wonder why she chose to investigate the electrical currents that underline the nervous system. 



On this week’s show: Jay Rehak. He’s an author and Chicago Public Schools language arts teacher. He and his classes at Whitney Young High School are the co-writers of over a dozen student-sourced novels. 


Welcome to The Northern Almanac, a WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU's 125th anniversary. I'm Clint Cargile.

Fanny Ruth Patterson from Hinckley, Illinois was the first African-American student to graduate from Northern. When she completed her two year degree in 1915, President John Cook wrote her a letter of reccomendation to the St. Louis school system where she had applied for a teaching job.

The Sound of Science - 'Dr. Barbara McClintock'

Mar 13, 2020

Lavilla: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Lavilla from NIU STEM Outreach.  

Alexis: And I’m Alexis. This March we’ll be celebrating Women’s History Month by featuring prominent women in STEM, like geneticist Dr. Barbara McClintock.


The STEM Read Podcast - Devs, Determinism, and Maybe-Dead Cats

Mar 13, 2020

In this episode of the STEM Read Podcast, host Gillian King-Cargile (@gkingcargile) interviews author and filmmaker Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) about his latest project, a mind-bending, tech-centric television series, Devs, and how he creates stories to satisfy his own curiosity about science and technology.

The Northern Almanac Ep. 6 - 'The Lagoon'

Mar 9, 2020

Welcome to The Northern Almanac, a WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU's 125th anniversary. 

One of most prominent features on the Northern Illinois campus is the East Lagoon. But did you know that it is not even a natural landmark? 

The Sound of Science - 'Sofia Kovalevskaya'

Mar 6, 2020

Livilla: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Livilla from NIU STEM Outreach. Natalie will accompany me today as we explore women in the STEM field, such as pioneering mathematician Sofia  Kovalevskaya. 

From Here To Uruguay | Teachers' Lounge Podcast

Mar 6, 2020
Peter Medlin

On this week’s show: James Cohen. He’s an associate professor of ESL & bilingual education at Northern Illinois University. He’s also a former Fulbright Scholar who has lived in several different countries across the world and most recently taught in Uruguay.



Illinois’ population dropped for the sixth year in a row. And Illinois students leave the state for school at higher rates than almost anywhere else. Rockford is trying to leverage its engineering and manufacturing industry to get people to stay.

Half of the state’s manufacturing workers are retiring in the next 10 or so years. The Illinois Manufacturer Associations says that’s going to leave a glaring need for production workers and engineers. 

Burpee Museum of Natural History

Fossils and dinosaurs will be the talk of the town in one part of Rockford this weekend.  

This is the Burpee Museum of Natural History’s 22nd annual PaleoFest.  The event brings paleontologists and their associates together to share their latest research with each other and the public. Joshua Matthews is Burpee’s Director of Paleontology. He said this gathering started in the 1990s in response to local interest and fossil finds.

Welcome to the Northern Almanac, the WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU’s 125th anniversary. This week we’re going to look at how NIU continually took steps to distinguish itself as a comprehensive school offering a multitude of opportunities to its students.

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether parents should be allowed to keep their children from participating in active shooter drills at school.

Some parents and school personnel say the exercises have a negative effect on children. State Sen. Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign, said he’s not against active shooter training, but he said it should be conducted with more sensitivity.

The Sound of Science - 'Katherine Johnson'

Feb 28, 2020

Joe: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Joe from NIU’s Center of Black Studies, and I’m here with Gaylen.

Gaylen: The 20’s and 30’s were a truly challenging time for outstanding women of color. But if there is one exemplary mathematician who overcame it all, it’s Katherine Johnson. 

The STEM Read Podcast - LARPing and Learning

Feb 28, 2020

In this episode of the STEM Read Podcast Gillian King-Cargile (@gkingcargile), Kristin Brynteson (@kbrynteson), and Melanie Koss (@melaniekoss) sit down with author Kate Hannigan (@katechicago) and game-based-learning expert Andrew Peterson.

We explore live-action-role-playing (LARPing) and game-based learning and then discuss how historical fiction can be a gateway to learning about the history of STEM and the forgotten history of female innovators. Are you ready to get your game on? Grab a fez and a fake mustache and join us because, “Holy Crap! We’re LARPing!”

Peter Medlin

Samuel Costa is the only teacher at a small school in rural Uruguay close to the border of Brazil. His 11 students range in age from kindergarten to sixth grade. And he’s not just the only teacher, he’s the only adult, period. So he has to clean and be a chef. Samuel makes his class a home cooked breakfast and lunch every day. That’s on top of meeting the typical academic standards.

Welcome to the Northern Almanac, a WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU’s 125th anniversary.

This week, we're going to cover a few topics, starting with Northern's marching band. Now nearly 200 members strong, the marching band started in 1899 with just 14 young men. They weren't really a marching band back then, but they provided the musical backdrop for football games, pep rallies, and socials. By the 1930s, the band began to resemble the modern-day ensemble, taking the field at halftime in parade formation. 

The Sound of Science - 'Benjamin Banneker'

Feb 21, 2020

Joe: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Joe from the NIU Center for Black Studies. 

Gaylen: And I’m Gaylen. Today we’re going to go back in time to talk about Benjamin Banneker.

Peter Medlin

On a new Teachers' Lounge: Trudy DesLauriers. She's a reading specialist at Morris Elementary School who has taught for over 30 years. She also has two golden retriever therapy dogs, Martha and Thelma Lou, who come in to help struggling readers. Once a month, a group of other therapy dogs from greyhounds to goldendoodles join them for their "Sit! Stay! Read!" event.

Trudy talked to host Peter Medlin about how her therapy dog program and how Martha and Thelma Lou sometimes get to offer emotional support for students on top of the reading help.

Chase Cavanaugh

Kishwaukee College in Malta has many students who have or will reach voting age.  But education instructor Cynthia de Seife said some of these students had misconceptions.

“A while back, I was doing voter registration here at the college and some students were saying how they don’t vote, they don’t ever vote, their vote doesn’t count," she said. " And I thought, 'No. This is a college. No no no. This is not okay. We can do better than that.'”

Peter Medlin

What’s the vision you have in your head of P.E. class? Hoping not to get picked last in dodgeball? Are you climbing a rope?


That’s what physical education was for a lot of people. But now, in many schools, technology is crafting the next generation of gym class while teachers focus more on mental health than getting fit. 



Northern Almanac Ep. 3 - 'The Northern Illinois'

Feb 17, 2020

Welcome to the Northern Almanac, the WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU’s 125th anniversary.

Before the first classes started at Northern Illinois State Normal school in 1899, a faculty committee headed by professor Fred Charles organized the first student publication, a monthly magazine called, appropriately, ‘The Northern Illinois’. They produced 1,500 copies of the inaugural issue for the school’s September opening. 

Spencer Tritt

Postcards for the 2020 Census go out next month. But schools are already using past census data to illustrate trends and teach students the importance of an accurate count.

The census dictates billions of dollars in federal funding. That includes education funding for special ed, after-school and a plethora of other programs.