News and Accolades


Two women smiling at the cameraHelping to build robots

Magdalena Galloway, an instructor in instructional technology, has been volunteering as a mentor with FIRST® LEGO® League teams at Kingsley Elementary and Hoover Middle school in Waterloo for the past three years.  Her involvement includes supporting students creative work and help them develop research, collaboration, and communication skills while creating robots and preparing for competition. "This is a perfect example how the 4 Cs for the 21st Century Learning come to fruition," said Galloway. Students not only use their critical thinking and creative problem solving while designing their robots and coding their missions. They also collaborate, gather information, communicate with experts locally and globally, and create amazing visual presentations. All this would be much more difficult without social media and available technology tools, she noted.

For Galloway, the best part is having her educational technology minor students involved and watching their involvement grow over time. Last year, she took her students to the FIRST® Robotics Competition, and this year they supported the robotics teams by serving as a practice audience (via online video conference), asking difficult questions and giving pointers on how to present.  "Last year I had the privilege to work arm in arm with a UNI’s elementary education major and STEM education minor Josie Christiansen (pictured on the right)," Galloway explained. "This year she was mentoring her own team!"

Faculty honored with COE awards

Three Department of Curriculum and Instruction faculty received College of Education (COE) awards this spring for outstanding contributions.  Sarah Montgomery, associate professor of elementary education, received the COE Faculty Scholarship Award in recognition of her scholarship and publication contributions to the field of education.  Linda Fitzgerald, professor of early childhood education, was honored with the COE Faculty Service Award for her extensive service to the field of early childhood, faculty governance, and to the Ed.D. program in C & I. Shuaib Meacham, associate professor of literacy education, received the COE Dean's Diversity and Equity Award for his extensive work in the community and engagement with the Hip Hop Literacy program.  "The Department of Curriculum and Instruction is so proud of our colleagues and appreciate their contributions that strengthen the programs we offer. Our graduates, and the work they do everyday, are the legacy of the department and its faculty," noted Robin Dada, department head.

Learning STEM with light and legos

The Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education, under the direction of Beth VanMeeteren professor of literacy education, was notified of being selected as an Iowa Governor STEM Advisory Council Scale Up program for the 2019-2020 school year. Iowa PreK-2nd grade teachers selected by the Iowa Governor STEM Advisory Council for the Light & Shadow award will receive high quality professional learning to deepen their own understanding of light and shadow phenomena and how to nurture STEM learning around concepts in light and shadow in their young learners. The semester-long professional learning course begins in late summer and includes two face-to-face sessions with ongoing support earning a University of Northern Iowa graduate credit. Educators will also receive a set of Light & Shadow classroom materials designed by the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education and assembled by Panther Products. In the two previous years, the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education has worked with nearly 450 Iowa early childhood educators in early STEM and equipped classrooms with high quality materials to investigate force and motion and develop spatial thinking through this award. Research is showing early engagement with high quality STEM learning is a wise investment; paying off with higher performance in STEM subjects in middle and high school and generating interest in STEM-related careers.

In addition, Beth VanMeeteren, was among 300 thought leaders, experts, and social innovators invited to the International LEGO Idea Conference 2019: Unlocking the Power of Parenting held April 1-3 in Billund, Denmark, the birthplace of the iconic LEGO brick. Following the conference, VanMeeteren's research on STEM Habits of Mind was tapped to assist the international team of developers for the FIRST LEGO League JR. Discovery program in creating parental components for FIRST LEGO League Jr. 

A man and woman sit at a table signing contractsMany, many picture books

Sohyun Meacham, assistant professor of literacy education, signed a contract to provide consultation services to JY Books about the use of picture books and music for young multilingual learners’ English language and literacy learning. JY Books provided 800 picture books and 800 CDs with accompanied songs to Meacham for her teaching, research and service uses. Meacham (right) will provide JY Books with consultations regarding newly published picture books, parent education and professional development programs using picture books and music.


News archive




The following tabs list awards (including grants), presentations and publications related to Curriculum and Instruction students, alumni, faculty and staff.  To find items involving C&I faculty, look on both tabs: collaborations that involve students and faculty are listed on the first tab, while items that only involve faculty or staff are listed on the second tab.

Abby Weiland, a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, had the opportunity to present her research, “Teacher Well- Being: The Quest to Do What’s Best for Kids Without Losing Yourself," at the Texas Association of Literacy Educators Annual Conference in Waco, Texas on March 1, 2019. She was honored with one of two Graduate Student Research Poster Awards. Her research explored the experiences of practicing elementary teachers as they navigated the demands of the teaching profession, and how these experiences contributed to their conceptualization of teacher well-being. 

Doctoral student Brooke Becker's journal article entitled “Addressing Common Misconceptions with Informal Arguments” was published in The Mathematics Teacher in April 2019. This article reflects upon the implementation of a high school mathematics activity that provides the opportunity to address misconceptions about triangle congruence conjectures as they naturally develop through the formation of informal proof schemes.

Marine Pepanyan, a doctoral student in the curriculum and instruction program (B.A. linguistics, English and Spanish, M.A. TESOL/Spanish), presented her research with Sohyun Meacham, assistant professor of literacy education, at the 2019 The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) conference in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Pepanyan is a graduate assistant at UNI and her presentation was based on her research interests which include play and playfulness in adult second language (L2) teaching, integration of play in cross-cultural teaching with the emphasis of implementation of robotics in L2 Communicative Language Teaching classroom. The research presentation was titled "Play Element and Dynamics of Interaction in an Adult Second Language (L2) CLT Classroom." 

Beth VanMeeteren, associate professor of literacy education and director of the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education, and North Tama County Community School District (NTCCSD) educators Vonna Watson, Brenda Kaufmann, and Lisa Chizek were active at the Annual National Science Teachers Association in St. Louis April 11-14, 2019. All worked together to deliver a short course on the Ramps & Pathways curriculum. VanMeeteren and the teachers from NTCCSD manned tables featuring classroom implementation of collaborative work involving early STEM. Vonna Watson featured Ramps & Pathways: Integrated STEM in the Elementary Classrooms; Brenda Kaufman, Matter Matters: Investigations and Literacy Connections; Lisa Chizek, Light & Shadow; and Beth VanMeeteren, Tinkering with Tops. In addition, Lisa Chizek, also a UNI doctoral student and Beth VanMeeteren presented two conference sessions: "Learning About Light and Shadows with Shadow Stories" and "Engineering a Pancake Recipe: Connecting Chemistry to Everyday Life." 

Mason Kuhn, assistant professor of elementary education, and Denise Tallakson, instructor in elementary education, along with Kylee Wilson, Bryce Cox, Hailey Buzynski and Jenny Pedersen (undergraduate elementary education majors) presented at the National Association of Professional Development School Conference in Atlanta on Feb. 15, 2019. Their presentation was entitled, "A Unique PDS Model: Using Arts Integration with Elementary Students Who Have High Adverse Childhood Experiences."

Andrea Hora (M.A. school library studies) published an article with Joan Bessman Taylor, associate professor of school library studies, and Karla Krueger, associate professor of school library studies, on how students search for books in a genrefied school library. The article, published in December 2017, is partly based on research Hora conducted for her master's research paper. Hora is currently a media specialist at Prairie Crest Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Citation: Taylor, J. B., Hora, A., & Krueger, K. S. (2017). Self-selecting books in a children’s fiction collection arranged by genre. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.

Alumna Tiffany Ahrens was invited to speak on humorous books at the 50th Annual Elementary Literacy Conference at UNI on April 13, 2018. Her presentation was titled, "Make 'Em Laugh: Great Humorous Books for Kids." Ahrens earned a B.A. in elementary education and a teacher librarian minor through UNI and is a teacher librarian at Cedar Heights Elementary School in Cedar Falls.

Sarah Montgomery, associate professor of elementary education, in collaboration with Zak Montgomery, associate professor of Spanish at Wartburg College, two UNI alumnae, Elizabeth Silbernagel and Yvonne Ayesiga, and Wartburg alumna Anne Epley, published an article titled, “‘You’re not Latino, You’re American’: Heritage Learners of Spanish Navigate Issues of Cultural Identity in Higher Education” in the College Student Affairs Journal in the spring of 2018.  The team of researchers investigated the evolving linguistic and cultural identities of heritage speakers of Spanish as they navigated higher education. Silbernagel earned a B.A. in elementary education with a minor in literacy education, and Ayesiga earned an M.A. in post-secondary education, both at UNI in 2016.

Amanda Wasylik (M.A. literacy education) presented a paper at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in April 2018 in New York City titled “Changing Practice: Self-Study of My Use of Comprehensive Literacy Instruction for Teaching Students With Disabilities.” The paper was based on Wasylik’s master’s research and co-authored by Deborah Tidwell, professor of literacy education. Wasylik teaches elementary special education in the Middleton Cross-Plain Area School District in Wisconsin.

Dessy Stoycheva, C&I doctoral candidate, presented a co-authored commentary with former UNI professor Ralph Reynolds in a structured poster session at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in April 2018 in New York City.  Her poster was titled “The Model of Domain Learning: Understanding the Development of Expertise.”

Tarenah Matloob Haghanikar, assistant professor of literacy education, received the Nielsen Endowed Fellowship Award through UNI for 2019-2020.  This research fellowship will support her project "Is My Syllabus Diverse Enough?"  The purpose of the project is to design and conduct a series of workshops for elementary teachers in the state of Iowa who would like to include diverse literature in their teaching.

Karla Steege Krueger, associate professor of School Library Studies, and Joan Bessman Taylor, associate professor of School Library Studies, presented at the Iowa 1:1 Institute on April 3, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. The presentation was titled "1:1 Through the School Library: Think, Create, Share, & Grow" and was based on blending digital and information literacies with a commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diversity within a school library program and the new Iowa School Library Program Standards (2019).

Karla Steege Krueger, associate professor of school library studies, was an invited panelist for the webinar "Celebrating and Advocating for School Libraries" in the Better Together: Collaborative Conversations webinar series through Iowa Area Education Agencies (AEA) on April 4, 2019.

Taraneh Matloob Haghanikar, assistant professor of literacy education, presented at the 2019 Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA) conference in Washington, DC in March.  Her presentation was part of the Examination Without Misrepresentation: Analyzing Culturally Diverse Narratives panel and titled "The Role of Outsiders in Teaching Culturally Diverse Narratives." 

Debra Rich, instructor in literacy education, presented at the Southeastern Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on January 17 and 18, 2019. Her presentations were titled, "Teaching for Independence: Developing Inner Control" and "Vocabulary: Which Words Do I Teach?"   She also presented at the National Reading Recovery and K-6 Literacy Conference in Columbus, Ohio on February 11, 2019. Her presentation was titled, "Powerful Teaching Decisions: Developing the Child's Independence."

Carolyn Weber, assistant professor of elementary and middle level education, in collaboration with Heather Hagan, assistant professor at Coastal Carolina University, presented at the annual conference of the National Council for the Social Studies. The presentation was titled "Toxic Water: Evaluating Sources Concerning Flint's Water Crisis" and was about teaching upper elementary students how to evaluate sources to complete an inquiry lesson.

Sarah Montgomery, associate professor of elementary education, presented a session titled, "Mindful Citizens: The Heart of Social Studies Education" at the 2018 National Council for the Social Studies conference in Chicago, Illinois in November. The presentation explored the theoretical and practical intersections between mindfulness and social studies.

Salli Forbes, professor of literacy education and Debra Rich, instructor of literacy education, presented at the Jacobson Center and Reading Recovery Literacy Academy on October 10, 2018 at UNI. Their presentation was titled, "Powerful teaching decisions: Acceleration through reciprocity." Also at the Academy, Rich presented "Teaching for independence: Developing inner control."

Gloria Kirkland Holmes, associate professor of early childhood education and coordinator of the Shining Stars Girls and Young Male Leaders, presented at the 48th Annual Conference of the National Black Child Development Institute in Dallas, Texas, in October 2018. The presentation highlighted supporting black girls in positive school-community experiences and helping them and the young black males become leaders.

Debra Rich, instructor of literacy education, presented at the Kalmanovitz School of Education Fall Reading Conference at Saint Mary's College of California, Moraga, California, on September 22, 2018. Her presentations were titled, "Teaching for Independence: Developing Inner Control" and "Vocabulary: Which Words Do I Teach?"

C&I faculty and students: Submit your Accolades

If you have questions about the accolade form (see link above) or need to submit additional information, email or