Jan. 16, 2013


South Dakota unveils portal for Common Core resources collection

The Department of Education has officially unveiled its online portal offering a compilation of open educational resources aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

South Dakota teachers began working to compile and curate the collection of online resources over the past summer. The open educational resources are available through the web-based portal found at www.MyOER.org.

The teachers have scored many resources in the portal based on a rubric, and the curation team is currently in the process of continuing its work of aligning resources to standards and curating the resources. New, curated resources are being added throughout the year, so teachers can check back for new material when they are planning new lessons or beginning to teach new concepts.

The portal enables teachers to search for, save and comment on the resources available by using their ‘locker’ within the portal. Many educators see the ability to search by standard as a key benefit. The Common Core Blueprints are also listed under the Tools dropdown on the MyOER site, and can help teachers as they are looking at outlining lesson plans using Common Core.

Statewide trainings were held in August and October, with more than 1,600 South Dakota teachers receiving training on how to get the most out of MyOER. The department partnered with the Education Service Agencies to provide the training, and if you missed out on the first round or would like additional training with MyOER, you should contact your local ESA. The ESA can provide valuable tips on how to properly use the portal and get the most out of the information contained within.

One teacher who have attended a statewide training on MyOER said: “I will use it to find lessons that are already prepared and will go with the Common Core standards. This will save me time and help me to expand my knowledge of the Common Core standards.”

Contact Becky Nelson at (605) 773-4681 for more information.

Blueprints provide guide to teaching Common Core standards

For many educators, Common Core means taking a whole new approach to teaching. That’s why the Department of Education has partnered with TIE and worked with state and national education experts to create the Common Core Blueprints for South Dakota teachers.

These blueprints (http://sdccteachers.k12.sd.us/home) can be accessed under Tools on the MyOER site, (www.MyOER.org) and give a possible unit or lesson title, a suggested time or length, and lists all the standards to be explicitly taught and mastered for each instructional focus. Some blueprints also contain a list of suggested resources for each focus.

The Blueprints are split up by subject and grade level. Some are even broken down by unit or concept, so teachers may refer to multiple blueprints in one year.

A corresponding checklist gives teachers a yearlong overview of what standards are explicitly taught and assessed in each Instructional Focus. By seeing the year as a whole, teachers see how many times a standard is taught and assessed, helping them work with students who are not mastering the skills.

For more information, contact Becky Nelson at (605) 773-4681.

DOE renews focus on student outcomes

A new year is often looked upon as a time to refocus energy or start in a new direction. The South Dakota Department of Education has set a lofty goal that all students will graduate high school college, career and life ready.

The department has identified four key student outcomes that are vital for achieving the overall aspiration of students who are college, career and life ready. They are:
1.) All students will enter 4th grade proficient or advanced in reading.
2.) All students will enter 9th grade proficient or advanced in math.
3.) The gap for Native American students is eliminated.
4.) Students graduate high school ready for postsecondary or the workforce.

In addition, the department has identified critical foundational supports that lay the groundwork for student success. These are:
1.) Students have access to high quality standards and instruction.
2.) Students are supported by effective teachers and leaders.
3.) Students enter schools that provide an environment conducive to learning.
4.) Students have opportunities to engage in 21st century learning.

Additional information about the various benchmarks and supports will be provided throughout the coming year. To hear a discussion about the department’s aspiration and key student outcomes, to view a video clip featuring Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp and School Administrators of South Dakota’s Rob Monson, go to: http://vimeo.com/56385225

Second draft of Next Generation Science Standards now online

A second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards was made available online earlier this month. The public comment period will be open through Jan. 28.

South Dakota was one of 26 lead states involved in development of the standards, and a team consisting of science educators from around the state was involved in parts of the drafting and reviewing process.

Since the May 2012 release of the initial draft, NGSS lead states and the writers evaluated tens of thousands of comments collected during the first public comment period and worked on revising the standards. A feedback report will be issued together with the second public draft that will explain how feedback was handled and why.

After the review and revision following this second round of public comment is complete, a final draft will be made available to states for possible adoption later this spring. Currently, the final draft is scheduled to be out in April.

Nearly 15 years have passed since the National Research Council and the American Association for Advancement in Science produced the seminal documents on which most states’ science standards are based. Since that time, major advances in science and our understanding of how students learn science have taken place.

The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences developed the Framework for K-12 Science Education, which was released July 2011. The framework describes a vision of what it means to be proficient in science; it rests on a view of science as both a body of knowledge and an evidence-based, model and theory building enterprise. That framework is what the Next Generation Science Standards are based on.

To view the standards or submit a comment, go to: http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards

Nominate the next National History Teacher of the Year

Nominations for the Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year award must be made by Feb. 1.

The top winner of the award, given by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, receives a cash prize of $10,000. State winners are awarded $1,000, and their school receives an archive of books and other resources to use in the classroom. In addition, each winner is honored during a ceremony in his or her home state.

The National History Teacher of the Year is chosen from outstanding teachers of American history in each state, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Department of Defense schools. Nominations for the National History Teacher of the Year can be made by any student, parent, colleague or school administrator familiar with the teacher’s work.

Elementary school teachers (K-6) and middle and high school teachers (7-12) are recognized separately, in alternate years. In 2013, elementary teachers (K-6) will be honored.

To learn more about the award or to nominate a teacher, visit www.gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy or contact state coordinator Sam Shaw at the South Dakota Department of Education.

Applications open for National Youth Science Camp

Two South Dakota high school seniors will have an opportunity to travel to West Virginia this summer for the annual National Youth Science Camp, a residential science education program.

Two seniors from each of the 50 states will receive full scholarships to attend the camp sponsored by the National Youth Science Foundation. Recipients will be able to complete hands-on research projects and exchange ideas with scientists and other professionals from the academic and corporate realms during the nearly month-long experience, from June 26 to July 20.

Applicants must demonstrate superior academic proficiency, particularly in math or science; curiosity and eagerness to explore varied topics; and application of leadership abilities.

Applications are available at www.nysc.org and must be submitted to South Dakota’s state selection coordinator, Sam Shaw at the state Department of Education, by Feb. 15 in order to be considered. For more information, contact Shaw at 605-773-5229.

Dakota STEP going online in spring 2014

Yes, you read that correctly! A year from now, in the spring of 2014, all South Dakota students who take the Dakota STEP assessment will be doing so online.

According to Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp, the decision to take the Dakota STEP online was not made lightly. “We believe it is critical to make this move prior to the 2014-15 school year, when we will have a brand new assessment aligned to the new Common Core standards, which will also be delivered online,” Schopp said. “This move will give students and teachers valuable experience with online assessment, and it will allow local school districts and the state the opportunity to test our technology infrastructures.”

Gearing up for this change, site visits and webinars will be taking place to help school districts get ready for this change. District personnel can begin now by making sure they have enough machines to accommodate all students in the tested grades, and that those machines are capable and compatible to handle the testing format.

The best way for both teachers and students to get acclimated to online testing is to practice. To help with this process, the Department of Education continues to expand and improve upon the South Dakota Assessment Portal, or SDAP. The department has been working diligently to align items currently in the portal to Common Core, and to expand the number of items available.

To learn more about or access the portal, go to: www.doe.sd.gov/oats/sdap.aspx

For more information, contact Gay Pickner at (605) 773-3247.

South Dakota signs onto advanced teacher preparation initiative

South Dakota is one of 25 states that have committed to advance recommendations aimed at dramatically improving educator preparation and entry into the profession. The recommendations are outlined in a new report by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), "Our Responsibility, Our Promise: Transforming Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession."

Released last month, the report was developed collaboratively by state education chiefs to identify key areas they can change to ensure every teacher and principal is ready to prepare our students for college and careers from the day they enter the classroom. The report recommends states focus on three key policy levers to improve the way they prepare the educator workforce: licensure, program approval, and data collection, analysis and reporting.

For more information, go to: www.ccsso.org/News_and_Events/Press_Releases/25_States_Commit_to_Advancing_Recommendations_to_Improve_Educator_Preparation.html

Education Groups Launch Commission on Teaching and Learning

Educators from across South Dakota are coming together to look at the best strategies to support students and teachers in the classroom. Earlier this month, participants gathered for a summit on teaching and learning titled “Rethinking Education Reforms and Accountability” hosted by the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA).

At the conclusion of the summit, SDEA President Sandy Arseneault announced the formation of a Commission on Teaching and Learning, which is a partnership of SDEA, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD), the School Administrators of South Dakota (SASD), and the South Dakota Department of Education (SDDOE). Arseneault said the Commission’s goal is to create a blueprint for quality instruction in South Dakota.

The Commission’s first task will be to continue the work begun this summer to develop model teacher and principal evaluation systems that districts may choose to use.

“Two work groups made significant progress this summer in developing evaluation systems that honor our teachers and principals as professionals and support them in their ongoing growth,” said Dr. Melody Schopp, secretary of the SDDOE. “This new Commission would answer some final questions and wrap up this important work. Ultimately, then, districts would have valid state-recommended models that they could choose to implement locally.”

Both Arseneault and Schopp believe the collaborative effort will translate into positive things for students. “Through the Commission, I hope we create a foundation for all stakeholders to come together to support positive student outcomes,” said Arseneault. “If we stay focused on the students, I know the Commission’s work will be valuable to our state.”

The Commission will have up to a year to deliver its final report.


Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects
Jan. 18 – Feb. 27, 2013, Multiple locations statewide

The South Dakota Department of Education is providing workshops for the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. Teachers of all content areas for grades 6-12 are welcome to attend. Participants will learn foundational components found in Common Core for ALL content areas. The workshops will include understanding of the standards as well as strategies for implementation.

Social Studies/History, Art, Music & World Language Training Dates
Jan. 18 – Pierre, AmericInn
Jan. 23 – Rapid City, Best Western Ramkota
Jan. 25 – Pierre, AmericInn
Jan. 29 – Aberdeen, Best Western Ramkota
Jan. 30 – Mobridge, Pizza Ranch
Feb. 1 – Watertown, Watertown Event Center
Feb. 4 – Plankinton, Plankinton School District
Feb. 7 – Huron, Crossroads
Feb. 25 – Sioux Falls, East Dakota Education Cooperative
Feb. 26 – Sioux Falls, East Dakota Education Cooperative
Feb. 27 – Mobridge, Pizza Ranch

Science & Technical Subjects Training Dates
Jan. 18 – Pierre, AmericInn
Jan. 23 – Rapid City, Best Western Ramkota
Jan. 25 – Pierre, AmericInn
Jan. 28 – Sioux Falls, East Dakota Education Cooperative
Jan. 29 – Sioux Falls, East Dakota Education Cooperative
Jan. 29 – Aberdeen, Best Western Ramkota
Jan. 30 – Mobridge, Wrangler Inn
Feb. 1 – Watertown, Watertown Event Center
Feb. 4 – Plankinton, Plankinton School District
Feb. 7 – Huron, Crossroads
Feb. 27 – Mobridge, Wrangler Inn

Deadline for registrations is two weeks prior to the training date and a minimum of 20 participants is required. Graduate Credit is available. To find times, location and registration information for all workshop dates, to go: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGtLN0FBZHVWUHZ6eTVWX0NnRmVOYXc6MA.

Common Core connections part of Electronic Resources Challenge
Jan. 21 – April 8, Online

The E-Resources Challenge is a self-paced learning opportunity that guides you to explore and discover content and features in the South Dakota State Library’s electronic resources. This time around, the State Library has something for beginners, school personnel, trustees and Challenge alumni with contact hours for each option.

Learn more about online journals, encyclopedias, practice tests and other resources while earning continuing education contact hours (see table below) all from the comfort of your own home or classroom. The 10-week course will examine one or two electronic resources per week. The first lesson will be released Jan. 21, 2013. You can start any time after that; however, the Challenge ends on April 8.

Register now at sdlibrarychallenge.blogspot.com/ and receive an email when the first lesson is posted.

Challenge type Who it’s for CEUs Work Expected
Basic Challenge Those who have never taken the Challenge: librarians, trustees, school teachers & staff, volunteers 9 Completion of all lessons
Advanced Challenge Those who have taken a Challenge previously, but want to review or dig deeper 9 Completion of all Advanced lessons
Common Core connections Teachers/school library staff 9 Completion of CCC lessons: Name standard to be addressed and brief synopsis of how the resource will be used to address that standard
Basic or Advanced + Common Core connections Those who want to do it all! 18 Completion of Basic or Advanced + CCC

Questions? Contact Julie Erickson or Jane Healy.

Work-Based Learning Opportunities Training
Jan. 22, 2013, Pierre

Learn all about Entrepreneurship Experience, Senior Experience, Service Learning and Youth Internship, strategies for implementation and resources to get started. This training is designed for those who are new to work-based learning or those who would like to revise their current program to meet high school graduation requirements.

This training is designed for the teams of educators that will be implementing Capstone experiences or Service Learning. Plan to bring individuals that will be involved locally – teachers, administrators, counselors and/or community partners. All team members should bring a laptop to the training.

Beginning in school year 2013-14, schools must offer a Capstone Experience (Senior Experience, Youth Internship or Entrepreneurship Experience) OR Service Learning. Not all of the options have to be offered, though a school could choose to offer them all if they wish.

Check out the DOE Calendar of Events for more information, at: http://www.doe.sd.gov/onlinecalendar/index.aspx.

Dependent on the Environment videoconference series
Jan. 28 – March 18, 2013, via DDN

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks will be offering a series of free videoconference courses geared toward teachers of grades 4-8 through the Outdoor Campus in Rapid City. The courses will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. (Central) every Monday from Jan. 28 until March 18.

The series will feature four topics, each of which will take two weeks to complete. College credit will be available at the cost of $45 per credit hour for participants who complete at least two of the lessons or four weeks total. Those who participate in all eight weeks will have the option to purchase two college credits. Teaching materials corresponding to each lesson will be provided to participants free of charge.

Participants will experience new interactive ways to help young learners understand living creatures’ dependence on the environment. Project topics include:
Water Education for Teachers (Jan. 28 – Feb 4.)
South Dakota Ag in the Classroom (Feb. 11-18)
Project Wild: SD Game, Fish & Parks (Feb. 25 – March 11)
Project Learning Tree South Dakota (March 11-18)

Course offerings are made possible through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Please register early so nearby DDN locations can be reserved. For more information or to register, email Nico Red Horse at nicomas.redhorse@state.sd.us, or call (605) 362-2777.

2013 Middle/High School (6-12) Science Academies
June 12 – July 11, Various locations statewide

South Dakota teachers will model three-dimensional instruction (Three Dimensions: Scientific and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts from the Framework for K-12 Science Education and NGSS) through activities and provide video evidence of this instruction occurring in South Dakota classrooms. The video footage is based on model lessons that have been aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and South Dakota Science Standards.

Teachers will leave with three-dimensional lessons that can be immediately implemented and will gain an understanding of the vision for science education in South Dakota. Teachers also will leave the training with knowledge of the 3-dimensional lesson-building process, which they can use to advance their curriculum.

This is a two-day regional training for middle school and high school science teachers. There are 10 locations with two trainings occurring per location. At each location, one training will be for middle school and one training will be for high school. Up to 60 teachers will be accommodated at each location, with 30 at each training. Stipends of $125/day, available through the Investing in Teachers effort, will be paid to each attending science teacher, for no more than two days of training. Therefore, teachers should only sign up for one training. A minimum of 20 teachers will be required to host a training.

Graduate credit will be available. More information will be sent out, post-registration, including what to bring, graduate credit information, specific location details, etc.

To register, go to: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFF2dHJoZXhmUDE3S3pfVUZyTHNMY0E6MA. Note: Registration closes April 26.

A complete calendar of Science Academy training dates is listed below:
June 12-13 – Aberdeen
June 12-13 – Rapid City
June 12-13 – Sioux Falls
June 19-20 – Mitchell
June 19-20 – Mobridge
June 19-20 – Pierre
June 26-27 – Watertown
June 26-27 – Yankton
July 10-11 – Rapid City
July 10-11 – Sioux Falls

For more details, visit the Department of Education website or contact Sam Shaw.


De Smet science teacher excited for year ahead as National Fellow

When Emily Koehler received the email notifying her of her selection as a Dow- National Science Teachers Association New Teacher Fellow, her students were quietly doing independent work.

“I just sat there stunned, trying not to interrupt them. However, the students noticed and asked what was up,” Koehler said.

Koehler saw an advertisement for the fellowship last year, but it was right before the deadline, and she didn’t have enough time to get it completed and sent in.

“I made sure to do it this year since it’s only for second and third year teachers. A big reason I wanted to get involved with the program is the trip to the NSTA National Convention. I have heard such great things about that conference, but I would probably not be able to attend on my own,” she said. “Plus, they have great resources on the NSTA website, and through the fellowship we get free access to most of them. In the year I hope to learn many new ways to teach my subject, and work on classroom management strategies.”

Going through school herself, Koehler always enjoyed science because of the way it explained things. She liked learning why trees were green in summer but changed colors in the fall, and why the pigs on her family’s farm had about 20 babies, while the cats only had six.

“I'm sure I was the young child that annoyed my parents with constant questions of ‘Why’,” she said. “When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian, then a doctor. Finally, I realized that the best place for me would be a place I can share my joy in finding out ‘why?’”

Koehler knows she is achieving her goals when, at the end of a school year, students say that, even though they are ready for break, they will miss her class or are excited to have her as a teacher again next year.

“I think the best thing I heard from one student was that she was taking every possible science class just to make sure she had me as her teacher,” Koehler said.

Koehler teaches five different classes for grades 9-12 – Chemistry, Biology, Physical Science, Environmental Science, and Advanced Biology – so the students at De Smet will have plenty of opportunities to be in one of her classes, and she’ll have plenty of opportunities to put what she’s learned as part of her fellowship to the test.