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SD Department of Education January 2015  


Julie Olson nominated for Global Teacher Prize
Julie Olson is a science teacher at Second Chance High School, the alternative high school in Mitchell. She recently became one of 50 nominees worldwide for the first-ever Global Teacher Prize (http://www.globalteacherprize.org). Congratulations, Julie!

Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I didn’t start out wanting to be a teacher. I was actually pre-med at USD. When I was in grad school, I taught freshman biology labs. One of my students was blind, and the challenge of needing to adapt my teaching methods for that student got me hooked. You can’t just say, “See?” You don’t realize how often you say that. So, for instance, in chicken embryology, I made the pictures bigger and cut out the shapes. That ability to adapt is a useful skill when you’re a teacher, because students all learn differently.

In 2013, after teaching for more than 20 years at Mitchell High School, Olson put that skill to work in a new setting, developing the science program at Second Chance.

What kind of science program have you developed?
We’re using a self-paced, blended science program. There are online and hands-on components. Another term for it is mass customized learning. Students who get a concept quickly can move on. It then opens up more opportunities for students. If they get their core classes done, they can move on to AP courses, dual credit, etc. They can also pursue internship or research opportunities.

How do you get kids excited about science?
I try to connect it to their daily lives. Sometimes I start by finding out what already interests them. Maybe they like art, so I could ask, “Well, did you know Leonardo DaVinci was also a scientist and engineer?”

I’ll set out items for them, like kinetic sand, a giant pinecone, a puffer fish exoskeleton. Then I let them just kind of play with it, pick it up, ask questions. I don’t always answer their questions, but instead ask questions in return and let them run with it.

What are Science Saturdays?
It’s a program we started in fall 2013. About once a month, we hold two-hour Saturday sessions, where Second Chance students lead elementary students in various science experiments. Some of the things we’ve done are CSI activities and a robotics camp for 3rd-5th graders, Science Olympics and candy science for the younger kids.

For the elementary students, it’s a great opportunity to get them engaged in science and feed that curiosity. And then I see my students, who could become teachers. They’re put in that position of a role model and they get to share their knowledge.

How do you collaborate with other teachers?
The alternative high school staff is small, which helps us collaborate a lot, across disciplines. We eat lunch together, we’re always talking. Say I want to assign a reaction paper. I’ll ask the English teacher, “What are you looking for in a reaction paper?” That way I can use the same kind of language, and the guidance students get from me sounds like what they’re also hearing in their English classes.

Second Chance shares a building with the CTE Academy, so in environmental science recently, I collaborated with the building trades instructor. Students built a playhouse out of pallets. A couple of people have even expressed interest in purchasing it! We’re planning to sell it and give the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.

I’ve also had students grow plants in a science class that the ProStart® students then use in their cooking classes.

What would it mean to you to win the Global Teacher Prize?
I would be very honored. The intent of the award is not to honor a certain teacher, but the teaching profession. I would keep doing what I do, presenting at state conventions, helping other teachers, collaborating with other teachers. It’s an honorable and very important job. The prize is also a testament to my family, colleagues and former teachers who have been role models and have inspired me.

Watch Video
SD teachers discuss high quality standards in Expect More videos

Educators from across our state have implemented new English language arts and math standards. Hear what your colleagues are saying about how the standards challenge students and prepare them for success in college, career and life.

View videos at: http://commoncore.sd.gov/expectmore.aspx

Students and educators in the spotlight in Pierre

During the first week of the 2015 legislative session, educators from across the state gave presentations to the House and Senate Education committees, even delivering sample lessons in ELA and math. Legislators also heard from students about their experiences in reduced-cost dual credit courses and the JAG program. Gov. Daugaard honored 2015 Regional Teachers of the Year and South Dakota’s most recent Milken Educator Award winner during a special ceremony in the Capitol rotunda.

Educators address joint session of House and Senate Education committees

Educators address Senate Education Committee

House Education Committee members get sample lessons in math


Students and educators talk with legislators in the Capitol rotunda



Smarter Balanced resources available for parents

This spring, South Dakota will begin using the new Smarter Balanced state assessment, based on the state’s standards in English language arts and math. This test is administered to students in grades 3-8 and 11. Go to http://commoncore.sd.gov/assessment.aspx for resources you can share with parents, including FAQs, infographics, videos and a link to practice tests.

Certificate renewal applications due July 1

Teachers whose certificates expire July 1 of this year are strongly encouraged to submit their renewal applications as soon as possible. Early application ensures optimal processing. Processing time is typically four to six weeks, but during the summer months, can take up to 10 weeks. By waiting too long, teachers risk not having their certificate updated before the start of the school year.

State regulations require educators whose certificates have lapsed to obtain six university transcripted credits to renew.

The Teacher 411 system at http://teacher411.sd.gov lists information from teachers’ certification records, including the expiration date and core content teaching assignments that teachers are qualified to accept. For more information or to apply online, go to: http://www.doe.sd.gov/oatq/teachercert.aspx. Questions can be directed to certification@state.sd.us.

Two SD teachers earn profession’s top honor

Two South Dakota classroom teachers are among the nearly 4,160 elementary and secondary school teachers nationwide to achieve National Board Certification in 2014.The achievement raises the number of National Board Certified Teachers in South Dakota to 106.

Read more at: doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2015/0121_NBCP.pdf

Nominate an educator for the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award

The Outstanding Biology Teacher Award is sponsored by the National Association of Biology Teachers and honors teachers of the life sciences in grades 7-12. A candidate must currently be teaching biology and/or other life sciences and must have devoted a significant portion of his or her career to teaching life sciences. A minimum of three years teaching experience in public, private or parochial schools is mandatory before applying for the award. Candidates need not be members of NABT, and unsuccessful candidates may be re-nominated from year to year.

Sanford Health sponsors a $1,000 grant for the winning teacher to use for professional development and/or classroom materials. Winners are also invited to the Honors Luncheon held at the NABT Professional Development Conference in the fall and receive additional materials and prizes from national sponsors.

Nominations containing the following information should be submitted to Julie Olson (Julie.olson@k12.sd.us), director of the South Dakota OBTA award:
• Name of nominee
• Email address of nominee
• Name of nominator
• Email address of nominator

Olson will forward the necessary application forms to the nominee.

The nomination deadline is March 31.

DOE Blog: Proposed science standards will prepare students for STEM success

Michael Amolins served on the South Dakota Science Standards Work Group. He’s a science teacher, school curriculum coordinator and administrator. Learn why he supports South Dakota's proposed science standards.

Read more at: http://sddoe.blogspot.com/.

2015 Healthcare Video Contest under way

A short message promoting healthcare careers could earn a creative high school team a $1,000 prize to be split with their school. South Dakota students in grades 9 through 12 are encouraged to create a 30-second video boosting healthcare career awareness.

Read more at: www.doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/news/15/jan/documents/VideoContest.pdf

Teachers encouraged to highlight student work at State Fair

Teachers have the opportunity to highlight their students’ best work in art, literature and photography at the 2015 South Dakota State Fair. The work must be from the 2014-15 school year and entries must be submitted no later than April 16.

In addition, students in 1st-6th grades may enter an essay contest. This year’s topic is “Living the Life in South Dakota! What’s great about our state?” Students in 5th-8th grade may enter poetry in the Prairie Winds Competition. Winners have their work submitted for publication in the Prairie Winds magazine.

Teachers are also encouraged to nominate outstanding fellow educators for the Most Valuable Educator Award.

And “South Dakota’s Largest Classroom” will again be part of the State Fair in 2015. In 2014, schools from across the state participated with approximately 1,000 students and teachers attending. Learn more about this program at: http://www.sdstatefair.com/special-events/all/sds-largest-classroom.

For more information on all of these educational opportunities, go to: http://www.sdstatefair.com/assets/docs/uploads/exhibitors/education-book-2015.pdf

Upcoming Events

For a complete listing of events, go to: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/.

Your First Years in CTE: 10 Things to Know
Jan. 28, Mitchell

Are you new to the world of career and technical education? If so, join this session to hear teachers from your content area share lesson plans and give you tips for navigating Perkins requirements.

To register, go to: http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/. Search by course title.

Board of Education meeting
Jan. 29, via teleconference

A special meeting of the South Dakota Board of Education is scheduled for 3 p.m. CST. A proposed agenda that includes a call-in number and access code will be posted at doe.sd.gov/board at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

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