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SD Department of Education Nov. 2015  

Janet Wagner: A homegrown teacher, growing young thinkers

Janet Wagner is a middle and high school science teacher in the Bon Homme School District. This past July, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Wagner and her husband Ron are also emergency medical technicians. They both grew up in the Tyndall area, and she says, “When we get a street address, we can often say who used to live there. It helps if the 911 dispatcher is from the area, too.” Just about anyone who grew up in a small town can identify with this phenomenon.

11111 555th Street. Let’s see, it’s just south of Norwegian Hill, where Mr. Johnson used to live.

We’re on our way!

An emergency call starts with an address. Without context, though, it’s just numbers. Of course EMTs also use maps to get where they need to go, but a built-in mental map is faster than any Google search. And it goes without saying that EMTs don’t have time to wait for their smartphones to load the results of an Internet search for “how to stabilize a crash victim.”

Wagner wants her students to develop this kind of skill—not necessarily the ability to know who lived in that white farmhouse on the edge of town 30 years ago—but the ability to reason through a problem without relying entirely on technology.

“The most important thing we can teach students is the ability to think. Too often they rely on computers for superficial answers,” Wagner says. “I want students to apply what they learn. For instance, my 8th grade earth science students are building wind turbine blades. I have no problem with them going online to research how many blades to use, what width and length. But then they have to do something with that information. They have to build the blades to learn for themselves what works best.”

Wind Turbine Project

Beyond that, Wagner wants students to learn how to communicate and present an argument. “We’re studying renewable energy in 8th grade right now. We have one wind farm in the area already and may have another in the future. Are they in favor of another wind farm, and why?” she asks. “They need to learn to gather data and analyze it. Some of these students may end up with jobs working on those turbines. These topics matter to their lives.”

After 42 years of teaching, Wagner will retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year. “It’s like the icing on the cake, because it’s my final year of teaching,” she says of earning the PAEMST. “There’s no higher honor than a Presidential award.”

Blue Ribbon Logo
Blue Ribbon Task Force delivers final report to Gov. Daugaard

The Blue Ribbon Task Force has delivered its final report (http://blueribbon.sd.gov/Blue Ribbon Report - Final.pdf) to the Governor. It includes numerous recommendations to meet the task force’s goals, including a significant increase in teacher salaries. These recommendations will form the basis for policy discussions during the 2016 Legislature.

Commission on Teaching and Learning

Commission on Teaching and Learning continues certification work, meets with US Ed.

South Dakota’s Commission on Teaching and Learning and Department of Education representatives recently met with U.S. Ed. to discuss the state’s teacher effectiveness system. Both the teacher and principal effectiveness systems were developed by the commission.

“The work of the South Dakota Commission on Teaching and Learning has been a vital partnership for educators and students across South Dakota. We have come to the table in the interest of doing what is best for our students, and have stayed committed to the vision of making sure that each and every student has a quality teacher in the classroom,” says Jeremy Hurd, commission member and McLaughlin High School principal. “In addition, principals and administrators are doing the work of evaluating teachers and providing high-quality feedback using a research-based and valid process for making sure evaluations are fair, reliable, and improve instruction. We also are looking at data together as teacher and administrator and finding ways to drive instruction and student learning to the next level. And we have a system in place, built by educators in South Dakota that allows for professional collaboration to reach the goals we want for our schools, our communities and for our students.”

The commission also continues to examine the state’s teacher certification system, and is close to finalizing recommendations for general education licensure.

“The commission is really trying to look at what works and what doesn’t work in our current system. We’re asking how do we get away from a school structure dictating whether someone’s qualified to teach and instead make it about a teacher’s endorsements,” says Carla Leingang, a commission member and administrator of certification and teacher quality for the South Dakota Department of Education. “We’ve made a lot of progress and have a great foundation for our recommendations in the area of general education.”

In the future, the commission will look at licensure requirements for special education, ESL (English as a Second Language), school service specialists and administrators. Alternative certification, reciprocity with other states and the potential of tiered licensure are other aspects the commission also plans to study.

survey Statewide survey released

Teachers should have received a link late in the week of Nov. 2, to complete a statewide survey gathering data about instructional practices and implementation of the teacher effectiveness model. Each district will receive its own report with district-level results. Please participate in this survey and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

American Education Week
American Education Week is Nov. 16-20

This special week is a celebration of public education. Thank you to South Dakota’s teachers, administrators, support staff, parents and school board members. All of you are crucial to the success of our state’s students!

SD EPSCoR Grant logo EPSCoR grant proposals due Dec. 7

SD EPSCoR is looking for innovators in the area of career and technical education who would like to create or improve a program that allows students to explore STEM disciplines. Approximately $170,000 will be granted to schools this December. Find more information in this request for proposal document (http://doe.sd.gov/octe/documents/15-RFPEpsB.pdf).

Cultural Heritage Center Let the Cultural Heritage Center add context to your class legislative visit

Many teachers and students visit the Capitol every winter during legislative session for a live look at the political process. Help your students understand the state history that informs this work by making the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre part of your trip. Here’s a sampling of the state’s political history on display at the CHC (https://www.flickr.com/photos/southdakotahistory/sets/72157640884717465/).

The South Dakota Experience galleries tell the story of the state from American Indian life before the arrival of Europeans in the 1700s through the end of the 20th Century. The Hogen Gallery features changing exhibits. Currently, this gallery features “Play Ball! The National Pastime in South Dakota,” an exhibit covering the history of baseball in the state.

Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CST, Monday-Friday. There is no cost for tours, which can either be guided or self-guided. For more information, visit www.history.sd.gov/museum. To schedule a tour, email Jeff Mammenga at jeff.mammenga@state.sd.us, South Dakota State Historical Society, or call (605) 773-6000.

PAEMST logo Nominate a great K-6 math or science teacher for the PAEMST

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching program was established in 1983 by the White House and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The Presidential Award is the nation’s highest honor for math and science teachers. The program identifies outstanding math and science teachers in all 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions.

Every year, up to 108 national awardees each receive a $10,000 award, a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend a week-long series of networking opportunities and recognition events, and a special citation signed by the President of the United States.

The program is now accepting nominations of K-6 grade teachers. Please take the time to nominate an outstanding math and/or science teacher for this prestigious award. Nominations can be completed online at www.paemst.org. Submit your nomination as soon as possible. Nominees must then complete their applications by May 1, 2016.

In addition, applicants can earn three CEU's at the same time.

To be eligible, a PAEMST candidate must complete all components of the application process and submit a scorable application that can be sent on to the state selection committee. All applicants submitting a scorable application will earn credit, not just the state finalists whose materials get sent on to a national selection panel.

The PAEMST application consists of three components: Administrative, Narrative and Video. The components allow the applicant to provide evidence of deep content knowledge and exemplary pedagogical skills that result in improved student learning. After eligibility is confirmed and technical specifications are met, each application will be evaluated using the following five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching:

• Mastery of math or science content appropriate for
   the grade level taught
• Use of instructional methods and strategies that are
   appropriate for students in the class and that support
   student learning
• Effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor
   and improve student learning
• Reflective practice and lifelong learning to improve
   teaching and student learning
• Leadership in education outside the classroom

Complete the application yourself or nominate a deserving teacher today! The application can be accessed at www.paemst.org. If you have questions about this program, please contact:

Allen Hogie
SD PAEMST Mathematics Coordinator
2015 SD Teacher of the Year

US DOE logo
Apply by Dec. 9 for Fulbright Hays Seminars Abroad Program

The Fulbright Hays Seminars Abroad Program provides study and travel seminars abroad for U.S. educators in the social sciences and humanities to improve their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries. This flyer (http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/news/15/Nov/documents/Abroad.pdf) features upcoming dates, locations and application information.

Buddy Baskets for veterans
Schools invited to fill Buddy Baskets for veterans

Schools are invited to participate in the Veterans’ Holiday Relief Drive Service Project by filling Buddy Baskets. Each participating school/group will be nominated for a National American Legion Auxiliary Good Deed Award. Find more information on this poster (http://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/news/15/nov/documents/16Veteran.jpg).

Upcoming Events

A complete listing of events is available at https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/

Administering and Scoring Interim Assessments
Dec. 1, Sioux Falls
Dec. 2, Oacoma
Dec. 3, Rapid City

Participants will learn how to determine which Smarter Balanced interim assessments are suited to their student needs. Administering the assessments, using the scoring system and accessing results will be covered. Participants must have a device with the current secure browser installed. Printing the Teacher Handscoring System (THSS) and Assessment Viewing Application (AVA) manuals are highly recommended.

Register at GoSignMeUp (https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/). Search by course title. Contact Jan Martin, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-3246 or jan.martin@state.sd.us with questions.

Literacy Secondary/Postsecondary Collaborations
Dec. 1, Aberdeen
Dec. 2, Brookings
Dec. 3, Vermillion

In fall 2014, the South Dakota Board of Regents and Department of Education partnered to provide educators from the secondary and postsecondary levels the opportunity to participate in collaborative discussions surrounding college and career readiness for all students. This session is a continuation of those discussions and will focus on trends in education, Smarter Balanced results, and English language arts literacy skills required for student transitions from secondary to postsecondary classrooms.

Register at GoSignMeUp (https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/). Search by course title.

Sexual Violence Institute
Dec. 2-4, Sioux Falls

The Sexual Violence Institute is put on by the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (http://www.sdnafvsa.com/index.php). The event will cover the issue of sexual violence across the lifespan addressing prevention and intervention.

Intended Audience: law enforcement, social workers, nurses, medical personnel, domestic violence advocates, sexual assault advocates, counselors, school personnel, prosecutors, parole officers, judicial system, students, public.

Registration deadline: Nov. 25

Find more information on the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault website (http://www.sdnafvsa.com/index.php).

Teachscape Tuesday Live Webinars
Monthly (next webinar: Dec. 15)

Every month, Teachscape offers a live webinar to South Dakota educators on various Teachscape topics.

Learn more at GoSignMeUp (https://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/).
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