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SD Department of Education
Dec. 2017  

Image of Mercia Schroeder. TEACHER FEATURE: ‘Kids never cease to amaze me’

Beginning in January, the South Dakota Department of Education will facilitate a cohort for teachers seeking National Board Certification [http://doe.sd.gov/oatq/NB-teachers.aspx]. This month we put the spotlight on Jodi Neugebauer, a National Board Certified 2nd grade teacher at Garretson Elementary.

“Kids never ever cease to amaze me,” says Jodi Neugebauer.

Most recently it was a student inspired by classroom projects on Christmas around the world. The student’s mom emailed Neugebauer to tell her the family made julekurvers, or paper basket ornaments, one weekend because they learned that in Norway, where their ancestors came from, it’s a Christmas tradition for kids to make them.

Get out of the way
Neugebauer likes to empower students, and she’s found one highly effective method is to get out of their way: “I’ve always said I don’t want to be the teacher standing in front of the classroom.”

In this case, she didn’t want to just tell students what people in Norway traditionally do for Christmas. Instead, she says, “I want to empower students by saying, ‘You’ve learned what your family heritage is. Now, what do they do in that country? Can you find out?’”

This school year, Garretson Elementary has been implementing Habits of Mind, which Neugebauer has found to be transformative in helping her students take responsibility for their own learning: “Those seven- and eight-year-olds get it. As soon as they know I trust them and that I believe they can and will learn, they go above and beyond. If I’m excited and passionate and show them I care about them, they conquer the world.”

student standing standing around table stirring beaker
Neugebauer’s students learn about precision and thinking flexibly by making slime as part of a Habits of Mind team-building activity

Neugebauer also credits the National Board Certification process with helping her to release this power of learning to her students.

A good lesson becomes great
As part of National Board Certification, teachers submit video of a lesson. Neugebauer was eager to highlight her favorite unit: a dinosaur-themed cross-curricular unit combining math and science.

Then she started talking it over with her principal, colleagues and the teacher who was mentoring her through the NBC process. The more people she talked to, the more her plans changed, and the better the unit became: “I loved that unit, but I’ll tell you, it’s 10 times better after putting so much thought into it.”

The conversations led Neugebauer to ask deeper questions: What exactly are students learning? Why are they learning it? Are they doing the learning, or am I just telling them what to learn?

Ultimately, she recorded a lesson in which she brings bones into the classroom and challenges students to identify them: “I had done a lot of pre-teaching, but on that day, those students were completely engaged and empowered. I told them, ‘Here are your animal bones. Where are they from? Why?’ I was truly just listening to them and letting them figure it out. So part of it is just removing yourself. You’re the teacher, but you’re guiding their learning.”

That deeper reflective questioning has now become more of a reflex, Neugebauer says. And she’s passing the skill on to her students, encouraging them to think to themselves, Here’s what I’ve learned, but do I need to learn more in that area? Or am I ready to move on?

Just keep learning
Neugebauer’s desire for continuous learning led her to pursue National Board Certification, and it’s what drives her every day.

“I think the more you’re involved in your profession, the more you’re willing to learn and step out and try new things, the better you become,” Neugebauer says. “That directly affects both students and teachers and the community as a whole.”

And she’s as eager to empower other teachers as she is students, so last year when Neugebauer learned of the statewide mentoring program that was getting started, she jumped at the chance to be a mentor.

Not surprisingly, she’s finding mentoring to be just one more opportunity to keep on learning.

Image of a watch. Time’s running out!
Sign up for the NBC cohort today

The South Dakota Department of Education will facilitate a cohort for teachers who sign up to begin the National Board Certification process in January 2018. South Dakota NBC teachers receive $2,000 per year for five years, with $1,000 paid by the Department of Education and $1,000 paid by the teacher’s school district, and they can apply to have their National Board Certification fees reimbursed.

Find information on joining the cohort on the Department of Education’s National Board Certification webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/oatq/NB-teachers.aspx]. The registration deadline is Jan. 5, 2018.

Note to school counselors: The Department of Education will pay nationally-certified school counselors $1,000 per year for five years. It is optional for districts to reimburse nationally-certified school counselors.

Stock photo of neutrons Encourage students to apply for summer science opportunities
Davis-Bahcall Scholarship applications due Jan. 5

Davis-Bahcall Scholars will spend June 4-July 1, 2018, exploring modern scientific research at some of the nation’s leading laboratories and universities. They will spend one week at the Sanford Underground Research Facility and travel to other research laboratories in the U.S. and Italy. High school seniors and college freshmen are eligible to apply. Applications are due Jan. 5.

Find more information on the Department of Education’s Davis-Bahcall Scholar Program webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/scholarships/DAVIS-BAHCALL.aspx].

National Youth Science Camp applications due Feb. 28
The National Youth Science Camp is an honors program for two high-achieving high school graduates from each state and areas around the world. This unique residential experience has been held in a rustic setting in West Virginia’s eastern mountains since 1963. Participants attend free of charge (air transportation included). Applications are due Feb. 28.

Find more information on this National Youth Science Camp flyer [https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/zebra/news/17/Dec/documents/NYSC.pdf].

image of the state of South Dakota with collage of logos. State Library adds new electronic resources

  • BookFlix: Hundreds of talking books for children. Pairs approximately 120 animated stories with a nonfiction talking book on a similar subject.
  • ProCitizen (available in English and Spanish): An interactive course for immigrants preparing to take the naturalization test.
  • Pronunciator: Learn more than 80 languages. Also features 50 ESL (English as a Second Language) courses. Includes oral phrases, flash cards, learning guides and live online instruction.
Read more at http://library.sd.gov/LIB/ERD/index.aspx.

Stock photo of students in science lab. Connect your students with SD researchers

SD EPSCoR (South Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) has launched a free database of curriculum enhancement resources for STEM teachers serving middle and high school students.

The education portal [http://sdepscor.org/edportal] offers curriculum modules based on current scientific research occurring in South Dakota’s higher education institutions and aligned with the new South Dakota Science Standards.

“We know how busy teachers are,” said Dr. Rhea Waldman, education outreach specialist with SD EPSCoR. “Our education portal will help teachers get students excited about STEM. By bringing local research into classrooms, students experience hands-on STEM, learn about careers in South Dakota and potentially meet their future mentor.”

The curriculum modules were developed by a team of South Dakota STEM teacher lead­ers and are being tested in their classrooms. The team’s goal was to create authentic classroom investigations that are connected to real-world scientists and their research. Each conversation and investigation is intended to lay a foundation for future discussions with the scientists.

Nicole Keegan, one of the lesson plan developers and a staff development manager with the Office of Teaching, Learning and Innovation at Rapid City Area Schools, is a strong believer in the connection these lessons create between research and the classroom: “Research has shown that exposure to STEM-related fields allows students to see and be active in the work of real scientists and researchers. This creates relevance and a genuine excitement for the learning.”

Building a strong STEM workforce will play a vital role in the sustained growth of South Dakota’s economy. Strengthening STEM education to get students excited about these fields is becoming increasingly important to the state’s future.

“I think the ability to bring a scientist into your classroom, even via video conferencing, will increase student engagement immensely,” said Alison Bowers, another one of the lesson plan developers and a science teacher in the Hanson School District. “Students will be able to show how the concepts they are learning are used in real-world science here in South Dakota and create crossover between different branches of science.”

Visit sdepscor.org/edportal to download the lesson plans. Questions? Contact Dr. Rhea Waldman at educationdirector@sd-discovery.com or 605-224-8295.

screen shot of The Digital Library December Spotlight: Family Customs Past and Present: Exploring Cultural Rituals

This month’s resource spotlight is from the Library of Congress and first asks students to analyze sample historical pictures and compare to familiar rituals or celebrations. The goal is to engage students with their own cultural rituals to improve oral and written communication. The Digital Library is an online repository of formative assessment resources available at no cost to all South Dakota public school teachers.

Read more at https://doe.sd.gov/assessment/DigitalLibrary.aspx.

stock photo of astronaut in outer space. STEM teachers, you could spend your summer researching

The South Dakota Space Grant Consortium invites high school teachers in science, technology, engineering or math disciplines to apply for research fellowships. Applications are due Jan. 19. More information and the application are available on the SD Space Grant Consortium website [http://sdspacegrant.sdsmt.edu/SDSGC-RET2018-Announcement.pdf].

image of cover of Oceti Sakowin Essential for Understandings and Standards. December Highlights: Ideas for using the OSEU in your classroom

The Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards [http://indianeducation.sd.gov/documents/OcetiSakowinEUS.pdf] are state content standards intended to help guide South Dakota K-12 educators in teaching Native American history and culture. A work group has been developing OSEU-aligned sample social studies lessons for teachers of all grade levels [http://www.wolakotaproject.org/lessons-sd-social-studies-standards/]. Each month we are highlighting samples, developed using the Inquiry Design Model Blueprint™:
  • PK-5: Community Helpers [http://www.wolakotaproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SS-1-OSEU-7-Community-HelpersLeaders.pdf]
  • 6-8: Oral vs. Written [http://www.wolakotaproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/SS-7-OSEU-5-Oral-vs-Written.pdf]
  • 9-12: Tribal Sovereignty [http://www.wolakotaproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/SS-9-12-OSEU-6-Tribal-Sovereignty.pdf]

Stock photo of teacher in Biology Classroom. Nominate an outstanding biology teacher

Want to recognize a great science teacher in your district? Nominate him or her for the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award. The award is sponsored by the National Association of Biology Teachers and honors teachers of the life sciences in grades 7-12.

Sanford Health sponsors a $1,000 grant for the winning teacher to use for professional development and/or classroom materials. Each state’s winner is also invited to the Honors Luncheon held at the NABT Professional Development Conference in the fall and receives additional materials and prizes from national sponsors.

NOTE: A nominee does not need to have a majority of his or her class load in the life sciences, as this can be a challenge in small school systems where a science teacher might teach all of the sciences and sometimes math, etc. He/she just needs to have consistently taught and currently be teaching life sciences (life science, biology, environmental science, AP, dual credit, etc.)

Selection Criteria

1. Candidates must currently be teaching biology/life science (includes middle school) and must have devoted a significant portion of his/her career to the teaching of biology/life science.

2. Candidates from public, private and parochial schools are eligible.

3. A minimum of three years of teaching experience is mandatory before applying for the OBTA award.

4. Candidates do not need to be members of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

5. Unsuccessful candidates may be re-nominated from year to year.

6. Candidates may receive the award more than once, after 10 years.

Selection Process
To nominate a teacher, email the following information to Julie Olson [Julie.olson@k12.sd.us].

  1. Name of nominee
  2. School
  3. Email address of nominee
  4. Phone number
  5. Nominator’s name and email address

Olson will alert nominees via email and send them guidelines for applying.  Nominators will be asked to write a letter of recommendation for the teacher being nominated. 

Nominees must complete their applications by March 30, 2018.

Upcoming Events

Except where otherwise noted, details on the following events are available at GoSignMeUp [http://southdakota.gosignmeup.com/].

SD English Learner Chats (3:45-4:30 p.m. CST)
Dec. 19
Jan. 16
Feb. 20
March 20
April 17
May 15

CTE 101 Online
Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 (4-5 p.m. CST)
Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 (5-6 p.m. CST)

Effective Core EL Program
Jan. 4, Pierre
Jan. 5, Mitchell

ACCESS 2.0 Assessment Workshop
Jan. 16, Pierre
Jan. 17, Watertown
Jan. 18, Mitchell

2017-2018 Program Improvement Meetings
Jan. 22, Rapid City
Jan. 23, Pierre
Jan. 24, Aberdeen
Jan. 29, Mitchell
Jan. 30, Sioux Falls
Jan. 31, Brookings

Board of Education Standards
Jan. 26, Rapid City

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