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SD Department of Education Nov. 2016  

American Education Week 2016: Nov. 14-18
Teacher Feature: Mark Iverson TEACHER FEATURE: Developing ‘doers’ of science

Watertown Middle School teacher Mark Iverson’s Twitter feed(@misteriverson) [https://twitter.com/misteriverson] is a great illustration of his primary goal as an educator: making his 8th graders “doers” of science.

Iverson served on the work group that helped develop South Dakota’s new science standards, which were adopted in spring 2015. He says, “It’s really hard to teach these concepts from the more traditional way of teaching—lectures, notes. These standards really lend themselves to students rolling up their sleeves and getting into science. It’s a lot more fun to teach, because you’re doing things.”

There are no textbooks in Iverson’s classroom. Because of the new standards, the school is using a new curriculum, and instead of textbooks, the school district gave science teachers the chance to purchase new equipment.

Watertown Middle School Principal Dr. Todd Brist says, “Our goal is to transform teaching and learning in each and every classroom at WMS, and Mr. Iverson is leading the way through a student-centered classroom that makes learning meaningful and engaging. His passion engages kids immediately; he also understands and implements the best practices necessary to make science hands-on and relevant. Students don’t just learn science in his classroom, they do science."

Among the equipment Iverson and his colleagues have purchased are Vernier sensors, which can measure temperature, pH, carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, even electrical forces, all while graphing data in real time. The school has also gone one-to-one with Chromebooks.

Photo of Iverson's Classroom

Iverson likes to use Twitter to connect with educators across the state and country. One group continually inspires him to expand on a project his students have done for a number of years: launching weather balloons.

This year, the goal is for students to attach a 360-degree camera to their balloon, so they can use virtual reality glasses to take a virtual trip 110,000 feet above the earth. In addition, Iverson’s 8th graders will use video footage and the corresponding data they gather to work with 5th graders as those younger students study weather and atmosphere standards.

Class outside

Student with googles

view of earth from space

A typical week in Iverson’s class starts with research: “We’ll research, do some experiments, then synthesize the information and apply it to a real-world application of some sort,” he says.

Flame tests were among early experiments this school year. Students learned that different chemicals burn in different colors, so the question became, based on the color of the flame, what chemicals make up the mixture? It’s the science behind fireworks.

Students in science lab

As with instruction, Iverson’s methods of assessment aren’t traditional either: no more lecture, notes, study, test, repeat. Assessment is ongoing: Google Forms with 10-15 questions to determine whether students are grasping vocabulary and concepts; observation of lab groups to see that all students are contributing and having productive discussions; reflections on labs. He seeks to make it a safe environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and testing their hypotheses.

Iverson’s students have made rollercoasters, Maglev trains (trains that don't touch tracks) and trebuchets. The list of activities is long, and it’s not surprising to learn that his students rarely ask, Why do we have to do this, or learn that? “Science is all around us,” he says. “So it’s pretty easy to make those connections.”

Students experiment with cars

Iverson and Kim Rohde, Watertown Middle School’s other 8th grade science teacher, stagger their instruction so they can provide each other feedback on strategies (i.e. Here’s how this lab went. These are a couple concerns…).

Professional development is important to Iverson. As President-Elect of the State Science Teachers Association, he hopes to build on the group’s ability to be a go-to resource for teachers across South Dakota. He regularly serves as a cooperating teacher for education students from South Dakota State University.

In addition, having just been nominated for potential recognition with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Iverson will soon be embarking on the in-depth application process which requires demonstration of strong content knowledge and mastery of pedagogy.

Proposed certification rule changes to get first reading Nov. 15

Proposed changes to certification rules will get a first reading at the state Board of Education’s Nov. 15 meeting in Sioux Falls. The intent is to streamline rules and make them easier to understand. New rules are scheduled to be phased in, beginning in July 2017.

Proposed changes are extensive. Here are several highlights:

  • School structure would no longer dictate whether a teacher is certified to teach a subject. Endorsements would be tied to assignments, rather than school structure.

  • A teacher could earn an intermediate endorsement by passing a composite test in math, English language arts, science or social science. (i.e. Instead of being required to take separate tests in history, political science and geography, a teacher could take a composite social studies test to qualify to teach all three subjects in middle school and high school.)

  • Currently, if an educator’s certificate lapses, the transcripted credit requirement increases from three to six. Under proposed changes, the requirement would remain at three, and the applicant would instead be required to pay a fee/fine.

  • A new category of certificates, called Educator Permits, would be created. Several of these permits could help small schools that struggle to find certified teachers in certain areas.
    • The Performing Artist Permit is designed for individuals who qualify to teach in specific fine arts areas. This would be a five-year non-renewable permit issued to performing artists in the fields of art, dance, drama and music. The permit would require five years of occupational experience in the performing arts field.
    • The Expert Lecturer Permit would be issued at the request of a school district for individuals with distinctive qualifications. It would be a one-year renewable permit, limited to the area of specialty, and would require a master’s degree or higher.
    • The International Teacher Permit would be a five-year non-renewable permit that would require a J1 or H1B Visa.

  • A teacher with an early childhood special education preparation could add a K-12 special education endorsement by passing the secondary pedagogy test and the state special education content test.

  • A teacher with a K-12 special education preparation could add an early childhood special education endorsement by passing the early childhood pedagogy test and the early childhood special education test.

The South Dakota Department of Education will be sharing detailed information through a variety of avenues over coming months in an effort to reach all who will be affected. It is important to note that whatever educators are currently qualified to teach will not be affected by the rule changes. The department’s certification webpage [http://doe.sd.gov/oatq/teachercert.aspx] will be continually updated as rules are rolled out.

Open eBooks app expands access for Title I schools

The Open eBooks app contains thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from in-need households. Educators in Title I or Title I-eligible schools, or programs or libraries that serve at least 70 percent of children from in-need families can sign up. Learn more at openebooks.net [http://openebooks.net/index.html].

ESSA update: Accountability Work Group holds final meeting

South Dakota’s ESSA Accountability Work Group has held what should be its final face-to-face meeting. This group’s ideas, along with those of the School Improvement and ELL Work Groups will serve as a starting point for proposals on which the Department of Education will seek broad input from across the state.

More information about the ESSA work groups is available on the Department of Education website [http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/essa.aspx]. ESSA and the state plan will continue to be an ongoing topic of conversation. Anyone interested in ESSA implementation efforts is invited to sign up for the ESSA listserv for updates and alerts. To sign up, visit the listserv webpage [https://listserv.sd.gov/scripts/wa.exe?A0=SDESSAIMPLEMENTATION]and follow the link to “Subscribe or Unsubscribe.”

Science Graphic for visual image

Davis-Bahcall Scholarship application open until Jan. 6

High school seniors and college freshman are eligible to apply for the Davis-Bahcall Scholarship program. Davis-Bahcall Scholars spend five weeks in the summer exploring the world of modern scientific research at some of the nation’s leading laboratories and universities. The program also includes travel abroad.

Read more at http://doe.sd.gov/secretary/DAVIS-BAHCALL.aspx.

Photo from the Cultural Heritage Center Make the Cultural Heritage Center part of your class legislative visit

Bringing students to Pierre this winter to observe the state legislature? Discover hands-on history at the Cultural Heritage Center, home of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society, located northeast of the State Capitol at 900 Governors Drive.

With a museum visit, students can gain insight into the state history that informs the legislature’s work. 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.

Visitors can see (and in some cases, even touch) artifacts from our state’s past. To schedule a free tour, guided or self-guided, contact Jeff Mammenga at Jeff.Mammenga@state.sd.us or (605) 773-6000. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CST, Monday-Saturday and 1-4:30 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit the museum’s website [http://www.history.sd.gov/museum].

Strive for 5 logo
Terry Redlin Elementary students Strive for 5

“We can talk all we want about instructional strategies, improving our curriculum and all that goes on in the classroom, but if the kids aren’t in the seats, those technical things aren’t going to make a difference,” says Terry Redlin Elementary School (Sioux Falls) Principal Mitch Sheaffer.

Strive for 5
Administrator Intern Ryan DeGraff has been leading the school’s attendance awareness efforts. The Strive for 5 program rewards students for being in school on time, all day, for five consecutive days.

During lunch periods on Fridays, DeGraff holds prize drawings for students who have met the five-day requirement. Prizes are made possible through community partnerships with church groups, businesses, local athletic teams and others. A Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation grant funds a schoolwide drawing each week for a $50 gift card to Walmart.

Sometimes the school’s social worker delivers that gift card. “She usually contacts families when students aren’t coming to school,” Sheaffer says. “So our thinking is, let’s change that image and have her deliver the gift card because the student has been at school. Then if she needs to contact the family in the future for a visit that’s not as pleasant, we hope it might go more smoothly because she’s previously visited on a good note.”

Long-term goals
The school is also offering a long-term incentive, based on a similar program at General Beadle Elementary School in Rapid City. If a student achieves perfect attendance for the whole school year, the school will buy that student a bicycle.

Sheaffer and Ryan acknowledge that perfect attendance isn’t a realistic goal for everyone, but they hope these incentives help students and families understand how important it is to be in school.

“Our goal isn’t to have them just be excited about what they can get,” Sheaffer says. “Long-term, we hope they realize attendance is important not only to their learning, but their future, when they get beyond school and into careers. It’s important that these habits start early.”

Community involvement
“That’s why we’ve reached out to the community too, because the community understands that this is not just a school issue,” says DeGraff. “Developing these habits is a community-wide issue, because these young students will be our workforce in the future.”

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is also teaming with the school to offer another unique incentive: a ride to school on a firetruck for some lucky students with strong attendance records.

Repeating the message
Just over two months into these efforts, Sheaffer and DeGraff don’t yet have hard data on effectiveness, but they are encouraged by anecdotal response thus far. The incentive program created buzz at the school’s open house.

“That excitement opened the door for us to speak more about the importance of getting students here on time and keeping them in school all day,” DeGraff says.

Sheaffer says they keep the message simple: “It’s important they’re here every day and on time. Just that constant message. Nothing spectacular or groundbreaking or earth-shattering. It’s just that this program gives us an opening to say it a lot. And I know our office staff have also been great at talking to parents, keeping that message succinct and repeating it, so people are hearing it over and over again.”

Your turn
Is your school or district doing something unique to promote attendance? Let us know, so we can potentially include your story in a future issue of the Online Zebra!

Graphic of books going around Earth State Library recognizes 21st Century School Libraries

Recipients of the 21st Century School Library Award for 2016 were honored at the Systems Change Conference in October. Twelve school libraries received the award, which recognizes school libraries as Effective, Enhanced or Exemplary, based on performance in three areas: place, which refers to the learning environment (both physical and online), programming and the professional.

Applicants conduct a self-assessment and provide evidence of their ability to meet South Dakota's guidelines for school libraries. Award status is valid for a three-year period.

Congratulations to these schools and librarians!

School library Award status Librarian Administrator
Central High School (Aberdeen) Exemplary Lucy Wang Jason Uttermark
Flandreau Middle/High School Exemplary Lori Williams Ross Rollinger
Gettysburg K-12 Exemplary Mary Quiett Wendy Smith
Harrisburg High School Exemplary Sheleen Bauer Kevin Lein
Lennox Jr. High/High School Enhanced Michael Larson Chad Allison
Sturgis Brown High School (Meade) Enhanced Scottie Bruch Pete Wilson
Sturgis Williams Middle School (Meade) Enhanced Scottie Bruch Ann Nonnast
Georgia Morse Middle School (Pierre) Enhanced Renae Lehman Kyley Cumbow
St. Thomas More Middle School (Rapid City Catholic School System) Exemplary Jenelle Kirchoff Keiz Shultz
Edison Middle School (Sioux Falls) Exemplary Kjerstin Smith Steve Griffith
Creekside Elementary School (Spearfish) Enhanced Dianne Hemminger Daniel Olson
Watertown High School Exemplary Jean Moulton Michael Butts

SD State Fair logo Start planning now to highlight student work at 2017 State Fair

Teachers of all grade levels can highlight their students’ best work in art, literature and photography at the 2017 South Dakota State Fair. The work must be from the 2016-17 school year, and entries must be submitted no later than April 16.

In addition, 1st-6th grade students can enter an essay contest on the topic of "Living the Life in South Dakota! What's great about our state?" Students in 5th-8th grade can enter poetry in the Prairie Winds Competition. Winners’ work gets submitted for publication in the Prairie Winds magazine.

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

"South Dakota’s Largest Classroom" will again be part of the State Fair in 2017. In 2016, approximately 750 students and teachers from across the state participated in this unique field trip opportunity. Students tour a variety of learning centers focused on science, agriculture, technology and more. The event is free, with lunch provided. Programming is intended to give students the chance to learn through hands-on exhibits that may not otherwise be available to individual school districts. Learn more about this program on the State Fair website [http://www.sdstatefair.com/special-events/all/sds-largest-classroom].

More information on all of these educational opportunities is available in the 2017 South Dakota State Fair Education Book [http://www.sdstatefair.com/assets/docs/uploads/2017-books-and-entry-forms/education-book-2017.pdf].

Thank You, 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/16/Nov/images/VeteranHoliday.jpg].

Upcoming Events

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

Board of Education
Nov. 15, Sioux Falls [http://doe.sd.gov/board/]

SBAC Interim Assessments
Nov. 29, Pierre

CTE – Standards Implementation Collaborative Work Day
Jan. 11, Rapid City
Jan. 25, Sioux Falls

Preparing for ACCESS 2.0
Jan. 17, Watertown
Jan. 18, Sioux Falls
Jan. 19, Chamberlain
Jan. 20, Rapid City

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