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SD Department of Education
Dec. 2018  

Photo of Lisa Dresch TEACHER FEATURE:
Bringing sea life to South Dakota at Buchanan Elementary

Not many South Dakota kids get to learn some of their fifth-grade science standards through regular hands-on experience with a 90-gallon saltwater reef aquarium. But that’s what happens in Kyle Falk’s fifth-grade classroom at Buchanan Elementary in Pierre.

Falk’s classroom is home to likely the largest corporate-sponsored saltwater aquarium in a five-state region. The closest one like it, that he’s aware of, is in Chicago.

Falk and aquarium

How does a Pierre elementary school set up a 90-gallon saltwater reef aquarium?
In spring 2018, for their year-end project, Falk’s future-minded fifth graders decided they wanted to create something for their school that would contribute to learning for years to come. Falk suggested a saltwater reef aquarium, and his students liked the idea.

Falk had actually been reading about how to start such an aquarium for about three years. Of course, it’s one thing to casually research an idea. Now his students wanted to make that idea a reality.

We’re going to need some help
With no blueprint to follow and an unsurprising lack of marine biologists to consult in Pierre, Falk started with his own money and bought an inexpensive tank.

Then he had the idea to start emailing companies that specialize in the necessary supplies and equipment. Falk says, “I wrote them, ‘We’re a landlocked state, about as far from an ocean as we can get. What would you tell me if I said I wanted to start a saltwater reef? What advice could you give? What equipment would be cost-efficient?’”

The response he received was beyond his wildest imagination.

First, The Coral Merchant, a company in Michigan, offered to donate a tank and stand. “And then it started catching on,” Falk says. “All of a sudden another company said, ‘Well, we want to be a part of this, too, if they are. We’ll give you pumps and some other things.’ It just snowballed from there, and I got company after company to come onboard and sponsor us with all the equipment.”

Wade Richardson, owner of The Coral Merchant (and cousin of a couple of Falk’s students) even traveled to Pierre for three days in April 2018 to help with construction of the aquarium. A former teacher, Richardson also spent a day talking to Buchanan fifth graders about the project they were undertaking.

Falk and his students documented the entire project as it came together. The Classroom Coral website [https://classroomcoral.weebly.com/] features video, photos and blog entries. This year’s class will continue updating the website.

Equipment is one thing; what about the fish?
On a recent morning in Falk’s classroom, his science classes were preparing questions to ask during a Skype videoconference with Cindy Delillo. Delillo is a marine biologist with Quality Marine in Los Angeles, who responded to one of his initial email inquiries. Quality Marine supplies Sea World and other major aquariums with fish.

Delillo regularly speaks with Falk’s students via Skype, and her employer donated all the fish in the aquarium. Falk’s students chose the fish for the aquarium after researching what kinds of fish their aquarium could support and what kinds of fish can live together.

This year’s students will research and choose some additional fish, and then the project will shift to focus on growing coral.

Falk in front of class

Building relationships
In addition to Cindy Delillo, Falk’s students have also interacted via Skype with SeaWorld biologists who do various demonstrations with animals.

Falk is currently in communication with producers of the Animal Planet show, “Tanked,” which is all about building big, elaborate aquariums. “They want to Skype with us about how they build aquariums,” Falk says. “They’re very knowledgeable. It’s kind of a comedy on TV, and they seem kind of off-the-wall, but when you talk to them, they really know their stuff.”

Impacting multiple subjects and grade levels
The aquarium plays a role in several classes besides science. Students use it as a subject for “quick writes” in language arts. In math, they use the aquarium to calculate volumes, ratios and fractions. Students are responsible for feedings, and they take specific gravity readings daily (monitoring the water’s salt content). Other grade levels are also welcome to observe the aquarium and use it for classroom activities.

Earning recognition, pursuing excellence
In 2018, Falk’s Classroom Coral Project earned the School Administrators of South Dakota’s Little Red Schoolhouse Award [https://www.sasd.org/awards/little-red-school-house/] for the Pierre School District.

The endeavor has also prompted Falk to pursue his master’s degree in science education, with an emphasis on earth science. With his plans to take oceanography and hydrology classes, the future appears bright for Pierre’s saltwater reef aquarium.

Falk's classroom

Falk's Classroom

SD teachers, school counselors go above and beyond with professional certifications
Five South Dakota teachers earned National Board Certification, and four school counselors became National Certified School Counselors in 2018. These national certifications demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in their professions. Congratulations to these outstanding educators!

Read more at https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2018/1211-NBC.pdf.

Space State Library chosen as a NASA@ My Library partner

The South Dakota State Library has been selected to receive resources, training and support through NASA@ My Library, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education initiative that aims to increase and enhance STEM learning opportunities for library patrons across the country. South Dakota was one of 14 state libraries to receive the NASA@ My Library grant.

Read more at https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2018/1203-Library.pdf.

career Announcing career exploration resources for educators

Career Launch SD was established under the leadership of Governor Dennis Daugaard to increase student awareness about career opportunities in their communities and help meet South Dakota’s demand for a skilled workforce. The South Dakota Department of Education features work-based learning resources on its Work-Based Learning webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/octe/wbl.aspx].

To help schools, businesses, parents and others join the effort to increase student awareness about careers, so they can make informed decisions as they enter the workforce, the Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) has also developed resources to assist with incorporating career information in the classroom:

  • Career Launch SD Career Advisors have created and assembled the material found in the new Career Launch SD Work-Based Learning Toolkit [https://dlr.sd.gov/workforce_services/individuals/career_launch/toolkit.aspx] to serve as a resource for educators as they assist students with career awareness and exploration. Find grab-and-go lesson plans relating to soft skills and career exploration, as well as guides and forms to start or supplement districts’ job shadow and internship programs.

    In a recent webinar [https://dlr.sd.gov/workforce_services/individuals/career_launch/toolkit.aspx], DLR’s Career Program Coordinator Crystal Trevino gave a brief overview of the new Career Launch SD Work-Based Learning Toolkit [https://dlr.sd.gov/workforce_services/individuals/career_launch/toolkit.aspx]. Questions about the toolkit? Contact Crystal Trevino [crystal.trevino@state.sd.us].

  • DLR’s Labor Market Information Center (LMIC) has a new feature. There is now a way for students or other career planners to explore South Dakota occupational opportunities by career cluster [http://dlr.sd.gov/lmic/menu_career_clusters.aspx]. Each cluster includes a list of occupations in that cluster. By clicking on any occupation, the user can view the information available on the occupation, including projected outlook and wage information, and even current job openings.
    • The LMIC offers many resources [https://dlr.sd.gov/lmic/menu_career_information.aspx#publications], including the following career publications for students, organized by grade level:
      • Career Peeks for grades K-2 [https://dlr.sd.gov/lmic/menu_career_peeks.aspx]
      • Career Aware for grades 3-5 [https://dlr.sd.gov/lmic/menu_career_aware.aspx]
      • Career Wonders for grades 5-8 [https://dlr.sd.gov/lmic/menu_career_wonders.aspx]
      • Career Destinations, a tool for students preparing for a career fair [https://dlr.sd.gov/lmic/publications/general/career_destinations.pdf]
    Questions on LMIC resources or publications? Contact Melodee Lane [Melodee.lane@state.sd.us], 605-626-2314.

Resources from SD State Library Homework help: e-resources now easier to access for students, educators

It is now easier to access South Dakota State Library electronic resources, or databases, from home or anywhere outside of a library or school building. A new service called GeoIP provides "click and go" access regardless of location, so that South Dakota residents have the same access off-campus/at home as they would have inside schools.

In the past, students had instant “click & go” access at school because districts are set up with IP authentication with the State Library. Then at home or off campus, students needed to use their school’s e-card to access those same databases. While school libraries will continue to be hard-wired for easy in-school access and the State Library e-card is still available as a backup, the new, seamless GeoIP access will provide greater accessibility for teachers creating lesson plans and students doing homework at home or anywhere in South Dakota.

The State Library’s new GeoIP service provides "click and go" access regardless of location. As long as users are physically located within the borders of South Dakota, they no longer need a State Library e-card log-in when accessing databases outside of school. For more information, visit the State Library's GeoIP webpage [https://library.sd.gov/LIB/ERD/geoip.aspx].

The State Library’s e-resources [http://library.sd.gov/LIB/ERD/index.aspx] (also referred to as ‘databases’ or ‘online resources’) are a large, free collection of more than 50 databases for research, reading and inquiry. This is the direct link to the K-12 databases broken down by elementary, middle and high school level [http://library.sd.gov/LIB/YAS/homework.aspx].

Here are printable resources that can be used to promote the databases among students and parents:

  • Quick Reference Guide [http://library.sd.gov/LIB/ERD/SDSL-QuickGuide-eresources.pdf]
  • Puzzle Map [http://library.sd.gov/LIB/ERD/puzzle/puzzlemap.pdf]

2018 state Report Card available

With all of the new data items, format and layout, the public release of the 2018 Report Card was delayed slightly, but it is now live at sdschools.sd.gov. DOE provided a high-level overview to the state Board of Education Standards [https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/documents/2018/1119-ReportCard.pdf] at its Nov. 19 meeting.

PAMST Logo Nominate a great math or science teacher for Presidential honor

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 award is the nation’s highest honor for math and science (including computer science) teachers. The program identifies outstanding math and science teachers in all 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions.

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.

This year’s cycle will recognize outstanding secondary teachers in grades 7-12. Please take the time to nominate an outstanding math and/or science (including computer science) teacher for this prestigious award. Nominations can be completed online at www.paemst.org. Submit your nomination by March 1, 2019. Nominees would then need to complete their applications by May 1.

In addition, applicants can earn three CEUs 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
Teachers attending the SD STEM Ed Conference in Huron, Feb. 7-9, who would like to know more about the program, are encouraged to attend the “Showcase Your Teaching Practice and Win Money” session which will be held during the 8:00 time slot in Prairie A on Saturday, Feb. 9.

If you have questions about this program, please contact:
Allen Hogie, SD PAEMST Mathematics Coordinator, Allen.Hogie@k12.sd.us
Jennifer Fowler, SD PAEMST Science Coordinator, Jennifer.Fowler@k12.sd.us

Biology Teachers
(Left) 2018 OBTA recipient
Angela Wachal, Harrisburg
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. The recipient may also receive a variety of other prizes, including science classroom supplies. 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 29, 2019.

Upcoming Events

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

English Learner Chats
Dec. 18

English Learner Program Boot Camp (webinar series)
January-April 2019

CTE 101 Online Workshop
Jan. 9, 16, 23, 30, Feb. 6, 13, 4-5 p.m. CST
Jan. 9, 16, 23, 30, Feb. 6, 13, 5-6 p.m. CST

CTE Improve 2019
Jan. 22, Rapid City
Jan. 23, Pierre
Jan. 24, Aberdeen
Jan. 28, Mitchell
Jan. 29, Sioux Falls
Jan. 30, Brookings

Board of Education Standards
Jan. 28, Pierre [http://doe.sd.gov/board/]

Explicit Instruction for K-12 Educators
Jan. 28, Rapid City
Jan. 29, Aberdeen
Jan. 30, Sioux Falls

The OSEU for Fourth Grade Teachers – Creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms
Jan. 29, Mission

National ESEA Conference (formerly National Title I Conference)
Jan. 30-Feb. 2, Kansas City [https://www.eseanetwork.org/conference]

SD Technology Education Association meeting
Jan. 31-Feb. 2, Pierre [http://www.sdtea.k12.sd.us/]

SD STEM Ed Conference
Feb. 7-9, Huron [https://sites.google.com/k12.sd.us/sdsta/sd-stem-ed-conference]

Save the Date: SD Dept. of Education Annual Conference
May 29-30, Pierre

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