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SD Department of Education
Dec. 2019  
Teacher Feature TEACHER FEATURE: Sisseton students decorate ornaments for National Christmas Tree display

Students of Alexis Monroe, the art teacher at Sisseton Middle School, have created ornaments to adorn the tree representing South Dakota as part of the 2019 National Christmas Tree display. We reached out to Alexis to learn more about her classroom and this special project.

“We are genuinely honored to be chosen for this rare opportunity,” Monroe said. “The students have showcased their ability to create a visual of an idea, all while learning new art techniques in a small amount of time.”

One student worked through the anniversary of a parent’s death by designing an ornament featuring the words, “Honor the Earth, our Mother.” The student didn’t realize the connection between the idea and the poignant anniversary until the project was done.

“Art is powerful,” Monroe said. “Words cannot describe how proud I am of all of them.”

“The ornaments created by our students are truly special and depict many aspects of the various lifestyles, cultures, and natural beauty of our state,” said Sisseton Middle School Principal Michael Drew. “We are extremely proud of Mrs. Monroe and our students for representing Sisseton Middle School and the state of South Dakota at the National Christmas Tree celebration this year.”

Why is art important?
Monroe: In a school setting, art is important for many reasons. Art can help calm students by refocusing one’s frame of mind while also creating a challenging experience that welcomes free thinking. Art allows students to feel vulnerable, excited, sad, thoughtful, independent, and erratic, and provides a positive channel to communicate these emotions. The work created in and out of an art room can help students dive further into their school and communities, building connections with people and places and generating an established sense of pride.

What benefits do you see your students get out of art classes?
Monroe: My students benefit from art through being able to express their own creativity, emotions, and ideas. They also feel like they can relax and focus on improving their skills by challenging themselves. One student feels that she’s able to empathize with other artists when she studies work done by other people, allowing her to experience what they felt while undergoing the creative process.

What surprises your students about art, whether they’re creating it themselves or observing/learning about it?
Monroe: Students are surprised at how much they can use their own imagination to create a work of art and by the new skills they learn. They’re also surprised about how different art can be, whether it’s public or private, something to be put on display versus the experience of making it, or created by anyone on the street as opposed to a world-famous artist. Students are drawn to art the more they observe it and surprise themselves when they learn how to improve their own work by learning from someone else.

How do you incorporate South Dakota art and artists into your teaching?
Monroe: The Sisseton Middle School classroom has supported South Dakota artists, both present and past. Resources provided by the University of South Dakota help teach the life and work of Oscar Howe. Students have created a small mural of one of his paintings, Eagle Dancer, that hangs on the wall in a common area.

Another resource we utilize is the Artists in Schools and Communities program coordinated by the South Dakota Arts Council, through which 10 artists from a roster are selected to be in our school district for 10 different weeks out of each year.

Through the Art Educator’s Institute at Northern State University each summer, I’m able to take classes from working artists from South Dakota to further build my practice for my students.

Throughout the school year, conversations about South Dakota art and artists come up in various presentations and discussions. Most recently, students learned the importance of public art through works by John Lopez and Dale Lamphere.

Sisseton Middle School is one of 56 schools across the country, where students created one-of-a-kind ornaments for the 2019 National Christmas Tree [https://thenationaltree.org/] display on the Ellipse in President’s Park [https://www.nps.gov/whho/index.htm]. These handcrafted ornaments adorn 56 smaller trees that surround the National Christmas Tree. The 56 trees represent each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia as part of the America Celebrates display.

Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Education worked with state art and education agencies to identify elementary, middle, and high schools whose students would create the ornaments for the America Celebrates display. More than 1,500 students participated in this year’s project. The project is funded by the National Park Foundation [https://www.nationalparks.org/].

For more event information and updates, visit www.thenationaltree.org or follow President’s Park on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/npspresidentspark/] or Twitter [https://twitter.com/PresParkNPS]. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2019.

Join DOE’s 2019-20 National Board Certification cohort

The South Dakota Department of Education is facilitating a cohort for teachers interested in pursuing National Board Certification, a widely known and respected professional certification. National Board Certified Teachers have developed and demonstrated the advanced knowledge, skills, and practices required of an outstanding educator. State law requires stipends to be paid to teachers who earn NBC for five years and possibly more. To learn more, visit our NBC webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/nationalboard/] and contact Kelly Royer [Kelly.Royer@state.sd.us].

Printables Printables: Send students home with holiday reading recommendations

The State Library has made available holiday-themed posters of the books nominated for this year’s Children’s [https://library.sd.gov/LIB/CYS/prairie/201920/doc/XMASPoster-Tabloid-1920.pdf] and Teen Choice Book Awards [https://library.sd.gov/LIB/YAS/yarp/201920/YARP-XMASPoster-1920.pdf]. Use these printables to send home reading recommendations for your students to enjoy over their holiday break.

Apply for SD Space Grant Consortium grant awards by Jan. 9

South Dakota math and science teachers are encouraged to apply for two grant opportunities available through the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium: the Kelly Lane Earth and Space Science Grant (two $5,000 grants) and the Daniel Swets Robotics Materials Award ($13,000 available). Winners will be announced at the SD STEM Ed Conference to be held Feb. 6-8, 2020, in Huron.

Kelly Lane Earth and Space Science Grant (two $5,000 grants):

For South Dakota science and math teachers only - Science and math teachers of U.S. citizenship at public, private, or tribal schools in South Dakota may now apply for the 14th annual (2020) Kelly Lane Earth and Space Science Grant provided by the NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium. Two $5,000 grants will be awarded to select science or math teachers of U.S. citizenship in South Dakota. The award seeks to improve STEM education in the state through the support of innovative programs in pre-college education. Preference will be given to applications focusing on topics pertaining to space science, earth science, and/or the use of geospatial technology. Applications must be received by Jan. 9, 2020. Find details on the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium's Kelly Lane Earth and Space Science Grant webpage [http://sdspacegrant.sdsmt.edu/KellyLaneTeacherGrant.htm].

Daniel Swets Robotics Materials Award ($13,000 available):

For South Dakota science and math teachers and informal educators - The NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium invites applications for the 2020 Daniel Swets Robotics Materials Award. This funding is open to South Dakota educators of U.S. citizenship who either have: A) taken robotics training or plan to take robotics training and want to begin new robotics programs and teams, or B) have sustained robotics programs/curriculum in their classrooms or at their schools that are in need of additional support due to growth in the number of student participants or aging robotics materials. Applications must be received by Jan. 9, 2020. Find details on the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium's Daniel Swets Robotics Materials Award webpage [http://sdspacegrant.sdsmt.edu/DanSwetsRoboticsAward.html].

science graphic Encourage high school seniors to apply for Davis-Bahcall program by Jan. 27

The Davis-Bahcall program is an all-expense paid, summer travel program sponsored by the Sanford Underground Research Facility, Black Hills State University, the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium and First Premier Bank. Davis-Bahcall Scholars will spend five weeks of their summer exploring the world of 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 United States and in Italy. Topics explored will include physics and a variety of other science and engineering topics. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from distinguished professors from all over the world.

The application deadline is Jan. 27, 2020. The application is available on the Department of Education’s Davis-Bahcall Scholar Program webpage [https://doe.sd.gov/scholarships/DAVIS-BAHCALL.aspx].

Program Dates: June 7-July 12, 2020

Eligibility Requirements

Candidates must:

  • Be age 18 or older at time of travel
  • Be a high school senior or college freshman at time of application
  • Attend a South Dakota public, private, or home school or postsecondary institution or have graduated from a South Dakota high school
  • Have a demonstrated interest in science with the intent of pursuing an advanced degree in a math, science, engineering, or technology field
  • Students may only participate in the program once
To apply for the Davis-Bahcall program, candidates must submit:
  • Program application form
  • Official high school and college transcripts, including standardized test scores when possible
  • 500- to 700-word essay that conveys their interest, qualifications, how they would benefit from the program, and how they would contribute to the program
  • Letter of recommendation from a current science teacher
  • Resume detailing academic achievement and extracurricular activities
Finalists will participate in a virtual interview. Up to eight Davis-Bahcall Scholars will be chosen by mid-March.

Poetry SD Arts Council accepting registrations for Poetry Out Loud

The South Dakota Arts Council is accepting registrations for the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. This program helps teachers educate students about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. The state champion will advance to the national finals event and compete for cash awards. Find more information on the South Dakota Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud webpage [https://artscouncil.sd.gov/POL/index.aspx].

Apply by Dec. 31 for School Ambassador Fellowship Program

The U.S. Department of Education is accepting applications for the 2020-21 School Ambassador Fellowship Program [https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/effective-educator-development-programs/school-ambassador-fellowship-program/]. The agency designed this program to enable outstanding teachers, principals, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and other school-based professionals who interact with students daily to bring their expertise to the department and expand their knowledge of the national dialogue about education.

In turn, fellows facilitate the learning and input of other educators and community members. As in previous years, applicants may choose to apply as Washington Fellows -- a full-time appointment where fellows are based in residence at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. -- or as Campus Fellows -- a part-time appointment where fellows collaborate with the agency while maintaining their regular school responsibilities in their home communities. The application period [https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/effective-educator-development-programs/school-ambassador-fellowship-program/applicant-information/] closes on Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

2019 State Library Data 2019 School Library Data Digest available

The 2019 School Library Data Digest [https://library.sd.gov/SDSL/PUBL/DOC/RPT-SLDD-2019.pdf] is now available, with information about services, electronic resources, digital access, circulation, programming, and more at school libraries across South Dakota. The School Library Data Digest is a compilation of data gathered via the annual school library survey distributed by the State Library to school districts every spring.

White House History Teacher Institute applications due Feb. 1

The White House History Teacher Institute is an immersive teacher professional development opportunity. A five-day summer program in Washington, D.C., hosted by the White House Historical Association, the institute features discussions with historians, local site visits, inquiry-based learning activities, special speakers, exclusive access to resources, and networking with fellow educators from across the country.

Two sessions will be offered in 2020:

  • July 6-10, 2020
  • July 13-17, 2020
The program works to address these essential questions:
  • Why does the White House matter? How has the structure and symbolism of the building changed over time?
  • How did the White House and surrounding neighborhood reflect larger movements and changes in United States history?
  • Who has contributed to the White House over the centuries? What stories of individuals have gone untold in popular White House narratives?
  • How has the White House facilitated the role of the Executive Branch and the duties of the President of the United States?
  • How did the White House evolve to simultaneously act as a home, office, museum, and stage?
The program is open to all K-12 educators, although preference is given to social studies teachers.

The application deadline is Feb. 1.

Find the application, a promotional flyer, and additional information on the program’s website [https://www.whitehousehistory.org/white-house-history-teacher-institute].

SFEC offers training, services, and resources to SD public schools

The South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center is a grant program that can offer free trainings, services, and resources to South Dakota public schools. The SFEC strives to ensure that all learners—especially English learners, economically disadvantaged learners, and minority students—have the supports they need to achieve academic, career, and life goals.

Read More at https://sdsfec.org/.

Head Start Updated SD Step Ahead/Head Start brochure available

SDStepAhead.com is a website dedicated to kids, built around the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines. Organized by learning domains, this site also includes resources to improve knowledge of child development and a map of services by South Dakota county. An updated informational brochure [https://doe.sd.gov/pressroom/educationonline/2019/Dec/documents/EarlyLearners.pdf] promoting this website and Head Start services in South Dakota is now available.

Nominate outstanding biology teachers

Nominate a great science teacher in your district 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. Nominees will have until March 30 to complete their application for the award.

Nominees do not need to have a majority of their class load in the life sciences as this may not be feasible in small districts where science teachers may teach all of the sciences and sometimes math as well.

Nominees need only have consistently taught and currently teach life sciences (life science, biology, environmental science, AP, dual credit, etc.)

Criteria for Selection

  1. Candidates must be presently 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.
  4. Candidates need not be members of NABT.
  5. Unsuccessful candidates may be re-nominated from year to year.
  6. Candidates may receive the award more than once, after 10 years.
To nominate a teacher, email the following information to OBTA Director Jeff Peterson [jeff.peterson@k12.sd.us].
  1. Name of Nominee
  2. School
  3. Email address
  4. Phone number
  5. Your name and email should Jeff need to contact you
The nominee will get an email from Jeff, along with guidelines to apply. Nominators are asked to write a letter of recommendation for the individual they nominate and to encourage the nominee to complete the application process, which is due by March 30, 2020.

Upcoming Events

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

SDMyLife ACT Method Test Prep (Student View)
Jan. 8, 2020, 10 a.m. CT, webinar
Jan. 8, 2020, 3 p.m. CT, webinar

See It In Action! Day: Business Partnerships
Jan. 8, 2020, Madison

SDMyLife ACT Method Test Prep (Educator View)
Jan. 22, 10 a.m. CT, webinar
Jan. 22, 3 p.m. CT, webinar

Equitable Grading of English learners
Jan. 23, 2020, Huron [https://www.eventbrite.com/e/huron-equitable-grading-tickets-72143917399]

Board of Education Standards
Jan. 27, 2020, Pierre [https://boardsandcommissions.sd.gov/Meetings.aspx?BoardID=32]

SD Technology Education Association meeting
Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2020, Pierre [http://www.sdtea.k12.sd.us/]

National ESEA Conference
Feb. 4-7, 2020, Atlanta, Ga. [https://www.eseanetwork.org/conference]

SD STEM Ed Conference
Feb. 6-8, 2020, Huron [http://www.sdctm.org/conference/annualconference.htm]

Save the Date: SD Education Conference
May 27-28, 2020, Oacoma [https://doe.sd.gov/title/2020-conference/]

Save the Date: Foundational Reading Workshops
Grades 4-8: July 29-30, 2020, Pierre
Grades K-3: Aug. 3-5, 2020, Pierre

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