Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

The Pedagogy of a Rural Educator

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Time with Teachers: The Annual SDSTA/SDCTM Conference

Every year I look forward to the first weekend of February. Being a teacher from South Dakota, you might wonder why I would look forward to any weekend between December and March. The first weekend of February is the Joint Conference of the South Dakota Science Teacher’s Association and the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics. What does that mean? I get to spend time with teachers! It is rare for a teacher in a rural district to have another teacher in their building that teaches the same content area. You can read about this in my post: What to do When YOU are the Department. And when we get together, we can’t stop talking!

This year I presented for the second time. I did a presentation about the basics of Twitter, and how it can be used for professional development of teachers. It was very similar to the presentation I did last year, which you can read about here. I was excited to attend sessions hosted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol on crash reconstruction and the science of drug dogs. I also attended sessions by Sanford Promise and one where veteran teachers were able to interact with pre-service teachers. Although I’ve been teaching for five years, I still find this session to be one that I think I learn more in than I teach!

Our keynote speaker this year was Bill Zubke, a retired teacher and motivational speaker. He encouraged us to live with love, learning, laughter, and to leave a legacy. It was incredibly entertaining and encouraging. What a great way to get geared up to go back to our classrooms on Monday!

I truly look forward to the conversations I have with the science and math teachers each year at our conference. The weekend helps keep me going through the challenging days and long nights necessary to do my job. It also motivates me to do more and work harder in order to live up to the great legacy that South Dakota teachers have built. I look forward to many more years of spending time with teachers!


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South Dakota Math and Science Teacher’s Joint Conference

Each year I have been teaching, I look forward to February. Since I live in South Dakota, February means freezing cold weather, snow storms, and the SD joint math and science teaching conference!! This conference has been a highlight of my winter each year since I’ve been a undergrad. It is a joint conference between the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the South Dakota Science Teachers Association. This year, I decided to present for the first time. I also attended some great sessions throughout the two-day conference.

To begin the weekend, I presented about using Twitter for education. To see my post about this, click here. I was thrilled to see a “packed house” of about 25-30 South Dakota teachers, all wanting to learn about using Twitter for their professional development. The presentation was a lot of fun, and I was very excited to see many of the participants tweeting throughout the conference. I hope they all continue to use Twitter!

Throughout the day Friday, I also attended sessions on basic research and it’s role in biomedical science, incorporating literature in science classrooms, and visualizing large numbers. I met pre-service teachers in a round-table between them and veteran teachers, where I probably learned more than I taught (as it usually goes!). Finally, I learned about ISEE, a  new venture between South Dakota State University and regional teachers to enhance science education in South Dakota and beyond. Read their blog about the sessions at the conference here. To finish the day Friday, we enjoyed a banquet with featured speakers Rose DuBois and Randy Hagen, who talked about “Every Day Greatness”.

On Saturday, I enjoyed sessions about modeling biology by the amazing Kelly Riedell, and looking at math and science from an artist’s eye. I also loved the session titled “Neuroscience Meets Magic and a Zombie Apocalypse”. Jill Weimer did a great job explaining the AMAZING things that are taking place at Sanford Research Centers, and told us a little about zombies!! I finished the conference by presenting my other session, STEM Student Research, to a huge crowd of two people! (Thanks to those two for coming!) At the end of the day, many people leave early, as they have long drives to get home. However, I still enjoyed sharing my experiences with them!

I have always enjoyed the conference in Huron, and plan to keep attending as long as I’m teaching in South Dakota! If you haven’t, look for a conference in your region!! They are a great source of connections, information, and renewal for any teacher!