Zeal – Automated Exit Ticket

FREE! Zeal joins a growing list of products hoping to take the pain out of administering and grading exit tickets. The Common Core-aligned question bank gives 15,000 (the number of questions) reasons for teachers to care, but students should, too, thanks to the ClassDojo-like engagement embedded in each exit ticket. When the joy of learning isn’t enough, students can earn coins, move up the leaderboard and use the coins to upgrade their own avatar.

SciJinks – The Ultimate Weather Website!

NOAA and NASA have joined forces to create the ultimate weather website. Targeting middle school students, SciJinks makes the science of weather fun and engaging with exciting and accessible content, games, and multimedia. Find answers to mysteries like our changing seasons, lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other curious phenomenon with the site’s colorful “now I get it” pages. Learn about weather satellites by playing “Shields Up!” or “Satellite Insight!” There are videos, printable images and posters, and lots of other help for teachers. SciJinks also shows you its content by topic: clouds, tides, oceans, atmosphere, seasons, satellites—you name i

The Digital Desperado Featured In Rural Schools Collaborative

DeglategateThe Rural School Collaborative recently shared an interview with SDIL teacher Jeff Schneider. He talks about his long-term connection to teaching and how he came to join SDIL.

Jeff, aka The Digital Desperado, embraces technology in teaching and helps students use online and digital tools to solve problems. Jeff brings real-world problems to the classroom, problems that kids can to relate to. Here’s just one example that is cited in the interview.

Q: Can you give an example of the “hands on” approach to learning that utilizes technology?

A: For example, the Monday following the New England Patriots controversy (the infamous deflated ball accusation), the 9th grade Physical Science classes tested how ‘bouncy’ (or not) a deflated ball was. They downloaded a slow motion app for their phones to get a more accurate measure of the height of the bounce.

SDIL and PAST Foundation are proud of all our staff and teachers. Jeff is certainly a great example of the kind of dedication they all bring to classrooms and schools every day.

Read the interview here.

Mini-Challenge: Achieve Neutral Buoyancy

Neutral Buoyancy Kit
Neutral Buoyancy Kit

We use this to help students understand the real-world challenge for ROVs, scuba divers and deep sea explorers who need to stay under the surface of the ocean but not sink to the bottom. Try this yourself, and then take it to your classroom! You’ll need a tub of water, plastic eggs and mini weights – we used random items of different weights, like marbles, tiles, fishing lures and beads. Get the worksheets here.


SDIL & PAST Featured at 2015 CGI America Conference

SDIL and our work in South Dakota with PAST Foundation, Mid Central Educational Cooperative, and Sanford Research, our partners, was featured at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America conference last month. CGI America highlighted our work, using this video to open the CGI Commitment Progress Report. In 2012 PAST committed to redefine rural and Native American STEM education by training 450 teachers to implement  an innovative and culturally relevant approach to learning.

At the 2014 CGI America conference PAST Foundation was recognized by President Bill Clinton for our work. At that time he said, “In 2012 the PAST Foundation and its partners committed to improve STEM education in rural and Native American reservation schools in South Dakota by equipping 450 teachers with the necessary training to implement an innovative, a culturally relevant approach to teaching. It’s now known as the South Dakota Innovation Lab, a statewide STEM professional development program that so far has provided 8,300 students with access to quality education that meets them where they are and prepares them for the modern economy.”

Today over 25,000 students have had the opportunity to expand their studies to include STEM education in transdisciplinary problem-based learning environments through the work of PAST and SDIL.

Receiving this recognition is amazing, but even better is the impact our work has on teachers and students. Along with our partners, we are transforming education in rural and urban areas, and every place in between!