Confessions from Online Instructors Learning Power Cohort Teachers

By MaryLou McGirrPremise:
We have invited three online teachers to share their experiences faced while teaching AP courses to students – online. The audience will also be invited ask to participate by asking questions to stimulate a dialogue.
The courses are offered through the Learning Power Program. This program is a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative, NSU E-learning Center and the Department of Education. Students are able to take AP math, science and English courses online. The courses are taught by highly qualified and experienced South Dakota teachers. Students may register at

Teacher Panel:
Shane Heilman, Lennox High School , AP English Literature and Composition
Deb Wolf, Roosevelt High School , AP Chemistry
Janet Palmer , Aberdeen Central High School, AP Biology

What is Learning Power (LP)?
· It is a statewide program initiated in 2008-2009 for engaging high school students, particularly from rural schools, with online AP learning opportunities in math, science, and English taught by a cadre of SD teachers. LP enhances the capacity of small and large schools to offer strong curricula for high-level learners.
· Course offerings include:
o AP Calculus AB
o AP English Literature & Composition
o AP English Language & Composition
o AP Biology
o AP Physics B
o AP Statistics
o AP Chemistry
· Courses are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
· There is no cost to the district or student other than course materials. Learning Power is supported through a partnership (key partners are DOE [SD Virtual School], NSU [E-learning Center], and TIE) and grant funds through the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) and US DOE.
· Students are required to take College Board end-of-course exams. Districts register and pay for exams. Learning Power reimburses districts after the College Board reports exam results.
· Students scoring 3 or higher on College Board end-of-course exams earn $100 cash awards. In addition, the local facilitators and online teachers earn $100 cash awards for students scoring 3 or higher.

What is the status of the first year of Learning Power?
· 170 students from 56 districts are participating in the seven online AP courses.
· Getting started with the technology provided some glitches that are resolved!
· Registration, communication, and support processes are being reviewed and enhanced.

What’s next for Learning Power?
· Gearing-up for 2009-2010 registration which starts spring 2009. Local district officials (typically guidance counselor or high school principal) register students via the South Dakota Virtual School website.
· Initiating statewide spring AP conference in conjunction with TIE Conference scheduled for April 19-21 in Rapid City with sessions focused on needs of high-level learners.
· Building program sustainability through support of South Dakota Collaborative for Advanced Placement (SDCAP)—businesses, foundations, non-profit entities, professional organizations, and DOE committed to sustaining LP. David Owen, Executive Director, SD Chamber of Commerce and Industry serves as chairperson.

Where does one learn more about Learning Power?
· Learning Power information and access to registration is available at the South Dakota Virtual School website (
· Questions may be addressed to program coordinator MaryLou McGirr ( or program director Jim Parry ( or by calling 605-394-1876.