Friday Features - April 11, 2014

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Friday Features
April 11, 2014


Wisconsin Teacher of the Year speaks to teacher candidates

University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education teacher candidates recently attended a workshop conducted by Jane McMahon, 2014 Wisconsin Kohl Foundation Teacher of the Year, and her teaching colleague, Rita Ehlert, at UW-Platteville. McMahon and Ehlert teach in the Baraboo School District.

“Dare To Differentiate: Using Literature Circles To Meet The Needs Of All Learners” provided students with the knowledge and skills to be successful facilitators of literature circles. Similar to book clubs, literature circles are structured, student-led discussions of text designated to promote high level thinking and appreciation of literature.

The presentation included information on book selection, managing student-led discussions and communicating with parents about literature circles. The presentation also included information on blogging and other technology tools to use when discussing literature.

“McMahon and Ehlert are outstanding practitioners who have a wealth of knowledge to share with our teacher candidates,” said Dr. Peggy Marciniec, associate professor of reading in UW-Platteville’s School of Education. “I am pleased we could provide this opportunity for our students in the context of their literacy/language block of instruction prior to their student teaching experiences.”

Marciniec and McMahon worked together on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Common Core State Standards committee for teacher and pre-service teacher requirements. Ehlert and McMahon also presented the workshop at the Wisconsin State Reading Association Conference. The workshop held at UW-Platteville was funded by the School of Education.

McMahon has taught language arts for 25 years in the Baraboo School District, serves as her building's gifted and talented coach, and is a Google Apps for Education certified trainer.  

Ehlert has taught language arts in Baraboo for 16 years. She has served as department chairperson, chairs the district's Written Assessment Team, and leads intervention groups for struggling readers.

Pictured left to right: Jane McMahon and Rita Ehlert

CPR wins Outstanding Delegation Award

Students with the Campus Programming and Relations at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville recently attended the National Association for Campus Activities Northern Plains Region Conference. This conference provides CPR groups from the Northern Plains Region to book comedians, speakers and other events for their college. Twelve CPR student representatives from UW-Platteville attended the conference.

During the NACA conference, the UW-Platteville CPR program won the Outstanding Delegation Award. This award is given to a school whose group participates in all aspects of the conference: attendance at CO-OP buying meetings, educational sessions, participation as volunteers, school spirit and the best representation of its institution and individual delegates. 

“The students set a goal to win this award in January and they did a lot of work prior to and during the event,” said David Nevins, director of campus activities.

Volunteering is one of the most important parts of the award. The 12 students who attended filled 16 volunteer slots during the conference, which means a few of them did more than expected. The 12 attendees did not miss one educational session during the conference as well. “I’m very proud of the work they do for UW-Platteville and they were recognized for the great work they do,” said Nevins. 

Second annual Bystander Intervention Video Contest deadline extended

The Sexual Assault Awareness Council is extending deadlines for the second annual Bystander Intervention Video Contest. Students have until April 21 to submit videos. Rules for the contest and submission forms can be found on PioneerLink under the Bystander Intervention organization page. Monetary awards are $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place. 

Women's Council to hold Celebration of Women

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Women’s Council will hold a special evening for the celebration of women at the university. The event will take place in Velzy Commons in Ullsvik Hall on Wednesday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. Online registration is available until April 16. Participants can register through the UW-Platteville Alumni Association website at The event costs $10.

The evening will open with a social where participants can socialize with attendees and enjoy dessert and wine. At 7 p.m., there will be a women’s panel for participants to enjoy topics and questions concerning empowerment, encouragement and motivation of women.

Panel members will include Dr. Jennifer deCoste, assistant chancellor for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer; Deb Schulman, assistant athletic director and head women’s volleyball coach; and Suzanne Traxler, assistant vice chancellor for Information Technology Services and chief information officer.

The evening will conclude by honoring Provost Emeritus Carol Sue Butts with the renaming of the Woman of the Year Award to the Dr. Carol Sue Butts Woman of the Year Award. Butts served as a leader at UW-Platteville from 1998 until her retirement in August 2010. She served as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs through July of 2009 when she was named interim chancellor. 

Highland Middle School students rewarded with trip to Confucius Institute

On March 20, 42 students in sixth through eighth grade from Highland Middle School in Highland, Wis. were rewarded for their good grades with a trip to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Confucius Institute.

The Confucius Institute, established in 2008, offers many resources to UW-Platteville students, faculty and staff as well as Southwest Wisconsin communities, including opportunities to learn about and experience Chinese language and culture. The institute is dedicated to enhancing the understanding of the Chinese language and culture around the world.

The students participated in a variety of hands-on activities led by Confucius Institute faculty members. Eileen Wu and Kathy Zhang, associate professors from South-Central University for Nationalities in Wuhan, China, shared how to do Chinese paper cutting, paper folding, hacky sack kicking, Tai chi and martial arts. 

Jessica Weber, Spanish and advanced placement English teacher at Highland Middle School, and Tricia Reuter, office manager of the Confucius Institute, arranged the visit. Weber said she wanted to reward the students with a fun and educational experience.

"As a graduate of the School of Education at UW-Platteville, I was excited to reward the students with a half day visit to campus to open their eyes to another culture,” said Weber. “The activities were difficult at first, but the students really enjoyed learning directly from people who live and understand the Chinese culture. Martial art was a favorite among the students, but all the activities were great."

“We’re doing our best to serve the K-12 community throughout Wisconsin by offering activities and topics that are tailored to fit the grade level and group size,” said Reuter. “We’re always excited to have the students visit the Confucius Institute. We are also happy to bring the language and culture to schools, if that fits their schedule better.”

UW-Platteville’s Confucius Institute serves as a bridge between the K-16 institutions and Chinese culture in the tri-state area. The institute, the only one in Wisconsin, is part of an international network of more than 1,060 Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms. It is a collaborative project among UW-Platteville, the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) and SCUN.

For more information and to register for events, visit the Confucius Institute online at or call (888) 281-9471 (toll free). For program information, contact the UW-Platteville Confucius Institute at (608) 342-1310 or

Alumni News

Two alumni receive educator awards

Two University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education alumni recently received awards from the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Gail Scukanek, chair of WACTE’s communications committee, presented the awards at the Concourse Hotel Grand Ballroom in Madison, Wis.

Laura Rhode earned the Pre-Service Educator Mentor Award. This award recognizes an educator who has demonstrated a sustained pattern of mentoring pre-service educators for at least five years. Rhode, from Dodgeville, Wis., is currently a kindergarten teacher at Ridgeway Elementary School in Ridgeway, Wis. She graduated from UW-Platteville in 2002 and holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Dr. Karen Stinson, director of the School of Education at UW-Platteville, and Clinical Experiences at UW-Platteville nominated Rhode for the award.

“I was honored to receive this award,” said Rhode. “It is exciting to be able to share my excitement for teaching with those new to the profession. This award and others like it encourage and remind those in the profession of the importance of on-the-job, supervised training.”

“UW-Platteville was a great place to get an education,” Rhode added. “Staff, like the late Gwen Coe, showed me that building strong relationships with students and having high expectations are the key to teaching and student learning.”

Nathan Aschliman earned the Early Career Educator Award. The award honors an outstanding educator within the first three years of his or her professional career. Aschliman, from Dodgeville, Wis., is currently a second grade teacher at Dodgeville Elementary School in Dodgeville. He graduated from UW-Platteville in May 2011 and holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Stinson and Dale Henze, senior lecturer in the School of Education, nominated Aschliman for the award.

“Receiving this award was a great honor for me,” said Aschliman. “I always strive to do my best, and this award helped reassure me that I am always giving it my all. UW-Platteville helped tremendously in preparing me for my life in education. The knowledge and support I received from my professors, especially Dale Henze, was instrumental.”

Aschliman was chosen as the speaker for the awards ceremony. In his speech, he discussed how he got into the field of education.


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