South Dakota Verizon Thinkfinity Trainers of the Year

Trainers of the YearStudents in the Dakota State University College of Education are going to be walking into their classrooms next fall ready to access web 2.0 tools to enhance their teaching, engage students in the learning, and increase student understanding of the content. Thanks to the efforts of professors Vicki Sterling, Jennifer Gross, Don Wiken, and Mark Geary, the pre-service students have been provided in-depth training on the use of the Verizon Thinkfinity free online resources. (

Pictured in the photo to the right: Vicki Sterling, Jennifer Gross, and Don Wiken. Not pictured, Mark Geary.

Sterling, Gross, Wiken, and Geary participated in the Verizon Thinkfinity Train the Trainer program in 2009 through a statewide effort by Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE) to develop Thinkfinity resource expertise in South Dakota universities. The goal is to prepare future teachers in the use of 21st century classroom skills so they come in ready to teach the first day of class.(

These professors influence future teachers in all grade levels and content areas. Gross works with middle school/high school science teachers and the Imagination Summer Program for students in grades 2-6. Sterling's reading program has been a study in incorporating reading strategies into all content subjects. Wiken has been focused on visual literacy in the math area for students in the K-8 classroom.  They have joined forces with Geary to train the DSU education students in Thinkfinity.  As a result, students receive an introduction to Thinkfinity during their methods classes, with the complete Thinkfinity training taken in the semester before student teaching.

Sterling, who teaches the reading and language arts method classes at Dakota State, has been combining the teaching of reading and technology for 25 years. "Reading and writing takes practice and the technology helps motivate students."   Over the years, she has presented at numerous local, state, and national events, including the TIE conference and the International Reading Council. Vicki states, "Thinkfinity has been exciting to use because of the wealth of free resources for the teacher and student."

Gross is part of College of Education Faculty at DSU as a science education specialist.  She teaches science methods courses for K-12 pre-service teachers as well as science content courses.  Jennifer states, "I love to use and share the resources of Thinkfinity with my college students because it is free and has amazing resources for almost any audience interested in education - children, parents, teachers, pre-service teachers, and the general public.

Wiken teaches the math education courses in the college of education at DSU.  He states, "Thinkfinity is an excellent online resource which I use in my classes to demonstrate some of the online interactive tools available.  We also do an end of the semester training session for our students who are going to be student teaching in the coming semester.  It is a great resource."

Verizon Thinkfinity is the Verizon Foundation's nationally recognized signature initiative for education and literacy. In 2009, the Verizon Foundation awarded $67.9 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad. It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26.1 million in combined contributions to nonprofits.
Contact Marcia Torgrude, SD Thinkfinity Administrator/Certified Trainer, at, (605) 394-1876 for more information.

Last Updated: 1/12/12