AEA PD Online & AEA K-12 Online Update – May 2014

The May blog updates for AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online are now available. Go to or for updates or click on the direct article links below. For real time updates, follow AEA PD Online on Twitter @aeapdonline or on your mobile device by accessing our app at




STEM Scale-up in Stefany Well’s 2nd grade class at Van Buren

by Stefany Wells, Teacher, Van Buren & Rosemary Peck, GPAEA Science Specialist

Children are born engineers! From sandcastles and Legos to designing a more complex structure in science class, kids love to build, take apart, build and take apart again. The students in Mrs. Wells’ science class, Van Buren Community School District, are doing just that this year with the help from an Engineering in the Elementary grant through the Governor’s Scale Up program. Engineering in the elementary is a research-based, standards-driven, and classroom-tested curriculum that integrates engineering and technology concepts and skills with elementary science topics.

Air and Weather is currently a unit covered in second grade. The use of the engineering materials has taken the unit to a whole new level. The students used the engineering design process of ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve to design a sail for a boat and then later, a windmill. Some of the students soon found out there was much more to what an effective sail and blade design should consist of!Doc1

The students experimented with different materials such as wax paper, note cards, tissue paper and felt to determine which material had the best properties when effectively tested. They then had to think about the size and stability of their structures too. During the culminating activity of building the windmill, the students had to combine their knowledge and experiences in a team setting to create the most effective windmill. Working in a group can be very challenging for 7 and 8 year olds, but the ongoing engineering process teaches them collaborative skills and how to solve problems when dealing with real-world experiences.

Children pictured: Korbin Camp, Susanella Daugherty, Landon Harward, Bree Kirkhart, Jakob Mott, Emma Price-Burton, Kasey Stocker-Houston

AEA PD Online & AEA K-12 Online – April 2014

The April blog updates for AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online are now available. Go to or for updates or click on the direct article links below. For real time updates, follow AEA PD Online on Twitter @aeapdonline or on your mobile device by accessing our app at




History Day 2014: “Rights and Responsibilities in History”

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by Shannon Johnson, GPAEA Instructional Secretary

On March 14, 2014, 240 students, grades 6-8 (Junior Division) and grades 9-12 (Senior Division) from 13 districts and 1 non-public participated in Great Prairie AEA’s National History Day contest held at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA.

These students shared their research regarding this year’s theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in History.” We have talented and gifted and social studies teachers in our local schools who believe their students strongly benefit from participating in National History Day. With a new theme each year, students research history and learn about a person, place, or event. Rules and guidelines are set for consistency for student entries. Selecting a topic is usually the hardest part. Understanding the theme is important and National History Day has a structured curriculum for teachers to assist students to learn about history, while collecting research, sharing their views, learning to write a bibliography and a process paper. This curriculum guides students to share and illustrate their thoughts as an individual or in a group. Once students find their topic to support the theme, they decide how they will best share their research, either in a exhibit, documentary, performance, historical paper or a website. Many different skills are expressed and learned to illustrate the person, place or event in history based on the category students chose to enter.

Continue reading

Young Writers’ Conference 2014 a success!

Shannon Johnson, Great Prairie AEA Instructional Secretary


Jude Mandell and student, Paige Munson

The 2014 Young Writers’ Conference was held March 4th (for Secondary day grades 6-12) and March 5th (for Elementary day grades 3-6) on the William Penn Campus in Oskaloosa to honor student writers. With the cold and snowy days leading up to the event, even the snow on Elementary day could not keep the teachers and students away. There were 252 secondary students and 27 teachers from 14 districts in attendance, as well as 510 elementary students with 79 teachers and parent volunteers from 24 districts and 2 non-public schools. It provided an opportunity for young authors to share their writing with peers, and introduced them to professional authors, teachers, storytellers, and other communicators. Students also attended workshops and writing activities.

Jude Mandell, educator, TV-performer, improv-actor/singer from Chicago, presented on Secondary day. Jude read sections from her books and shared her writing experiences as a teacher and as an author. She shared her journey of writing her biography of “Super Sport Star Gary Payton,” and Princess Dragonblood in “Half-Human,” as well as her book of plays “A Thoroughly Modern Rapunzel.” Then she worked with the students on building characters. Jude spent the last part of her session going through an exercise building from pictures she shared with the students while asking them questions. Students worked in teams to sort their ideas. She shared that building a character is based on motivation, point of view and personal environment, and that a character needs a full name and items in their possession to tell a story. What secret is the character hiding? What scares them the most? What do they desperately want? All these things drive their experiences. Their choices, obstacles and struggles are what build the character. The character gets smarter and grows emotionally to attract the readers to find out more about them. At the end of the exercise, a few students shared their new character with the group. The day was a success. One student, Paige Munson, Ft. Madison Middle School (pictured above with Jude) was inspired and anxious to share her experiences.

Dori Hillistead Butler, an author from Coralville, Iowa presented on Elementary day. Dori is known for her books, “The Buddy Files: Case of the Lost Boy” and “Trading Places with Tank Talbott.” She has a new series coming this summer, “The Haunted Library.” She shared how she wrote some of her books using her dog Mouse and her two sons’ experiences as inspiration. Dori shared with the students how long it took her to get books published, how many rejections she received and where she writes. She also shared her “Top 10 List” or the top 10 things she is asked most often. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity for Dori to come present since living in Coralville before her family relocates to Seattle, Washington. Students enjoyed visiting with her and having her sign their purchased copies at the event.

There were breakout sessions on calligraphy, performance, poetry, puppetry, telling pet stories, on-line self-publishing, getting published, writing workshops, and many others.
A special “thank you” goes out to our presenters who helped make this conference a memorable experience for all participants, our teacher and parent volunteers, William Penn University and staff, and Jane Broeg of Great Prairie AEA for making 2014 a success!
It was an exciting day full of rich experiences, helping students to discover new ideas that will spark their writing!

GPAEA Professional Development Opportunities – April & May

GPAEA has professional development opportunities scheduled for April and May. Some deadlines for minimum enrollment are this week, so register soon!


  • Social Media and You (evening class)
  • Para Educator Certification Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: Library, Media & Technology (Saturday and evening classes)
  • Wheel Thrown Pottery II (weekend and evening classes)
  • Painting Layering Up (Saturday classes)
  • ABA Strategies and Curriculum: Using STAR Program to Support Students with Autism
  • Substitute Authorization (evening class)

Workshops and Other Trainings:

  • EduVision: The Force Behind The Flipped Classroom Workshop
  • Instructional Shifts and your Social Studies Curriculum – Getting started!

Please visit our online course catalog to register.

Paraeducator & Substitute Authorization Courses

Paraeducator Certification Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: Library, Media & Technology

Participants will develop skills and strategies in library, media and technology to support school library goals including literacy development, information skills and technology integration. Participants will demonstrate understanding of the role of the paraprofessional in supporting the goals of the school library program and the school curriculum.

Target Audience: K-12 Paraprofessionals. All participants in the Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: Library, Media and Technology must have successfully completed the Paraeducator General Program.

April 26 and May 17 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (Saturdays)
May 5 and May 12 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm (Monday evenings)

Location: Great Prairie AEA office in Ottumwa

Deadline for minimum registration is April 4th, so register soon!

Substitute Authorization Course

The course is designed to enable participants to become competent in the skills necessary to successfully substitute in Iowa’s secondary classrooms. The substitute authorization must be renewed every three years. Renewal requirements for the substitute authorization consist of a minimum of two renewal credits and completion of an approved child and dependent adult abuse training program.

A substitute authorization allows an individual with a baccalaureate degree to substitute in a middle school, junior high school, or high school (grades 6 -12) for no more than five consecutive days in one job assignment.

An individual who holds a Paraeducator certificate and completes the substitute authorization program is authorized to substitute only in the special education classroom in which the individual Para educator is employed.

Target Audience: Individuals that hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution or holds a paraeducator certificate from an approved paraeducator certification program.

April 17, 22, 24, & 29 and May 1
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Location: Great Prairie AEA office in Burlington

Deadline for minimum registration is April 10th, so register soon!

GPAEA Professional Development Courses – Summer 2014

Professional Development courses for this summer are now available for registration through our online course catalog (MyLearningPlan). More courses will be added to the catalog as we receive them.

To visit the catalog:

If you are an instructor interested in offering a course, please get your syllabus in as soon as possible. If you have questions, please contact Megan Cramblet at

AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Update – March 2014

The March blog updates for AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online are now available. Go to or for updates or click on the direct article links below. For real time updates, follow AEA PD Online on Twitter @aeapdonline or on your mobile device by accessing our app at



GPAEA Science Networks

Tami Plein, Science Specialist

Shane Barron (New London), Abby Richenberger (Burlington), Kelly Hackett (Fort Madison), and Becky Morey (Fort Madison) collaborate with Drew Ayrit (WACO) using Google Hangout during the last Network session. GPAEA Science Consultants are experimenting with distance learning to provide teachers with more options to meet their professional development needs.

Shane Barron (New London), Abby Richenberger (Burlington), Kelly Hackett (Fort Madison), and Becky Morey (Fort Madison) collaborate with Drew Ayrit (WACO) using Google Hangout during the last Network session. GPAEA Science Consultants are experimenting with distance learning to provide teachers with more options to meet their professional development needs.

Groups of GPAEA Middle School and High School Science teachers have been working to develop units and identify resources that align with both Iowa Core Science and the Next Generation Science standards. The purpose of the Science Network sessions is to provide networking amongst GPAEA science teachers.  It is beneficial for science teachers to have the opportunity to work with others who are teaching similar courses. Participating in professional development with teachers in the same discipline allows teachers to share ideas and experiences.  With the possibility of new science standards in Iowa and the need for teachers to better align with our current Iowa Core Science Content AND Literacy standards, the network helps meet the need for collaborative groups of science teachers.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are K-12 science standards created through a collaborative, state-led process. In addition to states, the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and other critical partners were active in the development and review of the NGSS. Writing and review teams consisted of K–12 teachers, state science and policy staff, higher education faculty, scientists, engineers, cognitive scientists, and business leaders.  The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) also had two public web-based feedback periods prior to the finalization of the standards, during which over 200,000 unique visitors viewed the standards. In addition to the public feedback, state leaders, teachers, scientific and educator organizations, higher education faculty, scientists and business community members reviewed drafts at specific intervals.  As one of the lead state partners, Iowa is in the process of considering adoption of the NGSS.

The NGSS lay out the disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts that students should master in preparation for college and careers.  Regardless of Iowa’s adoption decision, districts can use the Next Generation Science Standards as an avenue for implementing STEM in all classrooms K-12.  NGSS performance expectations align with the broadly stated Essential Skills and Concepts of the current Iowa Core Science, but provide districts with grade level standards for K-5 with well-written assessment statements that will support districts moving towards standards-based grading.  NGSS has embedded engineering and science practices in the standards, unlike the stand-alone science as inquiry in Iowa Core.  NGSS also has built-in connections with the math and ELA standards. If teachers develop and implement curriculum starting in the elementary level, as NGSS does, this will give our students the background needed to consider and pursue STEM careers in the future.

Your Iowa Character Award Nomination

Nominations for the 2014 awards are due May 13, 2014.

We annually present the Iowa Character Awards to Iowans who consistently demonstrate good character. Since 2005, more than 100 individuals and organizations from across the state have received an Iowa Character Award. You can nominate an individual, organization, school or team!  Who will you nominate?

The 5 step nomination process is easy!

  • Select the award category.
  • Provide contact information for the nominee.
  • Answer six questions to tell us how your nominee demonstrates trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
  • Upload any supporting documents (letters of recommendation, awards, press clippings). This step is optional.
  • Provide your contact information.

Technology and the 4Cs: Part 2

by Sue Kientz, GPAEA Instructional Technology Coach

In the November Cornerstone, Jane Trotter shared an article about Technology and the 4Cs: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration and Critical Thinking.  If you missed this article, you can review it here.  Jane shared a real life example of how the 4Cs are part of her life.  In this follow up, I would like to take a look at the 4Cs and the perfect fit with Project Based Learning.  As Jane stated in her article, the 4Cs are part of the Universal Constructs found in the Iowa Core.

I recently discovered a video by Common Craft about Project Based Learning.  An evaluation copy of this less than 4 minute video can be found here.  If you are not familiar with Common Craft, they create easy to understand videos that cover many topics within technology and social media.  In this video, Common Craft first relates a scenario about a woman employed by a company that gives her team a project to create the most earth friendly soap possible.  She is given a budget, team to work with and a deadline to complete the project.  This is the world of work today and what employers want our students to be able to do. In the video, this real world work project is then contrasted to an example of project based learning in a school.  Students in a science classroom are asked why so many of them were absent with the flu at the same time after 50% of the class had been gone.  This led to a project to teach elementary students about how to prevent illness and to presentations being given at the local elementary schools.  The projects in both of these cases used communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.  Students learned by doing — the same ideas that have been presented in the Iowa Core.  If you look at the PDF’s provided in the Iowa Core for the standards, you will find sections such as Science as Inquiry that provides examples of Project Based Learning within ICLE’a Rigor and Relevance Framework.  One example is shown below: Continue reading

Science and Engineering Videos from NBC Learn

by Kristin Steingreaber, GPAEA Media Specialist

Are you new to this GPAEA Media database? Learn how to authenticate your GPAEA account –

Video tutorial – overview of NBC Learn –


Read on for more ideas:

Tap into global focus on the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, with Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games – 10 original NBC Learn videos that explain the physics, engineering, chemistry and mathematics of the most popular Winter Olympic sports.

These videos, narrated by NBC Sports anchor Liam McHugh, feature some of the world’s top Olympic athletes, and the research of leading NSF-supported scientists. Each episode is available cost-free to teachers, students and the public at NBC Learn K-12 along with engineering-focused lesson plans for middle- and high-school teachers developed by the National Science Teachers Association. Continue reading

Redesigning Learning with 3D Printing

By Seth Denney, Instructional Technology Specialist

Great Prairie AEA is redesigning learning environments that focus on the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning:  Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking.   Our goal is to transform classrooms through improved instruction, innovative technologies, and student-centered learning.

Transforming traditional classrooms means that students will design and make real-world solutions to real-world problems.  To help students learn by creating, Great Prairie AEA has purchased a MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D printer.  The printer uses spools of ABS plastic to print three-dimensional objects.  It can even print in two colors of plastic!

After a little more experimentation by the Great Prairie technology team, the printer will live in the Redesigned Learning classroom at the AEA office in Burlington, and will be available for student and teacher use.

GPAEA Professional Development Opportunities – February & March

GPAEA has many professional development opportunities scheduled for February and March.  Some deadlines for minimum enrollment are this week, so register soon!  


  • A Behavior Tool Box for Your Classroom
  • Social Media and You (evening class)
  • Para Educator Certification Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: Early Childhood Settings (Saturday classes)
  • ST-AT I Structured Teaching for Autism: BASIC Components
  • ST-AT II Structured Teaching for Autism: Communication, Social and Leisure
  • Social Skills for Autism
  • Restorative Discipline: From a punitive to restorative framework (this class is through CBIZ/Southeaster Community College and requires an additional fee to and registration through CBIZ/SCC)
Workshops and Other Trainings:
  • Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training
  • PBIS Advanced Tier 2/3 Supports (for current PBIS Tier 2 leadership teams)
  • Kindergarten ELA Standards-Based Reporting, Instruction & Assessment
  • 1st Grade ELA Standards-Based Reporting, Instruction & Assessment
  • 2nd Grade ELA Standards-Based Reporting, Instruction & Assessment
  • 3rd Grade ELA Standards-Based Reporting, Instruction & Assessment
  • 4th Grade ELA Standards-Based Reporting, Instruction & Assessment
  • 5th Grade ELA Standards-Based Reporting, Instruction & Assessment
  • 6th Grade ELA Standards-Based Reporting, Instruction & Assessment

Please visit our online course catalog to register.