National Teacher Appreciation Week – May 4-10

NTD-POSTR-ACelebrate Teachers, May 4-10, and especially on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, National Teacher Day. Thank a teacher for making schools great!

Use the hashtag #TeachersMatter on Twitter to celebrate teachers, and hop on Pinterest to check out Edutopia’s “Thanks” pinboard.

Celebrate National Teacher Day on Social Media (National Education Association, 2014)
The National Education Association encourages you to make a six-second video on Vine to#ThankATeacher. Learn more at NEA.

GPAEA Professional Development Courses – May/Summer

GPAEA has professional development opportunities scheduled for May and summer.  Summer classes will continue to be added to the catalog as they are received.  Some deadlines for minimum enrollment and registration deadlines are coming up quickly, so register soon!


Summer Institute II

Assessing Academic Rigor: Evaluator III

FIERCE Conversations


  • ST-AT I Structured Teaching for Autism: BASIC Components
  • ST-AT II Structured Teaching for Autism: Communication, Social and Leisure
  • Social Skills for Autism
  • ABA Strategies and Curriculum: Using STAR Program to Support Students with Autism

Behavior/Classroom Management

  • Interventions: Evidence-Based Behavioral Strategies for Individual Students
  • Nine Essential Skills for the Love & Logic Classroom Basic
  • Nine Essential Skills for the Love and Logic Classroom Advanced
  • Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Tier 2 Training
  • Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training
  • CHAMPS: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management
  • A Behavior Tool Box for Your Classroom

Fine Arts

  • Wheel Thrown Pottery II (weekend and evening classes)
  • Plein Air: Outdoor Landscape
  • Painting Layering Up

General Interest & Culture

  • Current Research in Teaching and Learning: Schools that Make the Grade Book Study
  • Bringing History to Life through Primary Sources and Historical Fiction
  • Simon and Garfunkel: The Poet-Musicians of Folk Rock
  • Charlie Chaplin: Comic of the Human Spirit
  • James Dean: An American Cultural Icon
  • Creating Supportive School Cultures and Learning Environments
  • Literacy/LETRS
  • Iowa Core 101: Literacy Standards for Elementary
  • Iowa Core 101: Literacy Standards for Secondary
  • LETRS 1-3
  • LETRS 4-6
  • LETRS 7-9
  • Second Chance Reading Academy 2014-2015
  • Interactive Vocabulary Lessons


  • Fun with Fractions: Strategies to teach fractions with deep understanding


  • Integrating STEM in the Classroom
  • Iowa Core in the StarLab
  • Dinosaurs and the Geology of the Rocky Mountains  (held in Choteau, Montana)


  • Pushing the Boundaries Summer Academy
  • Assistive Technology Summer Institute
  • Social Media and You (evening class)
  • Google (various levels)
  • Mobile Devices in the Classroom: Practicing the 4Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) – Level 1
  • Mobile Devices in the Classroom: Practicing the 4Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) – Level 2
  • Communicating and Collaborating with Google Docs
  • Technology Integration Series: Instruction Through Interactive White Boards and ActivInspire Software – Level 1
  • Technology Integration Series: Instruction with Interactive White Boards and ActivInspire Software – Level 2

Workshops and Other Trainings:

  • Instructional Shifts and your Social Studies Curriculum – Getting started!
  • Technology in Early Childhood

Please visit our online course catalog to register.

Drake University Education Leadership Symposium – June 18, 2014

The Drake University Education Leadership Symposium entitled, ‘The Leader’s Role in Implementing Standards-Based Grading’ will be held on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.  The symposium will feature Dr. Thomas Guskey, a Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky.  Dr. Guskey is the author/editor of numerous books, articles, and professional papers on educational measurement, evaluation, assessment, and grading.

As educators align instruction and assessments with the Common Core standards for student learning, most find they also must change their grading policies and revise their report card. This symposium will focus on how to develop new standards-based grading policies and practices that are better for ALL students, how to gain the support of parents, and how to avoid excessive work for teachers. Continue reading

GPAEA Science Specialist Tami Plein Receives ESTA Award

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At the 126th Iowa Academy of Science’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 12, in Fort Dodge, Great Prairie AEA Science Specialist, Tami Plein, was recognized and presented with the first Excellence in Science Teaching (ESTA) Award for Science Supervisory.

This is the first year for a Science Supervisory category. Nominating letters for Tami focused on her ability to work tirelessly as an innovative science teacher and as a leader, role model, and collaborative colleague and mentor for teachers throughout Great Prairie AEA.  Under her leadership a small group of teachers has grown into a network of 40 high school and 30 middle school teachers striving toward the improvement of curriculum and teaching for their students. She serves on the state science leadership team, and on the STEM Advisory Council’s Professional Development subcommittee. Tami believes effective teachers must build relationships, have good communication skills, a love of learning, exhibit the ability to assume multiple roles, and have a deep understanding of science, teaching, and learning.

Tami Plein is currently Science Specialist at Great Prairie Area Education Agency in Burlington, Iowa. She also serves as T3 National Instructor, Educational Technology Division, Texas Instruments Incorporated. From the fall of 2000 to spring 2008 she taught AP Chemistry, Honors Chemistry, Physical Science, Science Research, General Chemistry, Biology, and was Water Quality Project Coordinator at Burlington Community High School. Her teaching career began in 1982, teaching Biology, Math, and Spanish at Fairfield Community High School. She has been involved in science education since then in Mt. Pleasant, Southeastern Community College, Great Prairie Area Education Agency and Burlington. Her educational background includes a BA in Biology from Central College, and a MS in Science Education from the University of Iowa.

Congratulations Tami!

April is Occupational Therapy Month

OT webApril has been designated as Occupational Therapy Month nationally and is celebrated throughout the country.  Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants are part of an important profession that helps people across their lifespan to participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.  Their customized approach to evaluations, interventions, and outcomes help a child with disabilities participate in school and in social situations, and offer the specialized support and services to people of all ages and in all circumstances that only occupational therapy can provide.

We want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank our own Great Prairie AEA Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants for the services they provide throughout our service area.

Occupational Therapists

  • Lynn, Coppage
  • Carol Havelka
  • Marty Hudson
  • Kathy Jaske-Gardner
  • Shanah Sullivan
  • Joe Whalen

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants

  • Vonn Gould
  • Ashley Hobbs
  • Joe Hudson
  • Michelle Mihalovich
  • Deb Mueller
  • Chris Williams

Learn more about OT services from Great Prairie AEA at

GPAEA Schools in the News – April 2014

A list of the April 2014 headlines featuring a Great Prairie AEA School District:

Did we miss something? Send your school news to

Note: The articles compiled in this list come from independent media sources who are solely responsible for their content. GPAEA staff did not participate in writing any of these articles and GPAEA does not necessarily endorse the content of the articles.  Some articles may be available only by subscription.

New Director of Instructional Services Hired

Dr. Lonna Anderson

Dr. Lonna Anderson

We are pleased to announce and introduce to you the Agency’s new Director of Instructional Services, Dr. Lonna Anderson.  Dr. Anderson comes to us from her most recent position as Assistant Superintendent in the Dunlap School District #323 in Peoria, Illinois.  She is no stranger to Iowa and our area, however, as prior to moving to Illinois in 2009, she served as Curriculum Director for the Oskaloosa Community School District from 2001 – 2008.  Dr. Anderson is from Iowa and attended Ottumwa High School as she was growing up.

Director Anderson’s educational background includes a BA in Secondary Education:  Social Studies major, English and Global Studies minors from the University of Iowa; an Educational Administration Masters and Texas Mid-Management Degree from the University of Texas; an Educational Specialist and Superintendent’s Certification and a Doctorate of Education from Western Illinois University of Macomb, Illinois.

Dr. Anderson has extensive experience in leading large-scale initiatives.  Recent examples include the district-wide implementation of:  the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, Standards-based Grading, Continuous Improvement systems and tools, Response to Intervention, and Professional Learning Communities.  Dr. Anderson shares that she believes in and practices transparency, teamwork, collaboration, and shared leadership.  She is committed to ensuring a student-focused environment and data driven decision making.  She has high expectations for all students and works collaboratively to develop appropriate educational services to meet the diverse needs of all students.

Dr. Anderson will make her home in Burlington and begin her duties as our new Director in July, 2014.

GPAEA Receives Communication Awards

Great Prairie AEA received two communication awards from the Iowa School Public Relations Association last week at their spring conference in West Des Moines:

Entries had to be created for the current school year and judging is based on design/appearance, clarity/focus, quality in writing, overall effect and evaluation. A Blue & Gold Award is given for best in category. The entries were judged by the Oklahoma School Public Relations Association.

Special congratulations to Jennifer Woodley, Communication Specialist, for her work on behalf of the Agency!

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The Cornerstone – April 2014

Enjoy this month’s The Cornerstone by scrolling down or clicking on an article below.

Summer Institute 2014 – MTSS: Literacy & Student Engagement

Summer Institute 2014 Postcard_Page_1Join us for Great Prairie AEA’s 2nd Annual Summer Institute! Two outstanding keynote speakers will help educators review and plan for working in systems that involve multi-tier systems of support (MTSS) for students in the areas of early literacy and student engagement.

June 16 & June 17, 2014 • 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Register now at
No cost. Recertification Credit available. Lunch included.


Mission Possible: Teaching Literacy to All Students
Shannon Harken, Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant, Heartland AEA

Literacy includes a skill set upon which all formal education depends. Students need to be taught in an organized, systematic, efficient way by knowledgeable teachers using a well-designed instructional approach.

Secondary Systems for All
Beth Steenwyk, System Design Facilitator & Implementation Consultant

High School graduation is a significant marker of achievement in a young person’s life and a critical factor for success in postsecondary life. The journey toward graduation begins long before a student even enters secondary school. This strand will explore the following topics; challenges and solutions to creating secondary school cultures that meaningfully engage and support ALL learners.

An opportunity you don’t want to miss! 

Download the PDF flier.

STEM Festival for Students & Teachers – April 26 in Burlington

Burlington.Festival.Save.The.Date.register.lg.posterAre you into exploring, building, and testing?  Are you ready to have fun and learn?

Come to the 2014 Southeast Iowa STEM Festival on Saturday, April 26th from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa.

Join local experienced scientists, engineers, teachers and education experts as they allow you to explore, examine, design, build, watch and test all kinds of experiments!

Pre-register today and get entered to win an iPad mini and other prizes. To pre-register visit  Pre-registration is not required, but is encouraged. The STEM Festival is also looking for older youth and adult volunteers for the event; if you are interested in volunteering you can do so at the above website.

The STEM Festival is organized by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, in partnership with Southeastern Community College, Great Prairie AEA and many local economic development and community groups, including ISU Extension & Outreach.

Click here to download a pdf poster of the event.

Flipped Classroom Workshop in April

Flipped Classroom GPAEA flyer one pageFlipped Classroom Workshop Dates:

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (Burlington)
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 (Ottumwa)

This Flipped Media workshop introduces the tools and methodologies used by effective teachers to flip their classrooms.  The use of technology tools to create high quality educational videos will also support learning in 1 to 1 environments, technology enhanced classrooms, blended learning, and professional development.  The session will be facilitated by trainers from JDL Horizons and EduVison.

Concepts featured can be used with a variety of technology tools you may already have.  A 30-day demo version of Camtasia and Snagit software will be provided for all participants. A special purchase for Snagit/Camtasia License Bundle with three years maintenance is being offered for $19.97 for each teacher and $19.97 per three students.  This bundle can be purchased with Microsoft funding if added to your school options prior to the end of March.

GPAEA is also hosting a Relay Server that will allow very easy one-click upload of video taken from hand-held devices such as iPads, iPhones, and androids devices to the district’s EduVision Channel. The free Relay app will be made available for download at the class.

There is no registration fee to attend the workshop, but participants must pre-register using My Learning Plan.  Search for “Flipped Classroom” and select the Burlington or Ottumwa site.

For more information about the sessions, please contact:

Lisa Jacobs, GPAEA Instructional Technology Specialist 1-800-622-0027 or 641-682-8591 ext. 5257 or email

Click here to download the PDF.

Key Survey Ending

Great Prairie AEA’s subscription to Key Survey will be ending on June 30, 2014. Data shows a decline in usage over the last two years. Presently, there are a number of free and available online survey tools such as, Google Forms, Survey Monkey, and others that schools are using.

Any school that has used Key Survey in the past needs to login and copy and/or export any data or surveys that might remain in the system. For login assistance or questions contact Cathy Humble at or 800-622-0027 x5250.

World Autism Awareness Day – April 2, 2014

Logo_WAADThe seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2014. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. How will you celebrate? To share your events, photos and Autism Kindness Acts (#AKA) with us by tagging your social media posts with #GPAEA.

Today, 1 in 68 American children is diagnosed with autism. Great Prairie AEA provides consultative support for children birth through 21 years of age who are identified with and Autism Spectrum Disorder or who demonstrate autism-like characteristics. Learn more about our services at

Help light the world blue this April!

Learn more about World Autism Awareness Day at