The Cornerstone – November 2014

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Enjoy the November 2014 issue!

Finding His Step… Aiden’s Story

by Deena Recker, Orientation Mobility Specialist

Using his AMD to find the door opening to class.

Using his AMD to find the door opening to class.

I am an Orientation and Mobility Specialist, working with GPAEA since August 2012. My role is to help our students who are experiencing reduced vision or no vision to understand the environment and learn how to move safely within it.

When I began working with Aiden he was 4 years old and not walking or crawling. He struggled to understand the world around him due to his lack of visual information. With the help of his IEP team and paraprofessional, Nancy, who faithfully follows the routines set for Aiden, he has learned to support his body weight using a stander, begin standing alone (with leg braces for support), then walking with support, and now he is able to walk independently and without braces. Using an Adaptive Mobility Device (AMD) and changing it as his abilities have grown, Aiden continues to make tremendous progress. Hopefully within the next year he will be ready to use a long cane for travel.

Aiden attends a regular education class and with the help of teachers, therapists and his paraprofessional, he is learning alongside his peers. The Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Lane Anthony, is instructing Aiden in Braille so he can learn to read and write without vision.

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GPAEA Professional Development Opportunities – Nov/Dec 2014

Businessman with four businesspeople at boardroom table in backgGPAEA has many great professional development opportunities scheduled for this winter! Course categories include behavior, literacy, math, science, autism, early childhood, TAG and fine arts.

Courses are still being added, so please check the catalog in MyLearningPlan for new additions.


  • 11/18/2014 An Introduction to the GOLD Assessment and Reports for Administrators Workshop
  • 12/8/2014 Collaborative Leadership Academy (Burlington, Ottumwa and Albia)

Contact Katie Gavin (Burlington and Ottumwa) at for details.


  • 11/3/2014 Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Initial Training Workshop (Ottumwa)
  • 11/10/2014 PBIS Advanced Tier 2/3 Training (Ottumwa)
  • 11/10/2014 Secondary Transition Planning for Educators and Families (Ottumwa)
  • 11/12/2014 A Behavior Tool Box for Your Classroom (Ottumwa)
  • 11/13/2014 PBIS Advanced Tier 2/3 Training (Burlington)
  • 12/2/2014 Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Initial Training Workshop (Burlington)
  • 12/6/2014 Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Initial Training Workshop (Fairfield)
  • 12/10/2014 Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Initial Training Workshop (Ottumwa

Early Childhood

  • 11/19/2014 Early Childhood Institute—Common Learning 2 (Fairfield)

Fine Arts

  • 11/8/2014 Rug Weaving (Fairfield)


  • 11/13/2014 Iowa LETRS Modules 7-9 (Wapello)
  • 12/8/2014 Iowa LETRS Modules 7-9 (Wapello)
  • 12/11/2014 Iowa LETRS Modules 7-9 (Wapello)


  • 11/10/2014 Ratio and Proportion, Grades 6-8 (Burlington)
  • 11/11/2014 Function, Grades 8-12 (Burlington)
  • 11/13/2014 Ratio and Proportion, Grades 6-8 (Ottumwa)
  • 11/15/2014 Ratio and Proportion, Grades 6-8 (Ottumwa)
  • 11/17/2014 Function Grades 8-12 (Ottumwa)
  • 11/22/2014 Function Grades 8-12 (Ottumwa)

Fun with FOSS Kit at Keota and Burlington

by Rosemary Peck, GPAEA Science Specialist

In late September, I visited pilot classrooms at Keota Elementary (Keota) and Blackhawk Elementary (Burlington). The teachers in these two buildings are implementing the FOSS kit curriculum in a pilot program establishing a partnership between VAST Center (Van Allen Science Teaching Center) at Grant Wood AEA, the Eastern Iowa Science Consortium and GPAEA. More information about this partnership opportunity will be shared with Great Prairie LEA administrators in the coming months.

During my visits to the classrooms, excited, engaged and enthusiastic students were making observations, asking questions, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing data, writing in science journals and making connections to what they were learning in the classroom to the world outside, in their local schoolyards.

Kindergarten students of Mrs. Wax (Burlington), Mrs. Hart and Mrs. McClenahan (Keota), studying FOSS Trees and Weather are observing their “adopted” tree throughout the school year, learning basic characteristics and needs of trees, predicting the changes that will occur, and connecting the seasonal weather changes with the impact those changes have on “their tree” and other living things. Mrs. Wax commented “We are very excited to be learning about trees this year.  We were even more excited when a tree showed up in our classroom.  We will watch our tree through the seasons and see what happens to it.   We also took guesses to see how big our tree will be by the end of kindergarten and when we are fifth graders.” Continue reading

English Language Learners in Great Prairie AEA

by Doreen Underwood, GPAEA Diverse Learners Specialist

Pupils In Class Using Digital TabletOver the past 2 decades Iowa has experienced a rapid shift in number of English Language Learners* and percent of growth as compared to other states in the nation. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics Core of Common Data, Iowa’s EL numbers have doubled twice over a 20 year period. In 2012, Iowa schools reported just over 25,000 ELs, almost doubling our population of English Language Learners again in 8 years. This trend is predicted to continue in a more exponential fashion over the next decade.

What does this look like at GPAEA?

GPAEA Enrollment for ELLs is 2% of the population agency wide. There are 22 different languages spoken across the agency and 22 out of 36 districts (public & non-public) are actively seeking support from GPAEA.


Continue reading

Authenticate Your NBC Learn Teacher Account!

nbclearn_logo_k12_435x40NBC Learn is a subscription database provided to schools in Great Prairie AEA. Digital video can be used for analysis, researching background information or for writing prompts.

  1. Digital Content
  • Current Events, updated Monday – Friday, including live streaming of breaking news events
  • 17,000 broadcast-quality and Emmy-award winning stories….adding approximately 1,500 new stories per year
  • Historic, primary source footage that cannot be obtained anywhere else
  • Original series include “Writers Speak to Kids”, “Science of NFL Football” and “Science and Engineering of the 2014 Winter Olympics”
  1. Features
  • Emphasis on short video resources (one to six minutes) that  are engaging, relevant & inspiring, don’t consume precious class time, and help teachers draw connections to real-world applications
  • Unlimited accounts for teachers, students, and parents
  • Aligned to Iowa Common Core Standards
  • Section 508 certification for accessibility
  • The Cue Card Media Player includes full transcripts, closed captioning, sourcing information, clickable keywords
  • Use Online or download offline, home or in school
  • Ease of use – browsing and searching
  • Mobile compatible for iPads, iPhones, Android devices

To get started, authenticate your educator account. Easy steps are described here:

More on this resource at

Explore –

NBC Learn has so many learning resources related to Halloween, it’s scary! In our award-winning collection, Chemistry Now, students can learn about the chemical reactions behind three hallmarks of the fall season: fear, foliage, and everyone’s favorite treat, chocolate. The Chemistry of Fear and Fright illustrates how “fight or flight” responses rely on adrenaline and cortisol to send a shiver down our spines. The Chemistry of Changing Leaves reveals how the pigment molecule chlorophyll tints autumn leaves to a dazzling gold or a zesty red. And The Chemistry of Chocolate uses the process of chocolate-making to demonstrate chemical reactions like melting point and the formation of crystalline structures.

Two Day Instructional Coaching Institute

Jim Knight flier Nov 2014We are pleased to announce a two-day Jim Knight Institute being held at the Coralville Public Library on November 17 & 18, 2014. This institute is for teacher leaders and their administrators and is the first in a series of instructional coaching training opportunities being held in eastern Iowa. Attached you will find registration information and additional details to register teacher leaders and administrators from your district.

This opportunity was offered first to TLC districts, and is now open to any interested district! Registration is closing November 5.

If you should have any questions, please contact the TLC contact in your AEA:

AEA 267: Amy Moine
Keystone AEA: Sue Daker
Great Prairie AEA: Katie Gavin

Jim Knight flier Nov 2014