The Cornerstone – October 2021

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Thank you GPAEA PTs & PTAs – October is National Physical Therapy Month

October is National Physical Therapy Month, and an opportunity for Great Prairie AEA to celebrate and recognize our physical therapists and physical therapy assistants for the work they do with children birth to 21 in our area.

Great Prairie AEA’s Physical Therapy program provides therapeutic services to maximize children’s functional motor abilities through assessment, intervention, advocacy and education related to their unique needs with the educational atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation. Physical therapists design interventions that improve a student’s physical ability to access and participate in their educational program.

Physical Therapy Month is sponsored through the American Physical Therapy Association and is celebrated nationally. For more information see

Thank you to our Physical Therapists (PT) and Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA):

October is Augmentative & Alternative Awareness (AAC) Month

October is Augmentative & Alternative Awareness (AAC) Month and we’d like to acknowledge the hard work of GPAEA’s Assistive Technology Specialist, Speech-Language Pathologists, SLPAs, and Early ACCESS teams who do so much to help make sure that kids have a way to access communication!

International AAC Awareness Month is celebrated around the world each October. The goal is to raise awareness of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and to inform the public about the many different ways in which people communicate using communication devices.

International AAC Awareness Month was established by ISAAC’s LEAD Project Committee in October 2007. Thirteen countries participated in the first Awareness Month, and events have been increasing in number and scope ever since.

Again, thank you for the work that you do!

Megan Farrell, Assistive Technology Specialist

Future Ready Spotlight: Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning

Laura WIlliams, 21C Learning Specialist

This month’s future ready spotlight lands on the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning! 

Did you know that there is an Iowa-based project board where business partners can post authentic and relevant projects to support student learning in a variety of career fields and these projects have the potential to meet PK-12 curriculum goals? AEA Learning Online, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa Workforce Development have partnered up to bring you a FREE support to increase authentic and work-based learning in all our Iowa schools. Check out this overview video to learn more!  All teachers in Iowa already have a login to access these projects!

To check out these projects, visit and use your AEA training single sign-on credentials (what you would typically use to login into mandatory reporting or bloodborne pathogen training). Once logged in, you have the ability to apply to any of the active projects with area or statewide partners posted on the “active” board. Not finding anything you are looking for? No worries, we have been building in project ideas from PK-12 educators from across the state to add to our project idea board. These projects are built with standards in mind so that we can provide authentic learning experiences as part of core or elective curriculum!  Simply select the “Project Ideas” dropdown on the search bar. 

Hoping to find more local projects with area partners? GREAT! We want to work with you on developing your own district project board! This is a newer feature to the Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning! Check out one of our early adopters, Boone CSD (Via Boone Edge STEM BEST program). 

Curious to learn more about authentic projects in the GPAEA Region? Check out some of our early adopters that have submitted authentic projects via our Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning Mini Grant Projects Spring 2021. There are also some great featured stories on the Success Stories page on the Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning website. 

Ready to get involved with the Clearinghouse for Work-based Learning? Connect with or  to support you today! 

Want to share your future-ready story? Connect with!

We Want Your Feedback! AEA Customer Feedback Survey Open Oct. 1-18

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies have partnered with Hanover Research to administer and analyze a survey regarding your perceptions of your AEA’s services. Your responses and the results of this survey will help your AEA better understand and shape service offerings.

Hanover Research is an independent research firm based in Washington, D.C., and is in no way affiliated with any other entity or organization. Your responses are anonymous and will be kept confidential, so please be as open and honest as possible. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions, email Victoria Ledford.

Hanover Research takes protecting your personal information seriously. We use your data for research and analysis purposes. A full disclosure of our Privacy Policy is at where you may learn how we collect and process your data.

Register today for VIRTUAL Substitute Authorization PK-12 beginning October 18 – FULL CLASS – November class added

Are you interested in becoming a substitute teacher? Register today!

#190031 GP – Substitute Authorization Grades Pk -12 (Virtual)

Monday, November 08, 202105:00:00 PM – 08:30:00 PM
Tuesday, November 09, 202105:00:00 PM – 08:30:00 PM
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

#190031 GP – Substitute Authorization Grades Pk -12 (Virtual) – FULL

This 20 hour virtual course is designed to enable participants to become competent in the skills necessary to successfully substitute in Iowa’s elementary and secondary classrooms. 

Contact Michelle Dickey at with questions.

Paraeducator Certification Courses in Ottumwa or Virtually

Paraeducators are integral partners in the education setting so they need top-notch skills to provide the best academic and emotional support to students.

GPAEA Paraeducator Certification Courses will be starting on October 7th. The classes may be attended in person at the Ottumwa AEA or virtually and it will be held in the evenings. Registration ends September 29th.

Check out this link for more information,

Also available:

#168460 GP – Paraeducator Certification Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: ELL

Monday, December 06, 202104:30:00 PM – 06:30:00 PM
Monday, December 20, 202104:30:00 PM – 06:30:00 PM
Monday, January 03, 202204:30:00 PM – 06:30:00 PM
Monday, January 17, 202204:30:00 PM – 06:30:00 PM
Monday, January 31, 202204:30:00 PM – 06:30:00 PM
Monday, February 14, 2022

The Cornerstone – September 2021

Click on a title below or scroll down!

3 Grand Champion Team Winners of the Next Top AAC Model Competition!

Megan Farrell, Assistive Technology Specialist

Congratulations to the 3 Grand Champion team winners with the Next Top AAC (Augmentative & Alternative Communication) Model Competition!

Team Mediapolis: Leads…Emily Borrison, SLP & Karen Rosas, Sped Teacher

Team SunnySide Burlington: Leads…Erika Freeman, SLP & Bailey Wonders, Sped Teacher

Team West Burlington – Preschool: Leads….Diane John, SLP & April Marlow, Sped Teacher

Launched in February for schools who participated in PLO 2020, the goal of the competition was over the course of the remaining school year, to model* core vocabulary 100x/day across 6-8 daily routines of the school day. Here is an example from Team West Burlington – Preschool:

There were 9 total teams/classrooms amongst 6 school districts who had initial training in Project Core in the Spring of 2020 and in an effort to continue the momentum forward in 2021 AND to ensure communication partners at school were trained with evidence based implementation strategies, it was decided that a friendly AAC modeling competition was in order. 
Here’s a link to the competition details: GPAEA’S NEXT TOP AAC MODELERS

Winning teams received the heavyweight title of “GRAND CHAMPION” and will be awarded a customized all-weather, outdoor playground communication system to expand communication all day, every day, with every one and in all places – like the playground with peers! This robust communication system will be created by GPAEA’s Creative Services Department and is courtesy of the Iowa Speech Language Hearing Association Foundation (ISHA) Foundation Bingham Innovation Award.

Outdoor Playground Communication System

Future Ready Spotlight: Perry Lane, Chariton STEM Educator

This month’s Future Ready Spotlight, lands on STEM Educator & #changeagent Perry Lane from Chariton. 

By Laura Williams, 21st Century Learning Specialist

“To Inspire and motivate students to pursue careers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” is the mission statement on Chariton’s Elementary STEM program. A program by which all students will get to take throughout the course of their elementary career. In this time and space, Perry Lane, Chariton’s lead STEM teacher, focuses on creating opportunities for students to engage in their STEM program values: creativity, curiosity, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Upon further investigation, it was clear that Chariton is on the cutting edge of incorporating new technologies to engage students in STEM learning. Much of the funding attained by Chariton for their STEM program goes towards investing in the latest resources and available technology tools. Students may think they are just having fun working with a programmable mouse but really they are learning foundational computer science skills that may help them develop an interest in this ever growing career field. To Perry, “points” aren’t the point of the program, but rather a litmus test for how well the program is doing is how engaged the students are when they come to STEM class.

Many students would tell you that Perry’s class is their favorite because they get to do more hands-on and fun learning! One great example of engagement that goes above and beyond typical course curriculum would be students taking lead on developing the programs google site, found here. Empowering students is what Perry does in this type of classroom. He may have built the parameters and guides students in experiences, but he is agile enough to see value in relevant and authentic learning experiences driven by the students. 

Perry hopes to develop skills that will last them beyond their PK-12 experience, and this is critical to start young. He is always on the lookout for the next engaging STEM experience for his students. He really is developing the airplane as he flies it because in the STEM education arena, there are always advancements. His program really is the foundation for supporting future ready learners. For all these reasons and more, thank you Perry Lane for being this month’s Future Ready Spotlight. 

Columbus K-2 STEM Room 
Van Allen 3-5 STEAM Room 

Connect with Perry at to learn more or visit their program site at

Want to share your future-ready story? Connect with!

Agile for Education: A Scrum Play by Play

Save the date! New Professional Learning Opportunity in GPAEA!

Sign up here!

Agile Scrum is a game-changing project management mindset and framework that allows educators to navigate multiple projects and includes tools and processes that help students take control of their own learning. This framework naturally allows for students to develop 21st Century Skills while still adhering to course objectives and learning targets. Participants will receive a playbook with ready-to-go activities and processes to incorporate directly into their classrooms.  This training is great for anyone looking to enhance their own project management, project completion, project success, or for PK-12 educators to guide students in a project management framework that works! See this video for more info. 

Dates: Sept 29-30

Location: GPAEA Ottumwa 2814 N Court St. Ottumwa, IA 52501

Sign up here!

Questions? Contact Laura Williams

Social Studies: Supporting Inquiry within the Unit Planning Process

Register for Social Studies: Supporting Inquiry within the Unit Planning Process!

#308825 Ottumwa AEA Nov 10 2021
(Use this link to register)

**Participants will have License Renewal Credit Option for 1 Credit**

This course is primarily for 6-12 Social Studies teachers and instructional coaches. If elementary teachers would like to attend, please reach out for additional information. 

Date/Location: November 10-11, 2021 @ Great Prairie AEA Ottumwa Office 

Course Summary: 

In this course participants will develop a unit plan that supports the inquiry process, student engagement, critical thinking, and literacy. Participants will engage in discussions about the role of standards, knowledge, and skills to support instruction and assessment. Throughout the course, we will engage in learning around the purpose and development of compelling and supporting questions. Within the unit planning process high-leverage instructional strategies for social studies will be shared and incorporated throughout the course. Alignment of units and lessons to standards will be supported and reinforced. Participants will have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from different districts to deepen their level of understanding of inquiry in social studies and to develop a unit plan. 


  • The Participant will use the Social Studies content & inquiry standards to develop a unit plan. 
  • The participant will develop a unit plan that demonstrates an understanding of compelling and supporting questions, the inquiry process, formative assessment, and summative assessment, while embedding high-leverage instructional strategies throughout the unit.

This course is primarily for 6-12 Social Studies teachers and instructional coaches. If elementary teachers would like to attend, please reach out for additional information.



Welcome to a new school year filled with new beginnings and new opportunities!  The Family and Educator Partnership is here to help you get off to a great start by providing materials to help improve family engagement in special education.   

Research indicates family engagement can lead to higher grades and test scores, improved attendance and better behavior. And yet,  most teachers share with us that they find it challenging to connect with families.  Let us help!

We have assembled a file box for each building, filled with materials to help families understand and engage in the special education process.  These will be distributed over the next month.  We have recommended storing these resources in the room where IEP meetings are most commonly held.  As questions or concerns come up with families, you will have the appropriate  resource to share.  Have a family questioning if a special education evaluation is the right path for their student?  Share the Child Find document with them.  Is a child new to services in the area of behavior?  Share the Functional Behavior Assessment &/or Behavior Intervention Plan booklets with the family.  Sending out a meeting notice?  Include a copy of ‘What to Expect at an IEP Meeting’.  Have a family who needs more resources  or is having a difficult time understanding the special education process?  Share the FEP brochure with the family so they can reach out to us. The resources in the box have limitless possibilities and you can find suggested uses on the chart also enclosed in the materials. 

If you would like electronic copies of these documents please see the next page or visit the FEP website at Near the bottom of the page you will find a table with a link to each document.  Electronic documents are great to attach to an email or download and print yourself.  

We hope that you will find these materials helpful and continue to use them for years to come.  Unfortunately, we are not able to keep up with all of the printing demands.  If your school would like to order more please go to  Once logged in you will click on ‘start your order’ near the top.  In the ‘Search Products’ box type ‘FEP’.  From there you should see a list of all of the family engagement materials. 

We hope you will find these materials helpful.  If we can be of any assistance to your team, please do not hesitate to contact us.