Area Students Qualify for National History Day in Iowa

History Day 2012: Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History

Congratulations State Qualifiers!
GPAEA History Day 2012

National History Day is the nation’s leading program for history education in the schools.  On March 20, 2012 students from 17 districts and 2 non-public participated in Great Prairie AEA’s History Day contest held at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.  Students researched history topics of their choice related to the theme “Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History”.  Students worked as individuals and in groups to create exhibits, documentaries, performances, historical papers and websites. Area individuals volunteered their time to evaluate student entries and advance them to the state contest.

Congratulations to the following state qualifiers for their hard work as these students will represent GPAEA at the “National History Day in Iowa” contest on April 30, 2012 (Senior & Youth Division) and May 7, 2012 (Junior Division) at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines.

2012 Great Prairie AEA State Qualifiers (by category)

Junior Division Individual Exhibit
(only category that has 5 to state)

Junior Division Individual Exhibit

  1. Becoming Modern America – Holly Noneman
    Keokuk, IA, Keokuk Middle School, Teacher: Diane Berner
  2. Artificial Insemination in Cattle – Tayler Jones
    Blakesburg, IA, Eddyville-Blakesburg Middle School, Teacher: Donna Bohlmann, Co-Teacher: Angie Koebke
  3. No More Washday Blues – Kathryn Gutch
    Blakesburg, IA, Blakesburg Elementary, Teacher: Maura Young
  4. Call The Doctor – Adlynn Eveland
    Eddyville, IA, Eddyville Elementary, Teacher: Donna Bohlmann, Co-Teacher: Jessica Nollen
  5. The Kennedy-Nixon Debate: A New Approach to Politics – Maci Gambell
    Packwood, IA, Pekin Community Schools, Teacher: Ashley Bartels

Junior Division Group Exhibit

Junior Division Group Exhibit

  1. Honey Wars – Jeffrey Koebke and Luke Sutton
    Blakesburg, IA, Eddyville-Blakesburg Middle School, Teacher: Donna Bohlmann, Co-Teacher: Angie Koebke
  2. Pearl Harbor – Justin Marshall and Derek Walker
    Eddyville, IA, Eddyville Elementary, Donna Bohlmann, Jessica Nollen

Junior Division Historical Paper 

Junior Division Historical Paper

  1. Telephones: from Novelty to Necessity – Courtney Brinkley
    Burlington, IA, James Madison Middle School, Teacher: Katie Broeg

Junior Division Individual Documentary 

Junior Division Individual Documentary

  1. John Deere: The Man that Changed Farming – Sam Roth
    Packwood, IA, Pekin Community Schools, Teacher: Ashley Bartels
  2. From Fear to Reassurance: The Evolution of Childbirth – Anuja Pharasi
    Fairfield, IA, Fairfield Middle School, Teacher: Tena Nelson

Junior Division Group Documentary 

Junior Division Group Documentary

  1. Atanasoff-Berry Computer – Conner Glosser, Taylor Leffler and McKinley Moore
    Blakesburg, IA, Eddyville-Blakesburg Middle School, Teacher: Donna Bohlmann, Co-Teacher: Angie Koebke

Junior Division Individual Performance

Junior Division Individual Performance

  1. Prohibition: Glass Half Full or Half Empty? – Dayna Price
    Fairfield, IA, Fairfield Middle School, Teacher: Tena Nelson

Junior Division Group Performance 

Junior Division Group Performance

  1. Reforming the Modern Court System; the Salem Witch Trials – Bailey Andrews, Alicia Nickell, Paige Johnson, Nicole Johnson and Karna Hampton
    Corydon, IA, Wayne Community Schools, Teacher: Michael Jones
  2. The Bigger, The Better?  – Sarah Vorwerk and Katie Coates
    Mediapolis, IA, Mediapolis Community School, Teacher: Steven Steele

Junior Division Individual Web Sites 

Junior Division Individual Web Sites

  1. Equine Revolution – Ashley Lohmann
    Burlington, IA, Burlington Notre Dame, Teacher: Ben Gauger
  2. The War Against the War – Wynnefride Miller
    Fairfield, IA, Fairfield Middle School, Teacher: Tena Nelson

Junior Division Group Web Sites

Junior Division Group Web Sites

  1. The Last Tsar – Emma Carper, Mary Rose Roundy and Zach Rashid
    Burlington, IA, Burlington Notre Dame, Teacher: Ben Gauger
  2. From Two Leagues to One – Brock Hilton and Justin Massner
    Mediapolis, IA, Mediapolis Community School, Teacher: Steven Steele

Senior Division Historical Paper  

Senior Division Historical Paper

  1. Mao: The Creation of Communist China and the “Permanent Revolution” – Patrick Taffe
    Mediapolis, IA, Mediapolis Community School, Teacher: Steven Steele
  2. The Revolutionary Space Race Era – Ryan Shivvers
    Corydon, IA, Wayne Community Schools, Teacher: Michael Jones

Senior Division Individual Exhibit

Senior Division Individual Exhibit

  1. Declaration of Independence – Daniel Stolley
    Keokuk, IA, Keokuk High School, Teacher: Barbara Edler
  2. John Deere Revolutionizing the Farming Industry – Kenton Lain
    Corydon, IA, Wayne Community Schools, Teacher: Michael Jones

Senior Division Group Exhibit

Senior Division Group Exhibit

  1. French Resistance – Tessa Story and Bailey St. Clair
    Farmington, IA, Harmony Community School District, Teacher: Stephanie Vititoe
  2. Mental Health Revolution – Kara Prewitt, Ericka Mardis and Gabrielle White
    Keokuk, IA, Keokuk High School, Teacher: Barbara Edler

Senior Division Individual Documentary – No entries to state

Senior Division Group Documentary

Senior Division Group Documentary

  1. Underground Railroad – Aaron Hendrickson, Nicholas Edler, Samuel Sprunger, Marc Wharton and Trenton Humphrey
    2501 Keokuk, IA, Keokuk High School, Teacher: Barbara Edler
  2. A Change in Command: Revolution and Reaction to changes in America’s Government – Olivia Byrns and Adele Byrns
    Corydon, IA, Wayne Community Schools, Teacher: Michael Jones 

Senior Division Individual Performance

Senior Division Individual Performance

  1. Many Lives: One Woman Irena Sendler – Kacey Cranston
    2601 Sigourney, IA, Sigourney High School, Teacher: Andy Harter

Senior Division Group Performance 

Senior Division Group Performance

  1. Temperance Movement – Jennifer Brown, Erich Bogner, Kendall Berner, Grant Gabel and Louis Riesberg
    Keokuk, IA, Keokuk High School, Teacher: Barbara Edler
  2. Edward Bernays: Father of the Propaganda Revolution – Maddison Wood, Becca Ohland, Jeremiah Alspach and Karah Appleget
    Sigourney, IA, Sigourney High School, Teacher: Andy Harter

Senior Division Individual Web Sites 

Senior Division Individual Web Sites

  1. The French Chef Revolution, Reaction, Reform – Haley Hamilton
    Corydon, IA, Wayne Community Schools, Teacher: Michael Jones
  2. Buffalo Soldiers: Revolutionizing the West – Katelyn Campbell
    Corydon, IA, Wayne Community Schools, Teacher: Michael Jones

Senior Division Group Web Sites – No entries

A special “thank you “ goes out to our judges that volunteered their time to make this event an educational and memorable experience for students, our teacher and parent supporters, the staff/volunteers at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Jane Broeg, and Sandy Morrison.

Contact: Shannon Johnson,, or 800-382-8970 ext. 1136

The Cornerstone – March/April 2012

The March/April 2012 issue of The Cornerstone is now available! Scroll down to read articles or click on titles below. You can also download a PDF copy. Enjoy!

The Simple Things We Know About Closing the Achievement Gap for Low SES Kids
Data Rich
Iowa Teacher of the Year Nominations Due April 2
April is Autism Awareness Month
Young Writers’ Conference 2012 a Success!
Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month
Week of the Young Child
We want your feedback! Participate in the AEA Customer Survey
Media Resources
In Memoriam of Harold Mick

Download a PDF copy of this month’s issue.

The Simple Things We Know About Closing the Achievement Gap for Low SES Kids

Recently, I had the chance to look in-depth at school district data from an AEA other than GPAEA, and two things struck me. One was the free and reduced lunch rates of the districts in that area. While there were certainly a few districts with challenging socio-economic demographics in the area, the numbers nowhere approached our own. (I wasn’t aware that communities with single digit free and reduced rates even existed in Iowa.)

The second set of data that caught my eye was the overall proficiency rates of districts in the area.  Few of the districts had proficiency ratings for all students below 80% and many of the districts had proficiency ratings for IEP students that exceeded 50%.  The achievement gap was certainly observable, but it wasn’t as significant as the one we deal with daily in Southeast Iowa.

I thought of this again when I read the Des Moines Register’s opinion section Sunday.  In that section, Richard Doak wrote a column about the impact of poverty on Iowa schools and about how that particular demographic had changed so rapidly in recent years.  I agree that Iowa’s rapidly shifting demographics have presented our system with some unique challenges that perhaps not everyone fully appreciates.  However, I also believe that we are far from powerless in overcoming this set of challenges.

Here is our challenge in Iowa and, particularly, in Southeast Iowa.  We have to believe that all kids can learn at high levels and that we have the tools and understand the antecedents necessary to make that happen.

We need to refuse to buy into the idea that we won’t solve the achievement gap until we somehow address poverty issues in our state. No one knows more than I the unique challenges presented by low SES students, but for educators to use those challenges as an excuse for low performance in schools is worse than defeatist; it is insidious and a disservice to the very kids and families we are committed to serving.  The truth is that we have known for years what works for kids in poverty. We just have to come up with the courage and will to make that happen.  Several years ago now, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Joseph Murphy of Vanderbilt University speak about what it takes to close the achievement gap for kids in poverty.  (In fact Dr. Murphy released a book on the topic through Sage Publication in 2010 called Educators Handbook to Closing the Achievement Gap.)  Here’s what he said and it’s pretty simple.
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Data Rich

With an increasing emphasis on using data efficiently and effectively to make instructional decisions, it is important for all educators to adopt a common language and common understanding of assessment so that we can work collaboratively to improve educational outcomes for all students.

Testing, Assessment, or Evaluation?  These three terms are often used interchangeably, but it is important to acknowledge the differences and, more importantly, to be thoughtful about the difference in our professional practice.  A test is an instrument, it gives us data and evaluation is a process of making judgments and decisions about that data.  For example, the Paul performed at the 10th percentile on the Reading Comprehension portion of the Iowa Assessments (test); he is performing far below proficiency and the expected level (evaluation).  Assessment, by contrast, is a process of asking and answering questions and must always, therefore, begin with a question.

There are four types of assessment, meaning that there are four types of questions, which our student data can answer – screening, diagnostic, formative, and summative.  Screening assessments answer “Who?” questions such as, “Who is not meeting grade level expectations for reading accuracy?”  In order to answer this screening assessment question, a test of reading accuracy must be given to all students, perhaps a grade level running record.  A team of teachers would then look at their common assessment data, the running records, and identify students who are not reading the material accurately.

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Iowa Teacher of the Year Nominations Due April 2

DES MOINES, IA – Thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students, but only one is chosen annually as the state’s top teacher. The deadline to nominate the 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year is April 2.

The award is an opportunity to recognize an Iowa teacher who motivates, challenges and inspires excellence; who is respected by students and peers; who is a dedicated professional who helps nurture hidden talents and abilities; who is a creative, caring individual; who takes teaching beyond textbooks; and who is an exceptional teacher helping to redefine education.

Nominations will be accepted from anyone, including students, parents, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members and associations. Nomination forms can be found at The winner will be announced in August.

The Iowa Teacher of the Year award was established in 1958. The annual program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature.

Winners are chosen by a committee that includes representatives of the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Education Association, the School Administrators of Iowa, the Parent Teachers Association, and the past Iowa Teacher of the Year.

The Teacher of the Year serves as an ambassador to education and as a liaison to primary and secondary schools, higher education and organizations across the state.

The 2012 Teacher of the Year is Charity Campbell, a physical education teacher at Norwalk Middle School in the Norwalk school district.

April is Autism Awareness Month

April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day. Learn more at

Currently, statistics show that 1 in 110 individuals are affected with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The disorder is more prevalent in boys than girls with a four to one likelihood.

According to, Autism Spectrum Disorder is any of a group of developmental disorders (as Autism and Asperger’s syndrome) marked by impairments in the ability to communicate and interact socially and by the presence of repetitive behaviors or restricted interests.

At this time, there is no single cause for Autism.

Currently, studies are showing that early intervention is proving to help individuals on the Autism Spectrum have greater successes and outcomes.

Great Prairie AEA’s Media Center has a wide variety of books and video material covering a wide range of aspects of Autism available for checkout.

Great Prairie AEA’s Autism Team provides five courses relating to the needs of individuals on the Autism Spectrum.  Individuals attending the courses will come away with information including, but not limited to structuring environments for success, communicating using visuals, utilizing social stories for behavioral success, and teaching using research based strategies.

The goal of the Great Prairie AEA’s Autism Team is to function as a multi-faceted resource to the LEA and AEA staff who serve students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Autism Team is directed by Crystal Hornback (Ottumwa office) and JoAnn Morton (Keokuk office) but has a growing number of additional members.  Autism team members are situated in each of the Great Prairie AEA satellite offices and bring expertise from a wide variety of disciplines. These team members function as a first line resource to their local team members and schools. In addition to their service at the local level, each team member helps provide area wide autism specific trainings in Ottumwa and Burlington.

Crystal Hornback, Autism Specialist
641-682-8591 ext. 5345

JoAnn Morton, Autism Specialist
319-524-2682 ext. 4102

Young Writers’ Conference 2012 a Success!

Bob Kann, Storyteller/Author

The 2012 Young Writers’ Conference was held March 6th and 7th, on the William Penn Campus, to honor student writers.  It provided an opportunity for young authors to share their writing with peers, and introduced them to professional authors, storytellers, and other communicators.  Students attended workshop and writing activities. There were 208 secondary students and 29 teachers from 16 districts in attendance, and 542 elementary students and 85 teachers and parent volunteers from 20 districts and three non-public. 

Storyteller/Author, Bob Kann, of Madison, Wisconsin, author of 6 biography books, led a fun and entertaining fast paced session as he showed students how to tap into their “subconscious” creativity and use ready-made structures to create stories.  Bob used juggling, magic and punishing puns to share his joy of language and offered an interactive session for students. Students were literally out of their seats!  Young Writer’s walked away with strategies for confronting writer’s blocks, and new abilities to identify subjects for stories.  For some, hearing a cowbell, may remind them of this presentation.

There were breakout sessions on calligraphy, performance, poetry, puppetry, blogging, 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 GPAEA consultants for making 2012 a success!

It was an exciting day full of rich experiences, helping students to discover new ideas that will spark their writing!

Shannon Johnson, Instructional Services Secretary
319-753-6561 ext. 1136


In the spring of 1995, an inaugural state conference for Iowa’s itinerant deaf/hard of hearing (DHH) teachers was held. The conference became known as PITSTOP, or “Professional Itinerant Teachers Speeding to Other Places,” a term coined to describe the nature of the itinerants’ jobs. Southern Prairie AEA’s itinerant teachers hosted the first event. Over the years, the AEA itinerants around the state have taken turns organizing and hosting the event. Planning for the 2011 PITSTOP, hosted by Great Prairie AEA, began in November 2010.  The idea to have the educational audiologists join the teachers in the conference was suggested at a state leadership meeting.  The Great Prairie teachers and audiologists decided to implement the suggestion and planned a conference that would meet the needs of both groups.

On October 6-7, 2011, 75 itinerant teachers and educational audiologists registered for the first “Working Together” conference, which was held in Pella, Iowa.  Several sessions were provided to the entire group, building on the collaboration of teachers and audiologists to identify the needs of and provide services for DHH students; other sessions divided the two groups, providing topics specifically designed to meet the needs of either the audiologists or the teachers.

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Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month!

Each year in April, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students in practice, education, research, and science host a month long celebration showcasing the importance of Occupational Therapy.

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants focus on “doing” whatever occupations or activities are meaningful to the individual. It is occupational therapy’s purpose to get beyond problems to the solutions that assure living life to its fullest. These solutions may be adaptations for how to do a task, changes to the surroundings, or helping individuals to alter their own behaviors.

When working with an occupational therapy practitioner, strategies and modifications are customized for each individual to resolve problems, improve function, and support everyday living activities. The goal is to maximize potential. Through these therapeutic approaches, occupational therapy helps individuals design their lives, develop needed skills, adjust their environments (e,g., home, school, or work) and build health-promoting habits and routines that will allow them to thrive.

Thank you to all our Occupational Therapists:  Lynn Coppage, Mary Echterling, Carol Havelka, Kathy Jaske-Gardner, Amy Ramsey, Paula Renard, and Elise Spronk. We also recognize our Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants: Vonn Gould, Ashley Hobbs, Joe Hudson, Michele Mihalovich, Deb Mueller, and Chris Williams.

Week of the Young Child

The Week of the Young Child will be held April 22-28 and the theme for 2012 is Early Years Are Learning Years.

As part of the national Week of the Young Child celebrated across the country, Great Prairie Area Education Agency is honoring young children and all those who make a difference in children’s lives. Young children and their families depend on high-quality education and care, which help children get a great start, and bring lasting benefits.

Great Prairie AEA supports all early childhood professionals working together to improve professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education. Click here to learn about GPAEA Early Childhood services. Learn more about Week of the Young Child at

We want your feedback! Participate in the AEA Customer Survey

Educators: Participate in the 2011-2012 AEA Customer Survey

If you have already taken this survey, thanks!

If you haven’t participated in the 2011 – 2012 statewide AEA Customer Survey, please do so now at:

The survey will run from Monday, March 5 – Friday, April 6, 2012.

Thank you in advance for your participation. The information from this survey provides valuable data that assists the AEA system in evaluating its services and continuing to meet current and future LEA needs.

If you experience trouble with the survey please contact Dr. Gary Dannenbring, Director of Planning and Evaluation at Prairie Lakes AEA, for assistance (

Media Resources

Media resources help extend, explain and invite students to the curriculum.  The more you know about what media is available to you and your students, the better.  With that in mind, this winter I have been doing “When…Use” sessions with several groups.  The workshop introduces teachers to the online databases and media catalog in relation to what is going on in their classroom.

Become familiar with the resources linked to the second box on the GPAEA Media Library website.  One of the pages there is one I use to introduce teachers to seven of our media resources.  You will also see comments from other teachers in our AEA starting towards the bottom of the page.  It’s called “When…Use.

Comments from teachers about Media Resources:

  • Mike – “When teaching Health I will use Human Relations Media content”.  (You can search the producer Human Relations Media and digital video)
  • Linda & Kathy – “When I am working on the circulatory system, I will use the PowerKids Life Science database.  When I am working on teaching computer skills, I will use the CyberSmarts database.”
  • Carol – “When we do biographies in middle school, I am going to strongly encourage teachers to use the Media Catalog to get new titles!!”
  • Lorna – “PowerKids Life Science works great to work on elements of nonfiction (topic, main idea, and supporting details) with fourth graders. They loved the mammals project and made an extreme newsletter using pages from their notes.”
  • Holly – “I am going to use BookFlix in my Reading Centers”
  • Charlotte – “When we do Text Talks, we can use Visual Thesaurus.”

More ideas and the resources to match!

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In Memoriam of Harold Mick

On February 21, 2012, Great Prairie AEA suffered the loss of long-time Board President Harold Mick. Harold was one of only a handful of board members in Iowa who served Iowa’s AEA system since its inception in 1975. He was Southern Prairie’s only board president and served as the president of Great Prairie AEA since the merger in 2007. He always said that the Board and staff of Great Prairie AEA were like his second family. He believed in the Agency, he believed in quality education, and he believed in equity of services for students across Iowa. The staff, educators, communities and students of southeast Iowa will truly miss Harold’s participation, compassion, tenacity, and leadership.

Harold’s obituary may be viewed at

2012 District History Day – March 20, 2012

Great Prairie AEA will honor area students’ grades 6-12 to compete in History Day on March 20, 2012, in at Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, Fairfield, Iowa.

There are two divisions of competition: junior and senior.  There are nine categories of entries of each division: individual exhibit, group exhibit, individual documentary, group documentary, individual performance, group performance, individual website, group website, and individual paper.

Students choose a history topic related to National History Day’s annual theme.  This year’s theme is “Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History”.   Students conduct extensive research over the course of the school year, and create performances, documentaries, papers, website, or exhibits with the assistance and guidance from their teachers.

Winning students in district competitions may move on to state competition, and the top two entries in each category and division at state contests are eligible to participate in the national contest in June in College Park, Maryland.

Area teachers, historians, parents, grandparents volunteer their time to judge entries.

National History Day is more than a contest, it is reforming the way history is taught and learned.

Event Contact: Shannon Johnson, or 800-382-8970 ext. 1136.

School Psychology Resources

In Sunday’s Des Moines Register, Richard Doak authored an editorial about students in poverty:  Here are some helpful resources for educators from the National Association of School Psychologists and Communication Across Barriers:

Learn more about School Psychologists at Great Prairie AEA.

The dissemination of information from external organizations by Great Prairie AEA does not infer sponsorship or endorsement of the information. It is being passed on to our stakeholders for its educational value.