AEA PD Online & AEA K-12 Online Updates

Iowa's AEAs Create Blogs for Online Learning UpdatesGo to for updates or click on the direct article links below. For real time updates, follow us on Twitter @aeapdonline.

Recent Updates:

Iowa's AEAs Create Blogs for Online Learning UpdatesAEA K-12 Online’s January blog update is now available. Go to for updates or click on the direct article links below. For real time updates, follow us on Twitter @aeapdonline.

Recent Updates:

For more information about AEA PD Online and AEA K12 Online follow us on Twitter @aeapdonline.

Free Art Workshops for Students with Disabilities

vsa logoIn partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, VSA Iowa, the state organization on arts and disability, has more than 175 creative and performing art workshops available free of cost to educators across Iowa.

If you’ve ever thought about hosting a VSA Iowa arts workshop, but were discouraged because of your school’s distance from Des Moines—sigh no more. The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. has made it possible for us to bring the arts to every corner of the state through the end of the school year.

vsa graphic

Art workshops are being offered through our 20-year-old Arts for Children (AFC) program and are taught by experienced and passionate teaching artists – many of whom have a disability.  You can expect for your students to get the following out of a VSA Iowa workshop:

  • enhanced creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills
  • a better understanding of the abilities in people with disabilities
  • a good time making their own unique work of art
  • an increase in self confidence through performing art workshops

Workshops, varying in length from one to three hours, are offered to classrooms with one or more children with an Individualized Education Plan-including those who are at-risk, have a mental health diagnosis, behavioral disorder and/or physical disability.

Sign up today and bring the arts to your class!

Registration forms can be accessed at:

Or email to request a form.  

This offer will only last through the end of the school year – summer school included.

Download a flyer: Free Art Workshops for Students with Disabilities

Best of Impacting Lives

AEAs Impacting Lives - DecemberThe new year is a perfect time to reflect on past accomplishments and look forward to the future. Below are links to our favorite stories on the Impacting Lives blog. If an AEA has made a positive impact in your life, please share your story with us here.

Para Educator Courses Spring 2013 – Financial Assistance & SCC Credit Available

Para Flyer - 11 x 17 (1)Great Prairie AEA will now be offering the Para Educator Courses with the option of Southeastern Community College credit!

Financial assistance, for those who qualify, is now available for the Para Educator Courses through IowaWORKS.

Para Educator Courses I, II and III are required for certification.  Courses held at Great Prairie AEA Burlington Office. All courses have an online component.  There is an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and a Federal Bureau of Investigation background check for a fee of $65 and a $40 license fee due upon completion of all three courses. (When submitting application to the BOEE)

Para Educator Course I – 2 credits
February 6th, 13th & 20th           4:00  pm – 8:30 pm
Para Educator State Cert Credit – $180
Para Certification plus SCC Credit – $200
Course I includes an additional $20 for material fees.

Para Educator Course II – 2 credits
March 6th, 13th & 20th           4:00  pm – 8:30 pm
Para Educator State Cert Credit – $160
Para Certification plus SCC Credit – $180

Para Educator Course III – 2 credits
April 3rd, 17th & 24th           4:00  pm – 8:30 pm
Para Educator State Cert Credit – $160
Para Certification plus SCC Credit – $180

Register through GPAEA’s course catalog at www.gpaea.orgFor more information contact: Megan Cramblet, Great Prairie AEA, at 319-753-6561 ext. 1261 or

For information about financial assistance contact:
Debbie Dowell
IowaWORKS Region 16 Director
319-753-1671  ext. 31406

Click here to download the flyer.

GPAEA Schools in the News – January 2013

January 3

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January 17

January 25

January 31

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.

The Cornerstone – January 2013

Happy New Year! Scroll down to read the articles in the January 2013 issue or click on a title below.

Download a PDF copy of January 2013

What Does 2013 Hold for Iowa Schools?

Elementary school pupil asking questionEducators in Iowa today know that never has there been more uncertainty in what lies ahead for schools and educators.  What transpires during the next legislative session should clear up this picture to some extent and the governor’s vision for school reform in Iowa is very clear, but gone are the days of being able to successfully predict what will happen next year based on what happened last year.  So in this sea of change, what can we rely on as we look to 2013?  Here are a few things I believe we can safely predict as we look to the coming year.

Education will increasingly be a team sport.  You can still find people who advocate for individual accountability as a driver of school reform even though we know it is what Fullan would consider a wrong driver.  In Iowa, however, the reforms advocated by our governor and Department of Education are increasingly calling for team approaches to familiar problems.  The state’s recent emphasis on response to intervention and the new proposed teacher development and compensation system are two examples of taking team approaches to raising student performance.  Response to intervention is done in teacher teams.  Data teams and professional learning communities are springing up in almost every district.  The proposed teacher development system with its emphasis on using teachers to mentor and advise other teachers also promotes the idea of professional collegiality and clearly values the importance of teachers working together to improve practice.  Learning walks, peer observation, instructional rounds….all team activities and here to stay.

Continue reading on Dr. Jon Sheldahl’s Blog…

The Social and Interactive Web

Jane Trotter, Instructional Technology Specialist

PrintToday’s social and interactive web allows students and educators to communicate and collaborate in new and exciting ways. Location and time lose significance as we are able to connect and collaborate with others around common interests, anytime and anywhere. Perhaps one of the greatests advantages to today’s new web 2.0 is also disadvantageous – we have too many choices! Like a child in the candy shop, where do we begin? Tools available today include, Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, YouTube, Diigo, Google, DropBox, Flickr, VoiceThread, EverNote, Pinterest , Blogger and the list goes on and on. One-way communication, like newsletters and calendars of events, have grown obsolete.

Applications such as Facebook, Edmodo, and Google Drive are being incorporated into classes to improve communication, allowing students and teachers to easily message, question, and collaborate with each other. Events may be scheduled and reminders posted regarding upcoming assignments and projects due. Supplementary materials and links to articles and videos may be shared via social media. The dog can no longer eat the assignment notebook!

Twitter_squareTwitter is a major contributor to many educators’ professional development as teachers follow others to keep up with latest teaching trends, get ideas and support one another. Such networks have been found to increase communication and build community. Teachers may set up feeds for individual classes to tweet about upcoming assignments, events and class news.

Today’s social and interactive web is empowering teachers and students to curate resources through social bookmarking applications such as Diigo and Delicious. YouTube is a hosting site for teacher and student made videos providing a rich library of resources. iTunes may be used to organize playlists of video and audio recordings created by and for students and teachers.

Blogs and wikis allow writing experiences for students to apply critical thinking skills. Students are more prone to reflect on their own writing as well as others when the writing is published, intentional, and meaningful. The new web 2.0 allows all to participate and publish.

Collaborative projects requiring the input of many around a common learning goal can be facilitated through video-conferencing and social media over the web. Applications such as Skype and Facetime “break down classroom walls” as students have face-to-face conversations with others who may be conducting similar studies. Collaborators may not be in the same classroom, school district, or country!

With such interactive capacity available via today’s technology, why must students simply sit, listen, and passively receive new content and information. Now they can interact with others and with the content. We can provide more active learning experiences, improve students’ understanding, and effectively develop higher order cognitive skills as students become more engaged in learning.

The integration of the social and interactive web in our classrooms may require a change in pedagogical practice for many of us. We must include proven, research-based, student-centered teaching strategies in our classrooms. A case study conducted by Chen and Bryer indicates that “social media participation is informal and unstructured, which contradicts the orderly and organized flow of regular classroom teaching.”(1) The stand and deliver lecture model is orderly and organized but may no longer meet the needs of our students. Learning is “mucky” as learners jump in to collaborate and contribute. Today’s web 2.0 demands inquiry, collaboration, critical thinking, and digital citizenship. Are we meeting that demand in our classrooms?

(1)  CHEN, B., BRYER, T.. Investigating instructional strategies for using social media in formal and informal learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, North America, 13, jan. 2012. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 Oct. 2012.

Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training in Our Schools

Michael Peters, School Social Worker 

As a certified trainer in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NVCI) I receive frequent calls from that “physical restraint” training.  Often these calls are precipitated by a student crisis that has escalated to the physical, and at times, assaultive level.  While physical intervention and personal safety techniques are important components of NVCI training, I am quick to point out that the primary focus of NVCI is assisting school staff in recognizing and addressing escalating behavior at its earliest stages – before it becomes physical.

Great Prairie Area Education Agency has been offering NVCI training to local school districts since its inception as part of our system of learning supports.  This training is often referred to as “CPI training.”  This is in reference to the Crisis Prevention Institute who developed NVCI and is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  CPI is an international training organization committed to best practices and safe behavior management methods that focus on prevention.  CPI was established in 1980 and since that time, more than six million human service providers across the globe have been trained in NVCI.  Participants include human service providers in the fields of health care, mental health, social welfare, security, law enforcement and of course, education.

Crisis intervention is a small segment of time in which school staff must intervene with a student to address behavior that may escalate into disruptive or even violent incidents.  As we all know, human behavior is complex and anything but neat and packaged.  A crisis is chaotic and unpredictable.  However, with a core philosophy of providing for the care, welfare, safety, and security of everyone involved in a crisis situation, NVCI provides evidence-based strategies that give educators the skills to safely and effectively respond to anxious and hostile student behavior.  Ultimately, NVCI has shown effectiveness in reducing incidences of seclusion and physical restraints.  The program has several primary objectives:

  1. Training staff with effective techniques in approaching and reducing the tension of an agitated student.
  2. Providing nonverbal, verbal, and physical intervention skills to allow staff to de-escalate crisis situations.
  3. Focusing on alternatives if a student does lose control and becomes violent.
  4. Instructing staff members in techniques to control their own anxieties during interventions and maintain the best possible professional attitude.

The fundamental purpose of the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention training program is to help people understand the process of behavior escalation and to recognize that people don’t act out in a vacuum.  The staff person who intervenes with the potentially violent student must realize that his or her behavior has a tremendous impact on that student.  Crisis intervention is an integrated process.  In many cases, the subsequent escalation or defusing of the student’s behavior may depend entirely on how the staff member reacts.  As such, the five certified Nonviolent Crisis Intervention program trainers listed below can assist your school in having their staff trained and certified in NVCI.  Our trainers offer three training options: Verbal Interventions only (6 hrs.); Verbal and Physical (8 hrs.); Refresher for staff previously trained and certified in NVCI (3 hrs.).  There is no charge to school districts for this training with the exception of a Workbook fee ($12) that each participant receives.  Please contact the any of our certified trainers:

Iowa State University Online Literacy Coaching Certificate

The School of Education at Iowa State University is now accepting applications for the Online Literacy Coaching Certificate program that starts this summer.  This 17-credits, totally online program is designed to prepare classroom teachers, instructional leaders, and other school personnel to serve in literacy leadership roles with the goal of improving teacher practices and student achievement in diverse Pre K-12 school settings.

It is a unique opportunity to develop deep expertise in literacy research, policy, practice, and leadership skills. The admission process is limited.

Application deadline for Summer Cohort is March 1, 2013. 

Detailed application information can be found at the program website ( or request additional information at

New GPAEA Board Member Elected

Hernandez, Himar - Blue BackgroundIn October 2012, long-time Great Prairie AEA Board member, Peg Campbell, submitted her resignation from the Board. Mrs. Campbell represented Director District #5 – Ottumwa Community School District. A Special Election was held on November 13, 2012 to elect her replacement. We are pleased to announce that Himar Hernandez has been elected by the Ottumwa School Board to represent the Ottumwa District for the remaining term of office, which runs until October 2015.

Himar and is wife, Amy, have a four-year-old child, Belen, and are expecting a second. He has an Associate of Arts in Political Science from IHCC, a B.A. Cum Laude in Public Administration & Political Science from Buena Vista University, Community and Economic Development Courses through North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, and his Masters n Business leadership from William Penn University. He currently works for Iowa State University Extension as a Community and Economic Development Specialist.

ASCD Webinar

Upcoming Webinar:

Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time: Updating a Lesson Plan: Part 1 of 4
ASCD – Tuesday, January 22, 2013 2:00 PM-3:00 PM

Register Here!

Madeline Hunter transformed teaching with the lesson plan schema she created to make every teacher a Master Teacher. Using new research on learning, Jane E. Pollock, co-author of ASCD best seller, Classroom Instruction that Works, updated the schema with the nine high yield strategies, calling it GANAG. Learn to update your schema to create lessons to improve student achievement and growth. If you are a principal, learn to use GANAG for walk-throughs and observations.

On-Demand Past Event: In case you missed it, check out this informative webinar, What Works in Flipped Classrooms, Education Week. Watch it here!

SoftChalk: A Tool Brought to you by AEA PD Online

SoftChalkLogo_2012What is SoftChalk?

SoftChalk is an instructor tool provided free to educators through Iowa’s AEAs. It is teaching software that allows users to create engaging, interactive lessons for online instruction.

See a SoftChalk Example: All about Hurricanes

How to I get started?

  1. Go to
  2. Log into the Moodle server. If you do not have a Moodle account, create one.
  3. Enter the enrollment key: lbscsfsc1.
  4. When you are in the Moodle course, click on the first link, “To begin, click here for download and installation” and read the instructions to download.
  5. When prompted, enter the license name and license key. The license name and key are located with the download and installation instructions.

Find helpful “SoftChalk in Minutes”

Student member for State Board Education sought

The application and supporting documents for the student member to the State Board of Education are available on the Department’s website or contact Jody Crane at:

The term of the student member starts May 1, 2013, and ends April 30, 2014. The Board meets at least seven times during that term, with most meetings taking place in the Grimes State Office Building in Des Moines. The deadline for submitting an application with all required documents is Feb. 1.

Besides being a full-time, regularly enrolled 10th or 11th grade student in a public high school, the student must meet these requirements:

  • Has a GPA of at least 3.0 (4.0 scale) or 3.75 (5.0 scale)
  • Has attended his/her present high school at least the past two consecutive semesters (or the equivalent thereof)
  • Demonstrates participation in extracurricular and community activities, as well as an interest in serving on the board

Essay Contest for Women’s History Month

essayThe Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women (ICSW), and the State Historical Society of Iowa invite Iowa’s youth to gain a deeper and more relevant appreciation of women’s roles in history and celebrate March as Women’s History Month by participating in the Write Women Back Into History Essay Contest.

This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” Though women have always made significant contributions to these fields, historically those contributions have not been recognized as publicly as those of men. Here is a chance for Iowa’s youth to change that and to learn more about women in these fields.

The deadline for entries is January 25. Guidelines can be found at For more information, contact ICSW’s Michelle Rubin at 515-281-4470, 800-558-4427 or