Registration Open for Iowa 1:1 Institute, April 4

The fourth annual Iowa 1:1 Institute (i11i) will be held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on April 4, 2013. The purposes of the institute are to:
  • Help Iowa’s 1:1 districts learn from each other about innovative teaching, learning and administrative practices that are occurring in their districts;
  • Build excitement and ‘buzz’ around 1:1 laptop computing initiatives in the state; and
  • Help others who are interested in 1:1 computing learn more about how to get started and be successful.

The institute is open to anyone interested in 1:1 laptop computing initiatives in PK-12 schools, whether they currently are working in such a program or just want to learn more. Registration is $50/person. Participants are responsible for their own travel, parking, and meal expenses. Register at

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

Brain Injury Quick Guide for Schools

Visit the Advisory Council on Brain Injuries at to access the Brain Injury Quick Guide for Schools. Scroll down the page to Pediatric TBI & Schools.

This Guide is a product of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries, the Iowa Department of Public Health, Grant Wood AEA and the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa. The development of this guide was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Grant #H21MC06748.

In addition to the Quick Guide, you will find links for the Pediatric Brain Injury Webinar Series hosted by the Iowa Department of Public Health in partnership with the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa.

New Dates! Register for the Spring TAG Roundtable Event – April 23 & May 3

The Spring TAG Roundtable Events will focus on the Common Core State Standards. GPAEA Reading Consultant Liz Long will present on exploring the ELA Iowa Core documents and grade level expectations, addressing text complexity, and increasing writing rigor and relevance for students. GPAEA Math Consultant Lynn Selking will present on exploring the Math Iowa Core documents and grade level expectations in addition to addressing acceleration and enrichment options within the new standards. Feel free to bring your lunch and join in this learning opportunity.
Join us:
  • Ottumwa – April 23, 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Burlington, Iowa Room – May 3, 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Iowa Character Awards

Character Counts In Iowa annually presents the Iowa Character Awards to Iowans who consistently demonstrate good character.

Since 2005, more than 100 individuals and organizations from across the state have received an Iowa Character Award.

Why it’s important
Iowans show good character every day, and many times it goes unnoticed.  There are countless individuals and organizations whose exemplary character is a model for us all.

The Iowa Character Awards highlight the best among us – those who do the right thing, even when no one is looking. Their stories inspire us and provide a renewed sense of pride in our state.

How to Nominate
Click here to complete the online nomination form.

The nomination form includes 10 questions for you to describe how your nominee contributes to their community, stands up for what they believe and consistently demonstrates good character. All nominations must be completed by May 14, 2013.


  • Nominees must be Iowa residents, at least 10 years of age.
  • Nominees can not have been a recipient of an Iowa Character Award in the previous 5 years.
  • CC! staff, paid consultants and our board of directors are not eligible for an Iowa Character Award.

Award presentation

  • Winners will be notified by June 20, 2013.
  • All nominees will receive a certificate of nomination.
  • Award recipients will be presented with their 2013 Iowa Character Award at a banquet on August 2, 2013 in West Des Moines, IA.
  • The Character Counts In Iowa office will be in contact with the Award recipients prior to the banquet to arrange Award details, including participation in a video biography.

Questions and assistance If you need assistance or have questions when writing your nomination, please contact Amy Smit at 515-271-2293 or

Learn more at

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.

The Cornerstone – February 2013

CS HeaderScroll down to read the articles in the February 2013 issue or click on a title below.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the newsletter.

Success for LuCasey: A Family’s Journey

Melanie Patton, Parent,


LuCasey, now 15, in High School and very successful

Our family moved to SE Iowa in late 2008.  Our previous school experiences in another state had been little more than “glorified babysitting” for our daughter who suffered with frequent seizures.  Due to the seizure disorder and medical difficulties, she had many learning disabilities and delays.  It was difficult getting to know the area and the services available for our 11 year old special needs daughter, LuCasey.  We didn’t even know what an AEA was.  We looked around at a variety of schools and decided on Mt. Pleasant, where LuCasey finished her school year at Harlan Elementary.  It was then recommended that she move on to the Middle School.

The teacher at the Middle School, Tiffany Menke, was phenomenal and she and the AEA staff were very helpful in assessing LuCasey’s needs and providing appropriate services.  For the first time in LuCasey’s school life, we felt that she was receiving an appropriate education and support services to help her grow into the child she was supposed to be, even with the disabilities that she faced.  Not only did we find support for our daughter’s education, we also found the school and AEA supportive of our family and LuCasey’s behavior challenges.

During this time, I met the PEC Coordinator for our area, Kelly Wallace.  Because of the difficulties we initially had in finding out about services, both in and out of school, I had a desire to help other parents.  Many times, valuable information I received came from other parents.  Kelly encouraged and assisted me and last spring I started a Support Group for Parents with Special Needs Children called Our Special Kids – Southeast Iowa.  This group is open to all parents and families dealing with any type of special needs.  The group’s mission is to share information, and provide support and encouragement to one another.  We meet regularly and also stay in contact via email and our FaceBook Page (Our Special Kids Southeast Iowa).  Kelly and the AEA have been an invaluable support to our family and I wouldn’t have gotten this group going without their help.

Our daughter is now 15, in High School and very successful under another amazing teacher, Kathy Holtkamp.  The teachers, paraprofessionals and the AEA Staff in Southeast Iowa are amazing!  Outside of the regular school day, they have taken her to afterschool functions, including middle school dances and this year, the High School Homecoming Dance and activities.  Recently the staff accompanied LuCasey and her whole class to the movies on a Saturday night so that they could all feel like their “typical” peers.  We have been so blessed that everyone that has been involved in our daughter’s education has been supportive and willing to contribute to her success.  We have also been treated with respect and dignity and as a part of the team, since parents are the “Specialist” for their child.  Having come from another state where the services weren’t meeting our needs, we are grateful to the Mt. Pleasant School District and the Great Prairie AEA for all they have done to ensure that our daughter is successful and grows into her full potential.

GPAEA Schools in the News – February 2013

February 7

February 12

February 13

February 14

February 18

February 21

February 25

February 27

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.

2011-2012 APR Now Available

screenshotThe Annual Progress Report (APR), which is required by all of Iowa’s nine Area Education Agencies, provides information about how well students in the area perform in reading, math and science. It also provides information on how AEA services are utilized by local school districts. It contains rich and valuable data that assists in the formation of agency actions to improve services.

Achieving our mission of improving teaching and learning by developing leaders, discovering solutions and delivering services requires collaborative partnerships with educators, parents, community and many other organizations. Together, we work toward the ultimate goal – to ensure success for all learners. Each year, the Annual Progress Report offers us an opportunity to assess our work and plan for the future.

View the 2011-2012 Great Prairie AEA Annual Progress Report.

Working Smarter with Formative Assessment

Sue Kientz, GPAEA Technology Coach

Teacher Smiling and Helping Students With SchoolworkWhat do I need to do to help each student learn what is needed?  How do I know if each student “gets it?”  How can I do I find the time to do this?  These are questions educators often ask themselves. Formative assessment is one way to accomplish knowing what each student has learned and what help is needed.  Formative assessment does not need to take up valuable instructional and teacher time if some of the newer tools available through technology are used.  Tools available to teachers are of two main types: Online tools and Learner Response Devices.

Online Tools include Web 2.0 tools such as Poll Everywhere, Socrative and Naiku Quick Question.  All of these tools are free to educators of K-12 schools at the present time.  Below you will see a chart comparing these 3 tools:

Web 2.0 Formative Assessment Tool *

Poll  Everywhere




Naiku Quick Question

Web Address
Tagline “The fastest way to create stylish real-time experiences for events using mobile devices.” – “Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.” – Use Naiku’s Quick Question to poll your students and get immediate feedback – simply ask a question, and students respond using any web enabled device, such as a smartphone, tablet, netbook, or laptop.  Similar to a student response system (‘clicker’) without the need for proprietary hardware!
Pricing Free for up to 40 votes at one time Free (for now)
(Product is limited to 50 participants at once)
Promises to always be free to K-12 education
Ways to respond
(Students will need devices that connect to the Internet)
Text, smartphone (follow-along and keyword entry), web, iPad, Twitter, widget iPhone app (wrapper), Android app (wrapper), web Any device with web access
Types of questions Yes/No, True/False, Multiple choice, Text
Questions can be saved and used again.
True/False, Multiple Choice, Text, quizzes, exit ticket, space race
Quizzes can be created, saved and edit.
Yes/No, True/False, Multi-choice (a-e), text and exit tag
Questions cannot be saved
Results display Through projections system connected to teacher computer Through projections system connected to teacher computer Results are displayed to student devices by teacher command  (no need for a projection system)
Self scoring No, no individual results available. Yes, when using quiz function No, but you can see individual results

Continue reading

GPAEA Superintendents Focus on Education at the Capitol

Great Prairie AEA hosted the annual Legislative Retreat for local district Superintendents and AEA Administrators in Des Moines last week. Many of our district Superintendents had the opportunity to visit with area Legislators on Wednesday, February 6th at the Capitol, sharing their concerns and general insights regarding Allowable Growth, Education Reform, College/Career-Ready Seals, and many other education issues, as well as sharing their support for the AEAs. Ten of our 17 area Legislators stopped by the Legislative Dining Room to talk with and listen to our Superintendents and Dr. Sheldahl. Those Legislators included:

  • Senator Amy Sinclair
  • Senator Sandy Greiner
  • Senator Ken Rozenboom
  • Senator Rich Taylor
  • Senator Thomas Courtney
  • Representative Joel Fry
  • Representative Mary Gaskill
  • Representative Curt Hanson
  • Representative Dave Heaton
  • Representative Dennis Cohoon

Find the Legislator that represents you at

Introduction to Scratch in Education – Free Summer Course from UNI

The computer science department at the University of Northern Iowa is
pleased to announce that we will once again be offering FREE professional
development opportunities during the summer of 2013.  The CS4HS program is
sponsored through a generous ongoing contribution from Google.

Introduction to Scratch in Education – 1 cr. hr.

Preparation for teachers in all disciplines from upper elementary through
high school to teach and use Scratch in the classroom.  Scratch is a
graphical programming environment designed at MIT to be appropriate for
students in grades 4-12.  This workshop will address the basics of Scratch
(mostly by example), ways to introduce Scratch to students, and discussion
on general classroom integration.  No computer science or programming
background required.  Teachers will be expected to have their students use
Scratch and to report on that use during a follow-up meeting in November,

June 26-28 or July 17-19, 2013
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Plus one follow-up session Saturday, November 2nd or 9th, 2013 Continue reading

Bullying in the Context of Culture – March 11, 2013


A seminar for Superintendents, Building Administrators, Equity Coordinators and School Counselors

Monday, March 11, 2013
9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Lunch provided
Fairfield Convention Center

Although bullying is recognized as a serious problem in the U.S., little is discussed about racial/ethnic differences in students as a bullying risk. Dr. Martinez will share examined associations between bullying and family, peer, and school relations for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Mike Peters, School Social Worker and Teran Buettell, School Psychologist will discuss the Anti-Bullying Policies.


  • Assimilation and Acculturation issues for culturally and linguistically diverse elementary and secondary students and their families
  • Cultural mile markers within the Hispanic culture and their influence on schooling and bullying
  • The challenge of machismo for students, families, and schools
  • Building climate, conflict resolution and the pipeline to prison
  • What works? Sample strategies from effective schools that are addressing the challenges of bullying in the context of culture
  • What is Bullying and what does Iowa Code 280.28 mean for your school?

Register Online at My Learning Plan: 
Registration Deadline: February 25, 2013
Questions? Email: or Call: 800-382-8970 ext. 1164

Invitation: BULLYING Seminar March 2013

NEW DATE – April 24, 2013 Counselors’ Conference

Regional Counselor Conference Brochure 2013_Page_1Sponsored by GPAEA, Southeastern Community College, and Indian Hills Community College

This conference provides opportunities for networking and professional development for K-12 counselors and interested administrators in the Great Prairie AEA Region.

NEW DATE – April 24, 2013
Comfort Suites Hotel & Conference Center
1780 Stonegate Center Dr.
Burlington, Iowa

$25.00 Registration Fee – Please register online at

Deadline for Registration is April 15, 2013

Download the flyer for more information: Regional Counselor Conference Brochure 2013

Substitute Authorization Course Available

A primary school teacherDo you know someone who would make a great substitute teacher? Please share this information with them. Course available at Great Prairie AEA in Ottumwa and Burlington. (Click on Location to Register)

Ottumwa – Conf. Rm A, 5:00-9:00 PM

  • April 2, 16, 23, 24, & 30, 2013

Burlington – Rm TBD, 4:30-8:30 PM

  • April 2, 4, 9, 11 & 16, 2013

This course is a major component required to complete in order to receive a substitute authorization certificate that allows an individual to substitute in middle school, junior high school, or high school for no more than five consecutive days in one job assignment. An individual who holds a Para educator certificate and completes the substitute authorization program is authorized to substitute only in the special education classroom in which the individual Para educator is employed.

The course is designed to enable participants to become competent in the skills necessary to successfully substitute in Iowa’s secondary classrooms. These skills include classroom management, strategies for learning, diversity & ethics. 14.143(3) The substitute authorization must be renewed every three years. Renewal requirements for the substitute authorization consist of a minimum of two renewal units equivalent to 30 clock hours and completion of an approved child and dependent adult abuse training program approved by the state abuse education review panel. Please refer to attached requirements for Substitute Authorization from Iowa Code: 282_14.143(1)-(3) for the complete explanation of the requirements for substitute authorization.