Data Team Success at Keota

Chris Detwiler, Angela Snakenberg, Lisa Brenneman, Deidra Baker, and Schuyler Snakenberg (not pictured, Jenny Hobbs)

Chris Detwiler, Angela Snakenberg, Lisa Brenneman, Deidra Baker, and Schuyler Snakenberg (not pictured, Jenny Hobbs)

Lisa Brenneman, Keota Principal

Keota Jr/Sr High School has made some noticeable changes this year.  These changes are having a positive effect on motivation, how kids learn and overall positive culture throughout the building.

We began by developing a data team structure during the 2011-2012 school year.  A team of lead teachers was identified and worked with Lisa Brenneman, 7-12 Principal, Cory Johnson, then Great Prairie AEA School Psychologist and now School Improvement Specialist, and Sharma Parlett, Great Prairie AEA Regional Director to read and discuss Leaders Make It Happen.  As our team read the book, we began to apply the Data Team principles and developed a plan for implementation of Instructional and Building level teams.  In June 2012, we used Teacher Quality funds to hold a two day retreat for our building leadership team. During this time, we used a variety of data sources to identify areas of focus as well as individual student needs; we also used this time to finalize our plan for Instructional Data Teams which included the creation of 9th Period.

When classes began in August 2012, we implemented our Data Team structure.  Instructional Teams (Language Arts/Social Studies, Science/Math, and Building Culture and Climate) began to meet on a regular basis, approximately twice per month during 9th period.  Our Building Leadership team also met as part of this cycle.  Using our 9th Period structure, our teams were able to begin their meetings at 3:00 (during the regular school day) and end at 4:00 while students were assigned to teachers whose teams were not meeting.  During 2012-2013 our entire staff also received the Data Team training provided by Great Prairie AEA’s Cory Johnson and Jennifer Adams.

The focus of 9th period is not only to provide collaboration time for teachers but also support for students academically on an individual basis.  During this time students have access to all their teachers except on days the teacher’s team is collaborating.

Students are required to stay with teachers that have requested them and if they don’t stay they are truant.  The requests change on a daily basis and mean the student needs reteaching, has missing work, has discipline referrals or needs individual attention from a teacher to improve attitude or level of respect shown to others.

The goal is to feed a positive culture.  The positive is that all students “in good standing” earn privileges.  The junior high students go to the gym for recreation/socialization and high school students may choose to leave or socialize/study with peers.  Each student hangs a calendar inside their locker that tells them each day what is going on and what their options are.

One day a month all students participate in teambuilding activities.  Again, this is designed to improve the culture and relationships between students as well as between students and teachers.  All students participate in building activities no matter what level of standing they are in.

Through the data team structure the teachers identified last period absences for school activities as one of the building issues that needed to be addressed.  The creation of 9th period also solved this problem because in the past they would miss an entire class period.

Flexibility, planning and organization have been the key to the success of our data teams and 9th period.  As a staff, we are always looking for new ways to maximize learning and take full advantage of the time we have with students and teachers at school.

Second Chance Reading (SCR) PD 2013–14

scrgraphicSecond Chance Reading (SCR) Professional Development Opportunities 2013 – 14 

1)    For previously trained Middle School and High School SCR Teachers

Middle and High School Teachers who have already been trained in Second Chance Reading will have two days of continued learning during 2013-2014 in either Ottumwa or Burlington.

Training Purposes:

  • Increasing connections with the Iowa Core English Language Arts Standards for Middle School/High School students;
  • Developing specific lessons/themes of study as Tier II Interventions
  • Increasing the use of technology including 1:1 computers in SCR classrooms; and
  • Collaboratively plan with other middle school and/ or high school SCR teachers.
Register on My Learning Plan – 1 credit

Burlington AEA

Tech Center, Conference C

Ottumwa AEA

Tech Center, Conference B

Day One

Monday, October  14 from 9-3

Monday, October  21 from 9-3

Day Two

Monday, February 24, 2014  from 9-3

Monday, March 3, 2014  from 9-3

2)    NEW SCR Teacher Academy for Middle School and High School SCR Teachers

Middle and High School Teachers who will be added to an existing SCR team or a district that has made a commitment to add Second Chance Reading as a Tier II Intervention with weekly collaborative planning time will have seven days of professional development to learn the routines and the content of SCR.

(This training will include specific Iowa Core English Language Arts connections.)

New SCR Teacher Academy – Ottumwa GPAEA (7 days total)

Register on My Learning Plan- 3 credits



Summer Academy- 4 days

August 5,  6, 7, and 8  9-4 lunch on own

GPAEA – Ottumwa – Auditorium A

Follow up day 1

Monday, September 23  (from 9-3)

GPAEA – Ottumwa– Conference Room A

Follow up day 2

Monday, October 28  (from 9-3)

GPAEA – Ottumwa– Conference Room A

Follow up day 3

Monday, January 27  (from 9-3)

GPAEA – Ottumwa– Conference Room A

Snow date:  Monday, Feb. 3rd      GPAEA- Ottumwa

GPAEA Contact for questions about Second Chance Reading PD or Implementation:

Para Educator Partnership Benefits Local Districts

Great Prairie AEA has provided Para Educator certification courses for 11 years, but this spring we partnered with Southeastern Community College (SCC) and IowaWorks to offer credit and financial assistance.

Great Prairie AEA holds the Department of Education certification process to qualify participants for the Para Educator Certificate, SCC grants post-secondary credit (6 credits for three courses) for those classes, and IowaWorks helps fund qualifying candidates with scholarships. This partnership has benefited local school buildings, teachers and students. 

Para Educator Courses I, II and III are required for certification.  Courses are held at the 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).

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

What is a Para Educator?

Para Educators, in partnership with other staff, support and enhance the education of children. They work under the supervision of teachers, who have the ultimate responsibility for the design and implementation of education. 

Para Educators are assigned to students who have barriers to learning. They may work with small groups of children, or one on one and are often assigned job duties to free up teachers’ time for other instructional tasks.

Other terms:  paraprofessional, educational aide, associate, or instructional aide.

Iowa Youth Survey Results Available

The Iowa Youth Survey results are in!! The state report is available here. Other reports (county, AEA, etc) are available at Superintendents (or a designee) may request local results.

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.

AEAs Impacting Lives – April 2013

AEAs Impacting Lives - DecemberAll of Iowa’s AEAs have received great letters of support from parents who are grateful for the services their children have been provided by AEA staff. For this month’s Impacting Lives update at, we are sharing some letters we’ve received. Thank you to all who have showed support to the AEA system. We are truly honored to provide the services that impact so many students’ lives in Iowa.

My PLN Journey… (Part 2)

 Lisa Jacobs, GPAEA Technology Specialist

Thank you to everyone that contributed to the shared document about your own PLN journey.  It was a great experience to request and receive input from Cornerstone readers and my own PLN group.  You can click on this link to see the actual responses:  Shared PLN Google Document.

A few highlights:

Lisa Jacobs – (GPAEA Instructional Technology Specialist)  A smart phone makes connecting to my PLN much easier- no passwords to remember as you are always connected to email, twitter, facebook, etc.

Sharon Padget (Science Teacher, Ottumwa) Twitter has connected me with so many wonderful people with some of the  best resources.  I have more help than I ever thought possible especially when it comes to gifted kids, special needs kids and ELL kids I believe it has made me a better teacher.

Fran McVeigh (GPAEA Literacy Specialist) About two years ago, I found the group #educoach.  This PLN has the answer to my questions! II finally began blogging at and have had over 2200 readers in six months…

Joel Pedersen (Superintendent, Cardinal CSD) I started to join different chats especially #iaedchat every Sunday night. I have found that Twitter is the main place I go for information on school leadership topics.  I am encouraging everyone in my district to engage and learn more about the power of PLNs. PLNs are truly a “game changer” in my opinion.

Kristin Steingreaber (GPAEA Media Specialist) I’ve been blogging since 2009 at …I follow teacher librarians around Iowa use  #tlchat and I specifically get inspired by Kathy Kaldenberg, a good friend and terrific librarian at Solon – @scsdmedia and of course, national library leader –  Joyce Valenza.  I participate in TLChat once a month. Using online webinars as a way to do PD this year and it’s been working very well with FreeScreenShare. I get a lot of good ideas from Wes Fryer – @wfryer and I often tune in to presentations he is doing around the country, because he’s so good about making them accessible long distance!  (read more from Kris on the shared google site).

Susan Kientz (GPAEA Instructional Technology Coach) My personal PLN (Professional Learning Network)  journey began with the book “Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful Web tools for classrooms” by Will Richardson. … In my personal learning network I follow a variety of people with  many different ideas about how technology should used in the classroom.  I don’t always agree with everything I read but it does open the way to thinking about technology in different way.  One blog I follow is called Free Technology for Teachers by Richard Bryne.  He presents 7 to 8  different web based tools to use in the classroom each day.  He not only tells me about the resource but he also includes a paragraph about how he sees it being used in  classroom…

Lynn Selking (GPAEA Mathematics Specialist) I relax with my Scoop.It. I have found so many interesting things on here.

Jessie Greiner (2nd Grade, Cardinal) Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are my three go tos for my PLN!  Twitter: I started by following a couple of key people who tweeted a lot:  @shannonmiller, @mcleod, and @sbehmer. I followed the people that they followed, plus people I already had in my PLN and I am now following 595 people.  I also set up my Tweetdeck with the hashtags that were most popular.  Now I am able to look for specific hashtags to accommodate what I am needing. Some of my favorite hashtags to follow are: #edchat, #cardinalcomets, #mysteryskype, #skypeintheclassroom, #elemchat, #2ndchat, #edtech and #1to1.  Tweetdeck made a huge difference in my PLN and has helped keep me organized! I find most of my ideas and websites on Twitter, plus it is a great place for me to share with others things I am doing as well.  Pinterest is also a great place to get and give ideas to my PLN.

Sheila Fetter (Cardinal Middle School) One of the first electronic PLN’s I experienced, was  One middle school teacher would create a shared document that we could all access.  It’s let us plan things together, add ideas, etc without all having to be there at the same time.  It accomodated coaching schedules, family schedules, etc.  We now also use it to discuss issues, share information.  Pinterest has become a great place to get ideas both professionally for my classroom and personally for home ideas.I have just recently started tapping into Twitter..

You can click on this link to see the actual responses:  Shared PLN Google Document. The shared document is still open if you want to contribute your own PLN experiences.

Fine Arts in Iowa Core: Research, Practice, Discovery Workshops

May 29th – Ottumwa & June 7th – Burlington 
The Iowa Department of Education will be presenting one-day workshops held at the Great Prairie AEA offices in Ottumwa and Burlington.  The workshops will be an introduction to the Fine Arts alignment to Iowa Core. The workshops are designed to provide arts education/Iowa Core history, supportive arts research, overview of Iowa Core and time for educators to experience lessons and assessments with the fine arts skills and concepts.
The workshops are for arts educators, administrators, and classroom teachers interested in integrating fine arts and universal constructs.

GPAEA’s Summer Institute: Early Literacy & RtI

Summer Institute Flyer 2013If you haven’t already registered and plan to attend GPAEA’s Summer Institute on June 17 & 18, please do so now at No cost, lunch included.

Randy Allison and Shannon Harken will lead two days of Early Literacy and Response to Intervention learning and application. This interactive conference will be beneficial for administrators, educators, and building teams.
GPAEA’s Summer Institute
June 17 & 18, 2013
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Fairfield Arts & Convention Center
200 North Main Street, Fairfield, IA 52556

2013 Sixth Grade Area Math Bee, 5 Teams Advance to State

The Great Prairie AEA Sixth Grade Math Bee was held Friday, April 12, 2013 at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center in Fairfield, Iowa.  The event involved 47 teams from 21 school districts within the Great Prairie AEA region. There were 218 students participating on the building level teams including their team alternates.  The test covers six different areas: Number Sense & Estimation; Patterns & Functions; Geometry& Measurement; Probability & Statistics; Ratio, Proportion & Percent; and a Team Problem Solving Round.

Individual Winners:

Individual Place Name School
1st Hank Hammer Ottumwa Evans Middle
2nd Maggie Voyles Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont CSD
3rd Julia Fairchild Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont CSD
in top 10 Waylon Weirather Central Lee Middle
in top 10 Ben Sheppard Central Lee Middle
in top 10 Wyatt Klyn Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont CSD
in top 10 Laurel Hilger Fairfield Middle
in top 10 Shaleen Thiengmany Mt. Pleasant Middle
in top 10 Makenna Hall Central Lee Middle
in top 10 Jagger Gourley Mediapolis Middle/High
in top 10 Mason Porter New London Jr./Sr. High
in top 10 Rebekah Hartman Ottumwa Evans Middle
Top Alternate Bridget Hayman Burlington Aldo Leopold Middle

Each AEA in Iowa sends the top 10% of their competing teams to the State Competition.  The State Sixth Grade Math Bee is scheduled May 3, 2013 and will be held in Fort Dodge.

The five teams from Great Prairie AEA eligible to participate in the 2013 State Sixth Grade Math Bee include: 

  • Central Lee Middle (1st place team)
  • Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont School District (2nd place team)
  • Ottumwa Evans Middle School
  • Burlington Aldo Leopold Middle School
  • Sigourney Elementary School.

Congratulations to all of the students and those teams advancing to state!

Occupational Therapy Month, April 2013

COTA Deb Mueller working with a student

COTA Deb Mueller working with a student

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.

Thank you to our Great Prairie AEA Occupational Therapists:

  • Karen Aherns
  • Lynn Coppage
  • Carol Havelka
  • Marty Hudson
  • Kathy Jaske-Gardner
  • Amy Ramsey
  • Paula Renard
  • Elise Spronk

We also would like to recognize and thank our Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants:

  • Vonn Gould
  • Ashley Hobbs
  • Joe Hudson
  • Michele Mihalovich
  • Deb Mueller
  • Chris Williams

Continue reading

AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online Blog Updates – April 2013

Go to or for updates or click on the direct article links below. For real time updates, follow AEA PD Online on Twitter @aeapdonline or on your mobile device by accessing our app at

Iowa's AEAs Create Blogs for Online Learning Updates

Iowa's AEAs Create Blogs for Online Learning Updates

GPAEA Schools in the News – April 2013

April 9

April 12

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.

Workshop Highlight! Iowa Core Investigations

Daily, Educators from across the area come together to learn and collaborate with peers. Here is one example!

Over 70 Middle School English Language Arts & Special Education Educators participated in today’s Iowa Core Investigations Workshops in Burlington & Ottumwa. Educators had an opportunity to take an in-depth look at the Iowa Core literacy standards, progressions across grade levels and the unique needs of all students. These standards represent the content that should be present in the universal instruction all students receive. Participants also discussed the implications that these standards will have on instruction and assessment. A great day of learning and collaborating!