GPAEA Professional Development 2013-14

A primary school teacherThe professional development staff would like to welcome everyone back and we encourage you to peruse our online course catalog.  Some fall offerings are posted and more will be added, including some brand new courses!  Click here to visit our online course catalog.
Professional Development Contacts:
Katie Gavin, Administrator of Professional Services
800-382-8970 Ext. 1267 Burlington & Ottumwa Office
Julie Hannam, Registrar
800-622-0027 Ext. 5239 Ottumwa Office
Megan Cramblet, Professional Development Secretary
800-382-8970 Ext. 1261 Burlington Office
Paraeducator Generalist Certificate Courses
Great Prairie AEA offers the Paraeducator Generalist Certificate Program in three 30-hour courses.  All three courses are blended format and involve an online component .  The focus of paraeducator training includes behavior management, skills to work with students, and roles and responsibilities.
Currently, the next scheduled set of courses will be held at the GPAEA office in Ottumwa and are scheduled to begin in February.  Please visit our online course catalog for more information or to register.
Paraeducator Level II Courses
For Paraeducators who already hold a Generalist Certificate and would like to advance to a Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration, Great Prairie has two different Level II courses planned.  These courses may be used for recertification hours to renew Paraeducator certificates.

GPAEA Represented on Governor’s Task Force

Tami Plein, Science Specialist – adapted from New state task force to review science standards, August 15, 2013

Carleigh and Aaron preparing to participate in the opening task force activity.

Carleigh and Aaron preparing to participate in the opening task force activity.

The Next Generation Science Standards Task Force met for the first time on Wednesday, Aug. 21 in Des Moines. Among the 28 Iowans who will be serving on a state task force were Carleigh Cass and Aaron Willis, Central Lee Middle School students, and Ken Harrison, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Chariton Community School District.

The new science standards represent a multi-state effort to develop a common set of learning expectations in science for students in kindergarten through high school. The Next Generation Science Standards are internationally benchmarked and identify science and engineering practices and content with a focus on preparing students in kindergarten through 12th grade to go to college or to enter the workforce. The standards were released in April and are available for voluntary adoption in states.

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Student Events 2013-14 – Save the Date!

Elementary school pupilGreat Prairie AEA offers a number of student activities for area students.

Future Problem Solving

  • Location: Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA
  • Registration: December 2013
  • Event day: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Young Writers’ Conference

  • Location: William Penn University, Oskaloosa, IA
  • Secondary Day for grades 7-12: Tuesday, March 4, 2014
  • Elementary Day for grades 3-6: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
  • Registration materials available: Nov/Dec. 2013
  • Registration closes: Friday, January 24, 2013

History Day 

  • Location: Fairfield Arts & Convention CenterFairfield, IA
  • (2 Judges needed)
  • Intent to Participate: December 2, 2014
  • Registration closes:  Wednesday, February 19, 2014
  • Event day: Friday, March 14, 2014
  • Paper & Website Deadline: Weds. February 26, 2014
  • 2014 Theme: Rights and Responsibilities

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Library Programs – Planned!

Kristin Steingreaber, Media Specialist

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The following definition is included in Iowa Code 281—12.2(256)

“Library program” means an articulated sequential kindergarten through grade 12 library or media program that enhances student achievement and is integral to the school district’s curricula and instructional program. The library program is planned and implemented by a qualified teacher librarian working collaboratively with the district’s administration and instructional staff. The library program services provided to students and staff shall include the following:

  1. Support of the overall school curricula;
  2. Collaborative planning and teaching;
  3. Promotion of reading and literacy;
  4. Information literacy instruction;
  5. Access to a diverse and appropriate school library collection; and
  6. Learning enhancement through technologies.

Central to the meaning behind a library program, is that it isn’t an activity or a one-time event, but instead planned instruction to help our students and teachers be successful in our communities. Decisions have to be made each school year on instruction. Back to school for teacher librarians is not about stamping new books, so much as it is making sure connections are being made between resources and learning in school.

Example One – Support of the overall school curricula / Collaborative planning and teaching 

Following best practice to provide students experiences with close reading, teachers are looking for short passages that students can “read with a pencil” or electronic marking system like the app Skitch. Students are to identify what is confusing and watch for patterns that help them with their understanding. Guidance from reading professionals in the field suggests giving students the chance to struggle a bit.

Teacher librarians are ready to help teachers find those short passages including:

  • Daily articles from Student News Net (available in multiple lexile levels)
  • Short passages from Rosen Power Knowledge Science Suite – Life Science, Physical Science and Earth & Space
  • Sections of Britannica articles
  • Selections from EBSCO’s Poetry & Short Story Collection
  • Working with classroom teachers, they are able to identify the best close reading resource for the content area.

Teacher librarians can show students how to use the Skitch app and make sure it is added to each Kuno tablet or iPad. It is also possible that continuing on work they did last year with a particular class, the students are ready to use Skitch without new instruction.

Teacher librarians like classroom teachers, make adjustments in their instruction based on the concept of a library program.

Example Two – Learning enhancement through technologies 

The following scenario is being played out in schools around our AEA. Last year, the teacher librarian helped classroom teachers and 6th grade students create their own Visual Thesaurus accounts. This year, as 7th graders, a quick reminder of how to use the site will be enough.

It’s time to register the new class of 6th graders! This ongoing practice and continued use of this rich resource helps students understand that the resource Visual Thesaurus is one they can use for several years to help them with their writing vocabulary.

As of August 19, 2013, we have 2632 student accounts in Visual Thesaurus –

Students also participate in the curriculum through the Rosen CyberSmarts program. A series of 5 ebooks, the titles are: Protecting Your Privacy Online; Stopping Cyberbullying; Using Social Networks; Playing Games Online and Avoiding Predators Online. Teacher librarians begin each year working through the interactive books, videos and lessons with students.

For schools just passing out their Kuno Tablets to 3rd through 5th graders, CyberSmarts is part of the library’s planned instruction to help students in their new online learning environment.

Example Three – Promotion of Reading and Literacy

Key to this example is that this is a program! The Kindergarten and 1st grade students are working on Phonemic Awareness. Ready with rhyming games, nursery rhymes and other resources, the teacher librarians have also read professional materials from authors including Timothy Shanahan.

The Music & Rhyme ebooks in BookFlix include Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault and Let’s Have Fun with Alphabet Riddles A to Z are on their list of books to share with students.

A colleague, Kathy Kaldenberg, has renamed her E (sometimes called Easy or Everybody) books to “Read, Read, Read.” The enthusiasm is clear, even in the naming of this section of the library. You will also notice that Michelle Bentler, Middle School Teacher Librarian at Fort Madison uses the “Read, Read, Read” label for her website where she promotes great reading ideas.

Teacher Librarians are always looking for new ways to promote reading and literacy. Two inspired Middle School examples from the summer:

  • Pair your graphic novels in Middle School display with Picture Books.
  • Think about creating videos – students can produce their own book trailers and have them displayed on the library TV.

Library Programs – Planned! is the first in a series of articles by Kristin Steingreaber, 2013-14.

Iowa’s AEAs Launch Statewide Pinterest Site


Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) are pleased to announce the launch of a statewide Pinterest site,

The Iowa’s AEAs Pinterest site is a collaborative project of Iowa’s nine AEAs. The site is maintained by AEA consultants from all over the state who specialize in different curriculum and instructional areas. The over 35 pinning boards provide a visual, dynamic forum which informs parents, educators and school administrators about AEA programs and resources, as well as other quality, credible ideas and resources relating to education.

Not yet using Pinterest? Click here for a helpful guide on creating an account and using the social media site.

For more information, contact the Great Prairie AEA Communications Department at

Register for RESPECT Training

photoThe Parent Educator Coordinator Program is offering RESPECT training this fall. We will pay the parent/guardian of a child with a disability attending school in Great Prairie AEA $50 per day to attend the 4 day training. We will also pay districts $100 per day for educators to attend, this fee will cover the cost of a substitute teacher. Grad Credit, CEU’s and Teacher re-licensure is available.

Register at

GPAEA Welcomes New Staff 2013

Please help us welcome the following new staff members to Great Prairie AEA!

Email addresses follow the format:

  • Dr. Deb Cook, Regional Director – Albia Office
  • Hollie Couch, Early ACCESS Home Interventionist – Burlington Office
  • Shannon Dameron, School Social Worker – Fairfield Office
  • Charlene Doyle, Four Plus Instructor, Ottumwa Office
  • Sandi Durand, Speech‐Language Pathologist – Mt. Pleasant Office
  • Jennifer Funk, School Psychologist – Keokuk Office
  • Ellie Hamilton, Assistive Technology Specialist – Ottumwa Office
  • Lori Hugen, Special Education Consultant – Albia Office
  • Dan Kallaus, Audiologist – Ottumwa Office
  • Lollie Krogmeier, Van Driver/Media Clerk – Burlington Office
  • Madison Mershon, Speech‐Language Pathologist – Burlington Office
  • Brenda Nelson, Speech‐Language Pathologist – Burlington Office
  • Jacob Phillips, Programmer – Ottumwa Office
  • Christine Riegel, Speech‐Language Pathologist – Fairfield Office
  • Linda Shields, Reading Specialist – Fairfield Office
  • Tina Snyder, Accounting Services Specialist – Ottumwa Office
  • Shanah Sullivan, Occupational Therapist – Burlington Office
  • Dyan Sundermeyer, Reading Specialist – Burlington Office
  • Doreen Underwood, Diverse Learners Specialist – Keokuk Office
  • Joe Whalen, Occupational Therapist – Mt. Pleasant Office
  • Tina Whalen, Special Education Consultant – Mt. Pleasant Office
  • Rowene White, Speech‐Language Pathologist – Albia Office
  • Caleb Wiegmann, Speech‐Language Pathologist – Albia Office
  • Nathan Wood, Regional Director – Oskaloosa Office A new era for Iowa’s education marketplace

Searching for an education job or candidate just became easier in Iowa. The state has launched a new online education job posting system,, which simplifies the process of connecting teaching candidates with job openings, makes hiring and applying for jobs more efficient, and reduces costs. The system is provided at no charge to users. allows candidates to view all education job listings in Iowa and to upload their individual profiles for employers around the state to see. The system also reduces paperwork because job candidates will no longer be expected to fill out an application for each job opening. displays all job listings in public schools, area education agencies, and participating nonpublic schools, as well as positions at the Iowa Department of Education and at the Board of Educational Examiners. Individuals can apply for jobs through an online application process.

In the past, schools lacked one marketplace to connect with and recruit teachers and other employees. broadens and diversifies the pool of job candidates statewide. This gives school administrators the tools they need to choose the right candidate for a teaching position.

Schools eventually will be able to verify quickly that a job candidate is properly licensed and endorsed because the system will be tied to state education licensing information. reduces costs and saves money for school districts and AEAs to direct to other educational needs.

The system is part of the Teach Iowa Initiative, a component of the 2013 education reform law that aims to attract top talent into the teaching pipeline. is managed by the Iowa Department of Education and the Board of Educational Examiners.

For more information, please visit or contact Marietta Rives at or 515-281-6038 or Julie Carmer at or 515-281-7144.