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Technology and the 4Cs: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking

by Jane Trotter, GPAEA Instructional Technology Coach

Last Spring, 31 area public school districts and four non-public districts participated in GPAEA’s BrightBytes Survey. This survey provided valuable data that reflects the use of technology in our area schools. All data generated through this survey is analyzed using the BrightBytes framework, “CASE,” representing Classroom, Access, Skills, and Environment.  For the purpose of this article, I am only looking at the classroom data. The Classroom section displays how often and to what degree teachers and students are using technology.

The illustration below is a screenshot of the classroom data aggregated from all GPAEA districts that participated in the survey.  Do you see what I see?  What draws your attention? My eyes jump to the gray bar – “Teachers’ Use of the 4Cs”.  The 4Cs are communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.  They directly align with Universal Constructs found in the Iowa Core.  Does this data cause you alarm?

What does technology bring to us that will enable our students to develop communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking skills?  As I have been researching and preparing to write this article I have amassed lots and lots of resources. I will share a list at the end of this article but first I’d like to  share an experience I had with technology this morning. Hopefully it will illustrate the power of technology and the 4Cs.

Continue reading

Make Google+ Part of Your Professional Learning Network

By Seth Denney, Instructional Technology Specialist 

google plus buttonWhat is Google+?

Google+ ( is a social network, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Like other social networks, Google+ lets you connect and communicate with other people.  You can share ideas, pictures, videos, and websites with others.  You can also find interesting ideas, pictures, videos, and websites from others.  You can learn from experts in your field, ask them questions, and give them feedback.  You could even become an expert in your field, and share your vast knowledge with the world!

screenshotWhy should I use Google+?

I have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and several other social networking accounts.  When Google+ came along, I wondered if I really needed one more social network.  I now use Google+ more than any other social network.  Here are my reasons:

1.  It’s a great learning tool
I use my Google+ account for professional learning and sharing.  Almost anybody who is anybody in my line of work is on Google+.  And they seem to use it more heavily than Facebook or LinkedIn.  Several people in my field have almost quit posting on Twitter and use Google+ exclusively. Continue reading

Looking for a quick video tutorial to find out more about online databases?

We have that for you!SNAP SNN tutorial-arrows

Login to SNAP, and check for the name of your online database
or search under the Advanced Search under the Media Type:  database links.

You will find a short description of the database along with a link to the website and a short tutorial.

GPAEA TV - SNNThe Tutorial link takes you to the direct video clip in GPAEA TV Eduvision –

Area Teachers and AEA Consultants Present at State Conference

by Vicki Parker, Early Childhood Consultant

Great Prairie AEA staff and area Preschool teachers presented 3 sessions at the annual IAEYC conference held in Altoona.

ec4Dawn Johnson (Kids World Day Care and Preschool in Centerville) teamed with Early Childhood Consultants, Anne Michel and Vickie Parker, to present a 90 minute session entitled, “Got Dirt?: Gardening across the Curriculum”  The session, which was attended by 40 participants, highlighted Inquiry Based learning using the Project Approach to enhance learning and meet Iowa Early Learning Standards.  Participants had the opportunity to observe worms and received instructions on how to make a compost bin.

Making the Shift-A Panel of Teachers Using the Project Approach Along the Continuum from Novice to Experienced

Panel members shared their experience in moving from teaching using themes to The Project Approach.  Panel members also fielded a variety of questions from an enthusiastic audience. Continue reading

Area Teacher Receives State Recognition from IAEYC

Dawn Johnson

Dawn Johnson

by Vicki Parker, Early Childhood Consultant

Each year the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC) offers the opportunity for members to develop into Association leaders through Leadership Fellowships valued at $4000-5000 per person. Leadership Fellowships are designed to support a member in earning graduate level college credits, attend an out-of-state conference, or create a special project for their own professional development.  Dawn Johnson State Wide Voluntary 4 year old Preschool teacher @ Kids World Day Care and Preschool in Centerville was one of two recipients of the 2013-2014 Fellowship award. Dawn was recognized at the annual IAEYC conference held in September. Dawn is working on her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Curriculum and Instruction, and developing a cohort to support Project the Approach in southeast Iowa.

30th Annual Write Women Back Into History Essay Contest

business woman clappingThe Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education 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 “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.” 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 learn more about women in these fields.

The contest is open to students in grades 6–9. Winning essayists will be awarded prizes and recognized at a special ceremony at the State Capitol during Women’s History Month, and each finalist will receive a certificate signed by the governor. They also will be introduced in the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives. All winners will receive some cash prize, names will be released to the press, and a special effort will be made to inform media outlets in the students’ communities of their honors.

The best essay on Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math will receive book prizes and cash prizes as well.

The deadline for entries is January 24, 2014. Guidelines and entry forms can be found at Contact Sanjita Shrestha at ICSW for more information at 515-281-4219, 800-5584427 or

AEAs on Air – hangout and learn

aea_final2_C6A2E8EA1554FIowa’s AEAs are teaming up to provide a series of mini-webinars this year.  A shout-out to all AEA technology integration consultants who are providing leadership and making this happen!

These short sessions will run at various times throughout the day and will cover the topics around themes: English Language Arts, STEM, Digital Learning Day: Resources for MTSS/TRI, iPads. These Google Hangouts on Air will only be 10-20 minutes and run throughout the day. Visit the website to check out the hangout schedule! The hangouts will be recorded and posted on the page with resources so if you can’t attend live you can always go back and watch later.


  • November 7 – English/ Language Arts
  • December 13 – STEM
  • February 5 – Digital Learning Day! Resources to support MTSS/RTI
  • April 3 – Happy Birthday iPad!

AEA PD Online & AEA K-12 Online Updates – November 2013

AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online’s November Blog Update is now available. 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 – November 2013

A list of the November 2013 headlines featuring a Great Prairie AEA School District:

Did we miss something? Send your school news to

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.

American Education Week—November 18-22, 2013

aew2013-450x120NEA’s American Education Week presents all Americans with an opportunity to honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. The week long celebration spotlights the different people who are critical in building great public schools for the nation’s 50 million K-12 students. American Education Week’s celebration days include:

  • Monday, November 18: National Kickoff. Schools across the country will celebrate excellence in education by hosting kickoff events and activities.
  • Tuesday, November 19: Parents Day. Schools will invite parents into the classroom for a firsthand look at what the school day is like for their children.
  • Wednesday, November 20: Education Support Professionals Day. Individuals who provide invaluable services to schools are recognized for their outstanding work.
  • Thursday, November 21: Educator for a Day. Community leaders will be invited to  experience the day as educators and to experience the challenges of teaching and the needs of students.
  • Friday, November 22: Substitute Educators Day. This day honors the educators who are called upon to replace regularly employed teachers.

To help plan and promote American Education Week’s celebration days, NEA is offering an online toolkit, complete with promotional materials, activity ideas, and downloadable templates. For more information on American Education Week and to download material from the toolkit, visit

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.

Districts need your help to receive grants

Cardinal – Stanley Security Grant:

The school with the most votes will win a Grand Prize of $200,000 in STANLEY Security installed products and services to help secure their school. Three runners-up will receive individual prizes of $100,000 in STANLEY Security installed products and services. Each vote counts as an entry for your school to win daily prizes, so encourage members of your school and community to spread the word and vote daily! Vote through December 13th.

Two Ways to Vote for Your Favorite School:
Text 99222 “Cardinal High School Eldon Iowa” to vote or log on and Vote for Cardinal.

Mediapolis – Midwest Living Magazine’s Dream-it Do-it Grant:

Mediapolis is one of 5 finalists for Midwest Living Magazine’s dream-it do-it grant competition.  We are the only finalist from the state of Iowa.  If we win, we will receive $5000 for our outdoor classroom. The finalist with the most votes will win, so we need your help.  Please go to  to vote today.  You can vote once per email address.  Voting closes November 15th.   Make sure to vote again after you enter you name, email, etc. for your vote to count.  Send this to all your friends, coworkers, neighbors, and relatives to help us win $5000 for our school.

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.