The Cornerstone – April 2014

Enjoy this month’s The Cornerstone by scrolling down or clicking on an article below.

Summer Institute 2014 – MTSS: Literacy & Student Engagement

Summer Institute 2014 Postcard_Page_1Join us for Great Prairie AEA’s 2nd Annual Summer Institute! Two outstanding keynote speakers will help educators review and plan for working in systems that involve multi-tier systems of support (MTSS) for students in the areas of early literacy and student engagement.

June 16 & June 17, 2014 • 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Register now at
No cost. Recertification Credit available. Lunch included.


Mission Possible: Teaching Literacy to All Students
Shannon Harken, Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant, Heartland AEA

Literacy includes a skill set upon which all formal education depends. Students need to be taught in an organized, systematic, efficient way by knowledgeable teachers using a well-designed instructional approach.

Secondary Systems for All
Beth Steenwyk, System Design Facilitator & Implementation Consultant

High School graduation is a significant marker of achievement in a young person’s life and a critical factor for success in postsecondary life. The journey toward graduation begins long before a student even enters secondary school. This strand will explore the following topics; challenges and solutions to creating secondary school cultures that meaningfully engage and support ALL learners.

An opportunity you don’t want to miss! 

Download the PDF flier.

STEM Festival for Students & Teachers – April 26 in Burlington

Burlington.Festival.Save.The.Date.register.lg.posterAre you into exploring, building, and testing?  Are you ready to have fun and learn?

Come to the 2014 Southeast Iowa STEM Festival on Saturday, April 26th from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa.

Join local experienced scientists, engineers, teachers and education experts as they allow you to explore, examine, design, build, watch and test all kinds of experiments!

Pre-register today and get entered to win an iPad mini and other prizes. To pre-register visit  Pre-registration is not required, but is encouraged. The STEM Festival is also looking for older youth and adult volunteers for the event; if you are interested in volunteering you can do so at the above website.

The STEM Festival is organized by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, in partnership with Southeastern Community College, Great Prairie AEA and many local economic development and community groups, including ISU Extension & Outreach.

Click here to download a pdf poster of the event.

History Day 2014: “Rights and Responsibilities in History”

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by Shannon Johnson, GPAEA Instructional Secretary

On March 14, 2014, 240 students, grades 6-8 (Junior Division) and grades 9-12 (Senior Division) from 13 districts and 1 non-public participated in Great Prairie AEA’s National History Day contest held at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA.

These students shared their research regarding this year’s theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in History.” We have talented and gifted and social studies teachers in our local schools who believe their students strongly benefit from participating in National History Day. With a new theme each year, students research history and learn about a person, place, or event. Rules and guidelines are set for consistency for student entries. Selecting a topic is usually the hardest part. Understanding the theme is important and National History Day has a structured curriculum for teachers to assist students to learn about history, while collecting research, sharing their views, learning to write a bibliography and a process paper. This curriculum guides students to share and illustrate their thoughts as an individual or in a group. Once students find their topic to support the theme, they decide how they will best share their research, either in a exhibit, documentary, performance, historical paper or a website. Many different skills are expressed and learned to illustrate the person, place or event in history based on the category students chose to enter.

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Young Writers’ Conference 2014 a success!

Shannon Johnson, Great Prairie AEA Instructional Secretary


Jude Mandell and student, Paige Munson

The 2014 Young Writers’ Conference was held March 4th (for Secondary day grades 6-12) and March 5th (for Elementary day grades 3-6) on the William Penn Campus in Oskaloosa to honor student writers. With the cold and snowy days leading up to the event, even the snow on Elementary day could not keep the teachers and students away. There were 252 secondary students and 27 teachers from 14 districts in attendance, as well as 510 elementary students with 79 teachers and parent volunteers from 24 districts and 2 non-public schools. It provided an opportunity for young authors to share their writing with peers, and introduced them to professional authors, teachers, storytellers, and other communicators. Students also attended workshops and writing activities.

Jude Mandell, educator, TV-performer, improv-actor/singer from Chicago, presented on Secondary day. Jude read sections from her books and shared her writing experiences as a teacher and as an author. She shared her journey of writing her biography of “Super Sport Star Gary Payton,” and Princess Dragonblood in “Half-Human,” as well as her book of plays “A Thoroughly Modern Rapunzel.” Then she worked with the students on building characters. Jude spent the last part of her session going through an exercise building from pictures she shared with the students while asking them questions. Students worked in teams to sort their ideas. She shared that building a character is based on motivation, point of view and personal environment, and that a character needs a full name and items in their possession to tell a story. What secret is the character hiding? What scares them the most? What do they desperately want? All these things drive their experiences. Their choices, obstacles and struggles are what build the character. The character gets smarter and grows emotionally to attract the readers to find out more about them. At the end of the exercise, a few students shared their new character with the group. The day was a success. One student, Paige Munson, Ft. Madison Middle School (pictured above with Jude) was inspired and anxious to share her experiences.

Dori Hillistead Butler, an author from Coralville, Iowa presented on Elementary day. Dori is known for her books, “The Buddy Files: Case of the Lost Boy” and “Trading Places with Tank Talbott.” She has a new series coming this summer, “The Haunted Library.” She shared how she wrote some of her books using her dog Mouse and her two sons’ experiences as inspiration. Dori shared with the students how long it took her to get books published, how many rejections she received and where she writes. She also shared her “Top 10 List” or the top 10 things she is asked most often. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity for Dori to come present since living in Coralville before her family relocates to Seattle, Washington. Students enjoyed visiting with her and having her sign their purchased copies at the event.

There were breakout sessions on calligraphy, performance, poetry, puppetry, telling pet stories, on-line self-publishing, getting published, writing workshops, and many others.
A special “thank you” goes out to our presenters who helped make this conference a memorable experience for all participants, our teacher and parent volunteers, William Penn University and staff, and Jane Broeg of Great Prairie AEA for making 2014 a success!
It was an exciting day full of rich experiences, helping students to discover new ideas that will spark their writing!

Flipped Classroom Workshop in April

Flipped Classroom GPAEA flyer one pageFlipped Classroom Workshop Dates:

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (Burlington)
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 (Ottumwa)

This Flipped Media workshop introduces the tools and methodologies used by effective teachers to flip their classrooms.  The use of technology tools to create high quality educational videos will also support learning in 1 to 1 environments, technology enhanced classrooms, blended learning, and professional development.  The session will be facilitated by trainers from JDL Horizons and EduVison.

Concepts featured can be used with a variety of technology tools you may already have.  A 30-day demo version of Camtasia and Snagit software will be provided for all participants. A special purchase for Snagit/Camtasia License Bundle with three years maintenance is being offered for $19.97 for each teacher and $19.97 per three students.  This bundle can be purchased with Microsoft funding if added to your school options prior to the end of March.

GPAEA is also hosting a Relay Server that will allow very easy one-click upload of video taken from hand-held devices such as iPads, iPhones, and androids devices to the district’s EduVision Channel. The free Relay app will be made available for download at the class.

There is no registration fee to attend the workshop, but participants must pre-register using My Learning Plan.  Search for “Flipped Classroom” and select the Burlington or Ottumwa site.

For more information about the sessions, please contact:

Lisa Jacobs, GPAEA Instructional Technology Specialist 1-800-622-0027 or 641-682-8591 ext. 5257 or email

Click here to download the PDF.

GPAEA Professional Development Opportunities – April & May

GPAEA has professional development opportunities scheduled for April and May. Some deadlines for minimum enrollment are this week, so register soon!


  • Social Media and You (evening class)
  • Para Educator Certification Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: Library, Media & Technology (Saturday and evening classes)
  • Wheel Thrown Pottery II (weekend and evening classes)
  • Painting Layering Up (Saturday classes)
  • ABA Strategies and Curriculum: Using STAR Program to Support Students with Autism
  • Substitute Authorization (evening class)

Workshops and Other Trainings:

  • EduVision: The Force Behind The Flipped Classroom Workshop
  • Instructional Shifts and your Social Studies Curriculum – Getting started!

Please visit our online course catalog to register.

Paraeducator & Substitute Authorization Courses

Paraeducator Certification Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: Library, Media & Technology

Participants will develop skills and strategies in library, media and technology to support school library goals including literacy development, information skills and technology integration. Participants will demonstrate understanding of the role of the paraprofessional in supporting the goals of the school library program and the school curriculum.

Target Audience: K-12 Paraprofessionals. All participants in the Level II Generalist with Area of Concentration: Library, Media and Technology must have successfully completed the Paraeducator General Program.

April 26 and May 17 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (Saturdays)
May 5 and May 12 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm (Monday evenings)

Location: Great Prairie AEA office in Ottumwa

Deadline for minimum registration is April 4th, so register soon!

Substitute Authorization Course

The course is designed to enable participants to become competent in the skills necessary to successfully substitute in Iowa’s secondary classrooms. The substitute authorization must be renewed every three years. Renewal requirements for the substitute authorization consist of a minimum of two renewal credits and completion of an approved child and dependent adult abuse training program.

A substitute authorization allows an individual with a baccalaureate degree to substitute in a middle school, junior high school, or high school (grades 6 -12) for no more than five consecutive days in one job assignment.

An individual who holds a Paraeducator 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.

Target Audience: Individuals that hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution or holds a paraeducator certificate from an approved paraeducator certification program.

April 17, 22, 24, & 29 and May 1
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Location: Great Prairie AEA office in Burlington

Deadline for minimum registration is April 10th, so register soon!

Key Survey Ending

Great Prairie AEA’s subscription to Key Survey will be ending on June 30, 2014. Data shows a decline in usage over the last two years. Presently, there are a number of free and available online survey tools such as, Google Forms, Survey Monkey, and others that schools are using.

Any school that has used Key Survey in the past needs to login and copy and/or export any data or surveys that might remain in the system. For login assistance or questions contact Cathy Humble at or 800-622-0027 x5250.

GPAEA Professional Development Courses – Summer 2014

Professional Development courses for this summer are now available for registration through our online course catalog (MyLearningPlan). More courses will be added to the catalog as we receive them.

To visit the catalog:

If you are an instructor interested in offering a course, please get your syllabus in as soon as possible. If you have questions, please contact Megan Cramblet at

World Autism Awareness Day – April 2, 2014

Logo_WAADThe seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2014. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. How will you celebrate? To share your events, photos and Autism Kindness Acts (#AKA) with us by tagging your social media posts with #GPAEA.

Today, 1 in 68 American children is diagnosed with autism. Great Prairie AEA provides consultative support for children birth through 21 years of age who are identified with and Autism Spectrum Disorder or who demonstrate autism-like characteristics. Learn more about our services at

Help light the world blue this April!

Learn more about World Autism Awareness Day at

AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Update – March 2014

The March blog updates for AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online are 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



Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds to hold Southeast Region STEM town hall meeting on March 6

Iowa STEM logoLt. Governor Kim Reynolds to hold Southeast Region STEM town hall meeting

Thursday, March 6, 2014 
2:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. 
Mount Pleasant Middle School 
400 North Adams Street 
Mount Pleasant, Iowa 

** The event is free and open to the public.
Please feel free to invite friends and neighbors.** 

For More Information Contact:
Nick Crawford

Download the flier: Mount Pleasant STEM Town Hall

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