FTC Robotics, with the help of 3D printing, at Cardinal High School

Danae Moses, Student, FTC Robotics Team

This is the first year Cardinal High School has been a part of the First Tech Challenge (FTC) program. It has been a great learning experience for all the students who have been a part of it. Our team first had to come up with a design, build the robot, program the robot, and make sure it met all of the parameters. We did this over a period of months. To help build and design our robot, we used our own 3D printer to build pieces for it! Our teacher, Mr. Olson, received a grant that allowed our school to get the 3D printer. This printer really helped our team as we changed our design to improve our robot.

Our team was comprised of nine seniors, two juniors, and one sophomore. At the beginning of the year when we decided to enter into FTC, we split into groups to specifically focus on certain areas of the competition. We had certain people designing the robot, building it, programming it, looking over the rules of FTC, and three girls on our team were focused on marketing. We met once a week during our calculus class. We went to three competitions. This being our first year as a group, we were focused on learning about the program to succeed even more next year. Overall, our group was fairly successful. At the regional tournament, our team went 3-3. We all greatly enjoyed being able to work with each other and brainstorm ideas of how to make the best robot we possibly could. Our group looks forward to improving and winning even more next year!

April is Autism Awareness Month

coltonToday, 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 http://www.gpaea.org/en/services/autism/.

Light it Up BLUE on April 2 – World Autism Day

The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2015. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. How will you celebrate? Use #LIUB to share your experience accross social media and help light the world up blue this April!

To learn more visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/LIUB

GPAEA Success Stories

Young Writers Conference 2015

Carol Ryon, Young Writers Conference Coordinator


The 2015 Young Writers Conference is now over for another year.  It was held at William Penn University on March 12th and 13th.  Approximately 700 student writers invaded the campus to share their writing with their peers, listen to interesting keynote speakers, and attend interesting workshops.  Sixteen districts were represented on the elementary day with 380 students and 50 teachers, associates and parent volunteers. On the secondary day, seventeen districts and 35 teachers, associates and parent volunteers participated. Continue reading

Professional Development Opportunities – April 2015

Business teamworkAs educators, we are constantly striving to learn new skills and strategies that will improve student learning. Great Prairie AEA programs are coordinated to enhance the professional, personal, and organizational staff development needs of LEA and AEA staff. These include credit courses, leadership development programs, support staff workshops, school improvement institutes, paraeducator certification and internal staff development.

Click here to register via MyLearningPlan and search for the courses listed below.

  • April 7 – Para Educator Course I – BURLINGTON
  • April 7 – Vocabulary: Making It Meaningful – BURLINGTON
  • April 8 – Secondary Transition Planning for Educators and Families – BURLINGTON
  • April 9 – Poverty and Learning: Breaking Through the Achievement Gap – BURLINGTON
  • April 9 – Nine Essential Skills for the Love & Logic Classroom BASIC – MT. PLEASANT
  • April 9 – Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Initial Training Workshop – BURLINGTON
  • April 16 – Substitute Authorization (Grades K-12) – BURLINGTON
  • April 18 – Social Media and You – BURLINGTON
  • April 18 – Para Educator Course II – BURLINGTON
  • April 21 – Positive Intervention and Effective Strategies for Classroom Management Challenging Behaviors Workshop (The Behavior Doctor) – FAIRFIELD
  • April 22 – Teacher Librarian Spring Workshop – OTTUMWA
  • April 23 – Building Literacy in Social Studies (Year 1) – OTTUMWA

Science Clubhouse Workshops for K-2 (Integrating Science with Reading and Writing)

Shared Gail Wortmann and Lindsey Wortmann

sciclubThe Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a game-changer for science at the elementary level.  They are performance standards – the students must “do science” in order to show attainment.  Because the science standards need to be worked into the very busy day in an elementary classroom, it is imperative they be integrated with reading and writing workshops and not treated as a separate subject.  The Science Clubhouse Workshop lessons include all NGSS performance standards for each grade level (K-2).  Participants will work through all lessons, practicing the hands on science investigations and tying them to related books and writing assignments aligned with the Common Core.

On March 24th, the Iowa Department of Education announced the members of the state team charged with reviewing Iowa’s science standards agreed the Next Generation Science Standards will be the basis for their work on a final recommendation to the State Board of Education.  The details have not been decided, but the direction is clear.

The Science Clubhouse Workshop courses will help teachers prepare for student attainment of the Next Generation Science Standards as a part of an integrated reading/writing workshop.  Teachers will experience science and engineering practices, learn about cross-cutting concepts, review big ideas in science, and identify where the standards fit into a K-12 science scope and sequence.  The target audience for this course includes kindergarten, first and second grade teachers, science consultants/specialists, instructional coaches, technology coaches, STEM coaches, and pilot teachers.

All courses will be held at Great Prairie AEA (Ottumwa) in Auditorium A/B from 8:00-4:00.  Each participant will need to bring a laptop or tablet to access course materials.

The Science Clubhouse Workshop integrated science, reading, and writing workshops are now open for registration.

All courses will be held at Great Prairie AEA (Ottumwa) in Auditorium A/B from 8:00-4:00. Each participant will need to bring a laptop or tablet to access course materials.

Iowa Teacher of the Year nominations due April 25

TOYLogoBlueGray250x190Thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students, but only one is chosen annually as the state’s top teacher. The deadline to nominate the 2016 Iowa Teacher of the Year is April 25.

The award is an opportunity to recognize an exceptional Iowa teacher who is helping to redefine education. Nominations will be accepted from anyone, including students, parents, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members and associations.

Nomination forms can be found on the Iowa Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year webpage.

The Iowa Teacher of the Year award was established in 1958. The annual program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature.

The Teacher of the Year serves as an ambassador to education and as a liaison to primary and secondary schools, higher education and organizations across the state.

Clemencia Spizzirri, a middle-school Spanish teacher from the Des Moines Public Schools, was named the 2015 Teacher of the Year.

The 2016 Teacher of the Year will be announced this fall.

Originally shared on educateiowa.gov.

Para Educator courses in Burlington to start soon!

Schoolchildren and their teacher reading in primary classEarn your Para Educator Certificate (Click on course to register):

Individuals seeking Para Educator Certification (Para I, II, III are required for certification plus Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and a Federal Bureau of Investigation background check for a fee of ($65, and $40 license fee) due upon completion of all three courses. Approved for Renewal credits for Sub-Authorization but not for Para-certified with a Sub-Authorization. 2 Southeastern Community College credits are optional for an additional fee of $20.00 which has been add to the Para-Educator plus SCC credit option that you must choose when you register.

GPAEA Schools in the News – March 2015

Post updated throughout the month. Did we miss something? Send your school news to jennifer.woodley@gpaea.org.

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.

GPAEA’s Summer Institute Series

Join us for our Summer Institute Series. Information and registration links below.

June 8 & 9: Leading and Sustaining the Work of the Collaborative Team Process

STPLC SI 2015 Postcard_Page_1

Join Solution Tree Consultant, Tim Brown in learning how to lead the work of collaborative teams.

Tim Brown will guide your teams in answering the following questions:

  • How will you establish common understandings and expectations for collaboration across your system (district, school, & teacher teams)?
  • How will you train collaborative team leaders?
  • What does the work of a collaborative team look like?
  • What is the role of common assessments in the work of the collaborative team?
  • What is your long-range plan for implementing a collaborative system?
  • How will you monitor, support, and evaluate the effectiveness of the collaborative process?

Register at http://bit.ly/gpsileading

Download a PDF: STPLC SI 2015 Postcard

June 15 & 16: Thinking Functionally About Behavior

Behavior SI 2015 Postcard_Page_1

Are behaviors in your building causing you and your staff to have high levels of stress? Do you want to know more about how to manage those behaviors? How can we see the behaviors we want to see from our students?

Join us on June 15 & 16 to learn how to think functionally about the behaviors you encounter on a daily basis so you can match your interventions and strategies effectively. Throughout the two days, we will talk about behavior assessment and behavior intervention. We will share content and strategies to support your work with students who demonstrate problem behaviors in your schools.

Download a PDF: Behavior SI 2015 Postcard

Also, there is an Assistive Technology Summer Institute in Ottumwa on June 2 & 3 hosted by the University of Iowa College of Education’s Center for Assistive Technology & Research (ICATER). More info at https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ActivityProfile.asp?D=10734&I=1754966

The Cornerstone – March 2015

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How to be Happy and Successful in Your Work

Jon's Blog

jon adviceThis is an excerpt from my speech at the winter commencement ceremony at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa…Go Warriors!

……………So then, what does one say to such a diverse group as this that will apply to everyone? Well, over the past 25 years or so I have been hiring new employees and orienting them to new settings. Over those years, my message to new staff has sort of evolved, but I thought that, regardless of where you find yourself next, these thoughts might benefit you in your next chapter. Here is what I have learned to emphasize to new people when trying to help them get off to a good start to a new job or career…..

  1. Relationships Matter – I have never seen a person fail as the result of having inadequate technical skill or knowledge. People most often fail by not being able to build and…

View original post 1,056 more words

GPAEA Presents The Behavior Doctor – April 20 & 21

Behavior Dr (2)When?

Monday, April 20
6 PM – 8 PM

Tuesday, April 21 – all day
8:30 AM – 4 PM Lunch on your own


Fairfield Arts& Convention Center
200 N Main St
Fairfield, IA 52556

Dr. Laura Riffel, the Behavior Doctor, is a behaviorist who has more than 30 years of experience dealing with challenging behaviors. Her free website is filled with tools to help parents and educators deal with behaviors. She uses humor and mnemonic tools to help participants remember her strategies.

Download a PDF Flyer.

REGISTER AT bit.ly/PECBehaviorDr