Second Chance Reading Training 2015–16

scrTeachers trained in Second Chance for Reading (SCR) have a choice of two additional training opportunities this year. Registration is open for Burlington GPAEA attendance on Monday, October 12 and February 29 or Ottumwa GPAEA on Monday, October 19 and March 7 attendance.

Why is continued learning important?

SCR teachers continue to deepen their knowledge of the Iowa Core Standards, technology and formative assessment as they implement Second Chance for Reading with struggling learners. Teachers also need to review their implementation of SCR in order to determine program effectiveness.

Local Teacher Finalist Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Tami Plein, Science Consultant

Alicia (right) received her award from Erika Cook, Bureau Chief of Standards and Curriculum at Iowa Dept. of Education at the Iowa Science Teachers Fall Conference in Des Moines on September 19.

Alicia (right) received her award from Erika Cook, Bureau Chief of Standards and Curriculum at Iowa Dept. of Education at the Iowa Science Teachers Fall Conference in Des Moines on September 19.

Alicia Schiller, science teacher at Central Lee High School, Central Lee Community School District (Donnellson) is one of 5 Iowa finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).  The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation’s highest honors specifically for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of math and science.  Two award-winners may be selected to represent Iowa.  If Alicia is selected as the winner, she will receive $10,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C.  Congratulations to Ms. Schiller!

Information taken from

PD Opportunities – October 2015

Great Prairie AEA offers a number of Professional Development Opportunities throughout the year. Scroll through the list below to see what is happening in October.

High School Science Network 1 – EAST – BURLINGTON
Location: Burlington: Great Prairie AEA (Burlington, IA) [map]
Audience: High School Science Teachers
Dates: 10/1/2015 to 10/27/2015

These professional development sessions will be used to support and create collaborative groups of science teachers that owns, posts, and maintains an online collection of science resources. The focus of the 4 sessions will be learning about the new Iowa Science Standards and begin creating standards-based science lessons.

Teachers will learn the conceptual Shifts in the NGSS that form the basis for with the new Iowa Core Science Standards. Strategies from Backwards Design will be utilized and to identify/create materials and lessons.

NOTE: $30 Materials fee has been added

High School Science Network 2- EAST – BURLINGTON

Location: Burlington: Great Prairie AEA (Burlington, IA) [map]
Audience: High School Science Teachers (who have taken year 1)
Dates: 10/1/2015 to 10/27/2015

This course is for second year participants. Sessions will be differentiated from year one to provide second year participants with new learning to increase their depth of understanding of the design process and science/engineering practices. 

Teachers will learn about the Conceptual Shifts in NGSS, Essential Questions, Differentiation using formative assessment, the 5E learning cycle models and investigate new resources from NSTA on NGSS. 

Target Audience: High School Science Teachers (who have taken year 1)  Continue reading

HEART Online Assessment System to Discontinue

Evan McCormick, School Improvement Consultant

In June 2016, Great Prairie AEA will discontinue support of the HEART Online Assessment System. GPAEA technical support will make every effort to continue to make HEART available throughout the 2015-2016 school year, but an increase in issues affecting its functionality make a terminal shut-down imminent. Continue to contact Evan McCormick until then if you have technical concerns;, 319-753-6561 X1298.

The HEART program is housed on an aging server that frequently needs to be restarted. It’s programmed in 4D, an older and unsupported software. Further development by its originators is not planned. There has been declining use of the system since the advent of other assessment programs at both the state and local levels. Continue reading

Opportunities for learning new science standards

Iowa has new science standards! The state board of education adopted the performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards on August 6th, 2015. To support the four year implementation plan recently released by the Iowa DoE, GPAEA science specialists will be offering the first in a series of Iowa Science Standards professional development modules during the first two days of any of the Science Network 1 sessions this fall. The strategic plan has Iowa AEA consultants delivering professional development for three initial years and in the future to districts and teachers. For more information, please contact Rosemary Peck or Tami Plein.

via Iowa Department of Education

Congratulations to the science learning community on the new standards, which were adopted on Aug. 6 by the State Board of Education. This followed a recommendation by the Science Standards Review Team who engaged in a comprehensive process including review of existing standards, public feedback, and data-driven decisions.

Iowa Science Standards Kick-off. On Oct. 20, the University of Iowa and Grandview University will host a day of learning from national experts on the new science standards in Iowa City. This is intended for leaders (administrators, curriculum directors, teacher leaders, professors, and Area Education Agency consultants) who will partner together in the rollout and implementation of the standards. Click here to register for the Oct. 20 Iowa Science Standards Kick-off. The event will also be streamed with a link on the Department of Education website.

Continue reading

Check & Connect’s First National Conference in October

GPAEA’s Shelli Blazic is presenting at this year’s Check & Connect Conference:


October 7-8, 2015

McNamara Alumni Center
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Registration deadline extended to Monday, September 28, 2015!

Check & Connect is celebrating 25 years (1990-2015)! To mark the occasion, we are hosting our first national conference, bringing together leading experts and practitioners from around the country and overseas to address the topic of student engagement among at-risk youth. This event is geared towards both professionals implementing Check & Connect’s evidence-based student engagement intervention model and those interested in learning more about student engagement in general and Check & Connect specifically. You do not need to be implementing Check & Connect in order to attend! Come learn from experts in the field, share lessons learned, and gain tools for implementing Check & Connect with fidelity and sustaining your site’s implementation to support at-risk students in reaching their goals and graduating high school. CEUs will be offered.



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.

Supervision of Special Education

Supervision of Special Education SEPT. 2015



8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

The primary focus is on the intent of special education law/rules/procedures as they relate to foundational concepts.

These foundational concepts include FAPE. LRE, and ProceduralDue Process with an emphasis on meaningful parental involvement, and outcomes/benefit . Emphasis will be on the administrator’s role in understanding and overseeing these concepts.

Register viaMyLearningPlan at GPAEA.ORG or using the following links:

Download PDF Flyer: Supervision of Special Education

GPAEA Schools in the News – September 2015

Post updated throughout the month. 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.

School Radon Training & Support System Kickoff Workshop – September 23 in Ottumwa

schoolradonsupport_signupfinal_08-15-15Did you know that Iowa schools are required to perform radon testing in their Headstart Child Care Centers/4-Year-Old Preschools? In addition, the Iowa Legislature continues to discuss requiring radon plans and testing for all schools. To help schools with their already-full plates, Energy Association of Iowa Schools has collaborated with various state agencies and radon experts to create the first-of-its-kind School Radon Training & Support System.

This new system helps keep students, educators and community members safe by providing: a personalized school radon plan to have on file, training and ongoing support for required and proactive testing, panic prevention through confidential data tracking, and budget savings. The support provided also prevents unnecessary radon mitigation construction costs, hassle and/or additional energy costs.

Required Kickoff Workshops are starting soon, with your choice of one of five sessions across Iowa. Workshops take place between September 23 and October 28, 2015, which will enable your district to begin testing this winter.  There is only room for a total of 100 school districts. The September 23 session is right here at GPAEA in Ottumwa. Click here for more information and register today!

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.

The Cornerstone – September 2015

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Scroll down or click on an article below to get started!

Celebrating Iowa Schools in 2015-2016

Dr. Jon Sheldahl, Chief Administrator

It’s an exciting time of year, as our children return to our nation’s schools.  It’s a season steeped in optimism and possibility and one that always renews my faith in society.  Students, parents and teachers across Iowa are once again greeting a new year and a new set of opportunities with enthusiasm, laughter, and resolve.  Noted author William Faulkner once said that he believed “that man would not only endure, he would prevail” and the first day of school is a ritual that captures my spirit in a way that convinces me that Mr. Faulkner was right.

This isn’t to say that our education system hasn’t had its challenges in recent years.  Contentious fights for adequate funding, well orchestrated and well-funded national campaigns intended to create doubt about our nation’s public schools, an ongoing obsession with high stakes testing, and continued reliance on accountability systems shown to be ineffective in producing desired results, have all combined to create a strong sense of doubt about the future of our nation’s school system.

Continue reading…

Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training Workshops in Burlington & Ottumwa

A schoolboy and his teacher reading a book in classParticipants will be trained in a safe, non-harmful behavior management system designed to help them provide the best care, welfare, safety and security for students who may be anxious, disruptive, assaultive, or otherwise in crisis. Emphasis is given to de-escalation and personal safety techniques.

Certification is good for two years. Refresher training will no longer be offered through our agency. You are encouraged to register with a school/district team. There will be a maximum of 40 people allowed in each workshop. Continue reading