2020 STEM Summit “Transforming Education for the Workforce” – April 14

Attention Educators! Attend the 2020 STEM Summit “Transforming Education for the Workforce” in Des Moines on April 14th!

FREE Registration for PK-12 Educators! Register at https://www.iowastem.gov/2020STEMSummit

Free Optional Renewal Credit & Substitute Reimbursement Available! (Register here). *Renewal Credit requires attendance at the summit and completion of online self-paced learning activities.


For questions, please contact Laura Williams at Laura.williams@gpaea.org.

STEM BEST Application Open Feb 10 – May 15, 2020

STEM_LogoA priority for the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council for 2020-2021 is to expand the community of innovative, replicable STEM work-based learning models, known as Iowa STEM BEST® (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) Program.

The goal of STEM BEST® Program is to unite educators and employers to expand the learning continuum from school to careers. STEM BEST® programs bring educators and employers together to expand and invigorate learning and create a bridge between preK-12, post-secondary and community careers. Working side-by-side, educators and industry professionals will craft curriculum and projects that prepare students for an exciting future.

The program features flexible funding (up to $25,000) that can be used to explore potential, create programs, or expand existing successes. Overarching guidelines are provided to assist proposers. These guidelines allow for ample flexibility in design to encourage and support organic development of STEM BEST® Programs that match local strengths, challenges, and resources.

Learn more at https://iowastem.gov/STEMBEST/application.

Iowa Superintendents Campaign for State Support

[DES MOINES] – Today, more than 100 superintendents representing school districts across the state of Iowa combined forces in Des Moines this morning to rally legislators to provide adequate support for their students in advance of Friday, February 14  – the deadline in Iowa Code for the Iowa General Assembly to determine supplemental funding for public schools.

“The narrative has changed dramatically over the years,” shared David Ludwig, Executive Director of Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs). “Our superintendents regularly share that they need more than three percent in Supplemental State Aid (SSA) to maintain pace with projected expenses. This year superintendents are hearing legislators debate between 2.1 and 2.5 percent, a number that isn’t adequate to support student needs.”

“Quality public schools strengthen our communities and are the cornerstone of any sound economic development policy. Today, Iowa school superintendents are asking legislators for adequate support and hoping their voices are heard,” Ludwig added.

This annual event, coordinated across Iowa by the Area Education Agency system, provides an important opportunity for school leaders to have productive conversations with elected officials about the local impact of diminished funding and what’s needed to maintain quality programming for all of Iowa’s students

Representatives from every AEA and about 100 school districts across the state spoke with legislators about the demands of public education. As they talk about their funding needs, they also are asking for additional funding to support the changing classroom dynamics experienced in every corner of the state.

“Nearly every school leader we talk to shares the struggles that teachers are having with the mental health needs of their students,” added Ludwig. “Iowa’s AEAs were appropriated $2.2 million last session to start training and support services for districts to support this need. We are encouraged by conversations with our legislators that our solutions are already positively impacting students in both urban and rural districts.”

“Today is a great day for united outreach, with educators from both rural and urban districts across the state. We look forward to working closely with our legislators to help them understand the impact of their decisions on the families and children in their respective districts,” said Ludwig.

The Cornerstone – February 2020


Click on a link below or scroll down to read all articles. Enjoy!

ICYMI: Past Headlines

Iowa Authentic Learning Network Spring Opportunities

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Download ALNOpportunitiesFlyer20200110-2 (1) to register for the following Iowa Authentic Learning Network Opportunities:

  • Feb 11 Best practices in STEM #Reboot
  • April 1-2 Agile for Education: A Scrum Play by Play
  • April 8th Iowa ALN Professional Learning & Student Expo
  • April 22nd Iowa ALN Professional Learning & Student Expo

For questions please contact:
Laura Williams, 21st Century Learning Specialist

Does your district have the next Iowa Teacher of the Year?

Thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students, but only one is chosen annually as the state’s ambassador to education. The deadline to nominate the 2021 Iowa Teacher of the Year is April 1.

The award is an opportunity to recognize an exceptional Iowa teacher who is helping redefine education. Nominations will be accepted from anyone, including students, parents, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members, and associations (self-nominations, and nominations from family members are not accepted).

Nomination forms can be found at Iowa Teacher of the Year 2021.

The Iowa 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.

George Anderson of Cedar Rapids was named the 2020 Iowa Teacher of the Year last month.

See original post at https://www.educateiowa.gov/article/2020/01/07/does-your-district-have-next-iowa-teacher-year?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Microbits for Teaching Coding and Makerspace Projects

Lisa Jacobs & Seth Denney, GPAEA Instructional Technology Coaches

Microbits are small battery-operated circuit boards that students can write programs for on a computer or Chromebook. Beginners love writing code to make the screen (25 tiny led lights) spell out words and display simple pictures.  As their programming skills develop, students can create interactive games, connect to motors, or speakers, use the built-in light, temperature, and motion sensors. The devices also have a built-in radio feature so they can send messages to other Microbits or connect via bluetooth.  

Students can use block coding, Javascript, and Python programming languages.  There are many tutorials, lessons, and example projects available on this website https://microbit.org/.  

Here is a link to information for purchasing Microbits from Amazon.

Contact lisa.jacobs@gpaea.org or seth.denney@gpaea.org to schedule Microbit and Coding demonstrations for you and/or your students.

Spring 2020 Semester Offerings from Drake

drake education logo

Happy New Year from Drake University’s Continuing Education and Professional Development Department!  We are excited to spring into 2020 with some new offerings and also some reinvented offerings in different formats.  Registration is now open for most of the courses listed below and you can always check our website for more information: www.drake.edu/cepd

Power of Play: Learning, Communicating and Engaging Learners

Saturday, March 28 and Saturday, April 18

Registration Opens Tuesday, January 21st

Instructor: Susan Dannen

The purpose of this one-credit face-to-face experiential course is to explore the importance of play in learning.  To the observer, students look like they are “just playing”, but together we will unravel the big picture to find the underlying learning taking place through play.  Participants will acquire tools on how to observe play, while learning techniques to interact and respond to play themes.  Attendees will understand concurrently about the rationale behind the importance of play in child development and in education settings, how students use play as part of their social-emotional language and how to effectively observe and respond to messages in play.  This course will be offered for both relicensure credit and graduate credit.

Connecting with African American Students in the Classroom:  A Culturally Responsive Approach to Learning

Saturday, April 4 and Saturday, April 25

Registration Opens Monday, February 3rd 
Instructor: Jeanette Thomas

This one credit face-to-face course examines the educational experiences of African American students in Iowa schools.  Educational practices and organizational structures provide insight into how inequalities due to social, class, race, and other social differences shape educational outcomes.  Individual student experiences in schools are considered with a focus on K-12 public education with an emphasis on urban schools in low-income communities.  Research based strategies with data driven results are studied to provide a framework for analysis for students to incorporate into the classroom setting.  Collaborative partnerships between educators, parents, community service agencies, mental health and social services are highlighted in an effort to illustrate best practices and what works to address the needs of marginalized African American students.  This course will be offered for both relicensure credit and graduate credit.

Teacher Self-Care: Learn Strategies for Yourself and for Your Colleagues

Monday, June 22 and Tuesday, June 23

Registration Opens Monday, February 24th 

Instructor: Judi Mireles

This one-credit course offered for relicensure credit is a self-care workshop for educators!  We will spend the first day learning techniques and strategies for your own self-care and then spend the next day turning outward to think about how you can support the self-care of your colleagues.  Prepare to fill up your motivational gas tank and think about the upcoming year.  You will not be required to purchase a text, however, there is a materials fee due to the make-and-take nature of the course.

Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom:  A Clinician’s Perspective

Thursday, June 25 and Friday, June 26

Registration Opens Monday, February 3rd 
Instructors: Leslie Rogers and Kirsten Smith

This one-credit hour face-to-face course will explore key components and stages of social emotional learning (SEL), related brain anatomy and function, and factors that may impact SEL development.  Participants will learn about a host of factors that may impact a child’s social emotional affect across the school day along with techniques and strategies that will assist teachers, counselors, and administrators in understanding SEL motivators. This course is taught by two ChildServe clinicians who have had the opportunity to work with children one-on-one and want to help educators understand children’s individual SEL needs.  This course is offered for both graduate and license renewal credit.

The Domino Effect Program is Now an Online Course

Registration is Now Open, See Below

Our highly successful Domino Effect program has been converted into a one-hour online course. This was done using video and other content from our fall, 2018 event at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. Students will experience the entire program from the eyes of an audience member with insights from incarcerated women, guardians serving children of incarcerated women and Dr. Jerome Greenfield who is an expert on mental health. This new class will be offered later this spring (April-May), use the following link to register:  NEW ONLINE WOMEN’S DOMINO EFFECT CLASS

The Domino Effect Program at the Men’s Penitentiary in Fort Madison

Registration is Now Open, See Below

We are excited to continue this program at the men’s prison this spring on Wednesday, April 22nd.  This course may be taken for license renewal or graduate credit.


Inspiring Investigations through Citizen Science

March 23-April 27, 2020

Registration is Now Open, See Below

This one graduate credit online course allows students to discover how citizen science and student-driven investigations meet next generation science standards and support student learning. After completing this course, students will be able to: explain the benefits of teaching with citizen science and inquiry; identify the science practices developed through citizen science and inquiry; describe the complexity of the scientific process; support students in developing their own investigations; create an implementation plan for using citizen science and science investigations with students. This course is being offered through a partnership between Drake University Continuing Education and Professional Development and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Follow this link to register for this course: Inspiring Investigations through Citizen Science 

The Drake Summer Music Institute will offer four opportunities this summer:
Registration information will be posted on our website soon: CEPD Special Events, Conferences, and Courses

Popular Music Pedagogies: Modern Band in the Classroom

June 17-19, Instructor: Dr. Bryan Powell

Bel Canto Solfeggio (this will be two, 2-day courses)

June 22-25, Instructor: John Armstrong

Music Literacy

June 10-11, Instructor: Dr. Carol Krueger

Kodaly Certification, Levels I, II, III

July 13-24, Instructors: Tom Sletto, Barbara Sletto, Sandy Miller, Kris VerSteegt

Drake’s Education Leadership Symposium will Highlight Standards Based Grading:

Registration Opens Monday, February 10th

National assessment expert and author Rick Wormeli will be the keynote speaker in the morning and the afternoon will include breakout sessions focusing on best classroom and leadership practices.

June 17 – Hy-Vee Hall (Room 101), Des Moines.  Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. and the event ends at 3:00 p.m.  Cost $199 which includes continental breakfast and lunch.

Quick links to additional Continuing Education and Professional Development resources

Courses for Coaches and Physical Educators  (Online and Video Correspondence) 
Online courses for teachers 
Special Events, Conferences, and Courses
FAQ’s for students

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 – January 2020


Happy New Year! Enjoy this issue of The Cornerstone. Scroll down to begin reading or click on a news link below.

Iowa ALN Professional Learning & Student Expo – April 8 & 22

Join us for the 2020 Iowa ALN Professional Learning & Student Expo on April 8 in Ottumwa and April 22 in Burlington. This will be a great opportunity for you to interact and learn about authentic learning experiences happening in your District.


Download PDF with clickable links: IowaALNFlyer20200109-1

Area Students aka Future Problem Solvers

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BURLINGTON – On January 8 & 9, middle and high school students from Burlington, Central Lee, & Keokuk came together to participate in an Iowa Future Problem Solving Bowl hosted at Great Prairie AEA. Students participated in one of two categories:

Global Issues Problem Solving (Team)

In Global Issues Problem Solving (GIPS) students in grades 4-12 compete in teams of four to research and problem-solve topics of current relevance in the world. Teams complete two practice problems (optional), which are evaluated and returned with feedback. They then submit a third problem to try to qualify for the competitive State Bowl. Qualifying teams are invited to compete at State for the opportunity to represent Iowa at the annual International FPS competition in June.

Global Issues Problem Solving (Individual)

Individual Global Issues Problem Solving is designed to give self-motivated, confident students the opportunity to compete, using the same format as the Team Division but completing shorter booklets independently. This is an ideal option for coaches who have a few extra students who won’t fit evenly onto teams. Individuals complete two practice problems (optional), which are evaluated and returned with feedback, and then submit a third problem to qualify for the competitive State Bowl. Qualifying individuals are invited to compete at State for the opportunity to represent Iowa at the annual International FPS competition in June.

A special thank you to District Coaches and teams for participating:

  • Central Lee, coach Hollie Weber – 2 junior teams, 3 middle teams, 3 senior teams, 1 middle individual
  • Burlington, coaches Katie Salisbury and Aron Kehoe – 2 middle teams, 1 middle individual & 2 senior teams
  • Keokuk, coach Barb Edler – 1 middle team & 1 senior team

Wishing all students and teams the best of luck! Learn more about FPS at https://iowafutureproblemsolving.com/ or contact GPAEA’s Coordinator Tracy Jarrett at tracy.jarrett@gpaea.org.

Volunteer Judges Needed for District History Day on April 7

Blue Blueberries Food Fact Facebook Post

Great Prairie AEA is looking for volunteer judges for the Voltaire Twombly (Great Prairie AEA) District History Day Contest on April 7 in Ottumwa. National History Day in Iowa is a year-long educational program that encourages students in grades 6-12 to learn about history and sharpen important skills, including research and critical thinking. 

Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Location: Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa, IA
Judges: Volunteer judges will help evaluate student projects and create a positive experience for Iowa’s young historians. Judges will receive online training and additional training the morning before the contest. We will be offering lunch for all judges and helpers. 

If you would like to participate, please contact Lisa.sines@gpaea.org or call 641-682-8591 X5501. You may also sign up to be a volunteer judge online at (Select the Voltaire Twombly Contest (Great Prairie AEA)https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf-IpRandmPLXIUrcTuX_FUbZ4HQat2iq5dv4wh288RKKkG4g/viewform

Distinguishing Between Disability and Language Acquisition: Steve Gill – April 13 & 14

Download PDF: DisabilityLanguageFlyer20191219-3

In this two-day workshop, participants will learn how to implement the ELL Critical Data Process and the corresponding matrix with Steve Gill, who developed it. This matrix will help teachers and consultants determine whether English learners may qualify for special education services (due to disability) or require more intervention (due to language).

The ELL Critical Data Process helps bring key staff members together to discuss how to best meet student needs and have a guided process that leads to a pictorial representation of their discussions.  Participants are encouraged to attend with a building team.

This course will also focus on understanding the relationship between our acculturation, belief systems, practices and results.

Register at https://aealearning.truenorthlogic.com/ia/empari/learning2/course/viewCourseSearch?courseId=180870

Iowa’s AEAs seek nominations for annual awards recognition


Do you know someone who has made outstanding contributions to education and Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs)? Please take a few minutes to nominate this person for recognition!

Iowa’s AEAs bestow three awards annually to outstanding candidates for their contributions to education and the work of Iowa’s AEAs. To submit a nomination, complete this application by Feb. 14, 2020. Anyone is welcome to submit a nomination.

Awards will be presented during the annual Iowa’s AEAs Boards of Directors’ Conference and the ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 26, 2020, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Johnston.

The three awards and criteria can be found below. Each nomination should include examples of why your nominee should receive the award.

Friend of the AEA Award

Acknowledges contributions by policymakers, citizens, board members, school district partners, businesses and organizations who have been great partners and demonstrate strong support for furthering the mission of Iowa’s AEAs. Open to all policymakers, citizens, board members, school district partners, businesses and organizations.

E. Robert Stephens Award

Dr. E. Robert Stephens, better known as “Dr. Bob” and the father of Iowa’s AEAs, acknowledges contributions in the area of innovation and support to local districts, AEAs, the Department of Education and other partners/organizations. There should be evidence of outstanding contributions to the well-being of the educational community including:

    • Benefits of this individual’s leadership;

    • Creative leadership in inspiring and motivating others to achieve and contribute;

    • Strong commitment to the profession by active participation in professional activities; and

    • Evidence that the individual is respected by his/her colleagues and the community.

 Open to AEA staff who serve in an administrative role and AEA board members.

Innovative Creator

Celebrates amazingly innovative and creative thinking and actions to get results for students, educators, Iowa’s AEAs, school districts and other partners. Open to all AEA staff, board members, educators, policymakers, students…we are all creators!

For more information, contact Connie Johnson, Iowa’s AEAs Communications Director, at (712) 335-6044 or cjohnson@plaea.org.

Paraeducator Opportunities in Burlington & Ottumwa – March/April

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Professional Development for working with English Language Learners
For Certified Paras through the BOEE:
Upcoming Spring Paraeducator Courses
Professional Development for working with English Language Learners