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!

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.

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies: 40 Years of Service

For 40 years, Iowa’s Area Education Agencies have been on the leading edge of service for children with special needs. What started as a vision in 1974 by the Iowa legislature to ensure that every Iowa child had access to a quality education and limitless possibilities has evolved into generations of Iowans who have gone on to reach their highest potential…leading productive, meaningful lives.

Today…one in every eight Iowa children qualify for special education services. The Iowa of tomorrow will only be as strong as the investment we make now in their future. Iowa’s Area Education Agencies are proud to be your partner in a strong, vibrant Iowa for all. Together, we can ensure that every Iowa student has the best shot at success in life.

STEM Festivals in Burlington (4-25-15) & Ottumwa (3-14-15)

Rosemary Peck, GPAEA Science Specialist

What does virtual welding, extracting DNA, robotics, green screen movie production, virtual dissections, screaming balloons, flying gliders, designing and racing sailboats have in common?  You could have tried your hand at these and over 30 other activities at the STEM Festivals last year. Don’t miss out on the excitement this year!

The goal of these free, family friendly STEM events is to bring science, technology, engineering and mathematics to life by assembling scientists, engineers, teachers and education experts to provide an experience full of hands-on activities. In addition to the fun, students and families will be introduced to careers in STEM. GPAEA is partnering with the South Central, Southeast STEM Hubs, IHCC, and SCC to bring 2 festivals to GPAEA students and families.

The IHCC STEM Festival is on Saturday, 3-14-15 (Happy Pi Day!) from 10am-2pm at Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa.  For more information visit the SC STEM Hub website: http://scstemhub.drake.edu/

IHCC STEM Festival Flyer Updated 1.20.15a-1

You can pre-register to attend the IHCC STEM Festival at: https://docs.google.com/a/gpaea.org/forms/d/1ce5MsLydpNpTBeVjaTnVb7PE-8QOdFLMDDtHfgP78Hc/viewform

The SE Iowa STEM Festival at Southeastern Community College in Burlington is Saturday, April 25 from 10am-2 pm. For more information visit: http://tinyurl.com/SESTEMFestival

SE Iowa STEM Festival Save the Date

Upcoming PD Opportunities – March 2015

Professional Development Classes – March 2015

  • March 2 – K-2 Counting and Cardinality/Operations and Algebraic Thinking – BURLINGTON
  • March 3 – Phonemic Awareness – BURLINGTON
  • March 4 – Check and Connect: A Comprehensive Student Engagement Intervention – BURLINGTON
  • March 10 – Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Initial Training Workshop – OTTUMWA
  • March 14 – Wheel Thrown Pottery II – BENTONSPORT
  • March 16 – Substitute Authorization – OTTUMWA
  • March 18 – Creating a Functional Behavior Assessment Tool Box For Your Classroom –BURLINGTON
  • March 23 – Iowa LETRS (Language Essentials for Teacher of Reading and Spelling): Modules 7-9 – OTTUMWA

Para Educator Course coming up in April, 2015

  • 4/07/15 Para Educator Course I Burlington
  • 4/18/15 Para Educator Course II – Burlington
  • 4/30/15 Para Educator Course III – Burlington

Sub Authorization

  • 4/16/15 Substitute Authorization (Grades K-12) – Burlington

GPAEA Science Network Includes Elementary

A schoolboy in a science classGPAEA Science Networks expanded this year to include Elementary! These science teachers in grades 3-12 have been working to develop units and identify resources that align with both Iowa Core Science and the Next Generation Science standards. The purpose of the five Science Network sessions is to provide networking amongst GPAEA science teachers. During Network, science teachers have the opportunity to work with others who are teaching similar courses and grade levels.

Participating in professional development with teachers in the same discipline allows teachers to share ideas and experiences.  With the possibility of new science standards in Iowa and the need for teachers to better align with our current Iowa Core Science Content and Literacy standards, the network helps meet the need for collaborative groups of science teachers. Each Network group will share their work using a Google Site set up to allow members access to units developed using the Understanding by DesignTM template.

As stated on the ASCD website : “The Understanding by Design® framework (UbD™ framework) offers a planning process and structure to guide curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Its two key ideas are contained in the title: 1) focus on teaching and assessing for understanding and learning transfer, and 2) design curriculum “backward” from those ends.” There are three stages in the UbD framework. Stage 1 focuses on the transfer of learning. Teachers identify desired results by unpacking the standards. Stage 2 involves identifying assessments that align with the desired results.   In Stage 3, teachers plan learning experiences and instruction.

For more information on GPAEA’s Science Networks or science UbD™ unit design, contact Tami Plein or Rosemary Peck at http://www.gpaea.org/en/services/science_literacy/.

Upcoming PD Courses – February, 2015

1 Businessman with four businesspeople at boardroom table in backgFebruary PD classes

  • 2/03/15 NWEA MAP Test Update Session-Ottumwa
  • 2/03/15 NWEA MAP Test Update Session-Mt. Pleasant


  • 2/06/15 Read & Write for Google A Google Chrome Extension – OTTUMWA


  • 2/02/15 Check and Connect: A Comprehensive Student Engagement Intervention – OTTUMWA
  • 2/09/15 Program Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PW-PBIS) for Preschools in Inclusive Settings – BLOOMFIELD
  • 2/10/15 Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Tier 2 Training – OTTUMWA
  • 2/17/15 Developing a Social Skills Tool Box – OTTUMWA
  • 2/27/15 Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Initial Training Workshop – BURLINGTON

Math Continue reading

28 Days of OLLIE begin February 1

About 28 days of OLLIE
Online communities and learning networks are helping educators create innovative solutions to age-old problems, and fulfill the promise of today and tomorrow’s educational landscape. Because online learning is evolving quickly it is especially important for online teachers to connect and collaborate.

The 28 days of OLLIE is an excellent opportunity for online teachers to benefit from each others ideas and experiences, as well as gain some insight into the newest innovations in online learning.

Throughout the month there will be coordinated opportunities for online teachers to connect with each other, engage in, and learn from. It is our hope that at the end of this month the connections that are formed among and between the community members will extend beyond the 28 days and lead to community of online teachers that can support each other in future work.

What to Expect during 28 days of OLLIE
28 days of OLLIE is meant to provide online teachers with learning opportunities focused on enhancing their ability to teach in blended or online environments. The community facilitators will be hosting a variety learning opportunities or events for educators. Continue reading

STEM Conference for Counselors & Teachers in Ottumwa

What:  Iowa Farm Bureau STEM Career Conference for Counselors & Educators

When:  March 2, 2015

Time: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

Where: IHCC, Ottumwa   Rural Health Education Center (RHEC building)

To register: http://www.uni.edu/chas/outreach/stem-resources/career-conferences

image001In a collaborative effort with U.N.I. STEM and Iowa Farm Bureau, Indian Hills Community College would like to invite teachers of STEM areas to attend this upcoming conference in Ottumwa. We encourage teams of middle and high school counselors, administrators and teachers especially in agriculture, science, technology, engineering, and math areas from your school district.

  • No cost for conference (breakfast and lunch included)
  • Materials pertinent to the development of STEM careers and teaching STEM initiatives provided
  • The first 20 teachers to register will recieve sub reimbursement via U.N.I STEM
  • Area business and student panelists part of agenda
  • Steve Triplett from ACT will be presenting as well as Jeff Weld from the Governor’s STEM Council
  • IHCC Program tours included

STEM Career Conf Flyer – 2015

2015 MTSS Early Literacy Workshops

Pupils In Class Using Digital TabletThe workshops are designed to help leadership teams develop a continuum of literacy supports to address the needs of all learners and close the gap in achievement levels.

Teams will learn how to use the Collective Inquiry Questions as a tool for examining their literacy needs at the Universal and Targeted Tiers.

  • If the Universal Tier is not sufficient, what are the needs that must be addressed?
  • How will Universal Tier needs be addressed?
  • Which students need support in addition to the Universal Tier and how will these needs be addressed?

January 30 – March 5 – May 7   9AM – 3 PM (lunch not included)

  • Fairfield Arts & Convention Center
    North Main, Fairfield, IA (Face-to-face)
  • Harold L. Mick Office (Albia)
    103 South A Street, Albia, IA (Zoom w/ site facilitator)
  • Burlington AEA Office
    3601 West Avenue, Burlington, IA (Zoom w/ site facilitator)

Building Administrator and Elementary Literacy Leadership Team Members

MyLearningPlan: http://bit.ly/1xZeHVT

MTSS for Early Literacy Flyer