The Cornerstone – March 2015

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How to be Happy and Successful in Your Work

Originally posted on 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…

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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.


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:

IHCC STEM Festival Flyer Updated 1.20.15a-1

You can pre-register to attend the IHCC STEM Festival at:

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

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 Schools in the News – February 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.

Secondary Transition Family Planning for Educators & Parents – April 8 & 9

Transition Family Planning Flyer April 2015Our Great Prairie AEA Parent-Educator Coordinators and Transition Coordinators will hold a Secondary Transition Family Planning for Educators and Parents, in Burlington on April 8 & 9, 2015.

This 2-day workshop is intended to help teachers and parents learn how to assist families in their understanding of the special education transition process in Iowa and how to participate effectively. Participants will be provided information, resources and a supportive environment to meet Community Service Providers and ask questions about the transition process. Participants will receive parent transition planning modules created by the Iowa Department of Education and PACER.

If you know a teacher or parent who might benefit from this information please have them contact Kelly Wallace, PEC or sign up through mylearningplan at

Transition Family Planning Flyer April 2015

The Cornerstone – February 2015

cs header14 1Click on one of the posts below or scroll down to start reading this month’s The Cornerstone.

GPAEA Superintendents Hold Legislative Retreat

Earlier this week area Superintendents met with education lobbyist and legislators at their yearly Legislative Retreat. Superintendents actively communicate with their legislators throughout the year, but this provides an opportunity for leaders to meet with lobbyists, sit in on sub-committee meetings, and visit with legislators at the Capitol.

Find the Legislator that represents you at

Show your “Selfie” Support of AEAs

In the spring of 1974, the Iowa Legislature passed House File 1163 establishing Iowa’s 15 area education agencies with the same service areas as the merged area schools (community colleges). The AEAs, as they came to be called, began operating on July 1, 1975. So if you do the math, that means the AEAs will be celebrating an important anniversary in 2015 – 40 years!

Find the “We are AEA” and “I am AEA” in one of GPAEA’s offices and post to social media using #iowaaea or #gpaea! We can’t wait to see your selfies!

Math Teachers: Don’t miss upcoming PD opportunities!

Secondary Statistics and Probability, Part 1 – BURLINGTON

The Iowa Core statistics and probability standards are recognized as content that is new to many middle school and high school teachers. This course focuses on standards that appear early in the progression of secondary statistics. Emphasis will be given to understanding how purpose influences display of data, how relationships between shape, center and spread are at the heart of statistics and how tools can be used to compare distributions. Register:

Secondary Statistics and Probability, Part 1 – OTTUMWA

The Iowa Core statistics and probability standards are recognized as content that is new to many middle school and high school teachers. This course focuses on standards that appear early in the progression of secondary statistics. Emphasis will be given to understanding how purpose influences display of data, how relationships between shape, center and spread are at the heart of statistics and how tools can be used to compare distributions. Register:

K-2 Counting and Cardinality/Operations and Algebraic Thinking – BURLINGTON

As classrooms move forward with the Iowa Core Standards we are offering a class that includes best practices in mathematics content and pedagogy. We will also develop common formative assessment items to probe for student understanding. Register:

AEA Staff Present at Mediapolis & Morning Sun Mini-Workshop

John Kerr, Mediapolis Curriculum Coordinator

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During the afternoon of January 28th, 5 AEA personnel came to Mediapolis CSD for an in-service for both the Mediapolis and Morning Sun districts. Administrative teams in both Mediapolis and Morning Sun are trying to practice what we are preaching to teachers. The in-service was an effort to have both districts go to a “mini-workshop” and have the opportunity to collaborate. We were trying something new, and the teachers were given choice on which presenters to see that day.

Lynn Selking, a math specialist, talked about “Online Math Tools and Games with a Purpose for K-12.” Seth Denney, a technology specialist, discussed “SketchUp”, a 3D-design tool for many different curricular areas. Liz Long, an ELA specialist, focused on “ELA High Leverage Practices for K-12 and AEA Resources.” Jane Trotter, a technology coach, worked on “Interactive Teaching Tools with Mimio Interactive Boards”. Jennifer Woodley, a communication specialist, discussed “Social Media Your Students Actually Use.”

Since there were a variety of topics, the learning could occur in finding out websites that would help them and their students, using technology that we have in the classrooms to better use, and finding out about technology that the students have and being aware of its positive and negative value.

The AEA presenters did an outstanding job with their presentations. A lot of the information was hands-on, so the teachers could try things out as it was being presented to them. The information was cross-curricular and could be viable for K-12 teachers.

In reflection, we will look at the time length for each presentation, technology used, possibly making it more focused on a particular area; like K-6 for one presentation, 7-12 for the second one.

We would like to thank the AEA for their flexibility, expertise, and their help in making this day happen.

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