Summer professional learning opportunities

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May 1, 2019  Vol. 12

From the Bureau of Leading, Teaching, Learning Services

Fine Arts Standards logo

Professional learning in June

Iowa Fine Arts Summit to celebrate new standards

The Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Arts Council, and Iowa Alliance for Arts Education will co-sponsor the first ever Iowa Fine Arts Education Summit, a one-day professional learning event, Thursday, June 20, at the FFA Enrichment Center on the Ankeny Des Moines Area Community College campus


The Summit will celebrate the 2017 adoption of Iowa’s Fine Arts Standards and offer professional development around the standards for all five fine arts disciplines – dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts.


According to Angela Matsuoka, fine arts consultant, the Summit will provide an entry point for anyone from any background to interact with the standards. “We’re featuring a block on applying the standards and getting to know the standards by discipline. We are excited to offer something for everyone, regardless of their level of implementation with our standards.”


She also said that the summit is designed to appeal to fine arts teachers, teacher leaders, and arts non-profit administrators. To learn more, please visit the Fine Arts Education Summit website.

For more information, contact Angela Matsuoka, or (515-782-7296).

Best Practices in Social Studies graphic

Designed around teachers’ needs

Best Practices Institute in Social Studies fills gap

The Best Practices in Social Studies Institute will be held June 19 and 20 at Johnston Middle School. Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education, the Institute provides in depth learning for Iowa educators on both elementary and secondary social studies standards and how best to implement them.

The event will feature day-long learning sessions with noted social studies educators, one who specializes in the use of children’s literature in teaching elementary social studies and the other who is part of the Stanford History Education Group, a center that has created free resources for secondary teachers around using primary sources and promoting historical thinking. 


In addition to the day-long sessions, the Institute will feature breakouts on pedagogy and other topics related to the standards, Wager said. “We try to pick breakouts on what people need. We look at the kinds of questions coming to me and the AEA contacts. We also highlight strong practices that are happening in social studies programs around the state."


Wager said the annual Institute has been well received. "There's no repeats from past years. It's all fresh content. People like the day-long workshop focused on best practices – getting a more in-depth look and then the variety of sessions on the breakout day." 


Click here to learn more about the Institute or to register.


For more information, contact Stefanie Wager at or (515) 725-7842.

Female student engaged in healthy activity

New for Physical Education and Health

State Board unanimously approves voluntary standards

Based on an Iowa team’s recommendations, the State Board of Education unanimously adopted statewide K-12 standards for high-quality health and physical education programs. The standards are voluntary for Iowa schools.


The Physical Education and Health Standards Review Team, which included Iowa health and physical education teachers, administrators, teacher leaders and leaders of community organizations, recommended that Iowa’s standards come from the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America standards and the National Health Education Standards.


"The recommended standards are just the beginning of the work ahead of us,” said Brian Rhoads, co-chair of the review team and curriculum lead for health and physical education K-12 for the West Des Moines Community Schools. “There is much to be done to support teachers across the state so they can confidently implement the standards within their school districts.”


Although the standards are voluntary, Rhoads said that districts should adopt them. “I am hopeful that school districts will adopt the new standards as I am confident the standards will have a positive impact on the learning that is occurring within the Physical Education and Health classrooms across the state,” he said.

For more information, contact Kris Kilibarda, or (515) 322-7620.

Elementary students talking about science

Instructional strategies to promote critical thinking

Productive talk focus of science and literacy professional learning

The science and literacy statewide leadership teams had the opportunity to learn about engaging students in productive talk, professional learning generated from research on effective classroom practices.


This professional learning, held earlier this year, featured researcher Kerrie Wingert from the University of Colorado Boulder, a literacy expert whose work has now focused on Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM). She’s the author of a series of classroom teaching tools, some of which focus on strategies to promote productive talk among students, from checking for understanding to constructing an argument.


“For the last 40 years we've known that teachers need to do less talking and students should be using class time to figure things out, to make sense of complicated ideas, and to think critically,” said Wingert. The day-long professional learning and follow-up reflection sessions focused on making classrooms more caring and curious. “We reviewed research evidence and experienced and reflected on instructional strategies that can be used with students and taught to teachers in order to engage young people in doing learning themselves," she said.


The statewide literacy and science teams engaged in learning different strategies for increasing productive student talk and then observing and collecting evidence of it in the classroom. The portion of the day was also spent on allowing participants to talk about how they might roll this professional learning out in their AEAs or districts.

For more information, contact Kris Kilibarda at or (515) 322-7620.

Voice from the Field logo

Elementary science: Space is out of this world!

North Tama elementary science teacher Lisa Chizek shares the importance of science in elementary classrooms with readers. She writes that high quality science education in elementary schools is necessary for building a strong foundation for learning science. But even more important, science education stimulates children’s natural desire for learning. See her column in Voice from the Field.

Adults collaborating while working

Four state collaborative work

M4 Conference focuses on quality mathematics tasks

The 2019 M4 Conference was hosted by the Iowa Department of Education on March 1, at the Iowa Event Center with over 450 mathematics educators attending.  The M4 or Midwest 4 (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri), is a collaborative effort of midwestern states to bring top mathematics education presenters to rural states.  This year, Iowa was the host and drew attendants from neighboring states such as Illinois, South Dakota and Minnesota.


The M4 Conference focused on the effective teaching practice Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving from Principles to Actions: Mathematical Success for All . This is the second Effective Teaching Practice in the Teaching and Learning Principle.  Principles to Actions was the focus of the Department’s mathematics professional development during the summer of 2017 and was the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM’s) landmark publication in 2014. According to April Pforts, the mathematics consultant at the Iowa Department of Education, “Mathematics educators across the nation remain steadfast in their consensus: Principles to Actions supports the most effective principles and practices to impact student achievement for all.”


Participants attended either an elementary or a secondary session with Tracy Zager and Graham Fletcher and Robert Kaplisky and Dan Meyer, respectively.  Attendees received the book by Tracy Zager, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You Had.  A book study as a follow-up is planned. This conference was sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education, Great Prairie AEA, and the Iowa Council Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM).

For more information, contact April Pforts, or (515) 314-6243.

ELPA21 Logo

Peer Review Process underway

Team submits evidence to support English Language Proficiency assessments

An Iowa team of five invested many hours this winter documenting evidence of the process used to administer Iowa’s English Language Proficiency (ELP) statewide assessments, known as ELPA21 and the Alternate ELPA21 for English Learners with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities.

 The purpose of the Peer Review is for states to provide evidence that they are doing the following:  

  • Meeting statutory requirements under Title I
  • Developing and implementing valid and reliable coherent state assessment systems
  • Documenting technical quality
  • Applying assessment results in a manner consistent with professional assessment standards

ELPA21 and the alternate ELPA21 were developed with a consortium of twelve states led by the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at the University of California, Los Angeles. Each state was required to submit evidence to support a set of required criteria and another set of evidence had to be submitted by CRESST.


“I’d have to describe it as a very tedious process,” said Colleen Anderson, the lead writer for Iowa’s section of the Peer Review. “It required detailed, technical writing and reporting of data. It was a lot of work to showcase the evidence,” she said.


The Department submitted its response for review prior to the March 17 deadline and expects to get feedback in August. Anderson also said this will be similar to the process that the Department and Iowa Testing Services will complete next year on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP).

For additional information, contact Erika Cook at or (515) 240-3103.

Iowa State University's Summer Institute

Iowa State University’s School of Education is offering its second annual Summer Institute!

The Summer Institute provides workshop opportunities for practicing educators for which participants can earn licensure renewal credit.  The cost of the workshop is $85.00 per licensure renewal credit.


This summer they are offering workshop opportunities in technology, the Next Generation Science Standards, effective classroom management, the New Iowa Social Studies Standards, social/cultural issues, and literacy. 


For more information or to register,  please contact Heidi Doellinger at (515) 294-6368 or