Educators at Nixon Elementary in the Cedar Rapids School District experienced a 1,000% increase in their building’s online resources usage during the 2011-2012 school year. At the same time, the building experienced a 428% increase for materials usage from the Media Center at Grant Wood AEA.
Dee Crozier, principal at Nixon Elementary, explained that professional development activities facilitated by Grant Wood AEA provided support for these increases. “During the 2011-2012 year, our teachers were involved with a book study focusing on Daily 5, which helps students develop the daily habits of reading, writing and working independently,” Crozier said. “Reading was our biggest concern and additional resources were needed to support our work with students.”
Through a visit to Grant Wood AEA and staff from Grant Wood AEA coming out to the building, the teachers received professional development on available online resources and how these resources support students.
“Through these activities, the teachers learned what was available,” Crozier said. “The remainder of the year was spent incorporating the online resources as part of our building’s professional development activities.”
“The 2012-2013 school year is our second year of training on the online resources,” Crozier continued. “Grant Wood AEA is bringing the training to our building before school so our staff can continue to learn about available resources. It’s important to find the time to share information about these free resources.”
The online resources include those of Iowa AEA Online as well as additional resources offered by Grant Wood AEA.
Iowa AEA Online (www.iowaaeaonline.org) is a virtual library that provides no-cost access to 13 high-quality, web-based resources for accredited public and non-public preK-12 schools. Students and staff have access at school and at home.
Iowa AEA Online is funded and provided by Iowa’s Area Education Agencies. In addition to the resources of Iowa AEA Online, Grant Wood AEA offers three additional resources for schools in the AEA’s service area. These resources include EBSCOhost; FollettShelf and netTrekker.
Kamber Boeckmann, a first-grade teacher at Nixon Elementary, uses BookFlix to help students build fluency. “I use the video resources for many social-emotional videos. The resources have built our reading comprehension and fluency. If we are writing about something, I have often used the books to promote informational writing. We are able to view the books and write a piece based on our learning. Children can see the books large enough to be able to use a graphic organizer to help with their thoughts.”
“I love the tag readers and the listening library,” Boeckmann continued. “I plan to come to Grant Wood AEA soon to check out materials for the year. I used them all the time last year.”
Cassandra Wood-Jun, a fifth-grade teacher, shared that the online resources provide students with access to resources. “Currently, the resources are providing support for my classroom’s reading groups and support for social studies.”
Kathleen Goslinga, GWAEA media assistant, said, “The online resources provide districts cost effective, online educational tools for all grade levels. Access is available 24/7 and provides a safe learning environment for students.”
Last year Iowa’s AEAs spent $1,256,621 on the Iowa AEA Online resources. If every school in Iowa had contracted directly with the individual companies, the cost would have been approximately $17,452,000. The AEAs take pride in providing these shared online resources with all of Iowa’s educators and students.