Monday, January 8, 2001

Georgia Stories: History Online

Teachers of Georgia history (mandated by the state for all eighth-grade public school students) generally fall into one of several categories:

* those who are teaching the subject for the first time and did not major in the subject area in college;
* those who have lived in the state a short time and have little knowledge of the state's history;
* those who are experienced Georgia history teachers who continuously seek to broaden their knowledge of the subject and to vary their presentation in the classroom.

All of these teachers share a concern for sufficient resources to teach Georgia history. The Georgia Stories: History Online web site addresses this need through its rich sources of historical documents.

The Georgia Stories web site represents a partnership between The Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Designed and maintained by Tech's Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC), the site is closely correlated with the award-winning Georgia Stories I & II video series produced by PeachStar Education Services. The Georgia Stories video series consists of 37, 30-minute videos, and each of those half hour programs is subdivided into two or three "stories" which focus on discrete Study Topics in Georgia history. In all, 107 Study Topics are featured in the video series, and 23 of those topics already are covered in-depth on the web site, with more being added in the future. (The box on the next page shows the Study Topics currently available at Georgia Stories: History Online.)

The web site is a unique educational experience that permits students and teachers to assess primary source archival material on Georgia history. Original historical documents, study guides and other related educational resources are available. Student activities, questions, vocabulary, study aides and opportunities for students to post their own individual or group work are possible. Primary source materials include newspapers and magazine articles of the times, photographs, personal letters, journals, reports, public documents and recorded audio oral histories. All materials are correlated with study questions and with Georgia's Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) standards.

There has been significant use of the site by younger students, high school students, college students worldwide, and research scholars. Comments from visitors are always welcome in the "Guestbook." Some examples:

"I think this is a fabulous web site. It is full of interesting articles and stories for all age groups and educational for all." Nancy T. Rodgers-Neame, Florida, June 11, 2000

"The Georgia Stories web site offers many great resources which make our state's history even more personal and interesting to my 8th graders. Thank you for the hard work that goes into it." James Harrington, teacher, Ephesus Elementary, Ephesus, Georgia, March 29, 2000.

"For a parent whose time is limited this was a great time saver with good info!" Veverly D. Bell, parent, Sycamore, Georgia, February 29, 2000.

"I think that Georgia Stories Online is a good opportunity for kids to learn about history!" Stephanie, student, 8th grade, Madras Middle, Palmetto, Georgia, February 22, 2000.

"I am researching the various personal stories about the "Trail of Tears" in the hopes of finding information about my Great Grandmother, who family tradition reports, was adopted by the Sandlin family from the displaced Indians trekking to the Indian territory." Harold Beck, Longview, Washington, July 5, 2000.

"The Georgia Stories video series is the most popular programming ever produced by PeachStar and the most widely used series aired over our educational satellite network," said Blaine Carpenter, PeachStar Director. "According to a survey we conducted last spring, 59 percent of all responding K-12 schools and 95 percent of middle schools use Georgia Stories I & II. Now the instructional value of the videos has been greatly enhanced, thanks to the tremendous job that Georgia teachers working in conjunction with the staff at CEISMC have done to develop the web site. The Study Topics areas on the site are incredibly deep, offering far more background, detail and nuance than can possibly be covered during a 10-minute video segment. This is a premiere resource for anyone who is interested in Georgia history, whether you are an eighth-grade student or a Ph.D.," Carpenter said.

The great majority of the information on the site is available in an open section accessible to all web users. There also is a password protected section, divided into two parts:

* archival materials restricted to an educational audience
* a "teachers' only" section that provides background, references and guides to the topics and associated study questions.

If you are an educator who would like access to the restricted sections of the Georgia Stories: History Online web site, you can request a password from Carolyn Cole at CEISMC. Because of the rights agreements that GPB has with the owners of some of the archival material that is in the restricted sections, we must be able to verify that you are an educator. Send Carolyn a fax, on your school letterhead, stating you are an educator at the school, to (404) 894-9675. Be sure to include contact information (your school email address or school phone number) on your fax. You may also phone Carolyn at (404) 894-4847 or email

Friday, January 5, 2001

PeachStar and JASON XII Bring You Hawaii

This month, you can explore the Hawaiian islands live via PeachStar with Dr. Bob Ballard and his team of JASON Project researchers and Argonauts. It's the latest installment in the popular series of JASON Project interactive electronic field trips.

The JASON XII team chose Hawaii for the 2001 expedition site because of the "living laboratory" aspect of the islands, where researchers and participants are able to the study the elements of the natural world first hand. Viewers will experience Hawaii from a multidisciplinary perspective, including island geology, climate, biology and culture. Using volcanoes as the main theme of the project, the explorers will investigate this dynamic process both on the land and in the sea. The researchers will compare the volcanic process with other events throughout the solar system. They will also examine how the unique geology and climate of Hawaii have given rise to a distinct biology, featuring a remarkable array of endemic species. In addition, the team will explore characteristics of the Hawaiian culture and its native people.

For the first time, one of Dr. Ballard's Argonauts is a Georgia student. Timothy Trout from Greenbrier Middle School in Columbia County will join the explorers on the expedition. His enthusiastic perspective on the natural world will add a great deal to the team. "Underwater exploration, in my opinion, is one of the most fascinating areas of science. There are so many unusual plants and animals and such beautiful colors there. Everything seems to move with the same rhythm. Even the shells that are thousands of years old add to the picture of the underwater world. Discovering a new species would be equally exciting," stated Trout in his application to the JASON Foundation for Education.

The JASON Project offers students and teachers in grades 4 through 9 a comprehensive, multimedia approach to enhance teaching and learning in science, technology, math, geography and associated disciplines. The project delivers its educational content through a print curriculum, videos, fully interactive Internet programming and live satellite "telepresence" broadcasts. The mission of the JASON Foundation for Education, founded in 1990 to administer the program, is to excite and engage students in science and technology. The program also strives to motivate teachers and provide them with professional development. Dr. Ballard founded the JASON Project in 1989 after receiving thousands of letters from school children wanting to know how he discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic.

You can view the live JASON broadcast on PeachStar's Channel 420, January 29 - February 9, Monday thru Friday at 10 AM, 11:30 AM, 1 PM, 2:30 PM and 4 PM daily. For more information on the JASON Project, visit the National Science Center web site.

Monday, January 1, 2001

and a New Leader for PeachStar

Blaine Carpenter has been named Division Director for PeachStar Education Services, succeeding Janie Smith, who has retired after 30 years of service. Blaine previously served as the division's Distance Education Consultant responsible for postsecondary and higher education distance learning projects. He came to GPB from Clayton College & State University (CCSU), where he is Academic Director of Distance Learning and Professor of Biology.

Blaine earned a bachelor's degree from West Virginia Wesleyan, a master's from Marshall University and a Ph.D. in Biology-Ecology from the University of Cincinnati. He has chaired the CCSU Distance Learning Advisory Committee, Instructional Technology Committee and is a member of the Georgia Board of Regents committee for Institutional Distance Education Administrators and the GSAMS Technical Advisory Committee. He is the author of numerous articles and papers on critical thinking and distance education. Even before coming to GPB, Blaine worked closely with PeachStar to build CCSU's Going the Distance program, a collaboration between colleges and universities, the Public Broadcasting Service's Adult Learning Service and public broadcasting stations.

"I am excited about the opportunities and the challenges that this new position offers," said Blaine. "PeachStar has a proud tradition of providing programming and other educational services to Georgia classrooms and to all of our state's life-long learners. My twin goals are to expand those services and the use of those services in classrooms across Georgia."

New Leadership for Georgia Public Broadcasting

James M. Lyle is Georgia Public Broadcasting's (GPB) new Executive Director, succeeding Claude Vickers who has retired. Lyle, who previously served as GPB's Deputy Director, took over his new responsibilities November 1. After Vickers announced his plans to retire, Governor Roy Barnes recommended that Lyle be appointed as the new Executive Director. The Georgia Public Telecommunication Commission (GPTC), the state policy-making authority that oversees Georgia Public Broadcasting and its networks, made the appointment official in October.