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 The Georgia Stories: History Online web site addresses this need through its rich sources of historical documents.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 Original historical documents, study guides and other related educational resources are available.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