Tuesday, February 6, 2001

PeachStar Celebrates African American Heritage

In February, PeachStar will observe Black History Month with a variety of programming showcasing the significant contributions African Americans have made, not only here in the United States, but also around the world.

The selections will include episodes from PeachStar's awarding-winning Georgia Stories series that focus on African American history, culture and the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights unit will be enhanced by video excerpts from the GPTV documentary Hosea Williams: In His Own Words. Before the Reverend Williams passed away, GPTV conducted one of the last full-length interviews with the Civil Rights leader. From his home in East Lake, Williams recounts his extraordinary life, from his childhood in South Georgia and his later alliance with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. to his work with the needy. This fascinating journey emphasizes the importance of education and of standing up for your beliefs, regardless of the consequences. With odds stacked against him throughout his life, Williams rose to the challenge of finishing high school in his 20s, completing college, and becoming one of the wealthiest African Americans in Savannah, but gave up his wealth to join the Civil Rights Movement. Under his leadership, both Savannah and St. Augustine became racially integrated. Williams later became a political leader, serving in the Georgia House of Representatives, the Atlanta City Council and the DeKalb County Commission. Williams' poignant observations about the current state of racial relations in Atlanta provide the context for further classroom discussion.

Teachers: GPTV will rebroadcast this hour-long documentary in February. Teachers who tape this program should preview the interview prior to class viewing as it contains mature content and language.

See the next page for a comprehensive listing of programming PeachStar will air in February in observance of Black History Month.

How Can I Use Technology and the QCC with

Teacher Universe/Galaxy Classroom brings many best practices in teaching and learning together with an extensive array of resources, including hands-on and minds-on investigations, take home extensions, interdisciplinary connections and teacher learning opportunities with ongoing support - all delivered through state-of-the-art telecommunications and quality interactive/inquiry-based video.

Teacher Universe/Galaxy Classroom is proud to announce the inclusion of IntegrateOnline101 into the Galaxy Classroom professional development series. Galaxy teachers will have the opportunity, at no additional charge, to learn and practice effective technology integration through online resources to support their Galaxy standards-based curriculum. In addition, the technology integration skills learned in IntegrateOnline 101 can be applied to all subject areas to enhance their classroom curriculum.

Teacher Universe IntegrateOnline 101

IntegrateOnline 101 is a classroom, scenario-based, online program, incorporating multimedia demonstrations and simulations, narration, and interactive hands-on projects. Based on learning objectives, teachers learn to use technology to support their standards-based classroom to engage students and reinforce learning.

Each IntegrateOnline 101 course includes a pre-and post-assessment that creates a custom learning path for each participant. Progress reports can be instantly generated online. Teachers can work with Integrate Online 101 at their own pace, in their own style, anytime, anywhere, with no lost classroom time.

How do I become a Galaxy Classroom?

Galaxy Classroom is an elementary science and language arts curriculum. Galaxy Classroom integrates all of the QCC requirements with video (via PeachStar!), hands-on investigations, and communication via email. Kids and teachers are using satellite and Internet technologies for a compelling reason! There are 435 registered Galaxy schools in Georgia, with over 2,000 registered teachers, and over 50, 000 kids!

Registering to be a Galaxy Classroom is FREE, through funding from the Georgia General Assembly.
To register for Galaxy Classroom or for the Integration courses,
contact Christine Kane at ckane@galaxy.org or 800-303-9070, Ext. 41.
Check out our family of web sites: www.galaxy.org and www.teacheruniverse.com.

PeachStar's Professional Development Programming

Last year, PeachStar received numerous requests from Georgia educators to include more professional development programming in the broadcast schedule. In response to your requests, PeachStar is pleased to offer professional development programming for K-12 educators each day from 4-5 PM. The offerings are informative and cover a wide variety of topics that impact teaching and learning.

We encourage schools to offer PeachStar programming for staff development unit (SDU) credit. Keep in mind that the same basic rules and regulations that apply to traditional modes of professional development also apply to video and web-based training.

Local school systems are ultimately responsible for deciding whether training activities are appropriate for earning SDU credit. In addition to whatever guidelines are set at the school and district level, basic state requirements must be met. The Georgia Department of Education requires that

* 10 clock hours of instruction must be attended to receive one staff development unit;
* Attendance must be documented for each workshop offering; and
* Mastery verification or on-the-job performance verification must be documented for each workshop offering.

Schools and systems that are considering the use of PeachStar programming for staff development purposes should understand that, while PeachStar serves as the instructional delivery system for the programming, it is the responsibility of each school or school district to provide the following:

* An on-site facilitator to verify participant attendance at each session (required by state guidelines);
* On-site personnel to document that participants have completed workshop activities successfully or that new learnings have been incorporated successfully into the job as verified by an on-the-job performance assessment (required by state guidelines); and
* An on-site facilitator to ensure that school or school district requirements for earning staff development units are met.

If you are interested in making PeachStar programming a part of your staff development plan, contact your school or system staff development coordinator. There is an existing form called the Staff Development Unit Course Completion form, approved by the Georgia Department of Education, that your system might want to use to document successful completion of SDU course work.

Sunday, February 4, 2001

Building a Better Media Repository

Since 1994 when the PeachStar Satellite Network first began airing instructional video resources, we have made every effort to identify the best educational programming available and to purchase that programming for use by Georgia schools. In the early years, we sought out programming that already had a national reputation and was being used successfully in other states. We also purchased programming recommended at First View, an annual conference where public television station professionals previewed and evaluated new instructional videos. We soon had established an impressive media repository that included such favorites as GALAXY Classroom, Reading Rainbow and Integrated Science.

In an effort to directly involve the educational professionals who use PeachStar programing in the programming selection process, we instituted PeachStar Program Screening in 1997. During Screening, Georgia school administrators, teachers and media specialists could view excerpts from the programming rated highest at First View and vote for their favorites. Blockfeeds of these programs via the satellite network enabled all schools to participate; however participation was voluntary. The results, then, did not provide a statistically valid measure of the preferences of the Georgia learning community. Because we asked simply for viewers to indicate programs they "liked", results also did not indicate the actual value of the program for instructional purposes. Finally, educators were asked to evaluate programs simply from segments of an entire program or series, requiring a leap of faith that the quality of the entire program matched that of the excerpt.

Now PeachStar is raising its program selection procedures to a higher level. We will not conduct PeachStar Program Screening this year; rather, we are developing a new Program Evaluation Instrument to ensure all PeachStar video resources effectively address clearly identified instructional needs of Georgia classrooms. Details of the new process will be announced soon; however, the basic elements of the Program Evaluation Instrument already have been determined:

1. We will identify focus groups comprising educators who represent each grade level and academic subject area. The groups will reflect our state's diversity in terms of wealth, geography and ethnicity.
2. Strict, clear criteria will be established to guide focus groups in their evaluations of programming. Criteria will include:
* Does the programming address the objectives of Georgia's Quality Core Curriculum (QCC)?
* Does the programming address other curricular standards recognized by professional educators?
* Based on the actual experience of the educator who is doing the evaluation, does the programming address real-world classroom needs?
* Is the content of the programming presented effectively?
3. Evaluators will assess not only video programming but also all print and web resources associated with that programming.
4. Members of the focus groups will receive thorough training in the selection procedures before they begin to evaluate programming.
5. Evaluations will be made of the entire series, rather than of excerpts.
6. Once programming has been evaluated and selected for inclusion in PeachStar's repository, the results of the evaluations will be published in the PeachStar Program Guide and on our web site. That will help educators determine which PeachStar resources best meet specific classroom needs.

The success of this new process will depend not only upon the design of the instrument but also upon the commitment and hard work of the focus group members. We soon will begin enlisting the assistance of dedicated professionals who wish to take part in this process. Your participation will ensure that every title in PeachStar's media repository meets the highest standards of experienced Georgia educators.

Thursday, February 1, 2001

A Letter from the Division Director

Dear Colleagues:

The value of a good education is immeasurable. As a science educator in the university system for more than 25 years, I have seen knowledge transform a student's life. Former students with limited experiences of the world now have exciting careers in science because of what they learned in their first biology class. Other students, who might otherwise have no access to a college education, now are enrolled in degree programs thanks to distance learning. They, too, are discovering a brighter future than they ever thought possible.

This state has a tremendous need for high quality curriculum support in its schools. Teachers find it difficult to juggle the demands for teaching core subjects while assuring students develop the skills they need to succeed in the high tech world.

That's why I feel so proud to be the new director of PeachStar Education Services, a Division of Georgia Public Broadcasting. I know that PeachStar can change students' lives by giving them a new way of looking at learning and the world. We envision PeachStar offering a truly integrated, multimedia approach to learning that excites both learners and teachers. To accomplish that, we created a work plan with these priorities:

1. Offer multimedia learning packages A new system for selecting PeachStar programming requires all video programming to have lesson plans, web-based learning activities, and other resources to make it easier for teachers to create exciting learning experiences for students.
2. Support professional development Teachers need learning opportunities too. PeachStar will offer more workshops and conferences via satellite for teachers to grow their professional skills. One such course will cover integrating technology-based media in the classroom. This video/web series will allow teachers to experience technology-based learning themselves and acquire needed skills at their convenience.
3. Maintain close ties with the learning community Education is a collaborative process. To ensure success, PeachStar is developing multiple channels for ongoing communication with its partners. Regular satisfaction/needs surveys will allow media specialists and teachers to express their needs. Involving the Georgia professional associations for the different K-12 subject areas in the program selection process helps us target programming to real Georgia content needs. Participation of our staff in education associations will connect us to the issues.
4. Support integration of technology in the classroom - Imagine a legion of experienced classroom teachers demonstrating to and supporting their peers in utilizing technology and PeachStar in daily classroom activity. We are making that a reality by creating the PeachStar Specialist Team. By next school year, this team, along with our existing satellite help desk service, video on request line and web site will give educators the tools they need to teach our children to succeed ? in school and in life.

This ambitious plan gives us much work to do. Our talented staff, now organized in three functional teams, already is hard at work making achievement not simply a goal but a way of doing business. We thank you for your support and look forward to an even more productive, rewarding partnership as we move forward. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to share them with us. We are here for you so you can be there for your students.

C. Blaine Carpenter, Ph.D.
Division Director
PeachStar Education Services