Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Vacation Reading At Your Local Library

Georgia Public Library Services has been coordinating the Vacation Reading Program across the state for more than 20 years and 2002 is no exception. This year's theme is world.wide.reading@your library and the public libraries in your community are already getting started.

The Vacation Reading Program centers on two key elements: a self-directed, independent reading component and a theme-based programming effort to encourage children and families to participate.

Summer is a time for fun, but it's also a time to continue learning. Children who continue reading during school vacation s maintain or increase vocabulary and language skills, while those who do not read will actually lose them. The Vacation Reading Program helps encourage school children to continue building their skills throughout the summer months by making reading fun. One of the program's major purposes is to encourage children to read for pleasure! Children will enjoy the opportunity to read what they want, rather than something that has been assigned.

Georgia Public Library Services realizes that literacy learning needs to start at a young age, so the Vacation Reading Program encourages adult caregivers to read aloud with children who are not old enough to read themselves. This promotes a love of reading and offers a good role model for the importance of reading.

The Vacation Reading Program is one of the most important components in the broader scope of library service to children and their families. By engaging the imagination through personal interaction, literature based programs, displays, and age-appropriate print and audiovisual collections, the library fosters a love of reading in children. Encouraging the use and exploration of the public library equips children to succeed throughout their school years and prepares them to become life-long learners as well as life-long public library users.

Be sure to talk with your class before they leave for the summer and encourage them to make the most of summer through the Vacation Reading Program!

Saturday, June 1, 2002

Letter from the Director

Dear Educator:

We have had quite a year here at PeachStar for 2001-2002. This year we expanded our satellite offerings to three separate channels programmed by grade level in order to provide more content and make recording easier for media specialists became Georgia's exclusive resource for Ready to Learn trainings and support materials brought character education into Georgia classrooms through our CONNECT! video series brought you SmARTistic: Experiencing Academics Through the Arts, a video created in conjunction with the Georgia Council for the Arts designed to help teachers integrate arts into the curriculum helped to change the face of technology in the classroom with the advent of our video streaming capabilities developed a multimedia distance learning program in Interrelated Special Education that allows certified teachers to add-on certification in special education in as little as one year redesigned our website, transforming it into a phenomenal resource for Georgia teachers and students.

We anticipate surpassing this outstanding record with an even better 2002-2003 school year! To begin with, we look forward to seeing many of you this summer as you visit us in Atlanta to participate in one of our many professional development offerings as part of our Educator-In-Residence program. Last year's Teacher-In-Residence program was such as success, that we decided to expand our summer offerings to include all educators, including media specialists and staff development coordinators. See the article on page X for more information about each of the workshops being offered.

PeachStar will be printing a special August issue of Pipeline to help Georgia educators start the school year right with important information about how to use PeachStar resources to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom.

PeachStar thanks all Georgia educators for their hard work and commitment over the last academic year. We eagerly await the opportunity to continue working with you in the Fall to further enhance the use of educational technology in Georgia classrooms.

C. Blaine Carpenter, Ph.D

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

You've had almost two months now to feel your way around PeachStar's great new website. We hope you find it as useful as we do! While we're sure you've already discovered them, we wanted to take a moment to really explain two features we feel will be particularly helpful to you as teachers: the new Program Guide and Teacher Toolbox. These two resources will make the integration of PeachStar technology into the classroom a cinch!
Program Guide
When PeachStar staff sat down to begin planning for our new Program Guide, we asked Georgia teachers what would be most helpful to you and used your input to direct the design and functionality of the new guide. Some of what you told us you needed from an online program guide was

* a more dynamic search engine
* more information about program content
* detailed episode descriptions
* program provider information
* copyright information

Well, we've provided all of that and more! To recap from the April article, you can get to the Program Guide in just one step from any page on the PeachStar website. Links to the Program Guide are located on the main toolbar at the top of each page and also on the bottom toolbar of each page to make it easy for you to find the guide no matter where you are on the website. Once you've found the Program Guide main page, it's simpler than ever to locate all the information you ever wanted about the programs you're looking for. You can search for programs in two ways: by grade level and subject area or by keyword.

First let's look at the search wizard, which lets you search by grade level and subject area. This is a big improvement over our old program guide search, because it gives you the ability to run dynamic searches. That means that instead of having to choose to search by either grade level or subject area, you can search by both at the same time! For example, if you were searching for kindergarten math programs on the old website, you had to search for kindergarten programs or math programs because the search engine lacked the capability to look for both criteria at once. Never again! As a matter of fact, our new search wizard allows you to search by grade level and not only one, but two subject area categories, called the primary and secondary categories. Once you've selected the grade level, the search engine will present you with all of the primary and secondary categories that apply to that specific grade level. After you have selected your grade level and primary and secondary categories you are ready to search!

Searching by keyword is also a great way to find information because it allows you to really narrow the scope of your search. All you have to do is type in a word or phrase you would like to find information about and click GO!

Now that you know how to search, let's take a look at the kind of results you can expect. For every search you do, you will be given a list of the series and specific episodes that meet your criteria. In addition, you will be given a brief description of the series as well as grade levels, information about closed captioning, and relevant episode titles. For more detailed information, simply click on the series or specific episode title.

Let's look first at what information you will find on the series results page. For any given search, you will find

* primary subject, secondary subject, and grade range for the series
* episode duration
* broadcast rights information
* series provider information
* URLs to series websites and resources where available
* detailed description of the series
* a listing of all episode numbers and titles with descriptions and broadcast times for each episode

That's a lot of information! And to make it easier for you to use and catalog that information, we've put a special print icon on the screen. When you click on this icon, it launches a new window with all of the series information so that you can print a clean copy of it without also capturing the website graphics. Take advantage of this special feature and have important series information at your fingertips even when you're not online!

Once you decide which particular episode you're interested in, click on the episode title and that will bring up the episode results page. There you'll find even more helpful information.

* primary subject, secondary subject, and grade range for that particular episode
* series provider information
* episode description and broadcast dates
* segment titles, durations, and relevant QCC correlations where available

Teacher Toolbox
This feature may be one of the most helpful ones for Georgia teachers who are learning about PeachStar and the integration of technology into classroom teaching and learning. You can reach the Teacher Toolbox in two ways: from the homepage or under the News tab. To view all of the resources under the Teacher Toolbox in either of these locations, simply click on view all.

The Teacher Toolbox is organized into four main sections:

* Summer Workshop
* Featured
* Workshop In A Box
* Other

Each of these sections contains important information you need to stay on top of what PeachStar is doing for Georgia educators.

The Summer Workshop section contains detailed information about the 2002 Educator-In-Residence program as well as online applications for each of the workshops. In addition to this information, you may also find highlights from the 2001 Teacher-In-Residence program, including a description of the work accomplished in each workshop, participant photos, and brief bios of past participants.

Under the section entitled Featured you will find updated information each month about something new and exciting PeachStar has to share. For example, in April we featured special activities for Georgia educators to use in the classroom to celebrate Earth Day 2002. Look at this section each month to find out what's new at PeachStar!

You may already be familiar with Workshop In A Box, but if not, now is the time to get to know it! Under the Workshop In A Box section of the Teacher Toolbox you will find a link to the Workshop In A Box website, a guide for writing lesson plans, and a guide for developing PowerPoint presentations. Follow the link to the website to learn everything you ever wanted to know about PeachStar Education Services!

Under the Other section, we currently have an informative PowerPoint presentation about Bloom's taxonomy as well as the satellite reauthorization form for media specialists.

The Teacher Toolbox section contains valuable resources to help educators in the classroom. We will continue to update this area with additional tools as they become available, so be sure to check the Teacher Toolbox regularly for updates!

Well, there you have it: the all new Program Guide and Teacher Toolbox. We just know these new additions will make it easier for you to find what you need when you visit our new website! Log on today and start learning with PeachStar!