Thursday, December 4, 2003

The JASON Project Takes Georgia Students to the Rainforest

The JASON Project is currently engaging students in exciting science, math, geography and reading lessons with JASON XV: Rainforests at the Crossroads. This year's curriculum takes students and teachers on an exciting journey of discovery to explore the Isthmus of Panama region and its fascinating tropical rainforests. The broadcasts will examine such topics as:

* Human history of the Isthmus of Panama
* Tropical rainforest ecosystems of Panama
* Tools and methods of scientific research
* Geology and geologic history
* Watershed and Terrestrial studies
* Interrelationships of local, regional, and global systems
* Management and monitoring of natural resources
* Comparative forest studies

Again this year, PeachStar will assist JASON teachers in sharing with their students the onsite broadcasts with scientists, student Argonauts, and the Project's founder, Dr. Robert Ballard. Rainforests at the Crossroads will air live at the National Science Center at Fort Discovery in Augusta from Tuesday, January 27th until Monday, February 9th. PeachStar will rebroadcast the live feeds from Panama one day later for those classes unable to make the trip to Augusta. Two different, hour-long JASON Project feeds will air at 10 AM and at 1 PM.

If you are not currently using the JASON Project in your classroom and would like to learn more about it, visit for information about training and materials for Georgia JASON Project teachers. You can also learn more about the project by visiting

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

PeachStar's Digital Delivery Makes Learning Available Anytime - Anywhere

As technology trends continue to wax digital, PeachStar remains on the cutting edge by expanding our online delivery system to include greater amounts of high quality programming, including professional development webcasts tailor-made for Georgia educators. Now, more than ever, is the time for teachers and media specialists to begin taking advantage of this alternative delivery system.

PeachStar first made video streaming available in September 2001, allowing students and teachers across the state of Georgia to access educational video clips over the Internet without the use of a VCR. Two years later, our video streaming repository now houses more than 20,000 video clips from more than 5,000 different programs, including many of PeachStar's originally-produced programs. Unlike satellite-delivered programming, video streaming allows teachers and students to search for video assets on-demand by grade, subject area, or keyword. Each of the videos has also been correlated to the appropriate Georgia Quality Core Curriculum Standards; teachers may also search for clips using QCC Standard as a criterion.

PeachStar's video streaming allows educators to utilize video resources in an entirely new way than ever before: through segments. Segmented video resources give educators the flexibility to select only those clips that apply directly to the standards they intend to teach rather than using valuable class time showing an entire full-length video.

Just like the programming PeachStar airs via satellite, the videos available via video streaming are subject to copyright limitations. In order to protect the distribution of these resources and ensure their continued availability to Georgia educators, the streaming website is password protected. Each school gets its own username and password, which allows educators from the school to stream and download video resources and ancillary materials. This feature also allows PeachStar to collect information about who is getting the most benefit out of the streaming service as well as those schools who may require additional training and support. The top users of the video streaming service have logged between 30,000 to 47,000 views since the site's inception. The PeachStar team applauds these users for being pioneers with this new educational technology!

Since the site launched, PeachStar has recorded 526,095 successful transactions. This means that 526,095 of video clips have been either downloaded or streamed live for use in Georgia classrooms. Use of video streaming continues to grow as more and more educators take advantage of PeachStar's training opportunities and become familiar with the use of the technology in the classroom. If you would like to learn more about how video streaming can impact your classroom, download the user guide on the PeachStar website at and call (404) 685-2550 to schedule an onsite training.

PeachStar Gets a New Home on AMC-3

When the Telstar 4 Satellite failed on September 19, Georgia Public Broadcasting began working tirelessly to secure space on an alternative satellite so that we could restore service as quickly as possible to the schools we serve across Georgia. We were pleased to announce on October 15 that we found a new home on the AMC-3 satellite, which is located just next to Telstar 4, at 87 West longitude. Once we had secured a new satellite, though, great deal of work remained before service could be restored to each of our receiver sites.

Moving to a new satellite meant that each of the more than 2,400 satellite receiving sites we serve statewide had to be repointed - this was no small task. Working with Convergent Media Systems, the company that provides satellite help desk services to our users, we generated a call list of schools that had contacted PeachStar or the help desk over the last two years. E-lerts and web postings encouraged additional schools to contact PeachStar to ensure they got on the call list as well. Between October 15 and November 5 Convergent called each of the schools on the list and attempted to assist media specialists onsite to repoint the satellite receiving equipment over the telephone. Beginning in late October, Convergent dispatched technicians to those sites whose receivers could not be successfully repointed via phone. They will continue to make site visits until all of our users' receiving equipment has been repointed and their signals restored.

During this period while PeachStar and Convergent are working to restore satellite service we will not be airing our regular schedule. Instead, we will broadcast programs that educators have requested through our Video On Request service, which may be accessed via telephone at 404-685-2580. We will resume broadcasting our regularly scheduled programming in early January, once the work of repointing has been completed.

If you have not yet been contacted by Convergent and still need to have your satellite receiving equipment repointed, please call them at 800-877-7805 or call PeachStar at 888-501-8960 and a technician will be happy to assist you with restoring PeachStar service to your classroom.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Executive Director's Message

Dear Educator:

Over the last couple of months, you may have read news reports or seen and heard announcements on GPTV and Georgia Public Radio about the loss of the satellite that delivered our television, radio and education services. Since its owner, LORAL, declared their satellite a total loss in September, we have been working hard to restore service to all of our audiences.

Using a land-based back-up delivery system, GPTV and Georgia Public Radio have remained on the air with varying levels of service in most areas of the state. Most affected has been GPB's PeachStar Educational Services, which transmits instructional programming directly to schools. Since the satellite was PeachStar's primary delivery system, service to all Georgia's 2,400+ educational satellite sites has been interrupted. However, to continue to serve Georgia's schoolchildren, Georgia Public Broadcasting has expanded the PeachStar over-the-air service, overnight on GPTV. Seven days a week from midnight until 7 AM, PeachStar's instructional programs air on GPTV's nine stations, which are universally accessible.

We have taken steps with another satellite to restore our signal delivery, and as you read this, both television and radio should be back up and running. However, since the new satellite is in a completely different position than the previous one, all of the 2400+ satellite receiver dishes at the educational sites will require repositioning and reprogramming, a process that will take a number of weeks. During this time, GPTV will continue to broadcast PeachStar's instructional programming overnight, providing this invaluable service to Georgia's schools.

We've appreciated your patience as we've worked toward solutions. If you have any questions, please give us a call 1/800/222-4788, for questions about GPTV and Georgia Public Radio programming; 1/888/501/8960 for questions about PeachStar programming.

James M. Lyle

November is the Time for Fun Learning at Scitrek

By now you've become familiar with SciTrek, your favorite hands-on science and technology museum dedicated to inspiring and educating young people to become the innovators of the future. In the past we've told you about exciting exhibits like "Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats," "ZOOMZone," and "Microbes: Invisible Invader-Amazing Allies." This November SciTrek is offering you several opportunities to learn about science in challenging and exciting ways!

Challenger Space Mission
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be an astronaut? Well, now is your chance to find out! Come explore SciTrek's new Challenger Learning Center and participate in a 2-hour space mission simulation program. You will have an opportunity to experience both Mission Control and the Space Station! Missions are geared for children and adults ages 9 and older. You can fly into action on November 8 from 10 AM-12 PM or 1-3 PM. Call 404-522-5500 ext. 253 for more details.

Family Day

Sometimes families just need to spend a little quality time together. And what better way to spend that time than learning together through fun adventures at SciTrek- November 15 will be family day at SciTrek. Admission will be free all day long and participants will have access to all permanent SciTrek exhibits, including:

* Life of the Brain
* Science of Ice Hockey
* RoboMars
* The SciTrek Express
* ZOOMZone
* Electric-Magnetic Junction
* The Color Factory
* Light Reflections
* Perception and Illusions
* Simple Machines: How Things Work
* KidSpace
* Communications Gallery
* STARS - SciTrek Amateur Radio Society
* Georgia Technology Hall of Fame

FIRST Lego League Competition
FIRST Lego League is an international program for children ages 9-14 that combines a hands-on, interactive robotics program with a sports-like atmosphere. Teams consist of up to 10 players that focus on such things as team building, problem solving, creativity, and analytical thinking. With the help of LEGO® MINDSTORMS- Robotics Invention System technology, young participants can build a robot and compete in a friendly, FIRST-style robotics event specially designed for their age group. Using LEGO bricks and other elements such as sensors, motors, and gears, teams gain hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles as they construct and program their unique robot inventions. Come watch this exciting competition at SciTrek from 10 AM-5 PM on November 22! If you are interested in registering for the event, please visit

Monday, November 3, 2003

Professional development Credit Opportunities On PeachStar

Even while increasing budget cuts make it difficult for schools and systems to fund professional development opportunities for educators, requirements for staff development unit credits remain the same.

One of the requests PeachStar most consistently receives is for cost-free educator professional development. In response to these requests, PeachStar has taken great measures to enhance our repository of professional development programming both by creating new programming in-house and by seeking out the highest quality programming on the market - and offering them free to Georgia educators in need of professional development to meet recertification requirements.

Annenberg/CPB courses represent one of the many sources of professional development programming PeachStar makes available to Georgia educators at no cost. These courses consist of at least eight sessions that include video and discussion/problem solving components as well as print materials (available directly through Annenberg) and websites. Annenberg courses offered through PeachStar cover a variety of education topics, including:

* Elementary Arts Education
* School Reform
* Literature Instruction
* Classroom Theory
* Geometry Instruction
* Algebra Instruction
* Civics
* Primary Sources
* Reading Instruction

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

If you are interested in making PeachStar programming 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 work through PeachStar.

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Physics and Chemistry Through PeachStar Classroom

PeachStar Classroom is Georgia Public Broadcasting's initiative to deliver credit-bearing courses to Georgia students in subject areas where many systems lack staff with specialized certification. High school chemistry and physics courses are currently available, providing video content lessons and classroom materials to help teachers provide their students with high-quality science instruction.

The primary method of course delivery is through 30-minute video streaming broadcasts featuring teachers presenting the material to students, demonstrations of principles and techniques, students asking questions and interacting with the teacher, and short assessments of the material. A certified teacher serving as an onsite facilitator for the class interacts with the students, sets up labs, and administers assignments and assessments for the course.

Available classroom activities range from interactive worksheets and videos to online labs and quizzes. The discussion boards enable students and facilitators to post questions and receive answers from PeachStar Classroom's certified content specialists.

It's still not too late to register for physics and chemistry for the 2003-2004 school year. Many schools have found that their chemistry or physics teachers would like some assistance in the face of a challenging teaching schedule. Other schools have expressed interest in using the materials in the event of a long-term substitute, or a teacher absence. Some are interested in using the courses during second semester to provide remedial materials for first-semester chemistry or physics.

New to our program this year are schools in Banks, Cherokee, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties as well as the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, who join Dodge, Ben Hill Taliferro and Calhoun counties who participated last year. McIntosh County will be joining us with physics when spring semester begins.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Cobb County Continues Campaign For Alcohol and Drug Awareness

Fall 2003 marks the fourth year that PeachStar and Georgia Public Broadcasting has partnered with the Cobb State Court Judges Council to bring the message of alcohol and drug abstinence to students across Georgia. The Cobb County Alcohol and Drug Awareness Conference, a biannual conference broadcast live from a different Cobb County school each year, seeks to educate Georgia middle and high school students about the dangers of drug and alcohol use through a variety of approaches.

The fall event, to be held at Wheeler High school in Marietta from 9 AM-2:30 PM on Friday, October 31, will feature the following presentations:

* Motivational Speaker Randy Haveson
* Inmate Forum - This portion of the program will allow students across the state to ask questions of currently serving inmates online at The inmates will discuss how drugs and alcohols contributed to the behaviors that led them to prison
* Juvenile Court Forum - Members of the Juvenile Court System will discuss gang awareness
* Drug Dog Presentation - A specially trained dog from the K-9 division will demonstrate the way police use drug dogs to locate illegal narcotics
* Super's Corner - Cobb County Superintendent Joseph Redden will look at the role of the county's Public Safety Department, "Campus Police," in relation to alcohol and drug awareness
* Public Safety Exhibits - Exhibits will address such topics as public safety special operations, including STEP, COPS and DUI Task Force Units
* Legal Consequence Forum - Representatives from the criminal justice system will be on hand to answer questions in a roundtable format

Tune in to PeachStar's Channel 420 on October 31 to see the program live! For more information, visit the program website at

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Survey Says...

PeachStar is dedicated to improving the content and quality of our programming and services. In order to reach that goal, PeachStar conducts an annual survey to help us gain a better understanding of your needs as both teachers and media specialists as well as to get your feedback on our existing programs and services.

Between March and April 2003, 796 media specialists responded to PeachStar's 2003 Annual Survey, which was administered electronically by Burke Incorporated, a third-party research firm. The survey contained 58 questions that examined broad areas such as use of and satisfaction with PeachStar services; use of and satisfaction with PeachStar programming; sources of information about PeachStar; equipment; and accessibility. The bulk of the survey was arranged in the form of statements that survey respondents answered using a Likert scale. For example, the question may be "Do you use PeachStar's Satellite Delivered Programming?", and your answer choices would be Yes, No, Not Accessible, or Not Familiar With. In addition to these questions/statements, there was an open-ended section that allowed respondents to provide feedback in their own words.

The overall response was very positive, indicating high levels of satisfaction in many areas, though there were a few areas in need of improvement. PeachStar will take all of the information gathered through this survey into consideration as we make changes to our programs and services and plan for future initiatives.

According to the survey results, 91% of teachers use Pipeline magazine as one of your sources of information about PeachStar, with the media specialists themselves being the second highest-rated source at 83%. More than 90% of the media specialists surveyed indicated that their school uses PeachStar's satellite-delivered programming, while 58.6% use PeachStar's newer Internet-delivered resources.

1. Answers to questions about the quality of PeachStar programming and services were overwhelmingly positive. More than 85% of teachers answered Agree or Strongly Agree as how they feel about each of the following statements made about PeachStar resources:
a. Have instructional integrity by providing a context for learning including the following:
b. Learning goals
c. Performance objectives
d. Varied instructional strategies
e. Assessment strategies
2. Stimulate students' prerequisite knowledge
3. Encourage active student participation in the learning process
4. Provide authentic activities that connect learning to real-world situations
5. Enhance learning retention and transfer
6. Extend and enhance learning for students in my school
7. Facilitate my ability to be more engaging in my instructional delivery
8. Allow me to tap into varied learning styles (multiple intelligences) of my students
9. Help me to be a better media specialist
10. Allow me to have greater efficiency in working with teachers and students by supplementing school resources with PeachStar programs
11. Are on the forefront (leading edge) in offering Georgia educators resources in multiple media formats:

The information provided in the annual survey was invaluable not only because it gave us a good reading of how PeachStar is used and perceived by the state as a whole, but how utilization is affected by specific factors such as geographic location, accessibility, services, and quality. Thank you to all of the media specialists who took the time to participate in this important work. Remember, PeachStar is always eager for any feedback you may provide regarding our programming and services.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

First Lady's Summit Brings Our Children To Forefront

First Lady Mary Perdue has long been known for her commitment to children. On August 27, 2003 she cemented that commitment with the First Lady's Summit On Our Children, a statewide event anchored in Atlanta and held simultaneously at seven regional sites. The Summit was designed to bring attention to the plight of the state's abused and neglected children and to launch the Our Children Campaign, the First Lady's effort energize community resources on behalf of Georgia's children. In addition to the Atlanta site, concerned citizens were able to participate in the Summit from the following satellite locations:

* Augusta
* Toccoa
* Macon
* Tifton
* Dalton
* Columbus
* Savannah

The day began with a welcome by Georgia Public Broadcasting's Executive Director James Lyle and was followed by remarks from Deb Smith-Callahan of Pfizer, Our Children Campaign Steering Committee Chairperson. First Lady Mary Perdue then welcomed participants and spoke about her recent research into the area of child abuse and neglect in Georgia as well as her vision for the Campaign's future. Governor Sonny Perdue also joined the presentation to lend his support to the Campaign and to share many of the efforts he is making to improve child welfare in the state.

The opening session also included a passionate recounting by Shane Salter, Chief of Staff in the Washington D.C. Deputy Mayor's Office and a former foster-child. Other speakers included IBM's Ann Cramer, who shared the importance of corporate support for initiatives such as the Our Children Campaign, and Bishop Harold Dawson of One Church, One Child, who delineated the role the church can play in the important work of child advocacy.

After the morning session, the Summit broke into workshops that focused on four key areas:

* Prevention
* Courts
* Foster/Adoptive Parents
* Housing & Services

Summit attendees were able to attend an two of these workshops, which featured moderators who are experts in the various fields that impact child welfare. The day drew to a close with a final meeting of the full group, where Mrs. Perdue received feedback from each of the regional sites and shared her vision for the Our Children Campaign. Mrs. Perdue challenged all of the participants in the Summit to get involved, saying, "These are my children. These are your children. These are our children."

To learn more about the First Lady's Our Children Campaign or how you can become involved in the work of child welfare, call toll free at (866) 786-6661 or visit the web at and click on First Lady's Our Children Campaign.

Saturday, October 4, 2003

PeachStar Fine Tunes Fine Arts Holdings

Long a solid provider for high quality core content like math, science, and reading, this fall PeachStar is establishing itself as a strong source of Arts Programming. Last year, in recognition of the importance of the arts to a well-rounded curriculum, PeachStar hired a full-time Fine Arts Project Manager to cultivate arts holdings that would have the greatest impact on Georgia classrooms.

PeachStar always uses rigorous selection criteria in acquiring programming for broadcast to Georgia schools, and the acquisition of arts programming is no different. Programs selected must align with the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum standards in the area of Fine Arts. Additionally, programs are selected based on the quality and integrity of content in the areas of Dance, Music, and Theater Arts. Selected programs must also demonstrate a range of topics and experiences that respond to the making, seeing, performing, and critiquing of the arts. As always, educator feedback is an important factor in choosing programming that will air on PeachStar.

As you know, the elementary programming schedule has been reorganized this year in order to meet the needs voiced by teachers across the state. According to the new schedule, Fine Arts programming will air each weekday between 8-9 PM according to the following plan:

* Monday - Dance and Theater Arts
* Tuesday - Music
* Wednesday - Visual Arts
* Thursday - Visual Arts
* Friday - Multi-arts Series

Fine Arts programming will air regularly on Channel 420 on Fridays. Channel 430, which features adult learning and educator professional development programming, will feature Fine Arts programming for educators throughout the week.

PeachStar has already expanded our arts holdings a great deal, but will continue to acquire additional programming throughout the school year. We now send out E-lerts about the new programming we air; if you are not already receiving them, send an email to and we will add you to the distribution list.

For more information about PeachStar's Fine Arts programming or to schedule presentations or staff development workshops on arts education, contact Barbara O'Brien at (404) 685-2545 or

Friday, October 3, 2003

Educator In Residence - Redefined

This summer PeachStar held our third annual Educator In Residence (EIR) program, a series of intensive educator professional development trainings that offer Georgia teachers and media specialists the opportunity to expand their skills sets in a variety of areas, including video production, multiple media integration, and media specialist skills. Unlike those held in previous years, the 2003 EIR programs made use of webcasting technology, which allows us to broadcast live or taped trainings via the Internet to users in remote locations across the state.

The most competitive workshop this year was definitely the Institute for New Media Specialists (INMS), a rigorous training program designed for media specialists with less than five years experience. In its second year, the INMS has expanded greatly from its original four-day curriculum to include 20 training modules that cover key topics ranging from standards for media center operation to copyright to developing a public relations plan for a successful media program.

New media specialists participated in the program both at the Georgia Public Broadcasting headquarters in Atlanta and at satellite sites across Georgia via live webcasts. The initial phase of the Institute covered the first 10 training modules, with the remaining 10 scheduled via webcast throughout the school year. Each training module was led by top media specialists with years of experience in their area of expertise. Topics covered included:

* Standards, Rules, and Policies for Media Center Operation
* Evaluating the Overall Media Program
* Budget
* Media Program Operations (collection mapping, weeding, building, cataloging, circulation)
* Information Resources (PeachStar, GALILEO, Georgia Learning Connections)
* Information Literacy Skills
* Collaborating with Teachers on Planning Student Instruction
* Collaborating with Parents and Volunteers
* Developing a Plan for Your Media Program
* Copyright
* Working with Special Initiatives (book fairs, visiting authors, Georgia Media Festival)
* Storytelling
* National Board Certification for Media Specialists
* Video Production
* Grant Writing
* What Kind of Leader Are You?
* Collaborating with System and School Administrators
* Collaborating with School Staff to Plan Professional Development
* Collaborating with Public Libraries
* Developing a Public Relations Plan for Your Media Program

While participation in these modules, which are part of the Institute for New Media Specialists, is limited to those educators who signed up in Summer 2003, PeachStar has additional professional development opportunities available.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

No Child Left Behind: What Will it Mean for Georgia?

Representing the most sweeping change in federal education legislation in decades, the No Child Left Behind Act aims to achieve a goal that no society has ever attempted: a quality education for 100% of our children by an absolute date. As the 2003-2004 school year begins, all 50 states are moving forward in implementing their plans to meet the requirements of the law-one that asks schools to describe their success in terms of what each student accomplishes.

Exclusively for PeachStar audiences, Congressman Johnny Isakson & State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox have conducted an extended discussion of the impact this broad, sweeping bill will ultimately have on every school and district in Georgia and in the nation. Addressing educational leaders, parents, and students from across the state, Isakson and Cox focus on the aspects of the law that will affect Georgia's schools most significantly:

* The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Georgia's Testing Program
* Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Assessments, Requirements, & Sanctions
* School Choice & Supplemental Services
* Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO): Moving Towards Safe & Drug-free Schools

Touching on many of the crucial and controversial aspects of the law, the program provides a timely and informative catalyst for class discussions on the role of the federal government in education, the use of test scores as measures of school and student performance, and the elimination of the achievement gap in our schools.

"No Child Left Behind operates on one basic assumption: that every child can learn, and every child deserves to learn. The law means what it says: no child should be left behind, and all of our efforts toward reforming our schools must therefore be focused on ensuring that student achievement and learning improve. For too long, we've had a system that educates some of our children well. We need a system that educates all of Georgia's children well. Under No Child Left Behind, we're on our way to achieving that goal."
-- State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox

Monday, September 8, 2003

PeachStar Classroom Seeks Science Enthusiasts

As PeachStar Classroom enters its second year (five schools participated in the program's pilot during 2002-2003), we wanted to take a moment to offer you the opportunity to learn more about this innovative PeachStar initiative. Emerging out of discussions with the Professional Standards Commission about the shortage of certified science teachers in the state of Georgia, PeachStar Classroom offers high school students credit-bearing college preparatory physics and chemistry courses at no cost.

Experienced Georgia educators certified in physics and chemistry developed the curricula for both courses based on the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum guidelines. The primary method of course delivery is through 30-minute video streaming broadcasts featuring teachers presenting the material to students, demonstrations of principles and techniques, students asking questions and interacting with the teacher, and short assessments of the material. A certified teacher serving as an onsite facilitator for the class interacts with the students, sets up labs, and administers assignments and assessments for the course.

Available classroom activities range from interactive worksheets and videos to online labs and quizzes. The discussion boards enable students and facilitators to post questions and receive answers from PeachStar Classroom's certified content specialists.

This year, seven schools have already decided take advantage of PeachStar Classroom, which is now available to all Georgia schools. If you would like more information about PeachStar Classroom, email Jeff White at for a CD-ROM with sample materials and a list of the requirements for participating schools. Note: Even though the first semester has already started, you may still enroll your school for second semester.

Sunday, September 7, 2003

A Tale of Two Schools

This September PeachStar and GPTV will begin airing A Tale of Two Schools, a PBS special that examines the reading crisis in America today. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the program tells the story of parents and teachers at Bearden Elementary in Mississippi and Walton Elementary in Texas, two schools combating long histories of poor performance. A Tale of Two Schools was developed in order to demonstrate the notion that "readers are made, not born." Executive Producer Noel Gunther describes the program as "an intimate story about what it really takes to teach a child to read. We spent a year inside these schools and found a story of hope, of faith, and of the power of committed adults to help shape the life of a child."

According to the Reading Rockets Project, the initiative behind the development behind A Tale of Two Schools, 37% of all fourth graders read below the basic level, having difficulty understanding simple story lines or lacking reading skills entirely. Phyllis Hunter, a leader of reading reform in Texas, home to Walton Elementary, has dubbed reading "the new civil right, because children can't access their other rights unless they can read and read well."

Be sure to catch A Tale of Two Schools PeachStar and GPTV. Also, visit the Reading Rockets website for teaching tips, articles by reading experts, daily news about reading, and interviews with prominent children's book authors.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Director's Message

As we move into the first full month of the 2003-2004 school year, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the exciting things PeachStar has in store for you and your students.

As you learned from the article on the inside front cover, September is Literacy Month in the state of Georgia and Georgia Public Broadcasting is joining forces with the Governor's Office and other key state agencies to drive change in the current literacy levels within the state. Both GPTV and PeachStar will air public service announcements about child literacy featuring First Lady Mary Perdue and her twin granddaughters, Sunni and Mary Kate. These messages will be geared toward both students and teachers, stressing the importance of reading to child development. Also as part of this literacy effort, GPB and Mrs. Perdue will present the First Lady's Summit on Our Children, a teleconference broadcast to select sites around the state that will help to build support for children who suffer from abuse and neglect.

This fall also marks the second year of PeachStar Classroom, the online physics and chemistry courses we offer to Georgia high school students at no cost. In order to expand the use of this wonderful resource, we are offering interested schools CD-ROMS with sample lessons and materials.

We have launched not only our new programming schedule, which you read about on page 3, but also our new Follett Library system, which allows media specialists to download MARC records that contain key information for each of PeachStar's programs.

PeachStar and Georgia Public Broadcasting will continue to develop new and effective initiatives throughout the coming school year.


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

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Georgia's First Lady for Children

In Mary Perdue, Georgians have more than just a First Lady. They also have a dedicated child advocate, concerned particularly with the areas of literacy, foster care, and at-risk children. While Mrs. Perdue holds a Master's Degree in speech therapy, she has nurtured children's spirits by serving, along with her husband, as a foster parent to a number of infants through Covenant Care Services in Macon.

Mrs. Perdue has made it clear from the beginning that she looked at her position as First Lady as an opportunity to promote the cause of child welfare in the state of Georgia. According to Mrs. Perdue, "Children are some of our most valuable citizens. I believe that if we meet the needs of children in their formative years, then we can eliminate many of the problems that older children and teens face," she said.

One of the ways Mrs. Perdue believes we can help Georgia's children is to teach them the power of words early on in life. For Mrs. Perdue, a great lover of books, the opportunity to read to children is always welcome. She prefers books that teach a moral lesson, and her favorite one to read to school children is Miss Twiggley's Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox, which, according to Mrs. Perdue, "teaches young readers that people's differences are really assets."

In September, Mrs. Perdue will be focusing on the issue of Children's Literacy. She is joining with Georgia Public Broadcasting and Georgia schools to promote the importance of reading in the lives of young children. Look for two public service announcements Mrs. Perdue has created about the importance of reading to young children with Mrs. Perdue and her twin granddaughters, Sunni and Mary Kate, which will begin airing on GPTV and PeachStar in September.

PeachStar Makes Literacy a Priority

September is Literacy Month in the state of Georgia, and in celebration of that, we wanted to dedicate space in this issue of Pipeline to discussing the importance of literacy in the lives of not just students, but of all Georgians. The passage of the Reading Excellence Act in 1998 marked an important shift in our nation's thinking about the value of literacy and literacy programs. The Reading Excellence Act provides grants to help educational institutions in their endeavors to:

* Teach every child to read by the end of third grade
* Provide children in early childhood with the readiness skills and support they need to learn to read once they enter school
* Expand the number of high quality family literacy programs
* Provide early intervention to children who are at risk of being identified for special education inappropriately
* Base instruction, including tutoring, on scientifically-based reading research

The funds provided through the act were to be used to accomplish the above goals through 1) improving educator professional development in the area of reading, 2) carrying out family literacy services, and 3) providing early literacy intervention for children experiencing difficulties.

In 2001, PeachStar partnered with the Georgia Department of Education to address this first task: improving educator professional development in the area of reading. Together we created The Reading Excellence Act Best Practices Institute, a ten-episode professional development series, models best practices in comprehensive reading instruction according to the tenets of the Reading Excellence Act. The programs focus on the six essential dimensions of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, explicit systematic phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and motivation.

PeachStar and Georgia Public Broadcasting have consistently addressed the second task, family literacy services, through our years of participation in PBS: Ready To Learn program as well as our adult education endeavors. Family literacy, as defined by the Reading Excellence Act, includes parent and child interactive activities, early childhood education, adult training, and parent education. Through Ready To Learn, PeachStar provides trainings to parents and caregivers and a complete day-time program schedule of educational children's programming. PeachStar reaches adult learners through both GPTV Overnight and trainings across the state that focus on programs such as GED Connection and Workplace Essential Skills, which address key issues for adult learners. GPTV Overnight also provides parents with a wealth of information regarding childcare, with a special focus on helping children learn to read.

PeachStar's Ready To Learn involvement also addresses the need to provide early intervention for children with reading difficulties. Programming such as Between the Lions assist young readers with the development of phonemic awareness as well as vocabulary and comprehension. Through the First Book program, PeachStar distributes books to children who otherwise could not afford them, thereby giving them access to the instructional materials they need to develop their reading skills. PeachStar regularly conducts trainings at Head Start facilities across the state, working with employees to develop sound strategies for literacy instruction.

As you can see, even while we give literacy special recognition during the month of September, it is a year-round priority for PeachStar. We work closely with parents and educators statewide to ensure that Georgia's youngest citizens have access to the knowledge and support they need to become good readers and successful students. Look for Reading Excellence Act Best Practices Institute to air throughout the month of September on Channel 410 and visit the PeachStar website regularly to learn more about our Ready To Learn initiatives.

Monday, September 1, 2003

On Your MARC, Get Set, Go! PeachStar Cataloging Goes Digital

PeachStar has always endeavored to use the suggestions and requests of the educators we serve to shape the development of our resources. You may recall that in the summer of 2002 we worked with select media specialists to catalog our entire library of satellite-delivered programming. Laura Gunn, of Valdosta City Schools, led the work conducted by the following media specialists from all parts of the state:

* Wanda Tucker
* Kay Rasbury
* Sonya Boyd
* Debbie Vassell-Mitchell
* Lynn Craig
* Dianne Atwater
* Anne Bohn
* Andy Spinks
* Rosemary Scalessa
* Marianne Chapman
* Diane Donaldson
* Susan Fancher
* Margie Hall

This initiative, which involved the cataloging of PeachStar resources by Dewey Decimal number and subject heading, was in direct response to feedback from our 2002 annual survey, in which media specialists overwhelmingly indicated a need for PeachStar resources to be catalogued using a universal classification system.

Once the work of cataloging had been completed, we still needed to find an effective way to share the information with media specialists across the state. After researching available resources, we settled on the Catalog Plus system by Follett Software Company. This system took the cataloging work done by the media specialists above and converted it into MARC records - Machine Readable Cataloging records. MARC records are widely used by librarians because they allow for the sharing of bibliographic resources. Each bibliographic record contains such information as item description, Sears subject headings, and classification or call number. Converting all of our records into MARC records has essentially created an electronic PeachStar card catalog for use by media specialists.

While this resource is available to anyone, schools currently using Follett's Z39.50 server will be able to tap into this system to retrieve records electronically.

Saturday, August 9, 2003

SciTrek Goes Batty With

SciTrek's new interactive exhibit, "Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats," brings the world of bats into the light of day, explaining the mysteries and dispelling popular misconceptions about bats. Using special effects, multi-sensory interactive displays, a Gothic castle, and lifelike environmental settings like caves and rainforests, the exhibit describes the ecological importance of these creatures and gives visitors a true appreciation of the bat world.

Dr. Merlin Tuttle, founder of Bat Conservation International (BCI), the international leader in conservation and education initiatives that protect bats and their habitats, served as a scientific consultant in the development of the "Masters of the Night" exhibit.

As visitors enter the exhibit, you get an opportunity to view the world as a bat sees it - upside down! The exhibit continues by walking you through the ages of time and the changing representations of bats over the centuries by different cultures around the world. A hall of bat portrait photography and a giant screen video introduce you to the real world of bats as diverse mammals that benefit the environment with their fascinating abilities.

You then enter a rainforest setting at dawn for a look at bats' habitats and appearance. Interactive displays demonstrate roosting habits, hibernation, echolocation (sonar ability), pollination, flight, and other key behaviors. Finally, the exhibit takes you through a curator's office where they can touch models of anatomical specimens and learn about current scientific research involving bats.

For more information about "Masters of the Night" and other exhibits at SciTrek, visit the website at

Friday, August 8, 2003

Get a Smart Start on the Upcoming School Year

The early years of a child's education, ages birth through five, are the most critical in a child's development. In fact, ninety percent of a child's intellect, personality and social skills are formed by age three. Studies consistently show that children who experience high-quality, stable child care demonstrate better language and math skills, are more able to form secure attachments with adults and other children, and develop better cognitive and social skills.

Despite the importance of early care, a significant number of Georgia's more than 500,000 pre-school-aged children do not have access to quality early care and education. Smart Start Georgia is changing this startling statistic by providing early care professionals with the skills they need to offer quality learning opportunities to Georgia's youngest children.

"At Smart Start Georgia, our aim is to improve the quality of early care and education for all children ages birth through five, promoting lifetime learning and ensuring greater achievement throughout the child's education and beyond," said Sharen Hausmann, director of Smart Start Georgia.

Through innovative programs, Smart Start Georgia provides financial support for early care professionals to continue their education, onsite assessment to foster improvement in early learning settings, and training to enhance learning environments across the state.

In its four-year history, Smart Start Georgia has developed a reputation as an agent for change, garnering much support from Governor Perdue and other officials throughout the state. Smart Start is a public/private partnership among the State of Georgia, the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, United Ways of Georgia, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and more than 40 additional supporting organizations.

For additional information on Smart Start Georgia or how to become involved, please call 1.877.STARTGA or visit

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Executive Director's Message

Welcome back to PeachStar and Georgia Public Broadcasting as you begin another new school year. We have made good use of the summer months through training opportunities around the state as well as developing new resources we hope you will find useful in your classroom and that we believe can have a positive impact as you work with students.

PeachStar's third annual Educator In Residence program took on a different shape this year, making use of regional training facilities and emerging technologies to expand our reach to include a greater number of educators in need of professional development. By including webcasting in our training repertoire, we are now able to provide professional development to an infinite number of educators around the state, live and via archived sessions you can access on demand. The article on page INSERT has more information about the program.

You will notice a significant change as you browse through the Listings section of this back-to-school issue of Pipeline. In response to repeated requests by educators, we have revised our approach to elementary program scheduling to reflect the scope and sequence of classroom instruction. We have shifted the program descriptions and copyright information to the website to allow for an expanded broadcast schedule. Descriptions are now presented chronologically and represent the actual breadth and flow of instruction, making it easier for you to incorporate PeachStar resources into your lesson plans. Middle and high school programming is organized into a daily schedule by subject area, and detailed course listings, as well as a tutorial, may be found online to assist you with the selection of videos appropriate to the courses you teach.

Our well-established services such as video streaming, video on request, and face-to-face trainings will continue throughout the school year as well, combining with our newly developed resources to provide you with the highest quality support for your endeavors on behalf of Georgia's learners. As always, we value your input and remind you that your feedback is crucial to shaping the development of our programs and services. Please contact us with any comments or concerns at

As the school year begins, GPB will be involved in two new initiatives that we hope will support and reinforce your efforts in the classroom. We will be working with Georgia's First Lady, Mary Perdue, on a statewide effort that begins with the First Lady's Summit on Our Children, which we will host at our headquarters facility in Atlanta and broadcast to selected sites around the state on Wednesday, August 27. The goal of the Summit is to build corporate, legislative and community resources for abused and neglected children. Also, Mrs. Perdue has designated September as Children's Literacy Month and will be working with GPB to encourage parents and care givers to read to their children. You will be getting more information from both Mrs. Perdue and from GPB about these initiatives.

All of us here at Georgia Public Broadcasting look forward to continuing our partnership with Georgia educators to bring our students the best in educational technology. Best wishes for a great school year.

James M. Lyle
Executive Director

Bringing Science Into the 21st Century with the US Army and eCyberMission

As teachers, one of our most important tasks today is kindling a passion for science within young learners. In order to help you do that, the United States Army has created eCyberMission, a national science fair competition that

* gives students ready access to professional scientists and engineers via the Internet
* targets students in grades 6 through 9
* correlates to National Science Education Standards
* is available to students at no cost
* offers young scientists a number of great prizes

The objective of the program is to foster interest in science among students across America. The Army sees eCyberMission becoming "the premier, inclusive science fair for the nation."

It is very easy for students to become involved in eCyberMission. Students in the same grade form into teams of three or four, select an adult advisor, and register online at the eCyberMission website located at Each team will then develop a science fair project in one of the following four broad areas: Health and Safety; Sports and Recreation; Environment; or Arts and Entertainment. Unlike a traditional science fair project, all work and experiments done in conjunction with eCyberMission will be submitted online.

The members of each team will have ready access to Army scientists and engineers who have volunteered their services to eCyberMission. These so-called "CyberGuides" will be available to answer students' questions and offer advice via private e-mail, chat sessions, and threaded discussion groups.

Once each team submits its completed project online, Army judges will evaluate entries based on stringent criteria and award prizes at the regional level. Top regional winners will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC to compete on the national level.

Registration for the next eCyberMission competition begins September 15, 2003. For more information about how your students can take part in this exciting new experience in science education, contact either Ms. Karin Santos at or by phone at (404) 464-6410 OR Mr. Francis Mazzochi at or (404) 464-5435. You may also visit the website at to look at last year's winning entries.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

PeachStar Congratulates This Year's Reading Rainbow Contest Winners

This year PeachStar and Georgia Public Broadcasting sponsored the Ninth Annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, a special event designed to challenge students from grades Kindergarten through three to use their creative abilities to write and illustrate their own stories. Take a look at this year's first place winners from each grade level, who will go on to represent Georgia in the national competition.

Kindergarten - Elizabeth Ann Gunter
Elizabeth, a six year old from Elberton, wrote a story entitled "Dr. Samantha Saves the Game." Her story, which features six original drawings, tells about Dr. Samantha, a mouse who happens to be a doctor, and the way she saves the football game by using her medical skills.

First Grade - Tyler Green

Tyler, a seven year old from Austell, wrote a story entitled "The Big Dog." His story, which features six original drawings, is a first-person account of his encounter with Ranger, a big dog that had gotten away from its owner, and how he came to be his regular bather.

Second Grade - Nazareth H. Hagood
Nazareth, a six year old from Stone Mountain, wrote a story entitled "The Red Tricycle." His story, which features six original drawings, tells of a mysterious red tricycle with extraordinary powers of locomotion.

Third Grade - Lydia Rutland Barnes
Lydia, a nine year old from Savannah, wrote a story entitled "Call-away Garden." Her story, which features seven original drawings, tells of a community of birds created by an industrious chickadee by the name of Mr. Dee, and their troubles with an intrusive hawk.

Monday, August 4, 2003

A New Leader for the Atlanta History Center

In Spring of this year, the Atlanta History Center was pleased to announce James H. Bruns as its new executive director. Mr. Bruns had previously worked with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., both as the founding director of the National Postal Museum and the director of development for the Smithsonian, responsible for institution-wide fundraising and development activities. He received a number of national awards over the course of his tenure at the Smithsonian, including the Smithsonian's Superior Individual Effort Award for 1994.

Bruns brings with him to the Atlanta History Center his experience as an educator, both as a school administrator and an instructional coordinator with one of the largest suburban school systems in the country. He has also worked for the United States Postal Service as a philatelic programs specialist, building on a childhood interest in stamp collecting.

"I am pleased and honored to have been selected," Bruns said of his appointment. "This is a remarkable opportunity and an exciting challenge. I am committed to ensuring that the Atlanta History Center retains its recognized role as one of the nation's leading historical organizations and I look forward to working with its Board and staff to serve the citizens of Atlanta. Together, we will continue to reach out to tell the story of all Atlantans."

The mission of the Atlanta History Center is to inspire people to connect to the past so they may better understand the present and prepare for the future. Visit the website at to learn more about they ways the Atlanta History Center integrates history, education, and life-enrichment programs to offer historical perspectives for all ages.

Saturday, August 2, 2003


For almost ten years now, PeachStar has provided Georgia educators and learners with the highest quality educational programming and professional development available. Originally reliant upon satellite delivery exclusively, PeachStar has consistently taken advantage of emerging technologies, allowing us to expand our delivery to include satellite, video, open-air television, CD-ROM, and the Internet.

In August 2001, PeachStar began offering K-12 educational programming via the Internet through our video streaming service in order to allow users across Georgia to access our programming anytime anywhere. Since its inception, utilization of video streaming has continued to increase steadily, indicating that you are ready and able to take advantage of content in a digital format.

The growing demand from educators statewide for professional development opportunities, combined with limited funding, has caused PeachStar to reconceptualize the way we offer not only our programming, but our training as well. The success of web-based resources like video streaming on the K-12 level led us to a search for other kinds of web-related resources that would allow us to train an increasing number of educators across the state in a way that would be both efficient and comfortable for our users. Our search led us to Webcasting, a progressively popular new technology that allows us to bring our traditional face-to-face training module up to speed with today's technological pace.

The idea of Webcasting is as easy to understand as taking apart its name. The 'web' part of the word means that the event takes place online. The 'casting' part refers to broadcasting. So Webcasting is simply broadcasting online. PeachStar has purchased special software that will allow us to bring live, interactive webcasts, as well as archived presentations that can be accessed on demand, to educators across Georgia. This may sound at first like we are just extending the use of video streaming to professional development video resources, but nothing could be further from the truth! The capabilities of Webcasting go far beyond simply streaming video.

In February of this year PeachStar held a pilot webcast screening with a number of select media specialists across the state. The purpose of the webcast was to introduce Webcasting to Georgia media specialists and to determine whether you felt the technology would meet your professional development needs. This original webcast presented a number of components that can be used for any scheduled webcast training, including:

* Live streamed video of the trainer presenting the information
* Synchronized PowerPoint slide presentations that accompany the video stream of the trainer
* Polls and surveys that participants can answer and see results from in real time
* A section where the presenter may post related documents for supplemental use by participants
* A question and answer feature that allows participants to dialogue with the trainer in real time

Feedback provided by pilot participants about their Webcasting experience was overwhelmingly positive. Media Specialists indicated that they would embrace Webcasting technology as a training medium and cited such benefits as its convenience and maximization of their time.

Not only does this technology allow educators to participate in live trainings via the Internet, but it also enables PeachStar to provide you with complete professional development modules on demand. PeachStar's Webcasting software automatically records live presentations as they are ongoing, allowing for the later editing and archiving of the module online for viewing at a later time. As PeachStar staff continue conducting live trainings using Webcasting technology, we will create a growing online repository of complete training modules available for use at any time convenient to you.

Your computer should meet the following specifications to most effectively use Webcasting technology:

* Has an Intel Pentium 4 processor-based system
* Has at least 256 MB of RAM
* Has Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.5 or later
* Has Windows Media Player version 7.1 or RealOne Player installed

The faster your Internet connection, the better the quality of the webcast will be. If you will be viewing the professional development modules on your school computer, you will probably have a T-1 connection, which will provide for a smooth transmission of data. If you are using your computer at home, it is preferable to use a DSL or cable line, but you may also use a standard analog connection, though the quality of the webcast will be diminished.

Now that you know what Webcasting is and what equipment and software you need to utilize it, let's talk about how to register to participate in one of PeachStar's live online professional development trainings. Once a webcast is scheduled, you may visit the PeachStar website at and click on the Professional Development Webcasting icon. Select and click on the training of your choice to go directly to an online registration page. After you have completed the registration form, you are all set. PeachStar's Webcasting software will automatically send you a reminder notice shortly before the scheduled date of your selected training.

PeachStar's first ten live webcasts will be conducted as part of the Institute for New Media Specialists, which began with regional trainings in late June. The ten online modules will be presented live to the cohort of educators taking part in the Institute between August and March, and will later be edited and archived for viewing by any educator.

Continue to look at the PeachStar website throughout the coming school year to find additional professional development webcasts as well as face-to-face trainings as they are scheduled.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

A Message from the Director of PeachStar Education Services

Dear Educators:

As the 2002-2003 school year comes to a close, Georgia Public Broadcasting and PeachStar commend you for the hard work you do each day to improve the education of Georgia students. For our part, we strive to provide you with the highest quality educational resources to assist you with enhancing teaching and learning across the state.

Since we launched the PeachStar Video Streaming site in August 2001, utilization by Georgia teachers and students has increased steadily as PeachStar staff have continued training educators statewide about the implementation of streaming resources into classroom instruction. To date, the site has logged 392,408 individual sessions where users have either streamed video live or downloaded it for later viewing.

This year PeachStar has transformed the face of science instruction in Georgia by piloting PeachStar Classroom, a cost-free initiative that brings credit-bearing courses in physics and chemistry to high schools that do not have certified science educators in these specialties on staff. Implemented in seven schools during the 2002-2003 school year, PeachStar Classroom will be available for widespread implementation in schools statewide during the 2003-2004 school year.

Please note that PeachStar will continue broadcasting quality programming during the summer months to allow media specialists to take advantage of the break to supplement your video repositories. See the listings from page 4 to 18 for airdates and times.


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

Friday, May 9, 2003

Educator In Residence Takes to the Road, Web

For the past two summers, PeachStar Education Services has offered Georgia educators the Educator In Residence (EIR) program, a series of intensive professional development trainings designed to assist you with your professional growth and enhance classroom effectiveness. Increasingly, Georgia teachers and media specialists have indicated a desire to take part in these trainings, necessitating PeachStar?s restructuring of our current training model.

PeachStar has typically conducted EIR trainings on a face-to-face model at the GPB facility in Atlanta that limits the number of individuals who may participate. For example, during the 2002 Educator In Residence program, 40 media specialists had spaces in PeachStar?s Institute for New Media Specialists. By shifting our training paradigm in a direction that makes use of regional trainings and distance learning technology, PeachStar will be able to increase the number of new media specialists reached during EIR from 40 to more than 250.

PeachStar will begin shifting our training strategy this summer with the 2003 Educator In Residence program. In addition to offering trainings here in Atlanta, we will also offer trainings such as video production, media specialist training, and selected technology trainings in locations across the state in order to facilitate attendance by educators who live in outlying areas of the state.

More importantly, though, PeachStar plans to implement trainings via webcasting, the delivery of live and archived video broadcasts via the Internet. In answer to educator requests for professional development on demand, this technology will allow an infinite number of educators across the state to benefit from PeachStar training at times convenient to you.

Summer Reading! Enjoyment and Enrichment All In One

The National Assessment of Education Progress has found that more than 40% of students are unable to read at basic levels. When you consider that research provided by the Reading First Program indicates that children who read well in the early grades are far more successful in later years, the importance of encouraging reading at a young age becomes clear. While strong reading programs in school are imperative, we as teachers cannot underestimate the value of children?s learning to read at home for pleasure. Summer poses both an excellent opportunity and a challenge to get children to read on their own.

According to the American Association of School Librarians, reading proficiency increases with the amount of voluntary independent reading. They go on to say that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not actually lose skills. Such findings indicate how very important it is to prepare your students and their parents for a summer filled with continued reading and learning.

The American Library Association has several suggestions for things parents can do to encourage their children to read over the summer. Recommend that your students? parents make use of some of these practices this summer. In order to best facilitate reading, parents should:

* Make a time and place for reading in the home and encourage talking about reading in their family.
* Take advantage of ?waiting? time to share books: on trips, at the doctor?s office, etc.
* Set a good example by reading themselves and let children know that reading can be not only educational, but also fun.
* Allow children to select books that interest them rather than choosing their reading material for them.
* Take children to get library cards and give them access to a world of reading material.

In order to promote the importance of reading over summer vacation, public libraries have developed the Vacation Reading Program. The two basic elements of the Vacation Reading Program are a) a self-directed, independent reading component and b) a programming effort to encourage children to visit the library on a regular basis during vacation from school. Libraries often offer special programs and incentives to encourage readers of all ages to read for pleasure.

Here in Georgia, the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) takes Vacation Reading very seriously! During the 2002 Vacation Reading Program, more than 300,000 children and families participated, checking out 3.8 million books and attending 6,500 programs. The theme for the 2003 Vacation Reading Program is Books Ahoy! Georgia children will have the opportunity to read exciting books and participate in fun activities around this underwater theme. Local public libraries will sponsor many activities, including reading books about marine biology, ?fishy? word games and puzzles, story time and sing-alongs with pirates, arts and crafts with sea creatures, and video about ocean adventures! Visit the GPLS website to learn more about Books Ahoy! or to help your students locate the public library nearest their homes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

TeacherSource: Online Resources from PBS

Everyone knows that PBS produces and broadcasts fine educational programming. Few, though, know about the great teacher resource available in the form of the PBS website. In addition to program information, pbskids, and Adult Learning Service resources, the PBS website offers TeacherSource, a site devoted entirely to the needs of educators.

Take a look at some of the valuable resources TeacherSource has to offer you:

* Education's best resources by curricular subject, topic, and grade level and standard;
* In-depth professional development services like PBS Mathline and Scienceline
* Details on PBS station outreach activities in your community;
* Tips on how to effectively teach with technology;
* PBS television programs with extended taping rights for educators;
* Access to convenient online shopping for your favorite PBS resources;
* Best practices information from other teachers;
* Convenient tools for teaching, such as recommended books and websites;
* Interdisciplinary teaching suggestions; and
* Free weekly electronic newsletter highlighting new TV and online programming from PBS

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

University System Chancellor Encourages Students to Enroll in CPC, Take College Prep Courses

Communicating his college aspirations message directly to middle-school and high-school students via PeachStar's statewide satellite network, University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith will encourage Georgia students to enroll in the College Prep Curriculum (CPC).

Chancellor Meredith and other University System officials want to increase the number of students graduating from high school prepared to meet the System's admissions requirements, which continue to rise at the campuses each year. Georgia has a low number of high-school students who enter undergraduate degree programs immediately after completing high school; the chancellor wants to raise the aspirations of Georgia students and help them make informed choices about their postsecondary options.

The University System offers students hundreds of degree programs from which to choose. Chancellor Meredith wants students to consider the wide variety of college options available to them in Georgia, and to start thinking early about what courses are required to gain admission into college. In particular, Chancellor Meredith wants to emphasize the fact that all of the state?s 34 public colleges and universities require completion of the CPC to gain admission. By enrolling in college prep, students greatly increase their postsecondary options within the state of Georgia.

By increasing the flow of information about the courses middle-school students need to take to qualify for enrollment in the CPC -- and the rigorous CPC courses high-school students must complete -- the chancellor hopes to increase the number of students who will meet the University System's admissions requirements in the future.

PeachStar and GA Teachers Get With The Program

Those of you who are veteran users of PeachStar programming and services may remember our huge programming acquisition initiative over the spring of 2001. More than 300 Georgia teachers participated in the initiative, reviewing and evaluating existing and potential PeachStar programming to ensure that it met the needs of classroom teachers across the state. The result of the combined efforts of those teachers and PeachStar staff was a repository of quality video programming large enough to fill three satellite channels dedicated to elementary, middle and high, and post-secondary and professional development programming.

Since the completion of the 2001 initiative, PeachStar staff have streamlined the programming acquisition process, performing the preliminary screening and evaluation process themselves and relying on teacher input to review and evaluate only that programming that has passed this initial screening; PeachStar recognizes the value of your time, and by streamlining the acquisition process, we have maximized the time you will spend in the reviewing process. Read on to learn more about the plans for 2003 programming acquisition and to see where you, as teachers and content experts, fit in.

In March 2003, PeachStar staff began the work of programming acquisition by reviewing and enhancing the evaluation rubric that will be used to determine which programming PeachStar should keep, acquire, and discard. Staff used the month of April to review all programming currently being aired via PeachStar according to the rubric and to generate a list of program titles that no longer meet PeachStar?s high standards for broadcast based on the criteria in the rubric. PeachStar staff will use the months of May and June to review potential new programming using the evaluation, which examines such criteria as relation to the Georgia QCC?s and production quality. Staff will generate a list of all programs that meet or exceed the evaluation criteria to be reviewed by teachers in the next phase of the acquisition process. PeachStar staff will identify content gaps and locate additional program offerings to address those gaps.

PeachStar staff will begin preparing materials for reviewers during the months of July and August. They will pull together copies of the evaluation rubric; dub and organize videos to be reviewed; and collect any ancillary materials including print, online, and CD materials, to be reviewed in conjunction with video assets. Teachers will join the process during the months of September and October. Teachers serving as reviewers will either come to the GPB facility in Atlanta or work offsite to review the video assets PeachStar staff have identified and prepared for them. Using the evaluation rubric, reviewers will suggest programming to keep, acquire, and discard. During the month of November, PeachStar staff will analyze and compile the results of the reviewers? evaluations. Using teacher suggestions, PeachStar will generate a list of programming to acquire. The list will be arranged in priority order, with programming that addresses stated content gaps receiving higher priority. PeachStar staff will then begin negotiating rights and arranging the actual acquisition of programs to be added to the PeachStar video repository.

PeachStar Makes Scheduling Elementary

PeachStar has always taken advantage of the feedback provided to us by educators like yourself. You asked for relevant programming ? we correlated the videos in our repository to the QCCs. You told us the information in our printed program guide and broadcast schedule became outdated too soon ? we developed a searchable online program guide and broadcast schedule that?s updated on a regular basis. You told us that it was hard to find time to choose the right video ? and we developed online course listings that tell you exactly what videos address the courses you teach. Now, teachers like you have told us that our broadcast of elementary programming conflicts with your daily routine ? so what do you think we?ve done? That?s right! We?ve created an elementary schedule that reflects the timetable most elementary educators told us would make real time use easier for core subjects. For example, most educators have indicated that they would like to see language arts programming on in the morning, EVERY morning. The new elementary schedule is organized by time slot and repeats on a daily basis.

8-11 AM Language Arts
11 AM-12:30 PM Math
12:30-2:30 PM Social Studies
2:30-4 PM Science
4-5:30 PM Foreign Language
5:30-6:30 PM ESOL
6:30-8 PM Character Education, Guidance, Health
8-9 PM Fine Arts

Media Specialists had special requests, too. The feedback we received from media specialist requested more blockfeeds of popular programs, so we will be airing blockfeeds during the evening hours and overnight to accommodate your requests. Not only that, but beginning with the fall 2003 semester, PeachStar will offer you the programming schedule for the full academic year. Allowing you to see the year-long schedule at a glance, will facilitate the effective integration of video programming into your classroom planning and instruction. When you return to school in August, be sure to visit the PeachStar website at and click on Teacher Toolbox to see the at a glance schedule for the subject area you teach for the entire year. For more detailed program information, continue to use the broadcast schedule search.

Saturday, May 3, 2003

Ter-RIF-ic Summer Reading Tips For Children from Reading is Fundamental (RIF)

Go Somewhere New. The place where you read a book can make the story even more meaningful. Take books about animals along on camping trips or sit under a tree while reading an adventure tale.

Read around the house. See how much reading material can be found around the house without opening a book. Read newspapers, magazines, websites, cereal boxes, toothpaste labels, or mail that comes to your house. Words to read are everywhere you just have to look!

Take a trip through a book. Read about the places you are planning to visit this summer, before you get there. You?ll know more about what you?re going to see before the rest of the family even packs their bags!

Read books from A-Z. Don?t know where to start for summer reading? Let the alphabet help you. Start with an author whose last name begins with A and see how close to Z you can get by the end of the summer.

Keep a reading journal. Write about the books that you read in a summer reading journal. At the end of the season you can see how much and what you?ve read. Best of all, you?ll never forget what the best part about a book was. You can even use your reading journal to make book recommendations to your friends.

Read aloud with adults. Adults need to read just as much as kids do. Reading aloud before bedtime or after a meal is a fun way to spend some time with your parents. Whether you?re the reader or they are, don?t forget to improvise different voices or wear a silly hat to make the story more fun.

Start a book club. Neighborhood kids love to do things in groups during the summer. Why not start a book club with your friends? Just agree to read the same book, then set some time to talk about the book either after you finish a chapter or at the end.

Find a fun series. Find a series of books by an author you enjoy. By the end of the summer, you?ll find you know the characters almost as well as you know your friends from school.

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Writing Rainbow Ninth Annual Contest Comes To A Close

The Ninth Annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest has come to a close and one talented student from each grade K-3 is one step closer to representing Georgia in the national contest. The contest, designed to encourage early elementary aged students to utilize their creative abilities in both language arts and art by developing and illustrating original stories.

PeachStar received more than 200 entries for the 2003 Reading Rainbow Contest. We are extremely pleased with the turnout and thank the teachers and parents who encouraged their students and children to take part in the contest. The first round of judging was conducted from March 31-April 10 by early childhood education majors at Clark Atlanta University and Valdosta State University. The final round of judging was conducted on April 15 by important educational leaders from organizations such as the Georgia Public Library System, The Georgia Department of Education, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Literacy Festival, Georgia State University, Valdosta State University, and Barnes & Noble. Scoring relied on a pre-set rubric with criteria such as writing process and creativity.

Georgia winners of the Ninth Annual Reading Rainbow Contest will be announced this month on Georgia Public Radio and will be posted online.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Earth Day 2003 Brings Water into Focus

Save the Date! Earth Day 2003 is Tuesday, April 22. Begun in 1969 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day is a nationwide holiday to celebrate the Earth and bring attention to the environmental challenges and perils facing the world today. Though initially a grassroots effort, Earth Day has become an icon in mainstream culture, with millions of people around the world participating in events and activities designed to raise awareness about the current and future plight of planet Earth.

According to the Earth Day Network, the focus of Earth Day 2003 is the Water for Life campaign, an international effort by students, families, and community groups to test the quality of local water resources. The health of the world's water supply is affected by a number of factors, not the least of which is pollution created by human activities. Earth Day 2003 provides an excellent opportunity for classroom discussion about the state of the water supply as well as changes that might be made to improve it.

Try using PeachStar's video streaming resources to supplement your discussion of Earth Day and world water quality. Visit the website, click on video streaming, and search by keyword, grade level, or subject area to find video clips to illustrate the complex scientific concepts you are sharing with your class.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Shining the Spotlight on Georgia Middle Schools

In 1999, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform launched the Schools to Watch Program, an initiative that recognized middle schools nationwide that met stringent criteria for high performance. In 2002, the National Forum selected Georgia, California, and North Carolina to pilot state-level Schools to Watch programs and introduce the criteria for high-performance to other schools across the country. Within Georgia, the Georgia Middle School Association (GMSA) and the Georgia Alliance for Middle Level Excellence (GAMLE) have taken the lead in sharing the criteria with schools statewide, and selecting as Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch those institutions that fully meet or excel those criteria.

For the 2002-2003 school year, Crabapple Middle School in Fulton County and Towns County Middle School have been designated as Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch. Congratulations to the educators and students at both schools. These schools ?were selected by state leaders for their academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and their commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels.? In order to be considered for selection, schools had to submit a written application demonstrating their fulfillment of the criteria established by the National Forum, including student performance. State teams visited schools that qualified as finalists to observe classroom instruction; interview faculty, staff, students, and parents; and evaluate sample lesson plans and student work.

Towns County Middle School, located in Hiawassee, Georgia, serves 255 students in grades six through eight. The diminutive size of the school allows the faculty, staff, student body, and parents to be close-knit in an almost familial way. Despite this old-fashioned charm, however, Towns County Middle is a leader among Georgia schools in the use of educational technology. Now in its fifth year of universal laptop use, Towns County Middle uses technology as a tool to bridge the learning gap and assist students in achieving to high standards.

Crabapple Middle School, a Majority to Minority school located in Roswell, Georgia, serves 973 students in grades six through eight. Crabapple has a tradition of high test scores across the board, and disaggregated data shows continued improvement within targeted subgroups. The school achieves high standards by utilizing several recommended middle school organization models including looping, multiage teaming, and expeditionary learning to accommodate the different learning modalities of students.

Linda Hopping and John Lounsbury, the respective heads of GMSA and GAMLE and co-chairs of the Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch Program commend Crabapple and Towns County Middle as ?outstanding schools that promote academic excellence for all students, while responding to the unique developmental needs of young adolescents.? Both schools will serve as mentors for other schools across the state and nation by being showcased in such forums as the Georgia Middle School Association Conference, the National Middle School Association Conference, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform website, and the State Department of Education website.

PeachStar congratulates both Towns County and Crabapple Middle Schools on their excellent work. We would also congratulate the following schools named as Beacon Schools, schools that meet the criteria for Schools to Watch: Armuchee Middle School ; Floyd County; Mercer Middle School; Savannah Chatham County; Renfroe Middle School ; Decatur City Schools; and Taylor Road Middle School; Fulton County.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Prom Preparedness with PeachStar

Spring is here in Georgia and prom time is fast approaching. In recognition of the importance of student safety related to this special event, PeachStar has put together a block of programs to help you discuss prom preparedness with your students. The following programs will air on PeachStar?s Channel 420 during the month of April:
Drinking and Driving
Primary Influence
Ultimate Choice
Multiple Choice
Behind the Smoke Screen: Facts About Tobacco Use

These programs address important issues that become prominent concerns around prom time. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, alcohol abuse is the number one youth drug problem, killing six times more people under 21 than all other illicit drugs combined. Alcohol is a depressant that impairs judgment and alters perception, often leading to out of character sexual behavior, violence, and recklessness. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 35% of all traffic related deaths in Georgia for 2001 involved alcohol. Those statistics grow even more alarming around prom time, when more than 55% of all traffic fatalities nationwide are alcohol related.

Prom can be a safe and wonderful experience for your students if they choose to celebrate it responsibly. Take time to discuss these issues with your students before prom time and make sure they know all of the potential consequences of their behavior; use the programs above to reinforce your positive message about prom safety. For additional information on how you can help your students to enjoy prom responsibly, visit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website or Teens Health.

Monday, April 7, 2003

The ABCs of KET's GED 2002

Adult educators in Georgia and nationwide have found the 26-part GED Connection series produced by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) to be a great help as you prepare your students to take the GED test. In addition to the videos, you can now take advantage of the GED 2002 Online Professional Development website, featuring an interactive orientation to the online training, which may be used as both staff development and as an instructional resource. This tutorial walks you through the online training site and prepares you to take full advantage of the resources it offers.

For those of you who are new to Internet usage, the orientation begins with a thorough explanation of Internet navigation and terminology as well as an overview of the GED 2002 website specifically. The initial overview explains why online training is the right choice for you as an educator and makes special note of the added values of online versus onsite training, including:

* Being available anytime anywhere
* Being self-paced
* Being interactive
* Allowing simultaneous web-exploration
* Serving as a book-marked online reference
* Doubling as both a staff development and classroom teaching tool

As you move through the orientation, you will have an opportunity to learn about the GED 2002 test itself, including its purpose, design, and scoring methods. Detailed descriptions of each test, including Language Arts Writing, Language Arts Reading, Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics are provided along with essential information like number and format of questions, time allotment for test-taking, and a scoring breakdown.

Once you have finished learning the fundamentals of the GED 2002, you will be ready to move on to the training materials. Modules are available for each of the following areas: Math, Writing, and Critical Thinking. Each module is arranged into different topics of interest to educators; for example, Math is divided into sections on problem-solving skills, calculators, and grid formats. The modules will target different skill areas and offer suggestions for effective teaching strategies you might use to reach a diverse group of learners.

Sunday, April 6, 2003

PeachStar Classroom: The Year in Review

Throughout this school year, we've told you quite a bit about PeachStar Classroom, a credit-bearing distance learning initiative that gives Georgia high school students access to courses they might otherwise be unable to take. If this is the first time you have heard about PeachStar Classroom, take a moment to review a little bit about the program.

Since Georgia currently faces a shortage of certified teachers in specialized secondary-level science, PeachStar and the Professional Standards Commission have chosen physics and chemistry as the two pilot courses for PeachStar Classroom. The courses, being piloted in seven schools around Georgia, rely on the existing PeachStar satellite infrastructure to deliver video content produced in conjunction with certified science educators. In addition to the video component, the courses also feature print and online materials including labs, worksheets, teacher instructions, and note-taking guides.

All teachers participating in the pilot received training at the Georgia Public Broadcasting facility in Atlanta before courses began. In addition, these teachers have access to support via telephone, email, and website resources. On-demand remote trainings to be delivered via web-casting are anticipated for the 2003-2004 school year.

There are currently more than 75 students enrolled in PeachStar Classroom from the following school systems: Dodge County, Ben Hill County, Calhoun County, Gwinnett County and Taliaferro County schools. The response from participating schools has been overwhelmingly positive. Take a look at what some of the administrators, teachers, and students had to say about PeachStar Classroom during recent site visits.

We are a small charter school with only one teacher per grade level. And because we only have one science teacher, of course, that teacher cannot be an expert in all of the science areas. So we considered PeachStar Classroom the ideal program so that students will be able to learn from an expert?s perspective all of the science areas.
Albie Arbee of Taliaferro County High School

I would tell any other principal that this has been a positive situation for us. That our students like it. Our teachers have made it work. It was a good program and we would like to offer it again next year. It is something we anticipate working with for many years to come.
Susan Long of Dodge County High School

The students enjoy it. It is a new technique for them. They were used to seeing the teacher lecture, model things on the blackboard. Of course, the teacher will still do that, but after they view the film and discuss it. It adds a different, expanded dimension to the class seeing it on tape first.
Albie Arbee of Taliaferro County High School

Being in the classroom as long as I've been, it's just important that I know that my students are getting the material that they need. I feel like they are getting the material [from PeachStar Classroom].
Melanie Peacock of Dodge County High School

It had been so long since I was around this [physics and chemistry] material. I was petrified. I didn't think I could do it. After a short time using the material, instead of having a dread, it became my favorite class of the day because I had learned to use the material and a short prep time of reviewing the tape and checking, of course, with our text.
Fred Whitaker of Taliaferro High School

I was skeptical about PeachStar Classroom because I'm a traditional classroom teacher and that is all I was accustomed to. So I thought my students might suffer if the program didn't go well. I decided to give it a try and I've been real pleased that I did.

Melanie Peacock of Dodge County High School

In the PeachStar Classroom it is not just watching television. There are also a lot of different things like handouts and labs that go along and really supplement the information that is given on the video.

Evan Clements of Dodge County High School

Students ask questions all the time about what kind of class this is and what exactly we do. And the first thing I let them know is that it is not just watching television all period. You really do work. This class is very challenging and that is what we need. I really enjoy it. It is challenging and you get great rewards from it.
Samantha Stevens of Dodge County High School

The quiz at the end of the episodes asks us questions about previous sessions and what happened during that session and it makes sure you paid attention and it recaps your mind about what went on.
Angelicia Harper of Taliaferro County High School

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Learning Is Sweet at the Atlanta History Center

Recognizing that anytime is a good time for ice cream treats, the Atlanta History Center (AHC) is now featuring Ice Cream: The Whole Scoop, an interactive family-focused exhibition documenting and celebrating the popularity of ice cream. The exhibition, open until May 26, is presented locally by Mayfield Dairies, with additional support from Publix Super Markets Inc. and Publix Super Markets Charities.

Last summer, the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio, created Ice Cream: The Whole Scoop to bring to light the history, art and technology of American ice cream. Noting that smooth, sweet ice cream is as common and convenient as the grocery store that carries it, this exhibition takes a look at ice cream's past. In fact, this dish was once so costly and laborious that it was only set before Renaissance kings and courtiers. All aspects of ice cream's history are explored - from those early beginnings to the secrets of the great soda jerks, the origins of the cone, the art of proper dipping and some of the greatest ice cream formulas of the past. The Atlanta History Center is the first organization to showcase the exhibition since its original opening and the largest Southeast location currently booked to exhibit it.

According to the USDA, the total U.S. production of ice cream and related frozen desserts in 2000 amounted to more than 1.6 billion gallons, translating to 23 quarts per person. But this isn't a recent phenomenon. Our nation's affection for ice cream has been a long love affair. It is said that George Washington served ice cream, still a labor-intensive treat, at state affairs. In 1812, Dolley Madison served a strawberry ice cream creation at President Madison's second inaugural banquet at the White House.

The exhibition not only looks at the historical origins of ice cream; it also stirs up memories of recent decades when popular ice cream trucks and local attractions intertwined fun and food. While Atlanta's changes in growth and population are more recognizable, it's fun to ponder the city's own history with dairy products like ice cream:

* In the 1930s, DeKalb County boasted more dairies than any single county outside the state of Wisconsin.
* For three decades, more than 250 school children per day learned about dairy products at the R. L. Mathis Dairy in Decatur, each going away with a button proclaiming: "I milked Rosebud," the dairy's onsite cow. In a fun twist, the Atlanta History Center is offering 2-for-1 admission to the exhibition for any person who brings in an "I milked Rosebud" button during the showing.
* Residents longing for a cool treat in 1959 might have visited Wilson's Ice Cream Store at N. Decatur Plaza, or the Tastee Freez at either Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Chamblee or on Jonesboro Road in Forest Park.
* The clanging of bells on 42 ice cream trucks, operated by Atlanta-based Frosty Treats, might still be heard within your neighborhood. They have been an Atlanta tradition for over 30 years.

On Mondays during the month of April, the AHC is offering Magic Mondays, a fun program designed for children aged 1-4. Magic Mondays are designed to give children the opportunity to delve into the Ice Cream: The Whole Scoop while learning colors and shapes, participating in fun arts and crafts, and enjoying cool treats provided by Mayfield.

To learn more about Ice Cream: The Whole Scoop or Magic Mondays, visit the Atlanta History Center's website.