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