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 www.gpb.org/peachstar 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.