Thursday, December 9, 2004

Caring For Your Satellite Equipment Over the Holidays

Taking good care of your satellite receiving equipment is absolutely imperative in order to make sure that your school can make the best use of GPB programming. That's why it's important that you take the time to shut down your equipment properly before leaving for winter break. Below are some simple instructions on how to leave your equipment before you leave school this December.

* Leave the satellite dish (antenna) pointed at AMC 3, GPB's new satellite location
* Leave the Chaparral receiver and Digiciphers plugged in
* Leave the Chaparral with the power on. It does not matter whether the Digicipher has the red power light activated (controlled by the sat/tv button) as long as all the units are plugged in and getting electrical power. (Without electrical power they eventually lose all the software pre-programmed into them).
* Post a large sign on the equipment asking people not to disconnect, unplug, turn off, or otherwise tamper with your equipment

These safe-keeping practices are good not only at winter break, but rather should be used any time your satellite equipment will go unused for an extended period of time. Be sure to look for our helpful tips on starting up your satellite equipment in the January issue of Pipeline.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

The Bus Stopped Here: GPEE Recognizes Schools of Excellence

This year Georgia Public Broadcasting was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education's 12th Annual Bus Trip Across Georgia. The trip took us to fourteen exemplary schools located all around the state and representing a variety of approaches to educational excellence. Each of these schools proudly presented its own special recipe for success, which most often included a mix of strong leadership, innovative and research-based pedagogical techniques, and family and community involvement. We were so impressed with what we saw in these schools and systems that we would like to take this opportunity to recognize each of them.

SOUTH GEORGIA

Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School - Monroe County Schools
Principal: Angela S. Dillon

This elementary school in Forsyth, Georgia serves 885 students, of whom more than half receive free and reduced lunches. Its areas of excellence include both the use of data to improve teaching and learning, and the development of strong community partnerships that support education. Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School administrators rely heavily on both the school and the county's Continuous Improvement Plan, designed to attain high student achievement and success, develop organization effectiveness, and ensure student and stakeholder engagement and loyalty. Principal Dillon and her staff meet the demands of this plan by collecting and disaggregating data, which allows them to isolate populations that are having difficulty and develop strategies for improvement that are unique to those particular groups' needs. Support from an active Parent Teacher Organization and such initiatives as the Parent Volunteer and Mentoring Programs complement the school's focus on academic performance to create a learning environment that prepares its children to be successful.

Byron Middle School - Peach County Schools
Principal: Dr. Ken Banter

Byron Middle School, located in Byron, Georgia, is one of 26 schools named by State Superintendent Kathy Cox as a school of excellence. Byron Middle School displays its commitment to education in no uncertain terms in its mission statement - which outlines goals ranging from academic and behavioral excellence to character development to the fostering of students' later active and successful membership in society. One of the initiatives that composes Byron Middle's stellar education program is Project Winning Team, a grant-funded program designed to meet the needs of special needs students using an inclusion model and team teaching - that means Byron's special needs students have the opportunity to learn in the regular classroom setting with not one, but two teachers, one of whom is certified in interrelated special education. Another program that sets Byron Middle School apart is its Educational Talent Search, which provides those students with strong potential to go on to post-secondary education with the tools they need to succeed, such as needs assessment, academic and personal counseling, financial aid assistance, and tutoring. With projects such as these addressing the needs of its various populations, it is no wonder that Byron Middle School has exceeded the state averages on the CRCT for the last three years in a row.

Houston County High School
Principal: Sheila Beckham

The largest school we visited by far, Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Georgia may sound familiar to many of you; it is highlighted in a special student-produced video currently airing on the GPB Education satellite. HCHS has gained not only state, but national recognition as well for integrating technology into every aspect of the education process - in virtually every imaginable subject. Classrooms at HCHS are equipped with interactive boards, Star panels, classroom performance systems, and wireless laptops. Much of the technology that enhances the instruction at HCHS is provided by strategic partnerships with organizations such as Intel and Hitachi. Technology at Houston County High School is not only a medium for teaching, though; it is also a subject for learning. The school's midi lab is equipped with software that allows students to practice music notation, learn music theory, and compose their own music. Students in the woods program use sophisticated software to create the blueprints they use to build complicated pieces like furniture. No matter what the subject area, HCHS has found a way to integrate technology into its teaching, resulting in students that are more engaged AND better prepared to participate in an increasingly technological job market.

Wilkinson County Primary/Elementary School
Principal: Donna Poole

Wilkinson County Primary/Elementary School serves nearly 900 children, of whom almost two-thirds are eligible for free and reduced lunch; of those economically disadvantaged children, 13 percent earned a rating of exceeds on the CRCTs. Wilkinson demonstrates the important correlation between having a well-developed professional learning community and student success. Principal Poole has developed strong partnerships with Oconee RESA and Georgia's Leadership Institute for School Improvement, which have allowed for the development of a school Design Team that guides the school's instructional system based on data analysis and research. The Design Team has implemented the Direct instruction method of teaching reading - the subject on which every student spends the first 85 minutes of his or her day. Reading skills are taught in conjunction with Writer's Workshop, a program that teaches effective written expression skills while enriching students' language development. Wilkinson Primary/Elementary maintains its standard of excellence achieved through these programs by utilizing available data about student performance and evaluating the effectiveness of school programs on a continual basis.

D. D. Crawford Primary School
Principal: Roy Wilcher

Crawford Primary's mission is "Building the Future One Child At a Time," and it serves each of its 250 children, all of whom are on free and reduced lunch, with a comprehensive tutorial program. Teachers and support staff all receive regular training on how to identify student needs and provide instruction tailored to address them. Crawford collects and analyzes data on student performance to determine which students are in need of special assistance. Students selected to participate in the tutorial program have access to small group instruction led by paraprofessionals on a daily basis; tutorial sessions are aligned with the curriculum taught in the regular classroom. This collaboration between teachers and tutors has brought clear and impressive results. This year, 100 percent of Crawford's kindergarten class achieved the level of "Ready for First Grade" on the Georgia Kindergarten Assessment Program. Over 90 percent of first graders scored "exceeds" on the 2004 CRCTs in the areas of reading, language arts, and math. In addition to its strong academic program, students at Crawford Primary also have the support of an involved community that gives of its time and money to help them succeed.

A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School
Principal: Deborah Walker

A.R. Johnson High School offers those students who have always wanted to be doctors or engineers the opportunity to start their professional training before they even get to college. Partnerships with health and engineering facilities such as the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta Technical College allow students to explore real-life problems through hands-on experience. Local professional volunteers also share their expertise with students through internships, shadowing/ apprenticeships, and school-to-work programs. In addition to the career courses students in the magnet courses take, A.R. Johnson provides top quality instruction in the regular curriculum. One hundred percent of students passed the language arts, math, and social studies portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Ninety-seven percent of students exceeded the passing scores in science and writing and the school's average SAT score has topped the state and national averages for three years running. With every student who graduates from A.R. Johnson's magnet program receiving a college preparatory seal, it is a logical choice for students who would like to go on work in healthcare or engineering.

Thomson Elementary School
Principal: Dr. Donald Davis

Thomson Elementary School puts reading first, involving every single faculty member in its TES Reading initiative in either a support or a teaching capacity. The program includes three hours of reading instruction in both large and small groups, and employs a comprehensive approach to teaching reading that covers phonemic awareness, explicit phonics, fluency, vocabulary instruction, constructing meaning from text, guided reading, and the motivation to read. Every Pre K through third grade child is enrolled in the reading program, whose effectiveness is documented through a series of assessments such as Accelerated Readers reports, Anywhere Learning Systems, Comprehensive Reading Tests, and the Basic Literary Test. Student success is regularly rewarded with some form of public recognition, whether it is a badge that reflects their level of success in the reading program, a mention during the morning announcements, or an acknowledgement at the regular assemblies where certificates of achievement are awarded. The combination of intense instruction and consistent recognition of student efforts has yielded solid results; ninety-eight percent of students graduating from Thomson Elementary either meeting or exceeding state reading standards.

NORTH GEORGIA

Meadowview Elementary School
Principal: Zandra Sherwood

This year round school has earned recognition for its achievement in standards-based learning in math and reading. Principal Sherwood has cultivated a staff that more than meets the No Child Left Behind Act's standard for teacher qualification: she only hires teachers who hold a Master's Degree or higher. The View, as members of the Meadowview community refer to it, employs the Reading First program, which provides every student in grades one through three with three uninterrupted hours of reading instruction. Teachers utilize a fusion of strategies, ranging from text reading and writing workshops to vocabulary and print conventions - all of these methods are based on state, national, and international competency standards. Math at Meadowview teaches students to solve real world problems, reason effectively, and make logical connections. The use of songs, wireless remote controlled math trivia games, and dance make the learning of basic concepts fun for students. Meadowview is producing students that not only achieve academically, but also love learning and take pride their school.

Monroe Primary School
Principal: Donna Bishop

The exemplary initiatives at Monroe Primary School are almost too many to count. EDNA Goble Guided Reading program offers every student 45 minutes of leveled reading, which means that they are grouped with other students based on their reading ability for that portion of the day so that their specific needs can be addressed. Mathematics is also taught for 45 minutes each day in groups organized according to skill level. Monroe Primary's teachers have an average of 15 years of teaching experience and Principal Bishop is an active participant in Georgia's Leadership Institute for School Improvement. All staff members have received training in Learning Focus Strategies, which use essential questions, rubrics for assessments, and daily writing to help students achieve. The innovative programs at Monroe are all part of a larger comprehensive school design, which incorporates research and best practices to prepare students for entry into upper elementary school.

Gainesville Elementary School (GES)
Principal: Shawn McCollough

Part of the mission at Gainesville Elementary is "expecting and celebrating excellence." Expectations of teachers are high. Disaggregated performance data is regularly posted on a website that anyone can access - and it is listed by individual class so that every teacher is held publicly accountable for the successes or difficulties his or her students are having. Students at GES benefit from cross grade teaming, which allows them to rotate between four different teachers who each specialize in reading, language arts, math, and test preparation, thereby allowing them access to the highest quality instruction in each subject area. GES addresses the needs of its diverse population, of whom 90 percent qualify as high poverty and nearly 70 percent are ESOL students, with an extended school day for low performing students that gives them extra training on basic skills in reading, language arts, and math. GES also reaches out to the parents of immigrant children with a Family Literacy Program that allows parents to attend classes during the school day to learn how to read. The high standards of excellence in place at Gainesville Elementary in combination with partnerships with organizations such as NASA and Even Start Family Literacy ensure its students not only have an equal opportunity to learn, but also that they achieve to the highest levels.

Jack P. Nix Primary School (JPN)
Principal: Jennifer King

Principal King has been very proactive in adopting programs and seeking grants that bring the students at Jack P. Nix Primary the best in resources and instruction. The school makes use of the Four Blocks of Literacy Program and incorporates guided reading, independent reading, writing and phonemic skills into literacy instruction. As part of the Learn and Serve Grant, students at JPN write and publish books for pre-school aged children in the local community; this initiative allows the students to develop literacy skills while also other young learners get ready to learn. Students receive a well-rounded education that incorporates art, music and drama into daily classroom activities in addition to the special art and music classes they attend each week. The program of study at JPN is paying off in terms of student achievement. In 2003-2004, 98 percent of kindergarteners were assessed as being ready for first grade through the Georgia Kindergarten Assessment Program. Over 80 percent of first and second graders met or exceeded expectations in the reading, language arts, and mathematics portions of the CRCT. One of the most impressive figures JPN has to offer is the number of books its students read through the Accelerated Reader Program; last year alone, JPN students read a total of 46,479 books! Jack P. Nix is doing a great job of laying the foundations that its students need to continue on into upper elementary school with the tools they need for success.

Lumpkin County High School (LCHS)
Principal: Rudy Hampton

Lumpkin County High School is striving to be a Georgia High School of Distinction, and the progress it has made in the last four years is impressive. Since 2001, the average SAT score has risen a full 72 points to 1053, which means that more students from LCHS are graduating with the knowledge they need to enter college. For students who are not on the college track, LCHS has a relevant and rigorous vocational education department, which allows them the opportunity to learn job skills that will help them to begin working after graduation in such fields as agriculture, automotives, business, and healthcare and science technology. There is also an extensive fine arts program that allows students to use their talents to express themselves artistically through music, art, and drama. Lumpkin County High School is able to give its students even more opportunities through community partnerships with organizations like Pioneer RESA, Lanier Technical School, and the U.S. Forest Service, which join with area businessmen and women to share their resources and expertise with learners at LCHS.

Chattahoochee Technical College
President: Dr. Harlon Crimm

Chattahoochee Technical College is working with area high schools in Cobb County, Paulding County, and Marietta City to provide students with an interest in pursuing technical education with a seamless opportunity to learn. Through Chattahoochee Tech's High School Dual Enrollment Program, more than 1,400 students are currently learning important skills that give them both high school and college credit. Students wishing to participate must pass all three parts of the ASSET test and meet regular requirements for admission, which means "program ready." This opportunity allows high school students to get a head start on their technical education and to receive job training in occupational areas with strong growth trends. Students with technical college certificates have access to increased job opportunities that they can either choose for full time employment or undertake part-time as they continue their education.

Chapel Hill Middle School (CHMS)
Principal: Bill Foster

Chapel Hill Middle School was named in 2003-2003 as a Model School in Georgia. Since that time, it has continued to use a combination of school improvement planning and the utilization of data to surpass academic standards of excellence. Each year Principal Foster leads his faculty in the development of the school improvement plan, which sets academic goals based on CRCT scores at each grade level. Additional goals are set in math, reading, and language arts in accordance with and measured by the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Chapel Hill's mission is to develop the whole child, so faculty and staff focus not only on academics, but also on students' physical, social, and emotional development. CHMS has developed a strong culture of accountability and achievement, where every student is committed to giving 100 % of their efforts each school day. Student performance is regularly measured, using both objective and subjective assessments, offering students a variety of opportunities and learning experiences. For 2002-2003, CHMS showed a nine percent increase of students passing the reading portion of the CRCT, a 14% increase in language arts, and a 10% increase in math. An impressive 100% of students surpassed writing expectations, ranking CHMS within the top 10% of middle schools in Georgia. Students at Chapel Hill Middle have access to the best that education can offer, and their continued achievement reflects the hard work and planning of both teachers and administrators.

There are a great many different qualities that set each of these schools apart as schools of excellence - there is no perfect formula that guarantees success. One thing that each school we visited on the Bus Trip have in common is strong leadership with a commitment to improving student achievement. Please join Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education in saluting these leaders and the work they are doing to help Georgia students achieve.

GPB Takes You To the Fabulous Fox

In the last two issues of Pipeline, we have told you about our upcoming documentary, The Fabulous Fox, which celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Atlanta's Fox Theater. We are pleased to announce that is has arrived - and will be airing both on television and via satellite so that your students can take advantage of the unique combination of history and art that it offers. The ninety-minute documentary takes viewers on a journey through the history and evolution of the Fox from temple to theater. It will examine each of the fascinating facets of the building, including the famous organ, the backstage, secret rooms, and of course, the amazing architecture and d├ęcor.

A second documentary, entitled This Old Movie Palace, is also premiering this month. This program examines the struggle the Fox Theater has had to remain intact amidst the growth and development of downtown Atlanta. The Fox was saved from destruction during the 1970's and returned to it's original condition through painstaking restoration. This Old Movie Palace takes you behind the scenes of those preservation efforts and is accompanied by an extensive educational curriculum that addresses both the historical and the artistic features of the story of the Fox Theater.

Look for both of these great new documentaries on Channel 420; see listings for air dates and times. And don't forget to check out the fabulous online resources at www.gpb.org.

As a special holiday treat, GPB is offering you the chance to experience the magnificence of the Fox Theater in person! On Sunday, December 26, The Fox theater will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a full day of live shows, movies, and fun activities. The public is invited to rediscover the Fox Theater and journey through the history of the famous theater. Celebrations will include a replication of the 1929 opening day variety show, several screenings of Georgia Public Broadcasting's Fabulous Fox documentary, a 17-piece orchestra and singers, and free dance lessons as well as arts and crafts for children and adults. Join GPB and the Fox Theater from 1-7 PM on December 26 to celebrate the magnificent theater that has become an icon of Atlanta history.

Monday, December 6, 2004

GPB and DOE: A Partnership for Education

Georgia Public Broadcasting is proud to announce our partnership with the Georgia Department of Education's Department of Information Technology. For many years now, both GPB and DOE have been developing strategies for enhancing education in Georgia through technology - and we are pleased at last to join our efforts to come up with the best solutions that can be implemented on a statewide scale. We are working very closely with Dr. Mike Hall, Deputy Superintendent of Information Technology and former principal of Houston County High School, a nationally recognized school of excellence.

During his tenure at Houston County High, Dr. Hall forged partnerships with Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Gateway, Dell, and Hitachi that helped equip the school with more than 1,200 computers, a wireless network with 13 wireless labs, and nine fixed computer labs. Since he joined the Department of Education, Dr. Hall has already begun creating smart technology partnerships that will benefit every school in the state. Georgia Public Broadcasting's satellite and video streaming infrastructure make us a natural partner to help Dr. Hall and DOE bring technology into every Georgia classroom.

After an initial meeting, GPB and DOE are planning to collaborate to produce a regular satellite and web-delivered program featuring State Superintendent Kathy Cox discussing the accomplishments of schools around the state and sharing news about projects the Department of Education is currently undertaking. The program may also feature Superintendent Cox having discussions with other education figures from the state and the nation in a magazine format.

Georgia Public Broadcasting has also agreed to post timely messages about training opportunities, standards roll outs, educator requirements, and other DOE news on our electronic bulletin boards - both on satellite and on the web. You should begin seeing these communications within the coming months.

GPB has been maximizing our training capacity through the use of distance learning technology like webcasts for several years now. Our newly established partnership with DOE will allow them to make use of that technology as well, enabling them to reach the widest possible audience of educators for training and the sharing of best practices. GPB plans to join DOE as they travel across the state to document best practices and capture them on video to be repurposed for instructional webcasts.

Look for more information about these offerings in upcoming issues of Pipeline. You can also watch a special video production by the students of Houston County High School on GPB satellite. The video, which documents the way technology is transforming teaching and learning at Houston County High, will give you a glimpse of the possibilities that partnerships such as this and others Dr. Hall is pursuing hold for your classroom. See the listings for air dates and times.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

State of the Arts Reaches Out to Educators

As you saw in the September issue of Pipeline, Georgia Public Broadcasting Television and Education recently collaborated to produce a brand new program called State of the Arts. The program, which premiered in June, features a variety of art forms and artists across Georgia. The second installment of the quarterly program was released in October, and covered the following topics:

* The Morris Museum
* Jack Leigh, Savannah photographer
* The Color Purple
* Atlanta Ballet
* West African Drumming
* The Fabulous Fox Theater
* The Funky Chicken Arts Project

The first and second episodes of the program may be streamed online at www.gpb.org or recorded from satellite on Channel 420. See the listings for air dates and times.

GPB recently launched a special "For Educators" section on the State of the Arts website. This site allows educators to link to additional resources about the pieces, places, and artists explored in the show. Depending on the suitability of the topic, the format of these resources will range from direct Internet links to existing educational materials, to links to Georgia arts and cultural institutions, to lesson plans enriching the elements of the written word with video and audio clips from the show, and to material commissioned from leaders in Georgia's arts and education community. Look for connections to the Cherokee Indians in Georgia as part of the Betty Foy Sanders segment, lesson plans on the Science and Art of pottery for the Mark of the Potter and Dale Chihuly segments, Music and Language Arts lesson plans for West African Drumming, background information from The Atlanta Ballet, and much more.

All of the educational resources selected for the site are based upon the state and national curriculum standards and include a method for measuring student learning. In developing these resources, GPB has collaborated with Georgia's existing arts and education organizations whenever possible.

Educators, parents, and students are encouraged to make multiple visitors to the State of the Arts website at www.gpb.org to view the dynamic addition of educational material and resources.