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GSO to GO Newsletter - January/February 2010

General Information

327 Georgia Schools Awarded for Outstanding Achievement

On January 7, 2010, State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox and the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) Executive Director Kathleen Mathers announced that 327 Georgia public schools are being recognized for improvement and achievement during the 2008-2009 school year. The schools are being recognized under Georgia's Single Statewide Accountability System (SSAS), which awards schools based on their performance on state curriculum exams and Adequate Yearly Progress status.

"Congratulations to the principals, teachers, parents and students at these 327 schools," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. “Even in these very difficult economic times the schools we are awarding continue to have a no excuses attitude and are more focused than ever on the goal of providing a world-class education to every student.”

The awards are being announced as part of the release of the 2008-2009 K-12 Public Schools Scoreboard and Report Card. The recognized schools will receive a congratulatory letter and a banner announcing the accomplishment.

“I am pleased to recognize these schools that are working hard to get great results," said Kathleen Mathers, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA). "Congratulations to the students at these schools for achieving at impressive levels and to the staff for their commitment to helping children learn.”

The schools are awarded on four levels -- Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze -- in two categories (see full criteria below):

- Greatest gains: Schools that showed the greatest improvement in scores on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) or the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT).
- Highest performance: Schools that demonstrated the highest achievement on the CRCT or GHSGT.

The Report Card, which features the SSAS awards, was developed by GOSA and provides bottom-line data for Georgia’s preschools, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, technical colleges, and educator licensing and accreditation. It includes school, system, and state level reports organized into seven major sections: Accountability, Georgia Tests, National Tests, Indicators, Student and School Demographics, Personnel and Fiscal, and Comparisons.

To learn more about GOSA, please visit www.gaosa.org.

List of Schools

-  Greatest Gain in Percentage of Students Meeting and Exceeding Standards
-  Highest Percentage of Students Meeting and Exceeding Standards

Free Online ExPreSS - Exam Preparation for Science and Social Studies

Beginning February 1, 2010, a free Online ExPreSS Tutorial Program will be offered by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) for high school students and certificate of attendance recipients who were unsuccessful on or who have not yet taken the Science and/or Social Studies Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT).  The Online ExPreSS modules are self-paced and are based on the instructional plans created for the summer ExPreSS Program.

Students will create their own registration account using their GTID (Georgia Testing Identifier) number. Detailed instructions for creating this account and locating their GTID number will be provided by February 1, 2010, on the ExPreSS Website.

For additional information about Online ExPreSS, contact Pat Blenke at ablenke@doe.k12.ga.us or 404-656-4201 or Pam Smith at pamsmith@doe.k12.ga.us or 404-463-4141.

Top Ten Issues to Watch

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) prepares a yearly report that focuses on how trends and developments can impact education in Georgia.  This year’s publication is titled Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2010 and it gauges educational policy, legislative and programmatic issues that may affect the coming school year. According to their mission statement, the GPEE will, “Inform and influence Georgia leaders through research and non-partisan advocacy to impact education policies and practices for the improvement of student achievement.” Here is the list of educational issues from the 2010 detailed report:

1. Budget, Budget, Budget: The Grim Reality
2. Georgia’s Race to the Top
3. Standards & Assessments: The Foundation for Student Success
4. A Data System to Support Instruction
5. Great Teachers & Leaders: What Our Students Need Most
6. Turning Around Georgia’s Lowest-Achieving Schools
7. College Access for All
8. The Expanding Charter School Frontier
9. Filing Suit: Education Litigation in Georgia
10. Understanding Rural Georgia

> Download the Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2010

Integrating Technology into your Curriculum

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to integrate more technology into your curriculum?  Then let GeorgiaStandards.Org help you with that goal.  GSO has a page dedicated to Teacher Tools for Integrating Technology. On that page, you will find many links to technology-rich tools from sites that can be used by educators in creating teaching and learning activities for a standards-based classroom.   Notice the link to 4Teachers.org, a site that offers teachers the tech help they need through many online tools and resources.  4Teachers.org offers a set of fifteen tools that can be used by educators.  One of those tools is PersuadeStar, a free online application that is designed for students in grades five through twelve to help them write an online persuasive essay.  Once teachers register, they can assign an essay with selected criteria for students to use such as analysis of example essays, essay planning tool, essay writing space, spelling feedback and source and bibliography information.  Student work is tracked to the registered teacher through an assignment code.  This is a free online program that can improve student writing skills, so why not register for PersuadeStar today?

Another Slam Dunk Georgia Read More Video!

Dominique Wilkins, also known as The Human Highlight Film, is an NBA Hall of Famer that spent most of his basketball career as an Atlanta Hawk.  And this month, GSO to GO proudly features a Georgia Read More Video with Wilkins reading a great story that will have your students catching their breath. The Great Grace Chase is written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Mark Teague.  This book has a Lexile ranking of AD410L and has 25 words in its vocabulary list.  You can meet the author and then learn more about her background and personal life.  If one of your classroom resolutions this year is to integrate more online video into your reading curriculum, then bounce on over to the Georgia Read More Videos page and watch Dominique Wilkins read this fun story about Grace the dog.

Reinforce Basic Math Skills with Online Video Games

Academic Skill Builders has a number of educational video games that can be used to reinforce basic skills such as Multiplication Grand Prix, Drag Race Division, Meteor Multiplication, Demolition Division, Alien Addition and Minus Mission.  Multiplication Grand Prix and Drag Race Division allow up to four students to play against each other at the same time from different computers.  Teachers can even set-up these multi-player games in public or private modes.  Most of the Academic Skill Builders games are optimized (Wii-formatted Games list) for the Nintendo Wii gaming system by using the Wii Browser and a Wii Remote.  Academic Skill Builders provides a teacher manual with steps on how teachers can use their online educational video games.  Visit the Arcademic Game Descriptions page for the latest online learning games from AcademicSkillBuilders.com.

2009-2010 Young Georgia Authors Competition

The Young Georgia Authors Competition 2009-2010 information is posted on the ELA program page of the Georgia Department of Education website.  Scroll towards the bottom of the page, and you will see links to the following documents:

The deadline for entries this year is March 10, 2010. The ELA program office looks forward to your participation.

Continuing Education

41st Annual Conference on Children’s Literature

Athens, Georgia is hosting the 41st Annual Conference on Children’s Literature from March 19 - 20, 2010.  K-8 teachers, library media specialists, public librarians and others interested in children’s literature will enjoy this venue.  The conference will take place in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center & Hotel, which is located on the historic campus of the University of Georgia in Athens.  Learn more about the tentative agenda, conference events or Georgia Children’s Book Awards Program by visiting the Children’s Literature conference page.

Ancient World Adventures at the Michael C. Carlos Museum

It’s Greek to Me! at the Michael C. Carlos Museum: a special set of adventures for 3rd graders and all students of the ancient World

The Michael C. Carlos Museum, an educational partner of the Department of Education, offers small group, expeditionary tours providing a vivid entry to the study of world cultures through art.  Majority Rules, developed by 3rd grade teachers for third graders, is an interactive tour aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards.  It introduces students to 5th-century Athens during the construction of the Parthenon and the development of the roots of democracy.  The stories on ancient Greek vases depict scenes from the classics of Greek literature from the Trojan War to Odysseus’ voyage; the stories that convey the ideal of excellence and honor.  On the tour students dress in a chiton and learn what it meant to be a Greek citizen; they wear the olive wreath of the victorious Olympic athlete, and barter with blow-up versions of coins from the collection.  Visit www.carlos.emory.edu/student-programs for the Greek Passport booklet for students, vocabulary, and a follow-up lesson plan. Then check out the Greek section of Odyssey Online, the special interactive website for students.

Carlos Conversations

No one did monsters better than the ancient Greeks.  Monsters! is a lively, 10 minute discussion beginning with Odysseus and the Cyclops and touching on Medusa, centaurs and sirens, with Emory University faculty discussing the reason behind the monsters.

The Labors of Herakles:  Outreach Program

If you can’t see Herakles at the Carlos, he will come to your classroom.  Reserve one of a dozen outreach programs where students use costumes and props to act out the myths. Meet the ferocious lion of Nemea, killer birds, Amazon women, and Atlas who held up the world. Open this informative PDF for more about the Permanent Collections, Upcoming Exhibitions, Tour Programs, Outreach Programs, Programs for Teachers and Podcasts at the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

For additional details on all the education programs, contact Julie Green by email or by phone at 404-727-2363.  The Carlos Museum is located at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Learning Celebrations and Teaching Ideas

February in Georgia History

The New Georgia Encyclopedia (NGE) notes February 1733 as a very significant date in our state’s history.  Georgia became a colony through the perseverance of an individual who also carried the roles of social reformer and military leader.  Do your students know the founder of Georgia?  This visionary also initiated the city plans for the city of Savannah.  In studying Colonial Georgia, eighth grade social studies teachers can reference SS8H2 of the Georgia Performance Standards.  NGE’s February in Georgia History also features the Battle of Kettle Creek, the completion of Georgia’s first Constitution and the South’s oldest college football rivalry.  Challenge your students to research the New Georgia Encyclopedia to find out who was the first African American congressman to speak on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Teachers can access many more NGE articles for February that are about history, politics, entertainment and more.

February EDSITEment Calendar of Special Events

The February calendar from EDSITEment is a collection of peer-reviewed websites and lesson plans covering this month’s holidays and special events.  February is African American History Month and EDSITEment highlights many activities and lessons focused around this celebration.  Some of the EDSITEment’s African American History lesson plans include:

African-American Research At The AARL

Celebrate African studies all year long with the exceptional programs and events at the Auburn Avenue Research Library (AARL).  This special library is located in Atlanta (directions) and is part of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.  This is the first library in the Southeast to house specialized reference and archival collections for the study and research of African cultures.  Tours of the AARL facility are available by appointment.  You can also check out upcoming events for important venues and activities.  The AARL also allows you to log-on to some excellent online databases to research African-American culture and history.

Presidents' Day Celebration

Presidents' Day is coming up soon! Would you like your class to learn more about Presidents' Day and our former Presidents of the United States of America? Then receive free resources by registering for the Presidents' Day Celebration at jimmycarter.info.  In addition, a special project is underway for students to write a "Happy Presidents' Day" letter to former President Jimmy Carter.  The letters will be on display for the public at Plains High School Museum during the month of February.  President Carter always enjoys stopping by to see the exhibit!  For more details, click here.

Fly into February with more Fun Links

Education World has some Groundhog Day holiday links that you can use with your class.  They also have some links straight from the heart for Valentine’s Day.  ELA teachers in grades K-8 can have students assemble Candy Heart Stories as a great writing activity.  And what a great opportunity to learn about veins, arteries, capillaries and what else…the heart!  Go with the flow and point your browser to PBS where you can visualize a six step animation breakdown of what the heart does day in and day out.  Paging students…paging all students, in 19 steps they can perform a virtual heart transplant operation.  Education World also has plenty to do with your students for Presidents’ Day.

GSO to GO Downloads and Links

February 2010 Calendar Word Template (DOC)
> 2010 Presidents' Day Jimmy Carter Celebration (PDF)
> Listen to the GSO to GO Voices Podcast

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