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GSO to GO Newsletter - May 2010

General Information

Georgia Schools to Receive More Than $122 Million in School Improvement Grants

On April 7, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Georgia will receive more than $122 million to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. School districts that have any "persistently lowest achieving" schools can compete for the $122,815,607 made available to Georgia.

"We're excited to be partnering with our local school systems to provide them with the guidance and resources necessary to make good decisions about the use of this money," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "This is a great opportunity for schools and communities to transform their high schools so that we can bring student achievement levels up across the board."

When school districts apply, they must indicate that they will implement one of the following fourmodels in their persistently lowest achieving schools:

TURNAROUND MODEL: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.

RESTART MODEL: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.

SCHOOL CLOSURE: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.

TRANSFORMATION MODEL: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.

Once schools receive SIG funds, they can begin spending them immediately to turn around schools this fall. States may apply to U.S. ED for a waiver to allow them to spend funds over a three-year period. An additional $545,633,000 has been provided for SIG in 2010 and will be awarded to states to fund additional schools in the 2011-12 school year.

After submitting the state application, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) began working closely with eligible schools to offer assistance in the development of an "approvable" plan.

"I'm proud of our dedicated School Improvement staff for developing an application that clearly defined Georgia's goals for ensuring increased student achievement," said Superintendent Cox.

Georgia has a strong record of success when working with schools in Needs Improvement status. This past year, 17 State-directed Schools were removed from Needs Improvement status. As part of Georgia’s Differentiated Accountability Plan under No Child Left Behind, a school in Needs Improvement level five and above has a full-time state director that is in the school to offer support, provide assistance in monitoring implementation of strategies, and work with leadership teams to develop plans to sustain student achievement.

More Information:

- Georgia’s application, which includes its list of persistently lowest achieving schools
- Georgia's definition of "Lowest Achieving Schools"

Superintendent Cox Launches GaDOE iTunes University Site

On April 30, 2010, State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox unveiled the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) iTunes University site.  At an event at Rutland High School in Bibb County, Superintendent Cox demonstrated how this free technology will allow teachers, students and parents to download many different resources directly onto an iPod or other portable device.

“In these tough budget times, we can all use more help and more resources, especially when those resources are free,” said Superintendent Cox.  “The GaDOE continues to seek out innovative and cost-effective ways to help make teachers’ jobs easier, and iTunes University is one more tool to do that.”
The GaDOE recognizes how important it is to use technology to enhance education. The iTunes University site creates a base of digital educational content where users can easily download and access audio and video content for use in the classroom, at home or while driving to work.  Visitors to the site can find content on everything from mathematics instruction to parent involvement videos. 
“This is an innovative and interactive way for students to learn,” said Tony Jones, Bibb County’s Teacher of the Year. “It will allow students the luxury to learn at their own pace using technology that most students are familiar with already.”

Jones was also a recipient of a GaDOE Advanced Placement (AP) Handheld Technology grant. In November, 56 high schools in 46 school systems received AP Handheld grants. These grants provide teachers the resources to purchase any handheld device, which allows students to access educational material developed by the teachers, including instructional podcasts, activities, and assessments. These resources may also be made available on the GaDOE iTunes University site for other teachers across the state to use in their classrooms.

The iTunes University site is the latest teacher technology tool offered by the GaDOE. In September 2009, Superintendent Cox launched two online teacher tools, PBS TeacherLine and Verizon Thinkfinity. PBS TeacherLine offers low-cost, high-quality professional development classes to teachers so they can build content knowledge and earn the Professional Learning Units needed to maintain their certification. The Verizon Thinkfinity tool provides more than 55,000 lesson plans, activities and other resources for classroom teachers.

Student Contest

The GaDOE iTunes University site is one that students will be able to use to take digital content with them, but also give them an avenue to demonstrate their own creativity. Superintendent Cox announced a student contest today that will encourage students to develop short movies that can be uploaded to the iTunes University site.  There will be three category themes:

1. Elementary School: Theme – “Reading For Me!”
2. Middle School: Theme – “Monumental Math Moments!”
3. High School: Theme – “Making It Happen!”

> Complete contest details

“Today’s students have grown up surrounded by technology,” said Superintendent Cox.  “It is my hope that this contest will spark their creativity and demonstrate how they can integrate technology into the classroom and share with other students.”

Winners of the contest will be featured on the GaDOE iTunes University site.

GaDOE iTunes University site

Computer Skill Competency (CSC) Special Georgia Requirement is Waived

Effective immediately, the Computer Skill Competency (CSC) Special Georgia Requirement is waived for educator certification.

The CSC requirement was put in place by the PSC as a response to legislation and required educators in Georgia to demonstrate satisfactory proficiency on a PSC approved test of computer skill competency or to complete a PSC approved course. At the April 8, 2010, PSC commission meeting, a change to PSC Rule 505-2-.20 Special Georgia Requirements was initiated to remove the CSC requirement. The Commissioners agreed to waive the requirement until the rule change becomes official, which is expected on July 15, 2010.

The CSC requirement has served its original intent, which was to ensure Georgia educators have satisfactory knowledge of computer skills. As educators who complete a state approved educator preparation program since 2001 are exempt from this requirement since technology is imbedded in their preparation programs, and as the number of educators that have met the requirement upon certificate renewal has increased significantly, the PSC recognizes this component is no longer needed as a special Georgia requirement. The cost to educators and their school systems of time and resources associated with meeting this requirement can no longer be justified.

In response to this CSC waiver, the GACE Computer Skill Competency assessment (GACE 178), which could be passed as a test out option for the requirement, is no longer available.

The PSC acknowledges and is very appreciative of the work of the Education Technology Centers, Institutions of Higher Education, Regional Educational Service Agencies, school systems and schools that helped educators meet the CSC requirement by offering the PSC approved course or GACE Internet-Based Testing.

> Official communication from the PSC

National Technology Standards for Students, Teachers & Administrators

There are many Georgia Performance Standards that align various technology concepts and competencies to student learning. Take for example, high school math standard MA3D3 that uses technology to evaluate confidence intervals or the fifth grade ELA5LSV2 standard that contains the critical component of using technology to structure a presentation.  GeorgiaStandards.Org provides a link to the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) national technology standards for students.  These technology standards, known as the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS-S) and Performance Indicators for Students, can assist teachers that want to document the integration of technology into their curriculum. These technology standards include the following big ideas:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

The National Education Technology Standards for Students is a framework that reflects the underlying assumption that all students should have the opportunity to develop technology skills that support learning, personal productivity and decision making. ISTE has also established NETS for Teachers and NETS for Administrators.

Kick Your Heels Up with Georgia Read More

Put your bandana on and get ready to Do-Si-Do for this month’s Georgia Read More Video.  Country Music Singer and Grammy Award Winner, Travis Tritt, reads Bubba the Cowboy Prince to the students at Hiram Elementary School in Paulding County.  The book is authored by Helen Ketteman and illustrated by James Warhola.  This Cinderella spoof with a Texas twist is sure to delight all the cowboys and cowgirls in your class.  A CinderFELLA story if you will, that is accompanied by the best illustrations this side of the Rio Grande.  Now before you go off rustlin’ up some cattle or getting them doggies along be sure to download the vocabulary list that accompanies Bubba the Cowboy Prince: A Fractured Texas Tale.  Y'all come back now, ya hear?

> Watch Travis Tritt read Bubba the Cowboy Prince: A Fractured Texas Tale

National Teacher Registry

Severe nationwide education budget cuts have resulted in many teachers and schools not receiving enough money to purchase the supplies they need for their classrooms.  To address this growing problem the National Teacher Registry announces a new No Cost service for teachers and schools, public and private, pre-school through college.
The National Teacher Registry helps teachers get items they need for their classroom when there is no budget to purchase them. On the National Teacher Registry website a teacher or school can create a list of the items that they need and want for their classroom.  There are currently over 40,000 items from multiple suppliers on the site and many more products are in the process of being added.

Once a registry is created, a direct link to the registry can be sent by the teacher or school to parents and friends.  Parents and friends can access the list on the Internet, purchase items from the list, and have the items delivered directly to the teacher or school.  In many cases this is a charitable donation which can be deducted on the purchaser’s tax return.

> You can review the website at:

Learn about the Holocaust with GALILEO Resource Britannica

Encyclopaedia Britannica presents a Spotlight on one of history's darkest chapters, the Holocaust. This Spotlight covers everything from the origins of the Holocaust in the mind of Adolf Hitler to the legacy of the horror in art and memory. There are also extensive photographs and videos (warning: some of them are graphic), an extended bibliography, and discussion questions tied to each of the five parts and written especially for teachers and classroom use.

> Explore the Reflections on the Holocaust

Think Big, Think Fast, Thinkfinity!

It already has tens of thousands of free educational resources for use in and out of the classroom, but now Georgia Department of Education partner Verizon Thinkfinity has a whole lot more. Verizon Thinkfinity recently unveiled an updated and expanded website that contains:

  • A new online Thinkfinity Community where teachers, parents and administrators can share ideas, ask for assistance or discuss the topics of the day
  • Virtual online filing cabinets where teachers can save their favorite online lesson plans, interactives and resources so they are always just a click away
  • Newsfeeds on the latest educational resources
  • New social media tools, widgets and blogs

Take a few minutes and explore the new Thinkfinity.  And, of course, spread the word to other educators!

Continuing Education

Free Online Training for Britannica Subscribers

Britannica Online subscribers are invited to participate in online Britannica training sessions. This is a complimentary service provided to see what's new with Britannica Online and learn different ways to use it in your school or library! K-12, Academic, and Public Librarians will all enjoy these 1-hour online presentations that they can attend without having to leave the school or library. Sign up at

Upcoming Training Schedule:

Academic Sessions (1:00 p.m. Eastern Time)
Tuesday, May 11
Thursday, June 17
Tuesday, July 13
Thursday, August 19

K12 All Levels Sessions (4 p.m. Eastern Time)
Thursday, May 13
Tuesday, June 15
Thursday, July 15
Tuesday, August 17

K12 Elementary Sessions
Thursday, May 13 (12 p.m. Eastern Time)
Tuesday, June 15 (2:00 p.m. Eastern Time)
Thursday, July 15 (12 p.m. Eastern Time)
Tuesday, August 17 (2:00 p.m. Eastern Time)

K12 Secondary Sessions
Thursday, May 13 (2:00 p.m. Eastern Time)
Tuesday, June 15 (12 p.m. Eastern Time)
Thursday, July 15 (2:00 p.m. Eastern Time)
Tuesday, August 17 (12 p.m. Eastern Time)

Britannica Online - Creating Workspaces, Putting Videos into PowerPoint & New Features

Learn all about using the Workspace feature in your classroom/library with your students and patrons! The Workspace feature is a versatile tool that can be used in many different ways. During this 1-hour webinar, you will also learn how to put the videos available on Britannica Online into PowerPoint Presentations, and you will learn about any new or updated features that Britannica has.  This webinar is available for all Britannica Online subscribers, but it is strongly recommended that you attend an introductory webinar first. GALILEO provides access to Britannica and an array of other information resources.

Wednesday, May 12
Wednesday, June 16
Wednesday, July 14
Wednesday, August 18

Using US Documents in the Classroom - Summer Workshops 2010

The National Archives and Records Administration preserves and makes available to the public the permanently valuable records of the United States Government.  Millions of records can be accessed in the formats such as documents, maps, drawings, photographs, films and sound recordings that have captured the American experience of government since 1774.  Starting in late June 2010, Summer Workshops for Educators on Using Historical Documents in the Classroom will allow teachers to be immersed in the study of government records such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at various summer workshops for educators.  The staff of the National Archives and Records Administration will show teachers how to use historical documents in the classroom.  Participants will learn how to do research in historical records, create classroom material from records, and present documents in ways that sharpen students' skills and enthusiasm for history, social studies, and the humanities. Workshops are offered in many US cities. Workshop overview, location details and how to apply can be accessed from this page.  Completed applications are due no later than 6 weeks before the workshop.

All the World's a Stage

Teachers of grades 4-12 have the opportunity to earn five Professional Learning Units (PLUs) by registering for No Fear Shakespeare, a class which is accredited by the Georgia Department of Education.

Learn the newest techniques behind making Shakespeare fun for your students in a casual, relaxed environment. Teachers of grades 4 - 5 will become acquainted with Shakespeare's stories and explore innovative ways of introducing them to young students. Teachers of grades 6 - 12 will have the opportunity to blow off the dust of the pages and look at Shakespeare's material differently, making the work more relevant to today's older students. Georgia Shakespeare's professional staff will help make sure your student's eyes don't glaze over at the mere mention of the "bard," ensuring that they achieve the building blocks necessary for future education.  Download the No Fear Shakespeare registration form.  Registration deadline is June 1.

When: Monday thru Friday, June 7th – 18th, 2008
Cost: $200
Time: 9:00 - 2:00 Daily
Where: Conant Performing Arts Center
Contact: Allen O'Reilly, at 404-504-3401 or email Allen at

Learning Celebrations and Teaching Ideas

Teacher Appreciation Week

May 2-8, 2010 is Teacher Appreciation Week!  The GeorgiaStandards.Org team wants to thank the teachers of Georgia for all that you do for children!  You make a difference to students every single day and have a profound impact on them far beyond the walls of the classroom.  Ever Garrison eloquently affirms this by stating, “A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils.”

May in Georgia History

May has many significant events that make history in Georgia, such as the first Europeans were known to have set foot on Georgia soil arrived with Spaniard Pedro de Quejos on May 3, 1525.  They landed two ships at the mouth of the Savannah River on an exploratory expedition.  The New Georgia Encyclopedia has this article and over 40 more that celebrate important events that occurred in Georgia during the month of May.

May EDSITEment Calendar of Special Events

The May calendar from EDSITEment is posted and as always is full of holidays, special events, lesson plans and websites for educators.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) is an annual event to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding or hearing. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website offers several resources for this annual event. For example, at the ASHA site classrooms can win prizes by entering student drawings in the ASH Drawing Contest [PDF]. You can even download PDF templates such as BHSM bookmarks (Design 1, Design 2 or Design 3). The ASHA 2010 BHSM screensaver is also available as a Windows only download. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association also has many resources for the public, such as:

GSO to GO Downloads and Links

May 2010 Calendar Word Template (DOC)
> Listen to the GSO ot GO Voices Podcast

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