The EdExplore initiative includes opportunities for funding for explorations through the Education Foundation of Sarasota County to increase the number of students who’ll benefit from the exciting posted experiences. The first awards were made in fall 2011 and now the evaluations are in: the experiences are helping reading scores, adding context for learning among other encouraging benefits.
The first awards included 30 individual $1,500 teacher and 10 school/gradewide $5000 funding. Each of the EdExplore components includes an evaluation to identify results and look for improvements. Carlene Judge, former Sarasota County School District Director of Research and Evaluation, is the EdExplore evaluation consultant. She just published the results of the first year explorations in a report focusing on the school/gradewide grants.
The evaluation findings include a mix of quantitative and qualitative information. To browse the report, please click here. Here are some of the highlights in the findings:
- Teachers documented improved understanding of scientific concepts, and in some cases, “getting it” earlier in the school year
- Improved reading scores
- Greater context for learning
- Writing proficiency improvements
- Understanding of sound principles through music
Through Safari Live, a two-way interactive technology, world-class Ringling College of Art and Design sculptor demonstrated techniques and virtually critiqued student work. All Emma E. Booker Elementary second graders gained a new sense of place through seven visits and the production of “photo-journals” with extensive writing to synthesize their experiences. These and additional findings are compiled in the report.
Carlene held a focus group with 29 of the awardees. Participants found organizations easy to work with; programs were high quality. Teachers plan to alter teaching of some concepts as consequence of the funding.
They found EdexploreSRQ.com to be user friendly and would recommend it to others, and they offered ideas to promote it. They said the EdExploration process was new but not unwieldy. Many requested that they want to get information and awards sooner for their planning.
The funding announcement went out prior to teachers leaving school and 45 organizations including teaching artists have already posted 133 explorations that can be used in the proposals.