EdExploreSRQ.com and Safari Live: elements of a changing technological world

Posted on April 17, 2012 by Guest Blogger

By: Angela Hartvigsen, Sarasota County Schools

Four years ago, I never thought my job or the world I work in would be the way it is now. I was a music educator working in the middle orchestra classroom and my level of technological expertise was only mediocre. Now, I am the Fine Arts Curriculum Specialist for the Sarasota County Schools, but much more than my job title has changed!

As a teacher, when I wanted to find hands-on, real-world experiences for my students at school or a performance for them to attend, I spent quite a bit of time making phone calls and searching individual websites. Now, of course, teachers can use EdExploreSRQ.com to search for these impactful, meaningful explorations that support student learning in the classroom.

What a time saver this site is as it enables teachers and principals to quickly and easily access “explorations” and curriculum support offered during school hours by area arts, science and history organizations. This powerful new tool is at the heart of The Patterson Foundation’s EdExplore Initiative.

On April 3, 2012, I presented my first broadcast on Safari Live, our school district’s interactive video conferencing tool . This broadcast was entitled, “What’s New with EdExploreSRQ” and through it I shared a wealth of news and data about EdExploreSRQ.com.

To open the broadcast, we shared a video of Superintendent Lori White as she reiterated her support of EdExploreSRQ.com and encouraged teachers to bring these hands-on, benchmark-connected experiences to their students. I also gave a short tour of the site and shared some of the feedback from our recent online teacher survey. Perhaps the most moving moment of the broadcast came when I shared pictures of students experiencing a variety of EdExplorations throughout the community and in their schools while I read quotes from teachers, students and principals.

To see the sparks of excitement for learning and grins of concepts finally grasped on students’ faces spoke volumes. The quotes I shared prove that the EdExplorations our community resources provide for our students are working to inspire and engage while supporting the study of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. It is also clear that EdExploreSRQ.com is a welcome new resource for teachers!

Our integral partners in this venture are the “Providers” of the EdExplorations. Those providers include the community organizations that offer these experiences to our students. Now we have added a new category of providers- the Teaching Artist!

Teaching Artists are in the process of adding their postings to EdExplore and offer a wonderful variety of artist residencies. Jim Shirley, Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, joined me on the broadcast and shared the perspective of our providers. They are excited to be collaborating with our teachers and students in this fresh, new way and it is evident that we are all just starting to realize the potential opportunities for even more powerful collaborations.

Lastly, I shared that May 1 is a great day for teachers to take another look at EdExploreSRQ.com! Many of our providers are working to have postings for the 2012-2013 school year on EdExplore by May 1st so that teachers can begin to plan for next year. The Education Foundation will have their applications ready for next year’s Exploration and Edge of Excellence funding available on their site and on EdExploreSRQ.com by May 1 as well.

What an amazing experience the whole broadcast was for me. To be able to reach out to so many teachers and community members with one live broadcast is truly a new way of doing things for me. I learned, from the feedback I’ve gotten since then, that teachers appreciate the option of gaining knowledge without leaving their school and the chat taking place during the broadcast was engaging and interesting.

I entered into creating this presentation on Safari Live with trepidation but thanks to our district IT specialist, Todd Alexander, and the ability to jump in with both feet, I have gotten a taste of a new, wonderful technological tool available to us. What an exciting world this is when I can use a tool like Safari Live to share information about a resource like EdExploreSRQ.com.

Bring on the future!

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