Online tool spurs education collaboration and conversation

Posted on July 29, 2011 by Laurey Stryker, Ed.D., Digital Access for All Initiative Manager

EdExloreSRQ.com was designed as a web-based resource for teachers and principals to access “explorations” and curriculum support offered during school time by area arts, science and history organizations. To be approved for inclusion on EdExploreSRQ.com, explorations must be connected to state curriculum benchmarks.

EdExploreSRQ is becoming much more than a catalogue of available experiences. The dialogue and collaboration necessitated to go from experience to vetted “exploration” has opened communications between organizations and school district instructional leadership.

The Sarasota school district curriculum department, under the direction of Nancy Roberts, reviewed the submissions. Angela Hartvigsen, Fine Arts Specialist and EdExplore project manager, worked with school IT support staff member Todd Alexander to design and implement the IT platform. Nancy Roucher, of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County and Myriam Springuel, Executive Director of the Science and Environment Council of Sarasota County, worked with 29 organizations on explorations.

We know from initiative surveys that there’s strong support for making community connections a more integral part of student learning. But where do you find the time and space to create more meaningful connections?

This isn’t a onetime event. We anticipate nearly 30 organizations will have posted explorations as the school year opens. Nineteen have already been approved. Explorations will be posted at least annually. So the dialogue continues.

I think it will shift from what is available to where the gaps are….which students and benchmarks aren’t being addressed. The school district will have the opportunity to share their highest priorities with organizations. We’ve already seen organizations relish the opportunity to make their programs more relevant to state benchmarks.

A case in point is the Season of Sculpture, which engaged Debbie Herbert, one of our dynamic art teachers at Bay Haven Elementary, to translate the annual sculpture exhibit into school learning objectives. Other organizations, such as Embracing Our Differences, deepened their relationships with district social studies leadership to enhance the curriculum connections for high school students.

EdExploreSRQ offers not just a platform but a process for collaboration. Because it is a process, EdEploreSRQ should always be a “work in progress” – never a finished product, always evolving to enhance the connections generously offered with donor support by our unique cultural and science organizations.


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