CSUSA Invests in Teachers through SAFARI Montage Technology

How does someone find a video of Martin Luther King Jr.? They just search on YouTube, right?

But what if you’re a teacher instructing a class of middle school students and an advertisement from Hanes underwear suddenly comes on?

Now the students are distracted, the video is taking longer than usual to buffer, and after only eight seconds, you’ve completely lost your students’ attention.

For teachers across the nation, finding the right video content for their students can prove to be daunting and unpredictable.

To help solve this issue, Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) has invested in a teacher-centered program called SAFARI Montage, a search and video-streaming technology designed to help K-12 teachers find high-quality video content that can be easily adapted to their teaching plans.

Almost all CSUSA schools use SAFARI Montage, which gives teachers access to 9,500 videos and 17,195 images from reputable publishers like PBS, Scholastic, Khan Academy, TED-Ed, National Geographic, the History Channel, Disney Educational Productions and BBC – all buffering and advertisement-free.
Features found in SAFARI Montage

Corey Appelbaum, curriculum specialist for school innovations at CSUSA, said the advantage to SAFARI Montage is that it narrows down choices for teachers while giving them access to the best content for their students’ individual needs.

By eliminating advertisements, the teacher is freed from unwanted distractions that could be inappropriate for students. Through instant click-and-play videos, they can also save time and keep their students’ attention on the lesson.

More importantly, teachers can be confident that the content they use is accurate and can tailor it to their liking.Features found in SAFARI Montage

“Teachers can customize their own clips and playlists for students to view and discuss on,” Appelbaum said. “It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all curriculum.”

Now when a teacher searches for “Martin Luther King Jr.” through SAFARI Montage, he or she will get 83 closed-captioned videos with abstracts, teacher guides, quizzes and even Spanish translations.

The ultimate goal, according to Appelbaum, is to immerse students in the curriculum and get them to engage with each other through technology they use on a regular basis.

“They are constantly exposed to visual media on TV, YouTube and Vine,” he said. “By using videos, we’re speaking their language and making learning that much more fun for them.”

One of the best and brightest users of SAFARI Montage in the CSUSA network is Renaissance Charter School at Central Palm, which is ranked in the top three CSUSA schools that use the technology the most. In only 3 months, Central Palm teachers have played and incorporated 1,716 video titles like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Cyberchase and Reading Rainbow into their teaching plans.

Rachael Whitley, a 3rd grade teacher at Renaissance Charter School at Central Palm, said her students are mostly visual learners and have learned tremendously from the videos, going as far as to reach 85% in math gains during the first half of the school year.

“The advantage of having so much great and interactive content is that it immerses students in their education,” she said. “Some of the students forget that they’re being taught.”

Jackson Self, principal at Renaissance Charter School at Central Palm, said teachers feel empowered by the tools SAFARI gives them because it helps them engage their students in a deeper way.

“Our teachers love it because of how easily it can be integrated into lesson plans,” he said. “If there’s a certain concept students don’t understand, our teachers can adapt quickly by searching for other high-quality video content that’s right at their fingertips.”

Appelbaum said he sees CSUSA expanding its SAFARI Montage program to include scanned homework assignments and interactive video playlists that can open the door to increased collaboration among students and teachers.

“Charter Schools USA is committed to introducing innovation in the classroom in a way that is disciplined, easy, safe and practical to use,” he said. “SAFARI is just one of the best tools we use to reach our students and impact their lives.”

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