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Technology abundant in county schools
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Frontier Elementary School students use technology to enhance their reading experience by listening to stories while watching the words and illustrations on a screen.
Remember when a modern classroom meant blackboards, overhead projectors and number two pencils? Fast-forward 40 years – yesterday’s classroom of the future is now today’s classroom.

In a typical Pinellas County Schools classroom, blackboards have been replaced with SMART Boards, interactive touch-sensitive white boards that can be used to collaborate and communicate with students. Libraries are now called multimedia centers and traditional textbooks are supplemented with tablets and eReaders.

Helping educators stay in step with the latest educational gadgets, Pinellas County Schools held a summer technology institute of more than 200 teachers. During the tech tune-up, savvy teachers received hands-on training on how to integrate iPads and SMART Boards into the classroom. Funding for this type of cutting-edge technology stems primarily from district operating funds, as well as county referendum dollars.

Randy Stawder, a Frontier Elementary School teacher, values technology. In his classroom, students videotape their presentations and present them to the class using a SMART Board screen and projector to enhance classroom participation. Using hand-held responders, the class rates each student’s presentation. More telling than a show of hands, the responders allow the class to provide real-time feedback based on content, delivery and overall quality of the presentation. With the help of responders, the entire class benefited from the feedback.

“I think we have been able to leverage county referendum monies to better integrate technology,” Stawder said. “I believe technology encourages students to think critically and prepares them for the future.

Florida Standards, the state’s new education standards replacing Common Core, requires school districts to place more emphasis on technology. Under the Standards, an electronic or digital format for all K-12 instructional materials must adopted and half of all instruction has to be delivered digitally by 2016.

“It’s important that we stay in front of the technology curve,” said Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Micheal A. Grego. “Our families and students expect it.”

It’s not just Pinellas County riding the technology wave. Each school district in the state will receive a Digital Classroom Allocation totaling $40 million for the 2014-15 school year. The district’s share of the money, nearly $1.1 million, will go to classroom technology.

With the opening of the New Centers for Innovation and Digital Learning at Kings Highway and Gulf Beaches Elementary Schools fast approaching, new iPad Minis have been ordered for kindergartners and first-graders and iPad Airs for students in grades second through fifth. Teachers have been trained to use the tablets in creative ways, leveraging quick response codes and mobile applications, to complement classroom lessons. Teachers will also be responsible for implementing new approaches to teaching based on individual students’ needs including personalized and project-based learning.

“We’re focusing on putting resources into the hands of students and teachers,” said Pat Lusher PCS director of library, technology, instructional materials and digital learning. “We’re excited about leveraging technology to help students reach their full potential.”

Produced by the PCS Office of Strategic Communications.
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
Submit News