Smart Classroom

Pinellas County Schools Adds New Tech Magnet Program

Pinellas County Schools in Florida has established a new technology-oriented magnet program at Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg, FL.

The program, named the Center for Innovation and Digital Learning, launched at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year and serves students in grades 6-8. As part of the program, students each receive a 10-inch Microsoft Surface Pro tablet, which they use for in-class assignments, homework and assessments in their core subject classes and electives. The students also receive training on Dell desktop and Apple MacBook computers.

The focal point of the program is personalized learning, with lessons geared to the individual needs of each student, according to information on the district's Web site. Students in the program participate in project-based lessons, interactive online activities and face-to-face lessons designed to encourage critical thinking.

Students in grades 6 and 7 are required take a technology class. Through this class, students can earn IC3 Spark certification in digital literacy and "an Information and Communication Technology Certification bundle that includes training in Microsoft Office and OneNote," according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times. Grade 8 students also have the opportunity to intern at local businesses.

The district purchased $115,000 worth of new technology for the magnet program, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In preparation for the program, teachers attended a Microsoft training boot camp over the summer and participated in a technology conference in Philadelphia.

Students anywhere in Pinellas County are eligible to apply for the program, although students who attend either of the district's two technology-oriented elementary magnet programs get "feeder pattern priority" to attend the Center for Innovation and Digital Learning.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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