Dozens of teachers recently crowded into Kings Highway Elementary School to learn a new language: technology.
"The teachers didn't grow up with technology," said Pat Lusher who is the Director of Library, Technology, Instructional Materials and Digital Learning at Pinellas County Schools. "It's a transformation."
Kings Highway Elementary in Clearwater and Gulf Beach Elementary in St. Pete Beach closed about five years ago. The Two Pinellas County Schools will open in the fall as Centers for Innovation and Digital Learning. Basically, magnet schools focused on technology. Teachers are spending the summer learning how to use iPads and other tech tools. All the students and teachers at the two schools will get take home iPads. That's 730 pieces of hardware, totaling more than $400,000. The money comes from a district fund.
Lusher says students will be closely monitored and won't be able to simply download whatever applications they want.
"I can track how much they read at home," teacher, Laura Bygrave, said. "They'll realize they can't get away with as much because we're going to be on top of them."
Don't expect the bookshelves to be empty. The schools will still use paper, pencil, and books, but focus heavily on technology. The transition has been a little more difficult for the more experienced teachers, but first year teacher, Bygrave, is confident they'll get the hang of it.
"We've already talked to teachers ranging in age you know saying 'if you need anything come see me in my room or maybe we can FaceTime at lunch.' "