Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The State of Education: Florida Showcases the Best & Brightest Innovations at FETC 2005

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The State of Education: Florida Showcases the Best & Brightest Innovations at FETC 2005

Article excerpt

For 24 years, the Florida Educational Technology Conference has been the premier showcase for the innovative ways Florida's educators integrate technology into their classrooms. FETC continues this tradition as it celebrates its 25th anniversary from Jan. 26-28 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Here is just a sampling of the innovations that can be found during the upcoming event's sessions, workshops and exhibits.

Developing the 'Whole Child': Ocoee Middle School

Located within the city limits of Ocoee, Fla., just west of Orlando, Ocoee Middle School (OMS) serves about 1,500 students in grades six through eight with innovative teaching practices, a technology-supported curriculum and cutting-edge environs.

Chosen by Florida to serve as a model school under the SMART (Soundly Made, Accountable, Reasonable and Thrifty) Schools Act, which aims to ensure schools are offering successful but cost-effective environments, OMS has broken the mold of traditional education with a technology-enhanced approach to facility design and instructional delivery. The school stresses the "development of the whole child" through an integrated curriculum with an emphasis on teacher and student use of technology in the classroom. Flexible instructional space is allowed by operable walls as teachers wear wireless microphones so that students can hear lessons clearly. Each classroom also boasts ceiling-mounted projectors and document cameras accompanied by large screens for viewing morning announcements, videos and multimedia presentations. Thus, students are engaged and motivated throughout the day as they utilize their tablet PCs and online textbooks.

In addition to general classes, the school provides programs in the areas of gifted education, specific learning disabilities, emotionally handicapped, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy. It also serves as a bilingual center, teaching Spanish-speaking students math, science, social studies and language arts in their native language, while they simultaneously learn to master English.

OMS's Web site is another technology tool utilized by faculty, students and parents. Students can log on to the site and visit interactive pages dedicated to extracurricular activities--from creative arts to the student council--while parents can access resources ranging from scholarship and college planning to school calendars and upcoming events. In addition, more than half of the school's teachers have home pages accessible through the site, serving as another way to help students and families keep track of assignments and events.

A recipient of many awards and acknowledgements, the school has been named a "Five Star School" by the Commissioner's Community Involvement Council, a "Golden School" by the Florida Education Department, and a "Microsoft Center of Innovation," besting 200 other schools. For more information on OMS, visit

Two campus tours of the school will be available in groups of 75 on Thursday, Jan. 27. The first tour is from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., while the second tour takes place from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. E-mail for more information.

A Laptop a Day: Manatee County Schools

In November 2002, the Manatee County Schools Department of Instructional Technology applied for two competitive federal grants funded by the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program, part of the NCLB Act. The goal was to fund an innovative concept that would give students and teachers access to technology by providing laptops to use at school and at home.

One grant provided funds for selected classrooms at the secondary level; the other grant at the primary level. …

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