South Fayette Middle School opens world’s first Reinvent the Classroom advanced learning studio
For those who remember when projecting filmstrips was high-tech, the Reinvent the Classroom initiative has an eminently appropriate name.
“We’re talking about an opportunity for students to solve problems with students from Sweden, Australia, Copenhagen, all over the world,” Michael Loughead, South Fayette Township School District assistant superintendent, said. “We used to read about these kinds of things in books when I was in school.”
He was part of the crowd gathered Thursday to cut the ribbon on South Fayette Middle School’s advanced learning studio, which happens to be the first to open in the world as part of HP and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom.
More than 60 of the studios are planned, with the next one to open in the San Francisco area. The will be furnished with state-of-the-art equipment to allow for collaborative efforts around the globe.
Cutting the ribbon were eighth-graders Rachel McAdams and Sara Teachout, joined by seventh-graders Katlynn Kyle and Ariel Radinovic, who served as student ambassadors to give visitors a tour of the studio.
The equipment includes HP’s Sprout, a desktop computing system with multiple three-dimensional capabilities, and a corresponding 3-D Dremel printer. Additional resources and materials are provided by Reinvent the Classroom supporting partners Crayola, Makey Makey, and Edmodo.
“All of this equipment that is here was given to us on a grant because we are a member of the League of Innovative Schools for Digital Promise,” South Fayette Superintendent Billie Rondinelli explained. “So the district did not pay for this.”
Digital Promise Global, a nonprofit organization working to spur innovation in education, selects school districts based on vision and key achievements, potential for impacting student learning and educational leadership, and commitment to networking and knowledge sharing.
Among South Fayette’s achievements is the district’s one-to-one initiative, in which computers are provided for all students in third through 12th grades. The program has had an effect on available classroom space.
“We have all these computer labs that we don’t need anymore,” Frank Kruth, middle school Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics coordinator, said. “So we repurposed them into ‘learning pathways’ so that students would be able to come to these places and learn for the sake of learning.”
The Reinvent the Classroom advanced studio is among the “learning pathways,” which also includes a graphic design room modeled after The Factory, Andy Warhol’s 1960s-era New York City studio.
In the moving image arts room, students can edit video using advanced software for use in classroom projects.
“For example, in language arts and in social studies, they made movie trailers for historical events or for the books that they’re reading,” Kruth said. “In social studies right now, our sixth-graders are using that room because they’re making videos about early civilizations and their inventions, and how they affect us.”
The objective, he explained, is for STEAM education to be integrated with other disciplines.
“My job is to break it out into the whole school,” he said.