What is your student doing in school right now?
Our classes are not like average, ordinary classrooms. We flipped them. Made our desks into mobile think tanks. Gave the teacher a mic, projectors, and the ability to bring the whole world into first period. We take you to the edge, so you can see over the horizon and into tomorrow.
Truly innovative classrooms begin with a comprehensive approach that integrates technology into every aspect of curricular activities and extracurricular opportunities. Tampa Prep language students explore famous French museums through virtual reality. Our sixth grade English students produce movies of book reviews on their iPads and in Science they make a 3D biome model for an annual project. Our upper school students are writing VR apps to help themselves study the periodic table in Chemistry.
Virtual Augmented Reality Idea Lab
There’s a culture of innovation and creativity at Tampa Prep. There’s a willingness to try new ideas, think differently, and push envelopes–anything that better serves students.
Our IDEA Lab (Innovate Design Explore Apply) was a student-driven initiative. In 2017 Tyler Hostler-Mathis ‘19, a sophomore at the time, showed an interest in Oculus Rift and VR programming. We gave Tyler the autonomy and resources to pursue his interests, and just a few years later–after a lot of professional development by our faculty and staff–we have an entire programming and VR curriculum, VR clubs, and VR summer camps. All because a student showed interest.
Middle School ALE (Active Learning Environment) spaces
- Convertible workstations and the mobility of furnishings for different configurations supports collaboration.
- Chairs aren’t just comfortable seating–they swivel and roll, allowing students to “fidget” as their minds work. Chairs also adjust in height to accommodate children at all stages of adolescence.
- Teachers wear microphones which mitigate distortion and sound degradation over distance to provide auditory clarity. Everyone can hear.
- Three 42” HD smart displays or projectors in each classroom provide visual clarity. Everyone can see because there’s no such thing as the back of the classroom. Both teachers and students can sync their device’s screen to the displays for ultimate collaboration.
- The Bernucca Learning Studio provides students with a study area featuring computers, a green screen and a projector for digital production of class projects.
Upper School ALE (Active Learning Environment) spaces
In addition to the smart displays listed above, our upper school classrooms offer:
- the same convertible seating with a more mature pallet for the transition to college. This mobility offers greater support for our Harkness method of teaching.
- additional independent spaces for small group collaboration of 6-8 students, because research shows at this number students collaborate, above this number they socialize.
- walls of windows for more natural light and dry erase writing surfaces. Some of the dry erase areas have become community positioning boards for quotes, poems, lyrics, thoughts and support spaces for problem solving and presentations.
As educational thought leaders, we were the first school in Tampa Bay to successfully launch an iPad 1:1 program back in 2013, and the first school in Tampa Bay to be awarded the Apple Distinguished School designation. We focused on building a dynamic, technologically-centered learning environment because:
- learning comes to life when students incorporate multimedia into their lessons.
- research becomes more powerful and dynamic when students can view Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic speech at the Lincoln Memorial, rather than simply reading the words.
- languages are learned by interacting with native speakers.
- reference materials can be presented in three dimensions.
- students can create multimedia projects to reinforce concepts.
- student work is instantaneously projected onto screens in the class for discussion and review.
This creative, hands-on approach facilitates student-led instruction and peer-to-peer collaboration, especially when 88% of our faculty are APPLE CERTIFIED teachers.
Video Production Suite & Soundproof Rehearsal Rooms
In 2016, our upper school was renovated and a video production suite with state-of-the-art, production-grade tools and software came to life. Our Digital Video Lab includes green and white screen rooms. Pro tools include cameras, lighting, digital video support (Final Cut Pro X, Compressor, Logic Pro X) and Black Magic Cameras (similar to those used to film Avatar).
Our digital production, band and chorus students also have access to four soundproof rehearsal studios.
Our Peifer Library is a beautiful 10,000-square-foot space under our signature dome. Apple computers, online services and more than 9,300 books and videos offer students every opportunity for research and literary reflection. A retractable screen and amplified sound allow this trademark area to be used as an impressive, comfortable presentation venue.
Our media materials collection includes a Sora eBook collection of 300+ eBooks and audiobooks, Britannica School Online, modules of Gale (Expanded Academic, Scribner Writers Series, Twayne’s Authors, Student Resources in Context), SIRS® Issues Researcher, ProQuest CultureGrams™, and Oxford Quick Reference. Full online access is also available to local newspapers and the Gale eBooks collection.
Our virtual reality IDEA Lab is stationed within the Peifer Library. Several classes periodically use the lab, and the Virtual Reality Development Club meets there as well. Additionally, after school each week our librarian hosts weekly Maker Mondays for all grade levels. Each week has a different theme including Intro to 3D Printing, Recycled Book Art, Intro to VR, Circuit Playground, Tech Take Apart and more. Tools and supplies are available for students including MakeyMakey and littleBits kits. They’ve been so popular that she recently added Techie Tuesdays.
SUNSHINE READERS, BATTLE OF THE BOOKS, FLORIDA TEENS READ
Every year, the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) puts out the Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) 6-8 list, which consists of fifteen recently published books geared towards middle school students. Our Sunshine Readers club meets Mondays during lunch to talk about these books as well as other books they are reading.
In the spring, Tampa Prep also fields a Battle of the Books team. To try out for the team, middle school students must have read at least three of the SSYRA titles. Up to five middle school students are selected to form the team which participates in the Battle of the Books competition along with other Bay Area independent schools. View current titles from the 2020-2021 SSYRA Reading List.
Florida Teens Read is a list of fifteen books selected by FAME geared toward high school students. These books tend to explore difficult and mature topics and are of excellent literary quality. Our Upper School Book Club meets during lunch on Wednesdays and will often choose a selection of these books to discuss.
LIBRARY HOURS & CONTACT
The library is open every school day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except during assemblies, advising and special event days. Diana Rendina is the School’s librarian. She can be reached at email@example.com. Read Ms. Rendina’s blog about Banned Book Week.
Terrapin Math Academy (AKA Terp Academy) was created for Tampa Prep students by our Math Department under the leadership of Mrs. Pat Embry. Podcasts are available from several classes, covering a variety of topics to aid in student review of the material. We are pleased to share this resource with others outside of our community who may find it useful. Be sure to check back as more classes will be added. Begin your Terp Academy lessons in: