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Brandon Middle School gets technology boost, French Associates

Brandon Middle School gets technology boostdescribe the image

Saturday, July 17, 2010

By DUSTIN BLITCHOK
Special thanks to The Oakland Press

The Brandon School District has completed construction of a new addition to Brandon Middle School, the Instructional Technology Exploration and Collaboration Center.

The grand welcoming for the center will be 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 8 The community is invited to the open house, said Paul Spoor, director of technology for Brandon School District.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity. I-TEC is an opportunity for us to meet varied learning styles,” said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon.

The addition was constructed using funds from the district’s voter-approved bond project for capital improvements. The new building, which is about 6,000 square feet in size, blends architecturally with the existing Brandon Middle School building.

The chief architects for the project were French & Associates, the contractor was Skanska, and Barton Malow handled technology for the project. Ground was broken last fall and the project was completed in nine months. Spoor and his technology staff are moving into the building from their previous office space in Brandon High School’s media center.

Spoor explained the thinking behind the building’s two “learn labs,” separated by a removable divider, which use a triangulated learning concept. The rooms have three projectors, four sitting locations, and no dedicated instructional space.

Spoor says the design means people in the room are “forced to collaborate,” and that the learn labs facilitate teacher-to-student involvement. Spoor says the natural point of instruction in a learn lab is the center of the classroom. The ideas for the learn labs and the building’s nontraditional seating come from the Steelcase Corp., headquartered in Grand Rapids.

The atrium of the building, called “the Eye,” can be “set up and torn down to meet anything you want to do; everything is mobile here, and everything has the ability to adapt,” Spoor explained. Community uses for the building may include senior activities and adult education. The I-TEC center will also be available for corporate rental.

All Brandon students now have student ID cards with a barcode, and Spoor says students will be able to use the center and check out equipment for instructional work. The regular business hours of the center have yet to be determined.

Director of curriculum Joanna McKinney says “we are very excited about our opportunity to have an efficient physical space that supports best instructional practice not only for our students, but staff and community alike.”

A pilot class from Brandon Fletcher Intermediate school, Amanda Goodloe’s fifth-grade class, will come to the I-TEC center in the mornings in the fall, where Goodloe will teach science, math, and language arts.

McKinney says the center also will be used for professional development for the district’s employees.

The first day of class in the district is Sept. 7.