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Mancos open house next Wednesday

Project-based learning on display at annual event
Last year’s eighth grade students on their Grand Canyon trip in May. Food sold at the Mancos open house next week will help raise funds for this year’s trip.

Project-based learning will take center stage at the Mancos schools’ open house next week.

The school district’s annual open house will happen Wednesday night in the Mancos Elementary School, and it will feature project work by students of various age groups.

Food will be sold at the event as a fundraiser for the eighth grade Grand Canyon trip.

And the event will offer parents and community members a chance for a deeper insight on the initiative, which has been underway in recent years but ramped up this past fall after the district hired Ed Whritner as PBL coordinator and hosted a PBL training over the summer.

The Mancos open house is typically an opportunity for students to showcase their work, and so this year they’re just incorporating more PBL components in it, Whritner said.

“This is moving toward having actual project exhibitions become more of a common occurrence at the district,” he said.

Currently, district staff have been wrapping up the Portrait of a Graduate project, in which they surveyed students, teachers, staff, and some community members in order to detail what they hope a Mancos graduate will walk away with, in areas including having a growth mentality, being civic minded, having integrity, and more. Having this project complete will help “anchor” their project-based learning efforts.

One reason that project-based efforts are important is because they match a new work landscape, in which “information is everywhere,” Whritner said, making rote memorization less necessary post-graduation.

“Being able to have kids that can think critically and learn independently, and push through their own learning obstacles – that seems to be where education is going,” he said.

As part of the initiative, classes have been collaborating with local entities including the Mancos Town Board, Mancos Trails Group, and the Four Corners Recycling Initiative.

The lengthy time required for government projects creates some obstacles in collaborating with the Town Board, since students may have graduated by the time the project comes to fruition. But the engineering and physics class presented some project proposals to the Mancos board in October, and the relationship has been established, Whritner said.

Students will also be assisting the Mancos Trails Group in creating signs for a trail network connecting the parks in town, and a group of students is focusing on recycling efforts in Mancos.

“We’re trying to flip the classroom to make it more student-centered, rather than teacher-centered,” Whritner said. “And projects are a piece of that.”

The open house is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 22 and will take place in the new cafeteria and the Little Jay Gym, both located in the Mancos Elementary School building. Dinner – which includes a baked potato, salad, and dessert – will cost $5, with proceeds going toward the eighth grade Grand Canyon trip.


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