A new middle school is tech-centric and wide open in design, promoting project based learning and collaboration among students.

Manor New Tech Middle School does not look like most schools . The cafeteria doubles as a dining room, a classroom, and a library.  Walls belong to break out rooms, where students meet in small groups.  The layout is open, filled with tables, benches, and white boards.

“There’s very few walls,” Scott Thomas, the district’s communications director. “Most of the walls that you see, those are break-out rooms where students who are working on projects break out into small groups.”

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According to science teacher Tracee Cummins, the project based approach to curriculum involves more work than traditional lectures. The school layout is fluid, as students do not spend their days listening to lectures.  They receive some instruction, and then they collaborate on assignments during class.

“Sometimes you get this great idea, and you plan it out, and you fall flat on your face because it didn’t go the way you thought it would, or the kids are like ‘This is stupid,’” she says. “So sometimes it’s really worth the work, and sometimes you’re like, ‘Aw, man I got to tweak it,’ and it becomes more work.”

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