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Downtown Fargo as a Living Classroom

At Kilbourne Group, we have a deeply-held set of values. We believe in respect for the past and gratitude for the present, but also in inspiration for the future that curiosity and knowledge sharing can lead to even brighter days ahead. We also believe in community that being an active citizen and valued neighbor is something worth striving for every day.

Fargo Public Schools (FPS) is another organization with a defined vision and set of values. As an educational institution, inspiration for the future is their primary export, and they’ve committed to that by stating, Graduates will possess sound character and the 21st century skills in communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity necessary to participate in an ever-changing and culturally diverse world. FPS is also aware that community support is critical in fostering those 21st century skills, and is committed to excellence through a student-centered learning environment supported by positive collaborations with students, staff, parents, school, and community.

With vision and values aligned, Kilbourne Group is proud to partner with Fargo Public Schools historic, north-side, neighborhood middle school Ben Franklin. The partnership is exciting because it instills a sense of community collaboration, and more importantly, because it creates a valuable, real-world, project-based learning opportunity for the leaders of tomorrow.

greatnorthernclocktower_458Project-based learning is an important advancement in education because it builds the skills of communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. Rather than encouraging students to memorize endless facts that can be looked up quickly and easily on any smartphone in a real-world environment, project-based learning gives students the skills that they will need as they enter the fast-paced, constantly-evolving economy in a few years time. Project-based learning takes students outside the classroom walls and into the actual boardrooms, studios and laboratories where they can begin to cultivate a passion.

Within the living classroom of downtown Fargo, Kilbourne Group has guided Ben Franklin students through one project successfully, has begun the process of a second project, and is grateful to have been invited to partner on a third.

The first project was based in research and technology, where students listened to a presentation from Kilbourne Group and toured the Loretta Building, then dug into the history of various downtown buildings using online resources, in-person tours, and discussions with community historians and building experts. Then students created and narrated a video for each building, published the video using Quick Response (QR) codes, and demonstrated their project to community members at an unveiling event in downtown Fargo’s historic Fargo Theatre.

benfranklinTheir current project is focused on business acumen and creativity, where students again teamed up, received a presentation and tour from Kilbourne Group, and are now designing a business plan. In this case, the business plan is not for an imaginary scenario, but rather for an alley retail space in the Roberts Commons project currently under construction in downtown Fargo. The students are considering factors such as neighborhood context, target market, product selection, advertising channels, branding and differentiation as they determine what business their team will pitch to a group of community members and high school business students  la Shark Tank.

The future project is a continuation of the first, diving further into art, technology and community engagement. The 2017 class of eighth graders at Ben Franklin will be researching and documenting how various downtown properties have changed over time, and will incorporate the use of one of North Dakota’s most exciting new technologies unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to capture aerial footage and give perspective for the viewer. A video narrative will be developed and compiled into a short documentary, which will be submitted to the annual Fargo Film Festival in 2018.

Kilbourne Group is full of gratitude for this partnership with Fargo Public Schools and Ben Franklin Middle School. These projects represent fantastic opportunities, not only to live our values, but also to invest in the community we love.

 

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