PBL + CCSS + MDGs + C2C = OnIn

Recently, GCE was visited by a group of foreign delegates and one of the women asked me how we are different? Her challenge provoked a different response than my typical elevator speech because she did not speak much English, and I had to provide the simplest answer possible. 
My response: “The education GCE offers is real, relevant, and it changes lives. We break down the walls of school and subjects, exposing students to the lessons that come from life itself.” 
Since then, I’ve thought a lot about our City2Classroom design as a key differentiator between GCE and other schools. Our students are themselves the examples of City2Classroom learning — their courses are dynamic, relevant, and their learning is transparent. They immerse themselves in skill development, exposures that test credibility and doubt, and they demonstrate mastery which they share through digital portfolios. 
We are the lucky ones. Each GCE student will experience upwards of 150 exposures in their 4 year high school career. But every student cannot attend GCE, so how does this model scale? How may students in other schools and other programs achieve similar experiences that result in similar gains — 100% college enrollment, 71% merit aid, and more importantly, purpose-driven ownership of their education and their lives.
GCE produces a blog that features Online Installations (OnIns) of student work. Each installation (blog post) is structured to include the course title, guiding question, problem scenario, samples of student work, CCSS & MDG alignment. In sum, we are demonstrating how inquiry and project-based learning may be showcased and highlight student education and quality of life standards without dumbing down student work or creative curriculum.
In our presentation at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on May 19th (click the link to register), Eric Davis (Executive Director) and 3 GCE students will provide the lunchtime keynote. Hear directly from them why our Model is designed this particular way, how it impacts student desire to learn, and what we do to showcase their inquiry and project based discoveries. The workshop will include 3 distinct stages: an introduction to GCE and our model for learning (why we do what we do); 3 student presentations of individual work that is work representative of the whole; and we will close with Q & A.

By sharing what we do at GCE we hope that others working with youth, in non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, or in other schools in the Chicago region, will look for ways to add project based learning into their own learning activities and that at some point we’ll be getting new ideas from some of them just as we hope we’re inspiring them with our ideas.

Lastly, we hope that you will have some fun in the session which turns acronym-heavy education conversations into real-world discussions and opportunities for improving your programs: after all, PBL + CCSS + MDGs + C2C = OnIn.
Thank you.

Spring Term & Hybrid Pilot

Dear Families:

Welcome to 2014 Spring Term, the final phase of this school-year (holy cow!). Students, we’ll see you at 8:45 on Tuesday morning, April 8.

In this news-blast you’ll find information about a few things:

  1. Courses
  2. Key Dates
  3. Hybrid Model Pilot Program

    Global Health: CURE (home page)
    Spring Term Courses — STEM then Humanities:
    • Freshman: Food & Food for Thought
    • Sophomores: Cure & Drama
    • Juniors: Urban Planning & Policy
    • Seniors: Enterprise & Endurance

    • Graduation: June 4, 5:30-7pm. Location & agenda TBD and info shared in early April. Information about Final Presentations, also likely to be held on June 4th, will be sent in the coming weeks.
    • Parent Event: April 16, 6pm @ Amazing Edibles. More details coming soon. 
    • Enrollment Paperwork will be sent to families the week of 4/8. Please also check the 2014-15 school calendar so that you may begin scheduling your family activities. 

    Hybrid Model Pilot Program (seniors only)
    Courageous as always, our students beta test the cutting edge educational programming that we design! And thank you! This term, the seniors will be piloting our new Hybrid Model which is intended to serve both juniors and seniors beginning in the fall of 2014. What follows are a few essential pieces of information:
    • This is a tame pilot. For the most part, the schedule for seniors is business as usual: Monday-Friday, 8:50am-3:30pm. 
    • One significant change: classes meet 3 days/week instead of 5.
      • Monday & Thursday are regular classes (Tuesday 4/8 and 5/27 run Monday schedules)
      • Wednesday focuses on Field Experiences, although seniors have several inspiring exposures scheduled for other days.
      • Tuesday & Friday mornings are scheduled time for each student to meet individually with teachers (think college professor office hours!).
        • As seniors demonstrate autonomy & accountability they may earn their way into remote work during the Tuesday & Friday morning sessions.
    • Apprenticeship Classes take place on Tuesdays and Friday afternoons. We are piloting the first term of a 2-year apprenticeship program, so much of it focuses on preparation. Among other topics, specific Tuesday and Friday afternoon sessions will focus on:
      • Student interests & career research
      • Resume building
      • Cover Letter drafting
      • Interview prep & practice
      • Anticipating and dealing with challenges in the workplace
      • Job Shadowing/Apprenticeships (TBD for each student)
        • A FEW Tuesday & Friday afternoons (specific dates shared directly with students on 4/11) will be open for students who already have apprenticeships to pursue these positions in place of the Apprenticeship Course, and students will complete their course-work remotely and asynchronously. 
    As always, these news-blasts are just the tip of the iceberg and there’s much more happening below the surface at GCE. We invite you to visit and to inquire for details specific to your family.

    Many thanks. Best wishes. And Happy Spring!