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.

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