Trainee Testimonials

Please enjoy a few words of feedback from our wonderful trainees.  These two teachers work at CICS Northtown, and we are extremely grateful to partner with them.

  • Outside of the [Global Peace (gp)] course, I just want to send my encouragement to you and the gce family to continue to experiment, and load the rest of your curriculum with WHATs and HOWs that adhere to the gp model of unit design.  It’s clear that your team has been doing great work.  It’s fascinating to think about classes being planned this way.  For example, within my school i think about how many new opportunities for integration would open up outside of my course through the arteries of this rather simple, thoughtful design.  The nature of this unit structure is so conducive to that specific kind of collaborative work that deepens student learning, but often doesn’t happen or is merely tangential.  The model also demands a certain degree of differentiation in order for a teacher to activate it correctly.  It really seems both obvious and miraculous, like, why haven’t we been planning this way?  With a frame like this for units, I think teachers across content areas, given enough time for planning, could really, really, really do amazing things in their classrooms. i’m extremely excited by the gp format and i feel that it’s also administrator-friendly, a point that shouldn’t need to be made but i think does; it reflects the mission of any high school today, but is also so permeable that it allows for an inflow of rigorous, skills-based activity.  Thinking about the verticality of the unit structure in terms of skills-building/ACT, and not just focusing on its horizons (integration, etc.) is also really interesting.  That challenge of blending it and making sure to tease out skills/ACT/standards, with this model already in place, could produce some of the most valuable content and activities for the WHATs/HOWs without feeling like a separate, onerous weight to the students as they learn. you should call the design of the gp class the uprise unit structure.  That’s what it feels like – i’ve been reclining and am now getting up.  Or, that i’m actually in revolt.  In either case, ascending.  By which i mean, the students will. Having said this, i haven’t actually taught your wonderful curriculum.  I am eager to see how it feels in practice with our students, what we are going to have learned by the end. Hopefully, there’s an uprising. Thanks for this discovery and this training.

  • This workshop has increased my interest in the GCE Model for Learning in that I now have a visual roadmap of how to plan purposeful courses, units and lessons. The structure makes me excited to not only teach the Global Peace Course but also to see how I can incorporate the model into my Writing Course at Northtown. Diving into the lessons and allowing us to see how the components fit together and then giving micro teaching opportunities was invaluable. I believe this curriculum allows students to be the natural learners they were meant to be. Providing purpose, a roadmap and activities that allow them to discover answers to questions along the way opens up unlimited possibilities for the student learning experience. The structure teaches them how to be forever learners and letting one question lead them on an exploration that might take them to yet another question. It is a continuous learning cycle with necessary skills built in.  How do I now take all of this to plan what I need for CICS? I want to really aspire to live up to the possibility of this model and course.

Blended Learning

Yesterday, we spent a good deal of time and thought on Blended Learning, it pros, cons, limitations, and possibilities to maximize learning.  Please share in the ideas below:


How does BL improve (for students) organization of course?

  • website lets you go deep, zoom in and out
  • gives autonomy to student to understand structure and org of course –can explore what doing on own
  • entirely transparent
  • less overwhelming visually–can decided what level of detail to look into
  • syllabus different as flat, status doc –doesn’t provide as much organizationally

How BL enhance use of embedding resources?

  • link to sources
  • collect online and offline sources in same place
  • tidiness and simplicity, access from one place
  • kids need training to use the site…

How BL enhance network of learners

  • read others comments on blog posts– comment on comments– sets up a different kind of dialogue
  • create portfolio of learning
  • graduates return to site, take it with them into other learning community–resources available to other people
  • other teachers sharing lessons/activities, etc, as well as comments on what has worked and why, etc.
  • free open source material– no proprietary software–doesn’t have to be expensive to have high tech

How BL helps to offer examples of excellence?

  • embedded in site– in same format
  • more transparent


  • want everyone to be advocate
  • front-end parent with information… info is always right here
  • parents can always check on students work
  • curriculum design always open to see
  • administrators see what happening; students access it; teachers make it user-friendly

‘What if’ (contingencies to keep kids caught up):

  • communicate same info to kids, parents, admin
  • save time
  • bridge absences, homebound, snow days, etc

Teaching for multiple intelligence:

  • video, audio, movement, hands- experience—tech helps us address multiple intelligence
  • using tools we have at our discretion — more tools and sharper tools–wider array helps us be more effective
  • we each don’t have access to all tools–but we can build them…
  • we may not have Hans Rosling on staff, but do have him on TED…

Effective Teaching

In our final training session today, we discussed evaluation.  We asked and talked about the purpose of assessment and effective vs ineffective strategies.  We told a few funny stories and laughed about our short-comings.  But one thing that isn’t funny is that there is often a disconnect between what we evaluate, in terms of student work, and how we use the information to become better teachers, and better people.

Participants in GCE’s Educator Workshop answered the following prompt as comments to this blog:

  • What takeaways will you immediately apply to your teaching craft? How will you know if you’re effective/successful?

Please feel free to share your own thoughts too.


T3 & Inquiry based learning

This week, we are conducting a GCE Educator Institute, Train-the-Trainer Workshop. The purposes are three-fold:

  1. Clarify and discuss the goals of GCE’s Model for Learning which apply to both formal and informal environments: educating global citizens
  2. Train public and private educators to deliver the curriculum in a range of formats from electives to clubs to summer immersion programs (also available is training to develop full school models)
  3. Build GCE’s Global Network: learning circles of students, educators, and partners — corporate, non-profit, and civic — who collaborate in person and online.

The purpose of our Tuesday morning session is to explore the essence of Inquiry-Based Learning and the contexts in which it is most effectively employed. Participants, educators from four schools — Global Citzenship HS, Chicago International CS Northtown, Young Women’s Leadership CS, and Glenbrook South HS — share their understanding of IBL in two ways, both of which contribute to GCE’s practice and examination of Inquiry and Project based learning, blended learning, City2Classroom* programs, and MDG & CCSS alignment:

  1. Thoughts and definitions about IBL posted as comments to this blog.
  2. No fewer than 3 examples of appropriate scenarios in which IBL optimizes student learning, also posted as comments to this blog.
Please enjoy and contribute as well.
Thank you,

Healthcare & Education

This morning I read one of Dan’s blog posts at and posted the following response on his blog.

Thanks for sharing so much about yourself, the healthcare system in various places and forms, and about people in general.  Like you, my professional work is fueled and informed by my own experience  and me desire to respectfully leave the world a better place (some mushy gushy stuff too)  — though my more disheartening past was in education, not healthcare.  I’m constantly amazed by the level of disenfranchisement and disregard with which our patients (students) are treated.  They often leave sicker than when they arrived; is this also because there is often a patient-blind process for administering the cure (standard approach to education/testing), and that this process undermines their sense of safety, autonomy, and potential?

I deeply appreciate you showing what doesn’t work as a background for pointing out some of the great things that do work, and which can be applied across business sectors.   To say that you left your site visit seeking ways to employ their huddles (because of the humanity and trust they engender) is the greatest validation you can give.  Praise is to say, this is awesome, great job.  Yet it is ever more valuable to say that by doing that which you most admire.  In some cases, this is akin to paying it forward.  In other cases this is called, expanding your circle of influence.  In more cases still, this is borrowing the idea/action and customizing it for yourself and your community.

At GCE, we work tirelessly to cultivate an environment similar to the one you describe.  Our staff members describe the jobs they do as the most challenging and rewarding of their lives.  We informally exchange tens of ideas each day, hundreds per week, and we collectively deconstruct and reconstruct the system and model on a yearly basis.  These reflective and team-oriented practices share the understanding and agency required for us to heal our patients and ourselves.  In so doing, we constantly rededicate ourselves to our highest aspirations while simultaneously accepting that we are both flawed and a work in process.  One thing that we will certainly borrow is to improve the way that we huddle — I love the simplicity of “How’d we do yesterday?” and “What do we need to do today to make it a great day for our patients?”  These questions can often lead to boring morning meetings when people check their email, but you’ve pointed out the essence of why this works and what we must bear in mind in order to succeed:  the organization is structured, fact-based, but also invites  just the right blend of “quirkiness, humor, and discipline.”

Thank you, Dan.


Create New Curriculum Part 5: Purpose

Every GCE course, unit, lesson, and activity is purpose driven.  We ask teachers to clarify the essence of learning opportunities and to transparently communicate why each course is essential to learn.

What is the purpose of your course and why is it essential to learn?

Creating New Curriculum Part 4: How will you know they “get” it?

Student performance, beliefs, and interactions reflect who we are and what we do as educators.  At GCE, we constantly strive to see our own reflection in our students’ behavior and performance and to use the data available to improve our curriculum, instruction, and social emotional support. Ultimately, it is only through consistent and direct attention to our students that we can learn what THEY truly need in order to grow as students and citizens.

How will you know if/when your students get it?  What are you looking for, listening to, sensing?

Creating New Curriculum Part 3: Communication

One of the greatest challenges we face as educators is that of communication; and failure to communicate clearly through directions, questions, assessment, and informal interactions quickly leads to breakdowns in trust, motivation and performance.  On the flip-side, by varying communication strategies and accommodating the unique learning needs of each student, we can bridge gaps that increase love of learning, connection, and advocacy.

What patterns of communication will your course facilitate? How will students connect with themselves, others, and the world?