Keziah’s GCE Portfolio

Venezuela Consulate Visit

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Today GCE students visited the Venezuelan Consulate in Chicago. We met with representatives from the consulate to discuss a variety of topics including human rights, history, the environment, education, and culture.  Each student was interested in different aspects of Venezuela. Here are their questions and responses from our visit.

Written by Carlos

March 4th, 2011 at 9:51 am

Posted in Spring 2011

Artistic Expression From Incarcertated Youth

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Today our students went to view an art exhibit put on by the Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy Program in Chicago. This program works to expose incarcerated youth to performing, visual, and literary arts and to encourage self-expression and further education.

To learn more about this program, visit the Free Write website:

Here are some of the reflection questions we discussed:

What thoughts came to mind as you looked at the art work knowing that your peers created the work?

What stigmas do incarcerated youth have to deal with? How do you feel about youth who have been incarcerated? Do you think it could happen to you?

How does inequality and justice play a role in the incarceration of your peers?

Why is viewing and listening to your peer’s art and stories important? Is it relevant?

Do you think an increase of literacy and education to incarcerated youth will help reduce recidivism? Why or why not?

Written by Carlos

November 9th, 2010 at 10:46 am

Posted in Winter 2010

Project Soapbox Competition

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This week,  GCE’s junior class will be participating in Chicago’s Soapbox Competition. The competition begins in classrooms throughout Chicago,  and finalists will move on to the Citywide Public Speaking Competition on Saturday, November 13th at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Project Soapbox is a call to action. It gives high school students the opportunity to voice their ideas and solutions about what they feel is important in their neighborhoods, their city, their country, or the world at large.  All students must work to answer the question: What is the most important issue facing your community?

GCE students:  please reflect on your experience writing and presenting your work. Here are some prompts to get you started:

*What topic did you decide to focus on for your soapbox presentation? Why?
*What was the purpose of the piece? Do you think you effectively engaged/persuaded your audience?
*What did you learn, discover, or realize while working on your speech? Explain.
*What about your speech makes you proud of it? Why?
*After listening to your peers present, what issues are you now more aware of/concerned about?
*Was there a particular speech (other than your own) that you really enjoyed/appreciated? Explain.

To see what Project Soapbox is all about, check out some speeches from last year’s citywide finalists!

Written by Carlos

November 2nd, 2010 at 8:53 am

Posted in Winter 2010

Reflections on IMAN

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Today GCE students met with IMAN (the Inner-City Muslim Action Network) to learn about the various programs IMAN has to offer and, more specifically,  the steps IMAN is taking to end food deserts in their community.

Please share your thoughts on today’s field experience by leaving a comment. Here are some prompts to help you get started:

*Today I learned about…
*The reason why this is such a big problem is (use examples)…
*The best way to address this issue is…
*In order to do this, it is necessary that we…
*This is important to all of us because…

Written by Carlos

October 22nd, 2010 at 10:55 am

Posted in Winter 2010

Waiting For Superman Discussion

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Waiting for Superman Trailer

After watching Waiting for Superman as a class, a number of opinions and questions surfaced about the state of education in America. Below are some of the key questions we focused on. What are your thoughts? Please click on the “Leave a comment” link to respond.

  • What was the purpose of this documentary? How effectively did the film accomplish its purpose?
  • What can the “average” person do after watching this documentary? Are we left with solutions/a plan of action?
  • Is the lottery system fair? Is there a better way?
  • How can scholarships be made more available for those who need it?
  • Where is the money for “good teachers” going to come from?
  • Do you think parochial and private schools have the same challenges as public schools? Why?
  • Where do the responsibilities of teachers begin/end? What is the role of the student’s family/the student’s community?
  • What did you notice about the way rhetorical techniques (sound, light, images, expert testimony, etc) were used to cue emotional responses?
  • What did you learn from the film? What are you curious about investigating further? What questions are you left with?

Written by Carlos

October 4th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Winter 2010

Ready, Set, Paint!

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Today was dedicated to GCE beautification. We moved computers, desks, chairs, overhead projectors, loads of power cords and a few filthy file cabinets. We cleaned cobwebs from window corners and brushed off dusty books. Here is what one of the classrooms looked like before we started taping and painting:

Using nearly three roles of blue tape, I began the tedious process of prepping my new classroom for a much-needed paint job. After a couple hours of covering light switches, pipes, windows and baseboards, we were finally ready to paint! Here I am getting started on the first wall…

After about about four hours of moving school supplies and taping every nook and cranny, I was only able to finish one wall in my class. Even so, isn’t it amazing what a little paint can do?

Written by Carlos

August 23rd, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Australia’s National School Curriculum

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Australia is currently implementing its first “national school curriculum” and Asian studies is at the heart of it. In this podcast elementary school kids in Sydney are learning how to speak Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Why?

Click here to listen to the full story: Australia Hones in on Foreign Languages

Written by Carlos

August 10th, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Tweet? Hoot?

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Today I learned just how little I know about technology. Email, Facebook, Basecamp, Dropbox–ok, no problem. Twitter, HootSuite, PingFm, Foursquare…um…huh?  It was both exciting and a bit mind-numbing being introduced to so many technology platforms. Somewhere between creating a Foursquare login and “retweeting” to a Twitter post, I felt a strong nostalgic pull for the good ole’ days when granite met paper. Towards the end of the session when our instructor encouraged us to put it all together in “HootSuite,” I panicked and decided to reply to a text message instead: “talk tom? 2 busy 2 talk 4 now,” I wrote with confidence. But I didn’t feel confident for long. We still had two more (and completely foreign) platforms to discuss. Ah! I started wondering if all of this focus on technology was really necessary. Is it worth the headache (and steep learning curve) to tweet and retweet?

Connie Yowell, the MacArthur Foundation’s Director of Education, would answer with a resounding “yes.” In fact, she argues that digital technologies not only help us teach students in the classroom but help us “re-imagine learning” as a school.   She goes on to say,  “In the digital age, the learning environment is turned on its head — it’s no longer just the dynamic of the student, the teacher and the curriculum. Today, kids learn and interact with others — even from around the world — every time they go online, or play a video game, or engage through a social networking site.”

Yowell has a point. If we truly want to connect with our students technology must be part of our school culture. If we want GCE  students, teachers, staff, partners to be “global citizens”  in the 21st century we must all work to learn the intricacies of what it means to be digitally literate.

I look forward to our next steps in determining how we will use Facebook, blogging, and perhaps even tweeting to academically and socially engage with each other…

Written by Carlos

August 9th, 2010 at 10:00 pm


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First staff meeting!

Who are you?- This was the guiding question the GCE staff started our first PD session with. We then moved on to discuss project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, habits of mind, the ideal GCE graduate, and what seemed like a thousand other things a team of educators need to consider when building a school from the ground up. As one colleague put it, “We only have our foot—or perhaps only our big toe—in the door.” Being part of creating a new program can feel unsettling and even daunting at times. I was thankful that throughout our session we took the time to reflect.

This type of introspection is exciting and challenging. It invites deeper inquiry than many of the usual, traditional questions asked in professional development  (i.e. how do we hold kids accountable? what should we teach? how should we teach it?).   Instead of thinking solely about pedagogy, curriculum, and classroom management strategies, I was more often thinking about how each of us teach not only what we know, but more importantly, who we are. This kind of reflection took me back to Parker Palmer’s book, The Courage to Teach—a text I have not read since my senior year in college when I was a student teacher. The book gave me hope and peace of mind though it is not an “easy” read. It too raises questions about education that often go unasked in schools today: how does the self that teaches inform (deform?) the way we relate to students? To our subject area? To our colleagues? To GCE partners? To the world around us?
I look forward to working towards these questions in the weeks ahead. It’s tough but rewarding work! As Palmer writes, “The work required to ‘know thyself’ is neither selfish nor narcissistic. Whatever self-knowledge we attain as teachers will serve our students and our scholarship as well.”

Written by Carlos

August 8th, 2010 at 6:05 pm