We wrapped up Elective term with a trip to Las Vegas! Well, actually, Vegas came to us. The members of the GCE Student Council planned a Vegas-themed community day complete with their version of the Little White Wedding Chapel, an Elvis impersonator, casino games, and tons of ways to spend and lose “money”. It was an afternoon full of love, laughter, and good, old-fashioned competition.
Students in the Mixed Media art class are exploring 3-dimensional art forms. For this project, the students are working with clay and focusing on intuitive experimentation to bring their sculptures to life. As inspiration, students studied the works of sculptors, William J. O’Brien and Alwyn O’Brien. Throughout the process, our sculptors experimented with negative space, movement, and texture to add interest to their 3-dimensional forms. A block of self-hardening clay and a ton of imagination go a long way.
We reimagined Final Presentations this past Winter Term. Traditionally, Final Presentations were developed around courses but this Winter, we decided to develop Final Presentations around students. Students were given full ownership of their presentations to reflect deeply and genuinely on their learning from the term. Each student was given 10 minutes with an audience to either run a workshop, play a game, analyze original pieces of artwork, or run through a slideshow presentation. In this format, students were given the opportunity to think holistically about their learning and guided an audience through their journey as a student.
Our poets left their hearts on the stage during this year’s Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Slam Festival. Louder Than A Bomb or better known as LTAB is an annual event organized by one of our City2Classroom partners, Young Chicago Authors, which invites thousands of young poets to speak their truths on stage. LTAB was started in Chicago as the first youth poetry slam festival and the model has been replicated across the country and across the globe. This is our 6th year competing and the community of poets across Chicago continues to grow. It is always such an incredible honor to be amongst such honest and brave voices.
Our team worked tirelessly for 7 months in preparation for the competition and the work definitely paid off. We were fortunate enough to advance to Quarter Finals as a team and shared the stage with amazingly talented poets. While our team’s season ended at Quarter Finals, one of our poets advanced as an individual poet to Semi-Finals. He took the stage at the Metro and blew the crowd away. It has been an amazing LTAB season. Congratulations to our 2017 GCE poets! See you next year, LTAB!
Juniors in the Light, Sound, & Time class have been pursuing the guiding question, how do you experience the world around you?. Specifically, students are investigating the roles that light, sound, and time play in their lives and examining how each is produced and manipulated through mathematical and scientific concepts. In the second unit, sound, students are challenged to build a diddley bow, a one string instrument that influenced the development of the blues sound. The planning and construction of this instrument allowed the students to explore the purpose of each part of an instrument in creating the desired sounds.
Students in the Light, Sound, and Time class investigated the guiding question, why does light = energy? In pursuit of an answer, students collected different types of light bulbs and attempted to melt a piece of chocolate using those light bulbs. The students created a hypothesis and documented the procedure and conclusions in order to show the relationship between light and energy.
We’re back from Winter Break and we’re not wasting any time. We welcomed the students back with a day of learning and playing. Students dove into their courses in the morning. The hum of discussion and experimentation filled the school. The afternoon was spent building community through karaoke, dodgeball, knockout, and a couple brutal rounds of Mafia. There was great energy all around. We can already tell that it’s going to be a transformative term at GCE.
Music Makers hosted our first talent show of the year and it was a hit. We’ve got a lot of talent amongst our community. Music Makers opened up the show with a rendition of The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson, followed by a trumpet performance by Ausar and a violin performance by Jeimar. We watched a video of Claire showing off her moves on the ice and we were pleasantly surprised with an original film by Laylah, Genesis, and Zak. Charlie danced and sang the summer’s biggest hit, Work From Home by Fifth Harmony and Josh and Manny performed an original rap. Teachers, Adam and Brent blew us away with a performance of Rage Against the Machines’ Bulls on Parade. And Music Makers closed out the show with a sing-along to Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walkin‘.
There is no question that GCE’s Got Talent!
We asked our alums how GCE has prepared them for college and unanimously, our graduates expressed the importance of rooting classroom learning in real world problems. The core of our mission is to inspire students to fall in love with learning, prepare them to think for themselves and connect them with the world through their academic subjects. We do this in a myriad of ways formally and informally, but this work is most evident in our City2Classroom model. 2015 graduate, Meshach Maldonado-Lewis responded, “GCE has completed changed my life, just because of what we learned and how we learned it. Especially through Field Experiences, going on field trips every week, being able to see the world, meeting new business people. That completely changed the way I see life.”
After an intensive five weeks of deep-diving into one course during the Elective term, students in all four courses demonstrated their learning in an intimate Final Presentations opened only to GCE staff and students. The game designers in Game Changers demonstrated their original board games. The musicians in Radio-rithmetic brought music to life through sound waves and vibrations. The freedom fighters in Global Peace explained Gandhi’s four principles of nonviolence and presented their own examples of nonviolent protest. Least and certainly not least, the movie critics in Ollywood debated passionately over elements of pre-production, production, and post-production of a short animated film.
After a morning of playing, learning, and discussing, all of the hard work was rewarded with a plentiful Holiday Potluck. Friends and families joined us for lunch and this afternoon was a prime example of the love and warmth that are within our tight-knit community. We were joyed to have opened the potluck to friends and families as the students’ hard work was certainly worth celebrating with everyone in our community.
We embraced the spirit of the holidays and spent the afternoon giving back as a community. We packed toiletry kits and made trail mix to donate to The Night Ministry, a Chicago-based organization that works to offer housing, health care and human connection to members of the Chicago community struggling with poverty or homelessness. We wrote and decorated postcards for kids through Send the Kids the World, a website dedicated to connecting kids with life threatening illnesses with people from around the world. Finally, we baked cookies and shared them togther as a way to show appreciation for each other. This afternoon of giving back gave us a chance to connect as a community and brought out the true spirit of the holidays.
Students took on the role of teachers during this Fall Term Final Presentation as they walked guests through the lessons they learned. Our students practice and hone their teaching skills every day in and out of the classroom, so we were proud to see our learners own their knowledge and teach with confidence. Students taught our guests about the scarcity of water, asked them to deliver a sentencing in court, challenged them to calculate the value of risk-taking, and immersed them in a visceral simulation of a CTA ride. Our students truly demonstrated the effectiveness of immersive and project-based learning.
The Juniors in the Design & Engineering class continued to explore empathy through design. In the second unit of this STEAM course, students pursued the guiding question, how do wheels make the world spin?. For their final Action Project, students were assigned a client with specific needs for whom they must design a bike. Equipped with knowledge about simple machines and experience in prototyping, students set out to create scaled bicycle models for their client.
This weekend was marked by two important events: the Cubs reaching the World Series and our Fall Open House for prospective families. It was a pleasure meeting all of the students and families that came out to learn more about us. We are also grateful to have a community of current students and families that spent their Sunday afternoons sharing stories about their GCE experience. We look forward to hosting more events and meeting more families.
In preparation for their next Action Project, the Juniors in the Design & Engineering class worked with Bailee from the James Dyson Foundation to learn some basic prototyping skills using cardboard, X-Acto knives, markers, and rulers. Armed with their tools and a set of instructions, the students built a cube and a cylinder, two basic shapes crucial to product design. Thank you to Bailee for helping us be more prepared for creating effective models.
The Freshmen in the Water class are studying the water cycle. In the process, students learned that infiltration is an important part of the cycle because as the water passes through layers of soil and sand, it is filtered and purified so it can be consumed. Using that information, students built water filters to address the guiding question, how would you cope in a water crisis?. Take a look at the students’ trials and errors.
We just launched our IndieGoGo campaign to fund scholarships in support of our 50/50 model
Our 50/50 model ensures that 50% of our students receive need-based scholarships to attend GCE. This diverse learning environment unites students and communities across Chicago with amazing success. Over the past five years, our graduates have been awarded an average of $100,000 each in merit-based college scholarships.
We’re always thrilled to share our story with the community and ecstatic when the community becomes part of our voice. On Tuesday, DNA Info published an article in the Lincoln Park & Old Town, Education section about our incredible new facility and real-world learning model. Go read it on dnainfo.com right now!
The Sophomores in the Population class are studying classification and taxonomy. In the first unit of this STEAM course, students are investigating systems of classification, how they came about and how they caused a scientific revolution. As a part of this investigation, students dissected crickets and frogs to examine similarities and differences between the two species. Despite some initial hesitation, everyone eventually got the hang of it and collected valuable information from the specimen.