Monday, November 5, 2012

A Day to Inspire; A Lifetime to Learn: Chicago Foundation for Education (CFE) Teacher Workshop at Whitney Young High School

by Dinah Armstead

The “A Day to Inspire; A Lifetime to Learn” one-day teacher’s conference in Chicago certainly lived up to its title. It was very exciting, fast paced, and packed full of stories, lessons, tools and networking opportunities for teachers.  Here I’ll describe one of the workshops I attended, but first I’ll pass on some information that may prove to be very important to educators reading this blog.

Part of what I did was to help out by sitting at the University of Illinois European Union Center booth to talk to teachers as they came by.  Please find below opportunities whose deadlines are fast approaching: 

Opportunities for high school teachers and students through the EU Center at the University of Illinois
  • Euro Challenge: The Euro Challenge is an exciting educational opportunity for high school students to learn about the European Union and the euro. Come learn about how to prepare for the Euro Challenge competition at an expense-paid teacher orientation/info workshop in Chicago on November 5, 2012. Travel grants and substitute teacher fee are also available. The deadline to apply for the workshop is October 22, 2012. For more information about the competition, workshop, and how to register, see the competition website.
  • High School Essay Contest: This year’s essay is all about “Competition & Cooperation,” and what it means for European countries to compete and cooperate within the European Union, across the Atlantic, and beyond. The top three student winners will receive cash prizes, and the winning student’s teacher will win a place on the summer study tour to Europe in June, 2013. Entries must be received by December 17, 2012. For further information and submission form, please see the contest website.
  • Illinois High School Translation Competition: The Center for Translation Studies and the European Union Center at the University of Illinois will hold a translation competition from EU languages into English for Illinois High-School students in the spring of 2013. The winners will be brought to the Champaign-Urbana campus for the one-day program, “Translation Day at Illinois”, on Thursday May 2, 2013. Teachers must register their schools by March 1, 2013. For more details and contact information see the competition website.
  • Summer Curriculum Development Workshop: “The Timeless Mediterranean and the New European Union: Transnational Spaces and Integration,” June 10-12, 2013. Housing is provided, travel grants and CPDUs/CEUs are available. The deadline to apply is May 6, 2013. Seats are limited, so register early! For more information and on-line registration visit the workshop website.

Opportunities for High School Students to Study Abroad

Every year the U.S. Dept. of State sponsors several prestigious scholarships, such as the Fulbright awards.  I am an “alumna” of the “Critical Language Scholarship Program”, which allowed me to travel to Morocco for a summer to study Arabic.  But, one doesn’t have to wait until college to take advantage of some of these government programs.  I’ve listed information below that was sent to me for dissemination among high school students and those who work with them.

The Department of State is currently recruiting for several study abroad scholarship programs for U.S. citizen high school students:

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) offers merit-based scholarships to U. S. high-school aged students for overseas study of seven critical foreign languages:  Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian and Turkish.  The NSLI-Y program is designed to immerse participants in the cultural life of the host country, giving them invaluable formal and informal language practice and sparking a lifetime interest in foreign languages and cultures.  Applications for summer 2013 and academic year 2013-2014 programs are due November 1, 2012.

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad Program offers scholarships to American high school students to spend the 2013-14 academic year in countries that may include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali (semester), Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, and Turkey.  This post-9/11 program focuses on increasing understanding between people in the U.S. and countries with significant Muslim populations. The application deadline is January 10, 2013.

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX) was established in 1983 to celebrate German-American friendship based on common values of democracy.  Secondary school students live with host families, attend local schools, and participate in community life in Germany.  Young professionals (undergraduates) and high school graduates of vocational studies aged 18-24 study and participate in practical training. Scholarships are now available for academic year 2013-14; application deadlines vary by U.S. region and range from September 2012 to January 2013.  For more information and application deadlines, visit the organization in charge of recruitment for your state.

The American Youth Leadership Program offers opportunities for American high school students and educators to travel abroad on a three to four week-long exchange program to gain first-hand knowledge of foreign cultures and to collaborate on solving global issues. Several different organizations implement this program, and each has organized an academic and experiential educational exchange focused on dialogue and debate, leadership development, and community service. Recruitment areas and application deadlines vary, so please check the American Youth Leadership Program website for more information.

Other Sessions/Highlights: "Immigrants, Refugees and Children: Acceptance and Understanding"

This session was conducted by a Chicago public school teacher who had won a small grant for “Teaching Social Justice through Literature”.  She used the grant to purchase a small library of children’s books on the topics of refugees and culture differences. A couple of the titles in her library (which she brought her for our viewing) were,  “Four feet, two sandals” and “Mohammed’s Journey:  A Refugee Diary”. Students read and analyzed these books throughout her unit. She began her presentation by leading us in an activity which she often used with her students to jumpstart this unit. We had only two minutes to think of and write down three things that we would grab in our homes if we were suddenly told that we had two minutes to grab anything before we left our house for good, never to see it again. We then discussed what we took and why, and the stress we would feel by being put into such a situation.  The children would then be led in the activity to consider that sometimes this is the case for someone who is a refugee. They were encouraged to be empathetic, and consider how upset they would be, and understand how upsetting it must be in the life of a refugee. The unit went on to use other engaging activities, including having the students make passports, learn about Ellis Island, and learn basic stats on refugees today. The teacher utilized a free lesson plan online designed to guide students toward understanding how it might be to be in someone else’s shoes. She found resources for teachers including lesson plans and videos on a United Nations website:
She also shared some other resources for teachers to teach on this and related topics:
I really liked these lesson plans and the unit as a whole.  I believe they could be particularly helpful across many different student groups.  The unit could be adjusted to different ages by choosing books appropriate to the target age.  Also, the teacher explained that winning the grant was something that she felt was especially useful because after working with the classroom books she was able to purchase with the grant money, and developing materials to go with the unit alongside the books, she felt that her time was well invested because should she ever change schools, she would be allowed to take the books and materials with her. Finally, she also shared with us another website that had free stuff for teachers teaching this topic:
All in all, I learned a great deal.  I was reminded of what great resources exist in Chicago and what great people work in Chicago Public Schools.  Plus, it was special being back in the high school where I had been a student oh, so many years ago.  Even better is the fact I learned in 2008, that before I was ever a student there, a certain other Chicagoan had gone to school there as a teenager, First Lady, Michelle Obama. 


In the main exhibition hall, there was one exhibit called, “Story-in-a-Can” that demonstrated a lesson plan where the teacher guided students in the construction of a physical medium- an empty paper towel roll cylinder placed inside a large cylinder- shaped box (like an empty oatmeal box).  Several sheets of paper containing a story were taped together in a long strip and then rolled onto the roll and placed in the box.  The box had a slit opening where one could pull the story paper out, similar to how we would pull paper towels.

They had a handout that explained how this medium could be used to teach anything that required sequential events from personal narratives, to how-to-books, to experiments to history, to math.

But the best part was the student participation. There were four high school students, three girls and one boy who were at the conference that day, even though it was a conference for teachers.  They proudly demonstrated and explained their (history) stories-in-cans to anyone who would listen.  Listening to them was informative and an absolute delight.

Dinah Armstead works in the Division of Instructional Development at the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois.  She is currently working on a Ph.D. in Global Studies in Education in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois.  Her interests include Educational Rights for North African (and other) Immigrants, focusing on females in the European Union and Language Policy.  

Photo credit:  
"Globe" (c) 2009 Groume, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license:


Post a Comment

Cookie Settings