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Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed.

, 2008 ©

CYIC members - 2008

Welcome to the 3rd

Annual Social Justice
Student Expo!
In the fall of 2007
over 40 Chicago high
school students, teachers,
and community members
came together to launch
the Social Justice Student
Expo and the Annual Cycle
of Learning & Action.
Since then, we’ve built real collaborations with more than 15 public, alternative,
charter and private schools, and after-school programs across Chicago in order
to advance truly authentic, student-centered, project-based, and social justice
learning and action in our schools. The students decided to call our group
Chicago Youth Initiating Change, or CYIC for short, to highlight the work,
ideas, projects, & struggles of young people.

This continuing work follows an annual cycle. A critical aspect is building

student-to-student connections across school and neighborhood boundaries.
Strengthening these connections is a key part of the work throughout the
yearly cycle. Building student unity in action includes working together
throughout the year through the steering committee, direct school-to-school
and classroom-to-classroom exchanges and support, and participating together
in broader community struggles.

The phases of the cycle compliment and reinforce each other. During it
all, teachers receive support to develop authentic social justice projects so
students can initiate their own action solutions to problems they face in real
life. This, we believe, is education for liberation! That is what CYIC is all about.

Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed., 2008 ©

We begin with the premise that students, teachers, parents, and the larger
community must be involved in the curriculum, instruction, and assessment
processes. Teachers are at the heart of this process. We are entrusted with the
mighty task of following the state learning goals and involving the voices of
students and the community. Yet, we’re too often pulled into black holes of
social ills, standardized tests, mainstream textbooks, and administrative realities.

CYIC seeks to help fill this void with a student-centered, interdisciplinary,

project / skills-based approach called the cycle of learning and action, occurring
in three phases throughout the year. Mutual support and collaboration among
teachers, students, and community groups is key!

# 1: Summer
Debrief the May Expo;
hold student / teacher
cultural gathering;
start group planning
of ’08-09 curriculum
projects, units, etc.

# 2: Semester One # 3: Semester Two

Getting to Work! Continue 1st semester
Plan and initiate actions; work; Host school-to-
Plan student projects, school activities; plan
mutual support and May Day action; plan
school-to-school activities and execute 2009 Social
Justice Student Expo

Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed., 2008 ©

 Cycle Phase 1:
Summer Group
Planning & Fun!!

 Debrief from

 Students,
teachers, and
members from
participating and Lozano students make their plans for their Expo project

new schools enjoy a special day of sharing, planning and fun!

 Curriculum and lesson plan development – teachers, students

and community members join in summer-long small group
work, planning, and sharing for the 2008 –2009 school year.

 Special focus to identify and begin working with student

activists/presenters to develop and polish their presentations and
take them on the road to other schools beginning in the fall.

# 1: Summer
Debrief the May Expo;
hold student / teacher
cultural gathering;
start group planning
of ’08-09 curriculum
projects, units, etc.

Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed., 2008 ©

 Cycle Phase 2:
First Semester
 Get school year off
to a good start!

 Begin regular
meetings (at least
monthly) of
students, teachers
and community
members from
schools. At mtgs:
Students from Kelly, Julian, & Little Village / North Lawndale SOJO in New Orleans

 We report on student action projects, get feedback, and organize

mutual support
 We continue student presentation polishing and begin and
expand school-to-school interaction
 We get prepared to participate in each others’ struggles and those
in the wider community
 We plan and initiate special trainings and projects to be decided
by the group (e.g., video skills, etc.).

 Plan and initiate social justice newsletter and web

# 2: Semester One
 Teachers integrate social justice
Getting to Work!
curriculum and lessons developed over Plan and initiate actions;
the summer into classroom and after Plan student projects,
mutual support and
school programs. school-to-school activities

 November – participate in Teachers for

Social Justice Curriculum Fair.
Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed., 2008 ©

 Cycle Phase 3:
Second Semester
 Continue to
develop all activities
from the 1st semester.

 Emphasize
school-to-school and
classroom exchanges
and mutual support.
 Plan May Day
participation –
In 2006, students from across Chicago helped revive the May Day marches. includes education,
participation in city-wide planning, and organizing for strong
youth involvement.

 Focus and plan for late May 2009 Social Justice Student Expo –
includes content, logistics, workshop planning, and talent show.

 Begin thinking and planning for the coming year-long cycle of

learning and action.

# 3: Semester Two
Continue 1st semester
work; Host school-to-
school activities; plan
May Day action; plan
and execute 2009 Social
Justice Student Expo

Lozano student Uplift student

Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed., 2008 ©

‘07 Expo

May, 2009 … 3rd Annual!

The common motivational and
unifying factor in the cycle is the Social
Justice Student Expo in late May. At this
student-centered, day-long event,
hundreds of students from across the city
participate in various capacities. Although
most of them may not know one another,
on that day they will touch each other
with their ideas, presentations, talents, workshop discussions, and action plans –
all focused on social justice, equality, humanity, and dignity! Here is a quick
closer look at the Expo.

 Expo Mission: Student Voices & Action Take Center Stage!

 Students, teachers, and community members from across Chicago work side-by-side
to create an annual educational forum for students in grades 3 – 12 from different
schools, to engage in social justice learning, presenting, talent, sharing, and action-
 Students build academic achievement, a culture of mutual support, and meaningful
collaborations among schools
 Students’ worldview and understandings of issues, actions, and building unity grow
 Students take leadership in content, presentations, and planning for future study,
action, and organizing.
 Students, functioning as the young adults they are, create, experience and share a day
in a university setting where they shine, collaborate, and work together across many
of the usual boundaries
 A day of unity, inspiration from each others’ work, and growth
 A day for deepening commitments to social justice learning and action
 A day to learn about useful resources in the broader community
 A day of recognition and respect from peers, teachers, and the broader community

Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed., 2008 ©

Present! Interact! Take Action!

Get Inspired for Your Next Big Project!
’07 Expo – winning project

What takes place at the

Social Justice Student Expo?
Student Exhibitions Music, Video, Art
Student MCs, Poetry Action Workshops
Interaction Stations Gifts, Awards, & More

 Morning: Exhibition of Student Projects

In the Main Hall students, teachers, community
members, and guests circulate to view student
work, talk with presenters, and do fun activities.

Formats include:
 three-section boards  written reports and materials
 models  painted canvasses
 photo galleries  interactive activities
 videos  dramatic skits
 power point slide shows  experiments

Peer-selected awards are presented to outstanding participants in the afternoon.

 Morning: On the Spot Interactive Stations (New 2008! )

Spread through the hall are exciting social justice stations of learning, action, and creativity.
These interactive stations, complete with supplies, are scattered around the main exhibit hall
inviting students to engage in spontaneous, collaborative, and relationship-building activities

 Unity Mural  The Social Justice  Know Your Social

 T-shirt Making Soapbox (poetry, Justice Game Show
 Poster Making rap, speaking)  Journalism:
 Video Tips &  Dialog ’n Debate Interviewing &
Documentation  Legal Rights and Documentation
 Critical Chemistry Advice

Chicago Youth Initiating Change  Social Justice Classroom Action Guide  1st Ed., 2008 ©

 Before and After Lunch: Action Workshops!

CYIC students, teachers and invited community
presenters host 18 social justice interactive workshops,
most student-led. Each student will participate in 2
workshops they select ahead of time.

Workshop topics from ‘07 & ‘08 Workshops included:

gentrification pollution over-testing

police brutality sexism institutional racism
immigration rights poverty Darfur genocide
school closing violence New Orleans
Iraq War recruiting college prep Black / Latino unity

 Lunch at Agape House: (picture left)

On campus students, teachers, community
members and guests chow down and socialize

 Afternoon: Performing Arts

Celebration, Gifts, and Awards
 Student poetry, music, etc. presentations to
whole group
 Presentation of awards and gifts to students

 Back at School Follow Up: Teachers commit to follow-up back at school

 Students and teachers debrief and reflect on this year’s Expo and year-long activities
 After discussion, teachers commit to integrate relevant student
suggestions into next year’s classes and follow
up with similar student-centered
discussions in the next cycle (see next pg)
 Students commit to work hard, assist in
the learning process, & take a lead

The process, and event itself, is an

incubator for students to take leadership on
real-life problems while engaging in higher-
order academic skills. They teach and learn
from each other, build relations and unity to
organize for social change.
The cycle continues in 2008-09!