The Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues at the Academy of Scholastic Achievement (ASA)
This website describes the Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues work carried out by teachers and administrators at the Academy of Scholastic Achievement (ASA), an alternative high school serving low income African-American students on Chicago' s West side. ASA teachers developed and implemented prevention curriculum in classes across the curriculum and a steering committee including teachers and administrators guided development of the curriculum infusion program. ASA set aside a day for students to report on and share their in-class life issues curriculum infusion work and fully institutionalized the Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues (CIRLI). NDCI staff provided workshops to prepare ASA teachers and staff to seamlessly incorporate the prevention of pressing life issues including substance abuse, violence and sexually transmitted diseases into classes and provided consultation as the CIRLI program unfolded.
The website includes the ASA educational director' s overview, examples of teachers' lessons and student voices related to the study of real life issues at ASA
The Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues (CIRLI) responds to the needs of Alternative High School students
Dr. Ron Glick, Professor Emeritus and Director, Network for Dissemination of Curriculum Infusion, Northeastern Illinois University
The Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues (CIRLI) is an educational method that responds to the needs of Alternative High School students. CIRLI enables alternative high school teachers to successfully engage students by integrating relevant and pressing life issues such as substance abuse, violence and sexually transmitted diseases into classes across the curriculum. Social-emotional learning and prevention are incorporated into the study of life issues and wherever possible service-learning is connected to the problems(s) studied in class. A national study of high school drop outs (Bridgeland et al. 2008) found that the top reason given for leaving school was the perception that the curriculum was uninteresting. CIRLI provides relevant life issues curriculum that engages at-risk students in the learning process. CIRLI is based on the work of critical educators like Paulo Freire (1974) who argue that low income students have been treated as "empty vessels" who bring nothing of consequence to the classroom and are to be filled with outside knowledge. The CIRLI life issues curriculum gives inner city students a meaningful place where their life experience is incorporated into the educational process. Issues such as substance abuse and violence are major barriers to personal and educational success. CIRLI emphasizes social-emotional learning and prevention to build students’ resilience to these problems and increase their chances of success. Service learning connected to the life issues studied in class reinforces the academic and social-emotional learning that CIRLI provides.
More information on CIRLI is available at www.neiu.edu/~k12pac.
The Curriculum Infusion of Real Life Issues at the Academy of Scholastic Achievement
Dr. Jessie Rucker, Educational Director, Academy of Scholastic Achievement
Curriculum Infusion of Real life Issues (CIRLI) was initiated at the Academy of Scholastic Achievement (ASA) on August 27, 2008. The facilitators of this curriculum were Professor Ronald Glick and Mr. Bruce Joleaud from Northeastern Illinois University. This new initiative was welcomed as a pilot program at ASA because it would expand and enhance social/emotional learning to curtail problems like substance abuse and violence that prevented our students from achieving academically. ASA is one of the campuses of Youth Connection Charter Schools (YCCS). The Real Life Issues Curriculum was also a seamless fit into our YCCS Curriculum in that it was consistent with state standards and objectives that teachers were familiar with and had been accustomed to incorporating into their planning for instruction.
Another exciting aspect of the program was that it provided an opportunity for students to develop collaboration skills through real life project based learning activities which would be connected to community service.
CIRLI emphasizes the need for teachers to assess the pressing life issues their students confront in the context of the social and cultural realities that affect students' lives. To discover which real life issues significantly impacted our students, we conducted a survey. From the results of the survey, our teachers chose to develop lessons which included substance abuse, violence, bullying, social ostracism and at risk sexual activity.
These real life issue lessons not only informed students of the prevalence of these issues within their communities, but also, provided opportunities for students to resolve these problems in a positive manner. CIRLI makes classes more relevant to students by addressing their real world concerns and connecting teachers more closely to the students and communities where they work. Additionally, students learn about the negative effects of heavy drinking, violence, bullying, social ostracism, sexually transmitted diseases and other real life issues in their own community and are encouraged to make healthy choices. Prevention strategies were utilized to raise students' level of consciousness about their behaviors and life choices.
After spending a semester developing lessons, teachers began to implement them in their classes. There were some challenges, including getting students to work in collaborative groups and having students follow a protocol for presenting their projects. To address the collaboration component, teachers had to institute effective collaboration strategies, encouraging students to listen to each other, assigning roles and responsibilities and assessing the group's progress. To enable students to present their projects a format for speaking on their projects was developed. This format outlined the key components that students must follow in delivering a presentation. Presentations were given to students and staff at ASA as well as community groups.
To showcase teaching and student learning from CIRLI, we established a culminating event where students were able to present their projects to guests, staff and peers at the end of the year. The value of students working on their different projects was evidenced in their presentations.
After reviewing the effectiveness of the pilot program, the teachers and administration decided the program should be institutionalized at ASA because of the academic and social benefits for students.
The second year of the program was expanded to include community service. As a graduation requirement, students must complete 40 service learning hours. The classroom projects are connected to 20 of those 40 hours. The role of teachers is to aid students in volunteering in an area that connects to their class project.
Free 5 CPDU online workshop through Northeastern Illinois University’s College of Education
Integrate pressing life issues into classes across the curriculum to effectively engage students in learning and support social emotional growth
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