Posts tagged ‘chicagoquest’

Info on ChicagoQuest (aka “The Video Game Charter School”)

Quest holds open houses at their campus (1443 N. Ogden, near North & Clybourn) every Wednesday at 6 PM.

For further info on the teaching style visit the NY site:

I talked recently with Sybil Madison-Boyd, who will be helping the new CICS Charter School called ChicagoQuest get off the ground next year.  (FYI, she has kids in the CPS system but has worked extensively with charters as well.)

I’m posting this today because the Trib ran an article about the NY Quest school and my impression was a bit different.  The NY school definitely sounds like a school a kid would get excited about.,0,2602945.story

(The long-haired boys and laptops in the photo certainly seem appealing to a certain boy demograhic…)

I mean this sounds cool: For city educators, Chicago Quest is an important foray into 21st century thinking. Students will learn from video game designers and computer experts how to design and build their own video games, produce custom websites, podcast, blog, record and edit short films and connect with technology in meaningful and productive ways.

But my impression from talking with Ms. Madison-Boyd is that Quest is more a progressive way of teaching that might appeal to many parents (whereas the kids aren’t going to playing games and using high-tech doo-dads all day.)

Here are my notes:

What is the educational concept of Chicago Quest?

The curriculum is innovative in that it’s designed and applied around the concepts behind gaming (both video and traditional.)  The goal is to engage middle school age kids, which tends to be a challenging age group by driving motivation from a different place.  There’s an emphasis on “systems thinking” that helps kids understand the world as different systems and how to approach them.  The teaching gets at critical thinking in a way that makes sense to kids and gets them interested in learning and taking on challenges.  (It’s more about the design *principles* of video games, than about video games themselves.)

There’s a mix of the old and new:
Hands on learning (learning by doing, rather than watching)
Schools as a place to learn good citizenship and a sense of responsibility
Teaching the ability to problem-solve alone and collaboratively
The school will have a couple cool high tech-ish learning tools, but the emphasis is more on the progressive curriculum than on technology itself.

While the NYC school sounds very tech-focused, I’m not sure the Chicago Quest will be (or at least not initially.)  The NYC school has tended to attract boys (which makes sense as it seems to have promoted the video game and tech aspect more) but the style of teaching is well-suited for both genders.

How would you describe this way of learning to a kid (because so far I’m not hearing a lot about video games and technology, which is how I sold it to my son)

There’s a lot of hands-on projects with your classmates
There’s group work
Kids are put into different scenarios and given problems to solve, either alone or with peers
Part of learning might involve taking on different identities to figure things out
Kids are encouraged to share what they’ve learned and what they know
There is learning done both alone and as part of a group

What kinds of kids would succeed in this school (can a video-game-loving little slacker boy make it work in 4 years?)

The school will have individual education plans
Good for “diverse learners” who learn through a range of stimuli (audio, visual, moving around.)
There’s a lack of sitting, lectures, and sitting and listening to the teachers talk

How with the school deal with kids at different levels?

To address the possible range of levels of students the school will assess kids when they start school and provide ongoing assessments.  There is an “Advantage Hour” each day to address specific skills that kids might need help with or time to work on extra challenges for kids who can work ahead.

Basic information

School hours are 8am – 3:30 pm
No transportation
Currently no before/after school care — will try to add activities over time
Located near Ogden/Clybourn (near North and Clyborn) in a renovated CPS building

Who can apply?

Right now, anyone by April 1, but the school will likely still accept applications after that until they reach capacity.

They will take 156 kids in each of 6th and 7th grade in the Fall.

The school will expand by one year each year until it includes 6th – 12th grades.

Currently there is no neighborhood preference.  CPS will make that decision.


The school is eager to attract new students right now.  This would be a great chance for families from the same school to send their kids to middle school together. If you know some families who would like to learn more, you can get a group together and the school will try to make arrangements to meet with you (such as at someone’s home.)

The first few classes in this school (the “pioneers”) can really help shape the future of this innovative school.

For more information, feel free to contact Sybil Madison-Boyd at 312-237-4050 or by email at

I was told there will be an Open House on April 6th.  I’m trying to get more info on that.

The McArthur Foundation is holding an event that features NY Quest on March 31, but it may be filled to capacity at this point.  Info in this link:

March 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm 119 comments

New Options for Knowledge Programs opening in Fall (apply by April 15)

I happened upon some info on about 3 new options for this Fall with the application period running from March 1 – April 15th.

Fine Arts Magnet Program at Senn High SchoolRequires an audition and portfolio submission which is kind of cool for pulling together kids with talent. Of course you’ve still got your academics with the rest of Senn, a neighborhood high school, which may or may not offer academic challenge. I haven’t looked at any info yet. But it seems like a cool opportunity.

South Shore International College Preparatory High SchoolNew facility? Cool. This school will be half IB and half career prep in the fields of computers and health care. It doesn’t say how admission is determined.

STEM Magnet Academy (Elementary)STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. I believe this is the program that is going to be added at Lakeview HS too. 1522 W. Fillmore Street, in the building formerly occupied by Jefferson Elementary School. Admission is lottery-based.

Here’s the info:

So it’s clear that CPS is open to adding new schools (or was under Huberman — I assume these are the fruits of his labor.)

In other news, I’ve gotten in touch with the woman who will lead the team opening the Quest charter school (aka video game school) so I hope to learn more about their plans. She said her husband had found my blog last year when they were researching Kindergarten in the city. She has experience with both regular public and charter schools, so it should be an interesting conversation.

Again, info on that school is here (or a place to sign up for more info.)

March 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm 12 comments




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