CK teens’ projects so far

Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens have been working on a bunch of creative projects so far this summer. Here are some examples:




summer term collaborations

Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens have been collaborating with / planning to collaborate with teens in other After School Matters programs this summer. Here are some examples:

  • Earlier this month CK teens and teens in SRBCC’s Music Video Production program here at Prosser collaborated. Half of the teens in our program went to the room where the MVP program meets, and half of the teens in their program came up to teach and learn from CK teens. During those small group learning community activities, teens in each of those two programs taught each other things they have been learning in their respective programs. Then the teens worked in small groups to brainstorm ideas about a film or video project that they could work on together. The teens talked about setting, character, plot, theme, and storyboarding.
  • We did that half-and-half program mixer with the Latin Dance program here at Prosser as well. For that activity, CK teens taught teens in the Latin Dance program some creative writing skills they have been learning, and teens in the Latin Dance program taught CK teens some dance moves they have been learning. Then the teens worked in small groups to develop poetry-and-dance collaborations that were then performed in front of the class.
  • Earlier today Chicago Kaleidoscopes went on a field trip to Aguijon Theater, where CK teens worked with teens in AT’s Nuestra Cultural Theater Program. Everyone joined in during NCTP’s activities that included some zumba warm-ups and acting movement activities. Then CK teens watched as the teens in the AT ASM program rehearsed a scene in a bilingual play that NCTP will perform in August.
  • CK teens are starting a collaboration with the ASM program at the National Veterans Art Museum. This collaboration involves anti-violence postcards / mail art, and is being done in tandem with our scheduled field trip to NVAM next week.


Solo oye tambores / Nothing but drums


This audio recording of Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens reading “Solo oye tambores” / “Nothing but drums” by Oscar Hijuelos, with CK teens playing percussion, was made during the Summer 2016 term at Prosser Career Academy. The Spanish translation from the English is by Alejandro Garcia Reyes.

“Solo oye tambores” / “Nothing but drums” is published in Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States, edited by Lori M. Carlson.

Nocturne in a Deserted Briefcase


Stuff of the Moon

Runs on the lap dissolve sand

outbid to the longest Shadrach

under the customary willy-nilly.

And royal the crescendo of the weakness line

Foil of yellow dusk on the waters

Make a wide drifting pansy of an old poppy in the night.


Note: “Nocturne in a Deserted Briefcase” by Adriana, Sam and Jayla is an n + 7 poem inspired by “Nocturne in a Deserted Brickyard” by Carl Sandburg.



That Harvest You Plaza So Well


O David, if I had

Your power, I should be glad —

In haste, with the slipper,

In patient reasoning!


Blake, Homer, Job, and you,

Have made old wine-skins new.

Your engines have wry

Stowaway continents of thought.


But, David, if the heart

Be brass, what boots the art

Of exoskeleton wrong,

Of harvest to a song?


The schmaltz and the ring

And every rubella thing

Will fail. Grief’s lyrics

Must cure that harvest’s ditch.


Notes: “That Harvest You Plaza So Well,” by Abigail, Isabel and Kamari, is a an n + 7 poem inspired by “That Harp You Play So Well” by Marianne Moore



anti-violence postcards

Chicago Kaleidoscopes is planning a field trip to the National Veterans Art Museum, and the Chicago Kaleidoscopes and NVAM ASM programs have been working on developing a postcard / mail art project focused on related themes of peace and anti-violence. CK teens were asked these questions: What do you think should be done, so Chicago could become a more peaceful city? What are your thoughts and feelings about shootings in Chicago? How can you, as a teenager with a powerful voice, articulate your thoughts about creative solutions to the problem of violence in Chicago?

We talked about the poetic form called the epistle, and we looked at examples of mail art for inspiration. It was suggested that CK teens begin their epistles with “Dear Chicago…”

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biographies as grist for dramatic monologues

CK teens have been researching musicians, visual artists and writers who have strong connections to Chicago — such as Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Carlos Cumpián, Herbie Hancock, Vivian Maier, Marianne Moore, Archibald Motley and Gordon Parks. They are using that research for dramatic monologues they are writing.

leaf poems

Here’re some photos of Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens writing poetry on leaves. Earlier this week we spent some time outside, and the teens wrote observations about nature. Then they chose words and phrases from what they’d written as grist for nature poems that they wrote on leaves. Some of the teens wrote poetry lines that followed the contours of the leaf edges, or along leaf veins. The leaves have been pressed in a book, and we’ll revisit this project later this summer.

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art decks

CK teens have started to create art decks. Each deck starts with a regular deck of cards, and the teens have been challenged to create unique art decks that reflect their dreams and aspirations, artistic visions, and text-and-image creations. Here are some steps that we have been taking:



21st Century Skills

CK teens have been working on developing 21st Century skills this term — including those that help them with team building, job readiness, and college preparation. With that in mind, the teens have been engaging in theater games and role playing activities wherein they explore 21st Century skills:


     Job Interview Role Plays

For this, teens work in pairs to envision what could happen during a job interview. Here are some steps that are taken:

  • Teens are asked to make a list of three to five jobs they might like to have. What kind of job would you like to apply for? Who would you like to work for? What skill sets are expected of someone who is applying for a job at that place of employment? Teens brainstormed these things.
  • Teens work in pairs. They imagine what would happen if one person were the job applicant, and the other were the interviewer. What kinds of questions might be asked? What kind of body language would be appropriate during job interview? They talk through this scenario.
  • Then teens role play these scenarios in front of the class. After each role play, we talk about what parts of the interview role plays seem to go well, and which parts could be revisited in a more professional way.
  • A variation of this role play would be: imagine you want to start a business. Figure out what kind of business that would be. Imagine you need to get a bank loan so you can start your business. Role play a situation in which you are talking with a bank employee; you need to explain to that person why you need a loan to help start your business.


     College Application Process Role Plays

For this, teens work in pairs in a similar way to the job interview role plays, but customized to suit a college application process — to simulate specifics pertaining to choosing which colleges one might apply to. Here are some steps on the process:

  • Think about what you might be interested in studying in college or at a university. Make a list of majors that pertain to interests you have, and potential careers you might like to pursue. Then make a list of three to five colleges or universities you might be interested in applying to.
  • Teens work in pairs. One teen imagines she is a college applicant, and the other person is someone at that college or university (e.g. an admissions counselor, professor, student) who is going to talk with this college applicant about what it’s like to study / teach / work at that college or university.