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:




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.

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.


summer term texts

Chicago Kaleidoscopes is using lots of materials as part of our curriculum — including music, 2D art and videos. Here are some texts that we have used and that will be part of this summer term’s curriculum —

“Pop Goes the Dream” by JaHai and Jonathan


The man with a hot air balloon

Had a vision

To trot the globe

A goal he had to accomplish.


The man with a hot air balloon

Looked Trouble in his face

Wing guzzling at the ropes

Deadly angling of transportation


The man with a hot air balloon

Gave his all and more

Yet he knew his faith wasn’t good

As he crashed into the doleful ground



The man without a hot air balloon

Lost so much but gained more

Knowing the sky isn’t home for everyone

It is a privilege and not a right





Chicago Kaleidoscopes’ Summer Term

We’re getting ready for the summer term! Chicago Kaleidoscopes will be at Prosser Career Academy High School this summer, and recruiting is underway. This summer’s Chicago Kaleidoscopes program is a six week program (June 27th-August 4th) that meets Mondays-Thursdays (8 a.m.-noon).

If you’re a teen who is interested in applying for a spot in Chicago Kaleidoscopes, follow these steps:

  • Go to the After School Matters website, and click on the “apply now” link.
  • Log into your ASM account, or create an ASM account for yourself.
  • You can search for this program by name. You can also refine your search by searching for programs at Prosser, or by searching in the “Journalism, Creative Writing & Media” category. You will find Chicago Kaleidoscopes among the programs listed in those refined searches.
  • Register for Chicago Kaleidoscopes.
  • Once you’ve registered for CK, we can set up an interview.

If you have any questions about Chicago Kaleidoscopes, please feel free to get in contact with me.


Dan Godston


Welcome to the Chicago Kaleidoscopes site!

Chicago Kaleidoscopes is an After School Matters program that looks at key aspects of Chicago’s identity via creative writing. Apprentices in Chicago Kaleidoscopes look through Chicago-centric lenses of writing, music, visual art, sports, history and the sciences as they critically think about the world they live in; then they combine their critical observations of those source materials with their creativity through poetry, short fiction, and other literary genres (prose poetry, etc.). Apprentices learn key marketable skills such as listening to their peers, writing clearly, communicating persuasively, and sharing and receiving feedback on their work, while learning more about how their personal identities resonate with aspects of Chicago’s identity.

Chicago Kaleidoscopes meets at Mozart Park, in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. CK will also be going on field trips to the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Public Library, and Fermilab.

The teachers for the Summer 2105 Chicago Kaleidoscopes After School Matters program are Elizabeth Marino and Dan Godston. Chicago Kaleidoscopes is run by the Borderbend Arts Collective, a 501c(3) organization that presents arts programming in Chicago and beyond.