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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Visual Art & Graphic Design in ChiKalei

Visual art and graphic design are elements that are integrated into Chicago Kaleidoscopes. Here are several examples:

  • We have used visual art as inspiration for creative writing projects that CK teens have developed. Teens have written ekphrastic poetry (poetry inspired by visual art works). Read Faith’s poem “Underwater You Are,” which is inspired by Chicago-based artist Philip Hanson’s painting Poem without Words: Blue Swallows.
  • CK teens design and make their own chapbooks. As they prepare to make their handmade chapbooks, we talk about how graphic design goes into the design and printing of books — e.g. typography, book cover color schemes, and so on.
  • We have talked about how graphic design relates to creative writing and running a business, for instance how graphic design goes into product development and development. Several guest speakers who have talked with CK teens, such as Christen Carter from Busy Beaver Button Co. and Tanner McSwain from Uncharted Books, have facilitated discussions about connections between graphic design, writing, and other aspects of running a business.

Creative writing is one central focus of Chicago Kaleidoscopes, but other art forms and subjects inform CK’s pedagogy. A particular art form can be studied and explored on its own, and it is fascinating when different art forms are brought into the mix — especially when creative teens demonstrate what wonderful arts projects they can develop and complete.

— Dan G.



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


Our Field Trip Downtown

We’re going on a field trip downtown next Wednesday, July 15th. We will begin in the Chicago Cultural Center, and then we will walk to the Harold Washington Library Center. Here are more details of our field trip:

We will meet in the cafe on the first floor of the Cultural Center. From there we will walk upstairs to spend some time in the House Music exhibition. Then we will walk into the G.A.R. Memorial Hall and explore the two adjoining rooms. After that we will walk into Preston Bradley Hall and check out the Tiffany Dome. After that we will go to Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist and Love for Sale: The Graphic Art of Valmor Products — two art exhibitions that are on the fourth floor. Then we will walk back downstairs.

From there we will walk southward along Michigan Avenue, and then we will walk into the Harold Washington Library Center. We will go on a tour of YOUmedia, and our field trip will conclude with a F.L.O.W. Open Mic event hosted by YOUmedia. Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens will have the opportunity to perform during this event.

stained glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Center
stained glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Center