An International Preschool-Grade 12 Academy 

GEMS hosts visit of global Apple Distinguished Schools


GEMS World Academy Chicago recently demonstrated its innovative Field Studies program for a delegation of educators from all over the world.

The visiting group included educators from the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia, as well as the United States. In all, 18 schools located on four different continents were represented. They were in Chicago for the Apple Distinguished Schools Global Innovation Summit, and the morning they spent at GEMS served as a “preconference” event. GEMS was named an Apple Distinguished School in 2016.

The international educators toured our building, observed classes and joined students on several Field Studies, which are focused mobile-learning expeditions that utilize technology and take place all over Chicago.

The visiting educators observed the following Field Studies:

  • Sixth-graders taking photos of reflected light at Millennium Park
  • Kindergartners exploring a local grocery store to document what items can or can’t be recycled
  • Preschool students observing interactions between humans and animals at the Lakeshore East dog park
  • Fourth-graders searching for evidence of systems in nature
  • Grade 7 rock climbing at Lakeshore Fitness

“To have the opportunity to showcase our Field Studies program to visitors from the ADS Global Innovation Summit was not only an honor but a learning experience for all of us,” said Kristen Machczynski, our International Baccalaureate continuum and assessment lead. “They were able to see how we use Chicago as our classroom in relevant, meaningful ways while documenting and creating with iPads.”

After their on-site visit, the visiting educators had a chance to interact with our students directly during the Global Innovation Summit. Some of our second-graders attended the summit and talked to attendees about how they use technology in the field.

“The educators and administrators at the summit were not only impressed by our students’ technical abilities, but also by how articulate and confident they were,” said Eila Kvaran, our IB continuum curriculum lead. “This is truly a testament to the intentional communication-skills development that takes place at GEMS, and the numerous opportunities we give even our youngest learners to learn from and with adults in the field.”  

Andrew Sherman, our interim head of school, said he was happy that GEMS was able to highlight one of its key differentiators for the visiting teachers.

“GEMS students do real work in a non-classroom setting,” Mr. Sherman said. “These Field Study experiences provide students with meaningful opportunities to make valuable connections between explicitly taught concepts and skills and the world around them. In doing so, students develop a sense of their own interests and begin to construct their own unique path of lifelong learning.”

The visit from the Apple Distinguished Schools group is part of a larger collaboration with Apple designed to develop new ways to integrate technology into authentic learning experiences.

"By hosting some of the most innovative leaders in the world, we were able to get feedback and insight on our instructional practices. We are so lucky to be part of the collaborative community of Apple Distinguished Schools," said Peg Keiner, our director of innovation.

See pictures from the visit below.









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