Explore Gems World Academy


GEMS World Academy-Chicago (GWA-C) opened its doors and the world to families on September 3, 2014. GWA-C is the first North American school of the already internationally recognized leader in global education GEMS World Academy. GWA-C provides a one of a kind experience that connects students to the city they live in, and the world, through highly connected, experiential and inquiry based programing. Our school offers a new vision for innovation in education that prepares our students to be self determined learners and a new generation of global citizens.

We engage young people in developing the faculties necessary to become global citizens through learning pathways that promote, support and encourage: emotional/affective, cognitive and intuitive learning. Through emotional and affective development our students demonstrate a balance of self and social concerns, they are aware, disciplined and intentional individuals in a diverse world.

Through cognitive development our students practice how to find, validate, leverage, analyze, synthesize and utilize complex information in our unique learning spaces inside and outside of the school and on the Internet.

Through intuitive development our students learn the value of inward reflection about the world they experience through close observation and participation in world systems. We meet all of our students needs by purposefully designing our learning spaces to inspire exploration and a cycle of inquiry that perpetuates imagination and wonder with the process of learning while building the relevant core skills and knowledge needed to operate in an ever changing world.
Over the coming months, we will write a series of posts on our four educational innovations to scale in PK-12 education.


GEMS World Academy Chicago employs four pioneering learning innovations to support and inspire our students, as they become global citizens. Our learning innovations are student centered and transdisciplinary as they personalize the learning process, foster the integration of subject disciplines directly engage outside organizations, business and community partnerships in the learning process. Ultimately our innovations focus on creating “translocal understanding” as they explicitly develop the key dispositions in students necessary to learn, live and work in extended partnership with others across the world.


For students to become global citizens they must think and act as self directed learners. From the earliest years we inspire our students to ask more questions than they answer, follow their interests and passions and act as part of a community to identify and work towards solving real world problems. As the years progress our programs support self directed and interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary project based learning which start with student interests and questions about the world. In groups and as individuals students find relevant problems, ask ever more complex questions, work with mixed research methods (both in the city and online), analyze, synthesize and reflect on their work through portfolio’s of understanding and action. Students share their work with the world through service and exhibition.



For students to become global citizens they must explore, ask questions, observe, empathize and act in the world without borders. During the year a minimum of four hours each week is dedicated to learning outside of the school building in local landscapes. Through a pioneering landscape as learning initiative, students closely engage their local community through field study based mobile learning labs. Through multimedia data collection using iPads and other tools, students experience the sensory aspects of their community while learning about systems, empathizing with others and contributing through engaging projects and meaningful service. This learning in the real world, looks and feels like the real world thus creating the conditions for a fundamental expansion of where and how learning happens. We believe the disposition of seeing and studying the world as it is and working on how it might be otherwise, is at the root of global citizenship, community based learning, internship and entrepreneurial studies.



For students to become global citizens they need to connect and collaborate across the world in rich and purposeful experiences. Our connected and blended learning program provides a landscape where the internet supports and enhances interactions in real time and anytime. We encourage and support our teachers to engage in a wide array of connected and blended learning with their classes. Our connected and blended learning innovation allows for:

  • Co-learning and creation across continents, oceans and cultures giving our students a direct and experiential way of using the internet as a mediating force in learning.
  • An extensive digital documentation system allows for self, peer, teacher, parent and community assessment for learning.
  • An ePortfolio platform allows students to collect, select, reflect, and project on their learning.
  • Networks to connect, aggregate, remix, re-purpose and feed forward work and the work of the world.



For students to become global citizens they need a school that promotes self organization, inquiry innovation, and futures thinking. Our physical school has interactive whiteboards throughout the building, on every floor, in hallways and in classrooms along with networked computer stations, hydroponic plant labs, weather stations and much more. At any moment a few students or a whole class can connect with peers or mentors from around the world to discover and learn together in real time throughout the day. Using these tools students also can connect the data from their projects in growing sustainable food systems, tracking weather and climate patterns, or how play effects our learning to a global consortia of other individuals, schools and organizations. Through these interactions students are encouraged to understand how their school functions as part of a global “internet of things”.

GEMS World Academy Chicago is redefining global education. We look forward to sharing our innovations  program with you this year.


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