Category Archives: GED

Somewhere far in a distant land…

In my GED – Generation Y class, I urge the students to use their imagination to create great essays, poems and stories. Here’s an assignment I found on the Newspapers in Education site. I liked it because it related the assignment to a movie seen by the majority of the class, while allowing them to be creative. Below the description are snippets of the students’ creative writings.

The science-fiction epic “Avatar” takes places in a fictional world called Pandora. Director James Cameron spent years fine-tuning all the details of Pandora and its inhabitants, the Na’vi. Come up with your own plan for a science fiction or fictional land. Describe what it would look like and what kind of creatures would inhabit it. Would they look like people, or totally different?

I’d create a land of peace, called Peaceland. It has a population of 13 million. That’s New York City and Los Angeles put together! It will be sitting under sunny skies all year-long, averaging 70 degrees. When you look around, all you see are buildings as tall as the World Trade Center and even higher. You will see palm trees everywhere. Streets are long and it will take hours to get downtown. The city will be 125 miles long and wide. Just imagine: you would have to fly a plane to get to the other side of the city. The neighborhoods are clean and the houses are mansions. The land is so rich, the people pay their God with peace, love and loyalty.

The people speak a different language called Nuke. But when they talk, they can catch on quickly. But what’s more crazy is they have tails and can run speeds up to 60 miles per hour and won’t get tired. They don’t need cars! The people have Indian-like hair with skin similar to human beings. They breathe the same air as humans and have super strengths. They survive off of water and palm tree leaves. Their lifestyle is very peaceful;  no job, no recession, just spending time with your family. The land of Peace is not ran by a government. A God named Dar looks down on the land, protecting and giving it peace 24 hours a day. When you look into the sky, you can see him smiling down on you. Living in a big city can be difficult but not here. The people are very friendly; there’s no violence and at night, the sky looks like Las Vegas!

– Darryl Coleman


The year is 2050. The planet is called Hendrix Valley and double the size of Earth. One side is land, the other is water. It has a population of 350,000 people, not including animals. The people on land have a special gene that gave 50 percent of the culture lime green feathered wings. Some even say the color of the wings change depending on the person’s mood. The chosen few that have wings are called Fly-Hue. There is a total of 20,000 people with this gene because it skips a generation. The Fly-Hue look similar to humans but have bird beaks and long red and purple dreads. The people without wings are called the Wingless. They are human with one special ability – they can see 12 hours into the future. The water side is covered with mythical creatures that look like lochness monsters. The Fly-Hues and Wingless are very smart and peaceful. They believe that music is the influence of all that is around them. They are musically talented and live in human-sized bird nests and are governed by one person called the Hue-Emperor. The Wingless get around by riding horses with wings, called Ti-Koos. Both cultures are farmers and vegetarians. The average lifespan is 300 years. When they die, they evaporate.

– Aaron Smith

If you could create a fantasy world, what would it be? What would it look like and how would the people live?

Alexia Harris

Conquering Change

Change can either challenge or threaten us.

If you’re dedicated to reaching your goals, you’ll allow change to be a challenge that you can overcome.

In July, Project Learn became the only comprehensive adult GED and ESOL provider in the county.

This was hard for us because we had to serve a huge number of students with reduced funding. But we couldn’t neglect the thousands of people living in Summit County who were in need of our services.

So, we gladly accepted the challenge.

Two days ago, we proctored our first official GED test. Not only did 18 students take a big step in furthering their educational goals, they are now a part of Project Learn history.

It is amazing to consider the growth and evolution of this agency from a small volunteer-based agency to a highly-successful comprehensive adult education agency.

To those who’ve supported us, thank you.

The Effect Dropouts Have On the Cleveland Economy

Last week, I read an interesting report released by the Alliance for Excellent Education (The Alliance) that showed the Cleveland economy would grow significantly if the number of high school dropouts was cut in half. More than 8,000 students dropped out of the high school class of 2008 in Cleveland and the surrounding areas, according to the report.

The Alliance’s research shows that if just half of those students had graduated, on average, they would earn more than $52 million in additional income every year of their lives. In addition, in these areas, state and local tax revenues in an average year would jump by more than $8 million, according to the report. While Cleveland was the only city in Ohio the report included, it shows clearly the importance of graduating from high school or obtaining a GED.

The Alliance’s study also found that 61 percent of the additional high school graduates would continue their education with many earning a Ph.D. or other professional degree. From a national perspective, almost 600,000 students dropped out of the high school class of 2008 in the nation’s 50 largest cities and the surrounding areas. The Alliance’s research shows that if just half of those students had graduated, on average, they would have earned more than $4.1 billion in additional income every year. In addition, state and local tax revenues in an average year would jump by nearly $536 million.

I wonder how much impact a lower dropout rate in Summit County would affect the local economy? The 4,900 high schools located within the 50 cities that were included in the report have an average graduation rate of 69.8 percent, according to the report. Over 900 of these are considered “dropout factories,” that is, schools where fewer than 60 percent of freshman progress to their senior year on time.

For more information and specific numbers for each of the cities listed in the report, click here. In January, the Alliance will release additional economic and financial benefits of reducing dropout rates in these 50 cities, including additional spending and investment, job and economic growth, and home and auto sales.

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, D.C.-based policy, research and advocacy organization that works to make every child a high school graduate who is prepared for postsecondary education and success in life, according to the Alliance.

Why Youth Respond With Violence

In September, teenage honor student Derrion Albert was beaten to death on his way home from school. In the Generation Y GED class, students watched the explicit video of the fight/death that was filmed on a cell phone.

The Project Learn students were then instructed to write a response about the state of our community and how media affects youth and their actions.

Here are a few reactions:

            The beating of Derrion Albert was sad but in Chicago, things are different. In the Windy City, gangs mostly run the streets and a lot of gangs still believe that you’re in a gang even if you say you aren’t. It’s “with you’re with us or against us.” I’m the son of a big-time gang leader. The gang I used to run with did all types of things like this just to get put in a ranking. (A rank tells other members how dangerous you are. It’s almost like a source of power and respect.) A lot of beatings like this stem from refusing to join or disrespecting the set. (A set is a gang’s rules and terms on how they run that area.) It’s deeper than what the news shows us.

Gangs were created to protect and help the community, but now these young people have flipped it around. I hate it because there isn’t anymore respect or loyalty. Back then, they didn’t beat people up for small things. It was mostly over turf (being in another neighborhood) or servings (dealing drugs or making money on another man’s living grounds). There will always be gangs. I don’t think there’s any getting around it. But what gang members can do is speak to kids and show them that you can be a brotherhood without the violence. That way, we can lower the number of deaths.


            Our younger generation is falling victim to inhabit the negativity that the media displays. As a result, they have reacted by using violence in many situations. I truly feel that they are affected by the music they listen to. Let’s look at the death of Derrion Albert. He was killed while on his way home from school. This was tragic. This was only one brutal act that’s recently been reported. What about the thousands that hasn’t? We as a community have to do better for ourselves and young people looking up to us. We can’t control what’s in the media, but we can try to persuade youth not to follow the negative things that they hear in music and see on television.


It’s certain TV shows, movies and music that have an affect on our daily lives because we can relate to them. Some people might take what they see on TV and apply it in real life. Let’s take music for example. The same artist that is supposed to help people get out of the hood, are the ones bringing the guns to the hood, claiming gangs and flaunting their wardrobe. The people at home watching are going to see that and be affected by it. Basically it’s monkey see, monkey do.


New Vocabulary, Real Life

This week’s vocabulary list was a good one.

Vocabulary Words:

  • Disappoint
  • Discipline
  • Dismissal
  • Earnest
  • Embarrassment
  • Engage
  • Excessive
  • Excuse

The students seemed to enjoy using their imagination to complete the somewhat challenging assignment (use the assigned vocabulary to write a story). Below are a few that made me smile:

I once met someone who always felt like he had to make up excuses. He was an embarrassment to have around family. He would disappoint me from time to time. We went to the same school and were in our last class together. I couldn’t wait for dismissal. We had plans to go to the movies later on that evening. But of course we didn’t make it. He was earnest about making it up to me.

      I wasn’t going for that anymore, so I decided to discipline him by not answering any of his phone calls. After a couple of hours he finally came over so we could talk. I explained to him that I was tired of his excessive lying. He listened to me and said he was sorry. The next week we were engaged!


When I become disappointed in a person, I’d rather not use an act of discipline. It will not solve anything. It might just make matters worse. It would just encourage an early dismissal from the problem by the both of us. I believe that would be the best solution because at that time I may be in an earnest mood. To avoid any embarrassment we may face by an altercation, we should talk it out like adults. In this case, I think excessive talking would be a good thing. I think this because we will come to a better understanding if everything is put on the table. I also think that an excuse in not necessary. We should take up for our actions.

My students continue to impress me!


Big Daddy

One of my passions is writing. I love to write and get excited when I see my students put effort into their writing assignments.

Below I highlight one of my students and an essay he wrote. Greg writes about his favorite movie using scenes from the movie and relating it to his personal experiences.

My favorite movie is Big Daddy with Adam Sandler. It is about a guy who gets stuck with this kid (who is really his best friend’s son). He struggles to take care of him because he is a kid himself. He ends up becoming emotionally attached to his “new” kid.

Throughout the movie the kid puts him through a hard time, but becomes a part of Sunny’s (Adam Sandler’s character) life. He uses the kid to get girls and the kid uses him to get what he wants. I think that for the most part, Sunny cared and never wanted to see anything happen to the young boy. Sunny takes him to school every day and they do everything together. In the end, Sunny had to give the kid back to his real father and it was really sad.

This was my favorite movie because I want to be a father or a good influenece on a younger loved one. There are a lot of children who are abandoned because parents are too worried about their own lives.



What’s In Your Stocking?

Since I teach a much younger GED class, I try to keep the discussions and assignments current. Each lesson that is taught is brought around full circle so that the students can personally relate.

The purpose of the following activity is to teach the students how to interpret and analyze pictures with hidden messages. I found this editorial cartoon in the August 4, 2009 issue of the Plain Dealer. I asked the students to tell me what message cartoonist Jeff Darcy was trying to portray in this political cartoon.

Roid Sox


Here are a few responses:

The Boston Red Sox players are good only because they are juiced up on steroids.

The Red Sox players have used or are using steroids to enhance their performace on the field. What does that say about players today compared to the all-time greats such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig? I think they are turning in their graves.

This reminds me of the “settlers” who brought drugs and diseases to countries to hurt the inhabitants. Now when people like David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez take steroids, it’s a problem. What about the people who push dope in our communities?


New Vocabulary, Real Life

In each GED class taught at Project Learn, the instructors put an emphasis on expanding the students’ vocabulary. This is important because misunderstanding a word could cause them to miss a question on the GED test.

In my Generation Y GED class, I take it one step further by requiring that the students write a story using all of the vocabulary words for that week. At first, the students complained that the assignment was too hard. However, when I read some of their stories, I was quite impressed. Here’s a few that caught my attention:

Vocabulary Words:

  • Absenteeism
  • Absolute
  • Accuse
  • Alteration
  • Attractive
  • Authorization
  • Betrayal
  • Bleak

“Lynne was feeling her friend’s betrayal. Lynne’s friend went so far as to accuse her of not getting the proper authorization before making an alteration to a client’s portfolio. The client’s chronic absenteeism was not acquiring any attractive offers. Lynne knew with absolute certainty that because of her friend’s betrayal, her future at the company was very bleak indeed.”

 Vocabulary Words:

  • Chance
  • Common
  • Conviction
  • Cozy
  • Decorate
  • Defined
  • Detrimental

“My brother is 31 years old. He has been given plenty of chances throughout his whole life. When he was a young man, it was very common for him to be in trouble. He was convicted for many crimes. He told me that the hardest thing to adapt to in prison is missing that cozy feeling when he was at home with family. I would always send him pictures of the family so he could decorate his cell. When we visited him in jail, there were defined rules and regulations that we had to follow. Being away from your loved ones for a long period of time can be detrimental for you because it hurts to miss people you love.”


I’ll continue to share their stories as new vocabulary words are introduced.


Generation Y and Harlem Nights

A few months ago, I started teaching the Generation Y GED class in addition to my duties as community relations manager. The class is for students who are 16 to 24 years old, hence the name Generation Y. At first, I didn’t know what to expect and wondered how my students would respond to me as their teacher. I was nervous, yet excited.

One student told me,

 “Sometimes I’m so wrapped up in what’s going on in my life that I don’t realize other events that are happening and may affect me.”

After hearing this, I created lesson plans and developed activities that would increase their awareness of what is happening in the world. One of the activities is something they must do every class session. The students analyze an article in the newspaper or news website and share their story with the class, explaining their personal ties with the article’s outcome. They love it.

In another assignment, a student wrote an essay about his favorite movie, Harlem Nights. I was very impressed with how he explained why this was his favorite movie, citing various movie scenes and how it related to him. Compared to his first essay, it showed his growth as a writer.

Check out his work:

“My favorite movie of all times would have to be Harlem Nights. The reason I selected this movie as my favorite is because it demonstrated how the Black community in those times had power, togetherness and loyalty.

The movie’s writer show how in the early 1900s, the Black community had respect, honor, loyalty and Blacks were a unit. There were famous Black actors and actresses who came together and paid respect to a generation.

I loved Harlem Nights because it showed how Black people did what they wanted to do and had money for whatever came their way. It was a scene where one of the characters lost trust with another one, and did like I would do by handling their business like adults.

What I learned from Harlem Nights is that it’s not always who or what you know, it’s more of how you tend to use that situation and make the best of what is in your surroundings.”

I’d like to share other assignments, class experiences and student responses. It lets you to take a glimpse into what we do at Project Learn, while allowing the students to see their work publicly highlighted.

– Alexia

GED Graduates Honored for Accomplishments

Seated graduates

More than 185 Project Learn students have earned GED diplomas since last June. On Tuesday, about 45 of them attended a graduation to honor their accomplishments.
One of the graduates, Samuel Potter, dropped out of high school 14 years ago. He once considered himself an “under-achiever” who was more interested in making money than learning.
However, in 2008, Potter realized he wanted a change in his life. He came to Project Learn for help earning his GED. His goal was to become more competitive in the job market. Not only did Potter earn his GED, but he is now the CEO of his own computer software company and will release a science fiction strategy game next month.
Potter was also honored with an award for being Project Learn’s top scholar for the 2008-2009 program year. He earned this distinction by scoring 752 out of 800 possible points on the official GED test.
“Getting my GED gave me the confidence to do what I never did, and the credibility to be great in life,” Potter said.

Click here to read more.