From Service to Social Justice, to Sustainability

Celebrating Our 22nd Year of Transformative Professional Development
2017 is About Place, Service-Learning and Sustainability
JOIN US at CWI’s 2017 Summer EAST or WEST Institute
—in Los Angeles, California, and Burlington, Vermont

_DSC0022csmJoin us this year for the world’s premier service-learning driven professional development event. Work with dedicated K-16 educators from across the U.S. and around the world. An unforgettable week of inspiring training, planning, and collaboration. CWI’s Summer Institutes feature expert training, curriculum planning, and collaboration opportunities. Veteran faculty/practitioners, model programs, guided support, curriculum planning, and more. learn more

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Promising Practices in Nature-based Early Childhood Education

In Bloom in Santa Barbara
tempantiochPromising Practices in Nature-based Early Childhood Education
Saturday, November 5, 2016
Orfalea Family Children’s Center
University of Santa Barbara, West Campus,, Santa Barbara, California
This all-day conference brings together professionals who are redefining what’s possible in early childhood education. Children stomp in puddles, whittle sticks, paint their faces with charcoal, take care of animals AND expand their vocabularies, do real math, conduct investigations and develop resilience in nature-based programs. Presenters include Community Works Journal contributing editor and Antioch NE senior faculty member David Sobel. Come join the dialogue.
Saturday, November 5, 2016, from 9:00 am–4:00 pm.
download flyer For more information: contact Kelly Pena, 805-962-8179,,
or Peg Smeltz, 603-283-2301,

Posted in Curriculum Development, Elementary Education, Place Based Education, Professional Development, Small Schools, Sustainability, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Notes From New Mexico: Out of a Rut

Notes From New Mexico: Out of a Rut

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.”—John Dewey

As educators, we are often creatures of habit. We have the lesson plans that work. We have the comfort of favorite books to share with our students. We have our beginning-of-the-school-year routines down pat. We find our groove in teaching fourth graders or the same subject for the ninth time. Then something hits us, that we are not in a sweet spot, but a professional rut. img_1554

Routines can be helpful, but very quickly they can become ruts. While much of teaching is filled with routines and rituals, how can we keep ourselves out of the ruts and our students in the lights of inspiration? How do we even know we are in a rut? It can be hard to tell, especially when we find relief in the familiar.

Continue reading

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2016 Global Folklorist Challenge!

2016 Global Folklorist Challenge:  Connecting Your Community to the World
By Betty J. Belanus, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

2016-folklorist-challenge-home2-nocta2I remember the first time I joined a fellow graduate student at the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology to make a video on a tradition bearer.  It was early spring, and we were visiting a Southern Indiana maple syrup maker, shooting in what is now an antiquated video format, through the steam coming off the fragrant boiling sap.  It was thrilling to capture the action and the wise words of the syrup maker on video, and then to edit the footage into a short story about this old, but still very much alive, tradition.

Nowadays, young students shoot and edit their own videos, of a much superior quality, with smart phones.  But the excitement of capturing the words and actions of a living tradition is still as great.  Through the 3rd annual Global Folklorist Challenge, students aged 8 – 18 can work individually or in a group to produce a short video, slide set or podcast about a tradition bearer in their community and share it with the world.  The short media products are judged, and prizes are offered.  All of the entries, whether they are prize winners or not, are placed on a growing interactive map of the world, including, to date, media pieces from the U.S., China, Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine, Taiwan, India, Canada, and Poland featuring musicians, craftspeople, cooks, and even the makers of low rider cars.

The Challenge includes an extensive educator resource pack to help teachers and mentors guide students through the process.  Students and their mentors are invited to send in questions and comments along the way, and new “tips and tricks” are added during the period leading up to the due date of November 30, 2016.

Check out the Challenge today, and help encourage students to participate!  The excitement of learning something new about their community, and seeing their work included in an international platform, can be theirs in the near future.

Teacher Resource Pack:

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LA RiverLore: Professional Development in Real Time!

riverloreLA RiverLore! a Professional Development Project
in Real Time, in Los Angeles, CA

LA RiverLore is an exciting place based service-learning PD program, connecting schools and communities along the Los Angeles River. LA RiverLore is providing teachers in schools surrounding the Los Angeles River with the training, inspiration, collaboration, and connections needed to create standards focused service-learning curriculum around the Los Angeles River and its neighborhoods.
contact us
Posted in Curriculum Development, Elementary Education, LA River, Place Based Education, Professional Development, Service-Learning, Social Justice, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Star Wars Civilization and Stone Age Emotions

Star Wars Civilization & Stone Age Emotions

strikeThat’s who we are … We could very well be a developing country.

Take a look: we are all getting our new credit cards with computer chips, something that has been long in coming. Have you tried using your card, though? I routinely walk to a counter, see the chip-enabled card reader, and when I go to use it, I’m met with this halting remark by the cashier (that we have cashiers, still, is another matter): “Wait. No. It doesn’t work. Please slide your card instead.” What? In Chicago — this the 21st Century in the U.S. , mind you — teachers may go on strike because they have been working without a contract. Hell, there may not be enough money to pay them. read entire essay

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Ecstatic Learning

Ecstatic Learning

A confession: I want to travel with Dr. Who. If the adventure-seeking, time-traveling, universe-trotting madman in a box showed up at my doorstep, I would pack my bag. I will always remember the thrill of the first episode I ever watched at age 35; when the dapper time traveler, standing in the doorway of his spaceship (a Police Public Call Box) with a sparkle in his eyes, looks at Amelia Pond and says, “All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?” Dr_Who_(316350537)

Imagine being asked that question. Let it sink in for a moment. I did. And the soaring elation sparked by this fantastical possibility swelled up in me, and I felt, for a moment, ecstatic.

I instantly thought of my elementary students. What if learning in a classroom could feel like this? Instead of a TARDIS, we have our imaginations, we have each other, and the whole universe is before us. “All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?” I believe teaching should embody this daring invitation. An invitation to ecstatic learning.

What is ecstatic learning? Ecstatic is made up of the root, “ek”, which means outside or beyond, and “stasis”, which means the place in which one stands, or should stand. One translation calls it “displacement or removal from the proper place.” According to Plotinus, an ancient Greek philosopher, ecstatic means the culmination of human possibility. Ecstatic learning then, is a yearning for this human potential through a moving beyond. Beyond what? Well, the classroom, for starters, the place where students should be. We can move beyond the classroom figuratively, through our imaginations or move beyond the classroom literally, by getting outside. Often, these journeys end up moving us beyond ourselves as well, transforming us through incorporating new ideas and experiences into our very beings. Continue reading

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Saving Daylight and the Psychology of Learning

Saving Daylight and the Psychology of Learning
If any reader knows a single teen who “springs forward” or springs at all when another hour is stolen from them, let me know. Because the overwhelming research shows that, as the National Sleep Foundation reports, not only in the United States but all over the developed world, “Two in three teens were found to be severely  deprived, losing two or more hours of sleep every night.” read more
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Intergenerational Learning: The Great Migration

Intergenerational Learning: The Great Migration

service learningOur students’ exposure to the black community in Brockton was predominantly shaped through service projects. They learned in the classroom about poverty and went to the city next door to help. Most of the people they were helping or studying were individuals of color—and poor. What the students were missing were the stories of the American blacks in the community who struggled and prospered, who valued education, whose children graduated college and rose through the ranks of government and businesses. Students needed to hear how hard it was succeed, how easy it would have been to give up and how failure wasn’t an option. read more
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Tomorrow’s Change Makers

Tomorrow’s Change Makers
By Dr. Marilyn Price-MitchelltomorrowYouth volunteerism and civic engagement has changed in America. While the numbers of young people who volunteer have risen substantially, recent studies show that very few find meaning and purpose through serving their communities. For many, volunteerism has become just another school requirement that bolsters a good college resume.

Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell suggests that in order for democracy to flourish, we must reverse these trends. Through real stories from civically-engaged youth, Tomorrow’s Change Makers illustrates the types of relationships and experiences that propel today’s young people to work toward the betterment of society. These narratives, combined with research in child and adolescent development, show why meaningful service should be at the heart of educating and raising American children. Introducing The Compass Advantage™ framework for understanding and applying core principles of positive youth development, Price-Mitchell demonstrates how families, schools, and communities not only play vital roles in raising tomorrow’s citizens, but also foster the conditions that help youth chart their own self-fulfilling pathways through life. learn more

Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD, is a developmental psychologist and fellow at the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University where she studies how young people become caring family members, innovative workers, ethical leaders, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex society.

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Connecting Service Learning to the Curriculum

Connecting Service Learning to the Curriculum:
A Workbook for Teachers and Administrators
Includes a NEW section on Education for Sustainability,
along with an expanded series of exemplars.
Now in use by thousands of educators across the U.S. and around the world. Ideal for professional development and curriculum planning. Whether you in the start-up phase, working to enhance an existing service-learning program, or working to move beyond community service, CWI’s Workbook and framework for service-learning will support your efforts, at both the instructional and site level. learn more
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