Early Bird Discounts for 2018 CWI Summer Institutes!

CWI’s 2018 Summer Institutes on Place Based Service-Learning and Sustainability
Los Angeles and Burlington, Vermont

Expert training, experienced guidance, with supportive collaboration. Create academically
rigorous service focused curriculum programs. Connect your academic and social goals with compelling student centered community projects.

Join K-16 and community educators, from across the U.S. and international schools, for a week of expert training, and inspiring curriculum design work. A unique opportunity to dig deep into place based service-learning and sustainability and how to use it most effectively with your students. This is your opportunity to move your classroom curriculum or school program to the next level. learn more

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Power, Love, Education and Justice for Liberation


Students at Brooklyn Friends School in Natania Kremer‘s Service and Justice Seminar participated in a pen pal program with a California prison inmate and joined with him in creating Power, Love, Education and Justice for Liberation.

“I really enjoyed writing to Mume this semester. I think it is a valuable experience to have this interaction with people who have had experiences that we have not. I found it very interesting to know what experiences Mume had in solitary confinement, and following his story. I remember hearing when he was offered the opportunity to get out of solitary confinement and go to a regular prison, and reflecting on my emotions when I found this out.”

“I learned a lot about what we as citizens are being told about the justice system, versus what I learned about the truth of the justice system. Through Mume’s letters, I learned about the psychological punishment that is solitary confinement…Everyone, especially kids, should know from early on the injustice in the justice system in order to grow up and try to reform it.”

“He inspired me because he made me realize that if he can achieve great things inside prison, I can do so many things out in the world, and especially in my school. Mume has been in prison in California since 1976. His background that he grew up in is similar to many other young men that are incarcerated. He was innocent of the crime that he was convicted for. One extraordinary event that Mume initiated was the Hunger Strike in Pelican Bay Prison. This event happened July 8, 2013, where over 30,000 prisoners in California prisons initiated a hunger strike because of the unfairness, injustice, and uncooperativeness from higher officials in and out the prison system. The strike lasted about 60 days and it was successful because their demands were complied with and the legislators agreed to hold public hearings so their concerns could be voiced.” Continue reading

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Hearing and Amplifying the Voices of those Living with HIV/AIDS: An Eighth Grade Student Project


Natania Kremer is the Director of Service Learning & Civic Engagement at Brooklyn Friends School in New York City. She is also Co-Chair of the Department of Equity, Justice, & Civic Engagement. She holds a LCSW from Columbia University School of Social Work, a MSEd from Bank Street College of Education, and a BA in Psychology and Education from Swarthmore College. Natania is an alumna of CWI”s Summer Institute on Place Based Service-Learning

Eighth grade students at Brooklyn Friends School recently gathered for a collection in the Pearl Street Meetinghouse to share and reflect upon their service learning experiences throughout this school year. Their thoughtful and engaging work brings an awareness of HIV and AIDS, and the profound effects this disease has on people throughout the world.

The service-learning curriculum for the 8th grade focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy, building on the knowledge they have gained in their health studies. After watching a documentary about the founding of ACT-UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), a grassroots organization that formed in response to governmental inaction in the face of the AIDS crisis and hearing from Joe Kopitz, founder of TOUCH (The Outreach Using Communal Healing), the students were offered ways to expand their learning and connect with the community through direct and indirect service, research, and advocacy. Continue reading

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Brooklyn School in Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees


Eighty students, faculty, and community members came together recently for “Brooklyn in Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees: Turning Interscholastic Conversations into Collaborative Action.”

Inspired by the collaboration of the heads of four Brooklyn independent schools, this joint faculty/student programming initiative was co-organized by Natania Kremer at Brooklyn Friends, Tené Howard at Packer, Matt Budd at Berkeley Carroll, and Diane Gnagnarelli at Saint Ann’s along with student leaders for all four schools. (Natania and Matt are alums of CWI’s Summer Institute on Place Based Service-Learning)

Brooklyn Friends School student organizers included Angel I (Class of 2018), Maxine S (Class of 2019), Ashley B (Class of 2019), and Salma B (Class of 2020).

The event featured a student-led art and community-building activity, and an incredible panel of activists including Adama Bah, Angy Rivera with the New York State Youth Leadership Council, Zainab Abdullah with the The Arab-American Family Support Center, Kaberi Banerjee Murthy with Brooklyn Community Foundation, and Lindsay Mullett with Lutheran Social Services of New York’s Immigration Legal Program. Continue reading

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Teaching for Social Justice through Collaborative Ethnography


Using Collaborative Ethnography as a tool and strategy, we’re helping K-16 and community educators learn to design compelling curriculum experiences that are centered on the people, issues, and culture of their own local community. Collaborative Ethnography provides an invaluable tool for teachers in working with their students to discover and share their local community’s past, explore its present, while becoming local advocates and visionaries for the future. Collaborative Ethnography is about learning about, knowing, understanding, and connecting people in local communities—especially those who traditionally are “invisible” or marginalized. Using Collaborative Ethnography we seek to build bridges of understanding and empathy through student projects. This approach also helps us to identify social justice issues from the vantage point of impacted community members themselves.

Science teacher and CWI Summer Institute participant Landon Neustadt explores the old Broadway theater corridor in downtown Los Angeles, a mix of important older neighborhood businesses, massive redevelopment, a vibrant low income Latino community, new trendy startups, and boarded up buildings.

CWI’s annual Summer Institutes in Burlington, Vermont, and Los Angeles, have both included street based practicums in Collaborative Ethnography over the past several years. Our interest is in learning and practicing teaching strategies that get at the intersectionality of of community cultures, issues, and needs, as a precursor to considering place based service-learning projects.

To understand how this actually works for classroom teachers, we had a great conversation in Los Angeles recently, with veteran educators Felipe Sanchez and Alexandra Gonzales. (video is included below)

Alexandra is a science/STEM teacher from Long Beach who took part in CWI’s annual Summer WEST Institute on Place Based Service-Learning, in Los Angeles. Felipe Sanchez is a long time educator and partner-faculty member with CWI. Felipe is an astute observer of the cultural layers and shifts in Los Angeles. Just prior to this interview (embedded below) Alexandra, along with her thirty new CWI Institute colleagues, K-16 educators from across the U.S. and Mexico City, had just spent a day in LA’s old downtown business district, which is currently undergoing large scale redevelopment. Continue reading

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Subscribe to Community Works Journal digital magazine

at no cost. The Journal is a  unique resource for K-16 and community based educators.

The Journal has been published by Community Works Institute (CWI) since 1995, in support of teaching practices that build community. The Journal features essays and reflections along with curriculum overviews that highlight the importance of place, service, and sustainability to a relevant and meaningful education.

subscribe here: http://bit.ly/1hYPKiI

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Teaching for Social Justice Through Collaborative Ethnography


We had a great conversation in Los Angeles recently, with veteran educators Felipe Sanchez and Alexandra Gonzales. We’re building a community focused pedagogy K-16. It’s all here and they said it so well. Join us for the next stage. at CWI’s Summer Institute on Place Based Service-Learning, in Burlington, Vermont and Los Angeles.
learn more: cwinstitute.net

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Through The Personal Lens: Reconceiving Language and Education


hector vilaHector J. Vila is an Assistant Professor in Writing at Middlebury College in Vermont. He has been teaching writing in urban and rural environments since 1985. Hector is the author of Life-Affirming Acts: Education as Transformation in the Writing Classroom. Throughout his career he has always worked, in one way or another, with K-12 partners.

“When I initially signed up for this class,” writes Megan, a first year student at Middlebury College, “I imagined that it would be objective. Scenarios for Teaching Writing.”  Megan goes on to say that she “instinctively latched on to the meaty education buzzwords, teaching writing.” She had no idea what the course would be — perhaps a course where the teacher imparts information and students pass it on to their assigned mentees, 10th graders in an English class at Media and Communications High School in Washington Heights, New York City.  This is simply the external architecture of the course. The course is an inquiry into our commitment to Education writ large; it means to challenge pre-conceived notions, individually and culturally, about the purpose of education; and it asks student to investigate their identities so as to better actualize a purposeful life.

The course is done by privileging writing—the Middlebury students’, the Media and Communications students’ and theories of composition. This becomes our method.  It is accomplished in the classroom at Middlebury, face-to-face in Washington Heights, where we visit students during the first week, and online (Google Docs), where Middlebury students tutor and mentor their 10th  grade partners, justifying their approach by addressing a theoretical framework for working with student writing. The conflation of face-to-face and online work is an elegant way to address the complex needs of students, at Middlebury and in Washington Heights; it is a sustainable architecture for a K-16 continuum; and, perhaps most vital, it opens a dialog between communities that never speak to each other. Continue reading

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Engaging Children Through Playful Learning: A Case Study


engaged learningCommon sense tells us, when we do what we love, we do it well.  When work is fun, we are more creative, we are more thoughtful, and we want to keep building upon that success. Best practices in curriculum design start with that same wisdom. Students who are engaged in meaningful, creative learning projects that connect to the real world are more motivated to succeed. These students are invested in an excellent outcome. Doing something that matters compels kids to expect more of themselves and perform at a higher level than if the greatest motivation was merely a good grade or a gold star.

So how do we go about designing project-based curriculum that allows for deep and effective learning?

After many years of successfully designing such curriculum, we believe that an effective project-based curriculum needs to be:

  1. Authentic
  2. Experiential
  3. and Reflective

Continue reading

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Sustaining Service-Learning: Lessons From Two Decades of Change


service learningMartha Rich recently retired after twenty years as Head of School at Thetford Academy in Vermont. Thetford Academy is public-private school and has been designated a National Service-Learning Leader School. Martha has served as a faculty member of Community Works Institute (CWI) and has also been deeply involved in the national movement around professional learning communities. In this article Martha responds to our request to share her school’s experiences working with CWI’s Best Practices for Service-Learning. More information on these practices can be found at www.communityworksinstitute.org

“You can’t mandate what matters.” This pronouncement heads the list of Michael Fullan’s lessons for reform in The New Meaning of School Change. I first read Fullan’s work years ago, when I was a fledgling administrator seeking advice on the change process: How does it happen? What should I do to move it along? Most important, how could positive changes be sustained? Fullan’s research offered a set of “lessons” for people like me, though most of his statements looked more like paradox than prescription. If you really “can’t mandate what matters,” how should a school leader proceed? Continue reading

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Not a Chain Link or a Picket Fence: Social Justice Pedagogy in an Urban Garden Project


social justiceTara Affolter is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Education Studies at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. She has spent the bulk of her career in high school classrooms, teaching English and theatre and working for social justice in public school systems. She is keenly interested in finding ways to build fully inclusive communities within schools, colleges, and universities.

There was a flurry of activity as I stepped into the urban garden that students from my college were helping construct at the Bronx Academy of Letters (BAL). Ben was attempting to set up boards to roll the wheelbarrow up the steps; Kenny was kicking a soccer ball with his siblings (waiting for the next load of dirt to arrive); Janet was checking the radish plants and Jacob began ushering me to the garden beds.  A tour began and the four students pointed out the raised beds, different plants, and the barrels they had acquired and sawed in half to use as planters.  Their stories bounced off of each other, overlapping into an excited and slightly more adult version of “show and tell.” Continue reading

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