Register Soon for 2018 CWI Summer Institutes!

CWI’s 2019 Summer Institute on Place Based Service-Learning and Sustainability

—Los Angeles, California and Burlington, Vermont

PLAN AHEAD 2019 PREMIUM Registrations are Now!
Register by Friday, JULY 27 and SAVE 40% per educator

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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Summer’s Good Surprises: Let’s Talk Teaching Empathy

Summer is full of Good surprises. Here’s one for the tuned-in educator. A fabulous opportunity to bring a team from your school to CWI’s 2019 Summer EAST or WEST Institutes. Register now and we’ll even help you recruit your complete team later this year.
learn more:


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Plan Ahead for 2019, with a PREMIUM Institute Registration

Teaching Empathy through specifically focused Community based learning experiences is what our teachers craft and design at CWI Institutes. Expert training, guided planning, and inspired collaboration with K-16 educators from across the U.S. Bring a SCHOOL TEAM with a 2019 PREMIUM Institute registration. Save 40% off regular registration rates (with the support of a generous private funder). learn more:

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Teaching For Empathy: Join Us in 2019 with Your School Team

Here it is… 2019 PREMIUM Institute registrations are NOW. Save 40% per educator. Bring your school team and join us at The Institute on Place Based Service-Learning, in 2019. #PlanAhead this year.
#TeachingEmpathy #teaching #socialemotional
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Why “Chaos” Matters in Work & Life


Note from the Editor: We love Erik’s writing and his thinking around our rapidly changing world. This piece resonates for me as an educator in terms of the seemingly obvious implications for our students and for education itself — the “factory model” of education is dying a slow and agonizing death. Our organization, Community Works Institute (CWI), promotes a “connected” educational experience, that is grounded in place and community. With that in mind, “disruption” and seeming “chaos” as Erik puts, it are part and parcel of the process of creating REAL and connected learning. Read on…. ~Joe Brooks

The Essential Element of the “Digital Transformation”

I am in Japan this week.

Japan is a country that I regularly visit — at least, two or three times a year, over the last ten years — teaching and speaking about the digital transformation. It is one of my favorite places, and I always enjoy being here.

But recently, interacting with other “foreigners,” I notice a fairly typical reaction. Especially, amongst those visiting for the first time. Continue reading

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Join Us at the Institute

to Join Us at CWI’s 2018 Summer WEST Institute
July 23-27, 2018, Los Angeles, CA

Connect Your Classroom to Your Community this year. Engage your students with their Place through Service-Learning and Sustainability. Build student empathy and understanding and a sense of community with common purpose. Engage your students in the real work of the community, connected to your academic teaching goals.  CWI Institute educators are the most inspired teachers we know. Come collaborate with smart teachers who share your passion for this work. Join us at CWI’s 2018 Summer WEST Institute with a partial scholarship ($400). Space is limited. learn moreregister online

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Blogging Our Way to Cultural Understanding


bloggingThe following article explores the experience of two educators who are using classroom based blogging to deepen understanding, raise important questions, and ultimately as a tool to build classroom community, Sylvie Debevec Henning is Professor Emerita at East Carolina University, in the Department of French and Francophone Studies. Luci Fernandes is a regular contributor to Community Works Journal. She is a cultural anthropologist whose research focus is on documenting daily life through audio/visual mediums. She documents life ways in both contemporary Cuban and in Eastern North Carolina, where she lives and teaches anthropology courses for East Carolina University. Her aim in to highlight everyday people, their joys and struggles to connect people in their human experience.

Blogs as a Tool for Reflection
A blog is an innovative way for students to maintain and expand the scope of the reflective journal that is required in the Global Understanding course. Students share reactions to course readings and presentations by guest speakers as well as cultural observations after linking sessions with international partners. Their interactions with one another outside the classroom help overcome class time restrictions, expand opportunities for peer to peer learning and create a sense of student ownership. By democratizing discussion, the blog helps students articulate their ideas more freely, develop critical thinking skills and build confidence. The technology is flexible enough to allow for inclusion of media. We have found the sharing information about and reactions to cultural differences and similarities through blogging encourages students to develop cultural awareness and opens the way to greater cultural understanding. We have not seen any resistance to blogging; students have adapted well to it. Continue reading

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Teaching Students to Leave a Legacy


Steve Buzzell and his teaching partner Jeff Grogan are 7th grade teachers at Stowe Middle School in Vermont. They spent a week together at CWI’s Summer Institute on Service-Learning.

In looking back over my notes, and reflecting on the week with Community Works Institute I am amazed at how much we have gone over. This Institute will definitely change what and how I teach, so right there it was worth it!  Looking at my social studies “units” through the sustainability lens is definitely exciting. CWI’s Summer Institute definitely tied into, and reinforced, what I learned in the Placed Based Education class I took earlier in the summer.

The class helped clarify for me the difference between Community Service and Service-Learning. I learned that Service-Learning is really a teaching strategy that combines academics and social education to meet a community’s needs, and that a truly good project will improve the quality of life for all—both current and future generations. That’s really cool! Teaching the kids to leave a legacy. Continue reading

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Digging Deeper: Charting a Path to Change Through Service-Learning and Sustainability


Director of Sustainability and Nutrition Services
Claremont Unified School District, California

rick1Looking back now, I find myself lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from so many caring people during my experience at Community Works Institute (CWI) Service-Learning experience. I was not your “typical” participant in that I was not a teacher or and educator, or so I thought. I came to realize that as a Nutrition Services Director, I actually was an educator who was in fact educating young minds.

I found out that I had a unique opportunity to positively effect the learning environment by not only providing healthy food for healthy minds, but that I had the ability to encompass Service-Learning at my school district. My fellow participants were looking for opportunities to enhance Service-Learning in their schools and I quickly realized that I could help them.  School gardens and sustainable practices were excellent tools for Service-Learning and the best part was I was already doing this. My early efforts were validated as I never realized that I was actually beginning to build an infrastructure of Service-Learning. [photo above: gardeners at El Roble Middle School] Continue reading

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Service-Learning as a Valuable and Viable Instructional Model


emily wrigleyEmily is Kindergarten/Grade 1 Looping Classroom Teacher at Union Elementary School in Montpelier Vermont. She attended CWI’s Summer EAST Institute on Service-Learning with a team of colleagues from her district. Emily’s school district has been working hard for a number of years to make service-learning a core part of all students’ K-12 experiences.

As CWI’s Summer East institute approached this July, I felt strongly that I knew what I was looking to gain from the week’s experience. My goal was to learn more about the purpose and strategies of place-based education. I was also seeking a better understanding of education for sustainability in hopes of folding the ideas around a shared vision of bettering our schools, communities and practice for sustainable living into my practice. As one member of a team of teachers, I also wanted to learn more about how I can do more than just espouse my beliefs in the benefits of service learning experiences. When I reflect on the varied experiences I had at CWI East, I consider how the people I met, stories I heard, and varied learning activities will help me carry my service-learning work forward. Conversations about sustainability, equity in education and diversity have also found a place in my thinking about my own pedagogy.
Continue reading

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Smart Change and Possibility: Educating for the Teachable Moments


Don Taylor is a Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Main Street Middle School (MSMS)in Montpelier, Vermont. Don is an alumnus of CWI’s Summer EAST Institute on Service-Learning, which he attended with a team member from his school.

On a Friday, CWI’s Summer EAST Institute came to a close. Hoping to take advantage of the warm weather, and Lake Champlain, I raced home, hooked up the boat, and within ninety minutes of being in class I was on the water. 

It was a beautiful night and as the wind died down, the fishing picked up. After a last cast and with the sun setting, I wound down and headed for the boat ramp. Trailer backed in, boat on, and just as I was getting ready to head home, a gentleman and his son walked up to me and asked about the fishing.

I quickly starting giving him a run down and before you know it, we were gabbing about fishing, hunting, sugaring, and life in Vermont.  Turns out that the guy’s family has lived in Vermont for more years than anybody can count.  Not only that, but he comes from a long line of farmers and maple sugar producers who make almost 2800 gallons of syrup a year. I loved our conversation and after more than 45 minutes, I turned to his 16 year old son and asked, “How do you like school?” Continue reading

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