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

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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ONE + ONE Full 2018 Institute Scholarships are Today

—register yourself and a colleague with a ONE + ONE Institute full scholarship for either Institute. $599 total for both. Register today and pick your partner later.
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CWI’s 2018 Summer EAST and WEST Institutes
on Place Based Service-Learning
Los Angeles and Burlington, Vermont
hong kong As the longest running professional development events of their kind, CWI’s Institutes have dynamically supported educators for three decades now. We work to create highly effective service-learning projects and programs. In an era of torn social fabrics and great need for community building, Place Based Service-Learning becomes more important than ever. CWI Institutes emphasize the uniqueness of PLACE, reciprocal relationships, building empathy, and fostering student voice. Our collective work is in building student centered projects across content and specialist areas.
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Socially Minded Gaming That Makes a Difference

FROM THE INSIDE — Thoughts on Place-Based Education at a Community College


Fall is the time of year that brings to mind brightly colored leaves, crisp apples, sweater-weather, and lots of computer gaming! Computer gaming? It does if you, like me, are coordinating the annual Extra Life Gaming Marathon at your school! Extra Life is a worldwide gaming marathon that happens one day a year in the fall to raise money for hospitals that are a part of the Children’s Miracle Network and engages students on our community-college campus that might not ordinarily come forward and become involved. These students are computer gamers and non-native English language students. Let me explain… Continue reading

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Teachers Using Passion Projects to Chase Student Dreams


I’ve always thought I’ve had an interesting educational career that materialized out of a series of events. I was kicked out of typing class in 12th grade for calling the typing teacher something I shouldn’t have and ending up being the Physical Education teacher’s “helper” after that. But this at least gave me an inkling of what I wanted to do.

Despite being the student athlete of the year for my high school, I lasted a year and a half at college before being academically dismissed (that .71 GPA didn’t help!). The only reason I was at that college in the first place was because my sister lived nearby. They didn’t even have a teaching major for PE. Two years of active duty in the US Army convinced me of something. Though the traveling part was great, being stationed in Germany and traveling around Europe during leave, I realized that I needed to get back to studying. My fourth semester back was spent in England, my sixth doing student teaching in Vienna. The traveling bug satisfied for a bit, I did a graduate assistantship for my Master’s and then headed back to Spain, where I took up the next seven years of my life working at the Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona. Continue reading

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A Teacher Connects The Brain and Service-Learning


As the last weeks of summer slip away, I find myself thinking more and more about the upcoming school year. It happens every year at this time; physically I’m still on vacation but my mind is on the year ahead. I find myself thinking, imagining and planning what this new class and new year might be like.

I think about things we might do, themes we might focus on and activities we might participate in. I imagine what our physical space will look and feel like. I work to plan and shape a year of rich learning experiences for my students.

One of the things I know I want to do this year is to include service learning in a more central way in our class curriculum. The Vermont State Standards and our local district curriculum framework both recognize the value of service learning experiences and have included service-learning in their guidelines.

The elementary school I work in has long been a pioneer in bringing service-learning projects into the classroom; and this year my principal has asked that all classroom teachers incorporate service learning in some way in their classrooms. These are all good reasons to include service-learning in our work for the year; but the reason that appeals most to me is that service-learning is compatible with the ways in which the brain learns. Continue reading

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Sometimes We Become the Student


As teachers, we often take for granted the process of learning. We make our lesson plans, target our learning objectives, and even map out a year of what we want our students to learn.

I sometimes think that learning is magic, a bit like alchemy. No matter the inputs, it feels amazing when students come up to me to spout fun Rio Grande facts or what they would do to help protect this river at risk. As a “non-formal” educator, I have been largely immune to state learning standards, but have always been happy to point out the connections to teachers who are hesitant to use precious class time for an “outside” environmental educator to do some classroom science teaching and nature activities.

This school year has made me think about learning in a completely new and different way. For one,  I’m slightly removed from my regular realm as a teacher, or a student learning about teaching. Instead, this fall, the environmental educator becomes the student. But, I’m not learning about teaching or education. Continue reading

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English Learners Building Language and Belonging through Folk Arts Education


Folk Arts Building Language and Belonging

Schools and educational programs intentionally designed to support the academic, linguistic, cultural, and social-emotional needs of newcomer English Learners (ELs) are rare. Even rarer are schools and programs that interweave folk arts into the educational program for newcomer ELs. Folk Arts–Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS) in Philadelphia’s Chinatown strives to do both. FACTS was founded in 2005 by Asian Americans United and the Philadelphia Folklore Project to provide “equity and justice for Asian American students and immigrant and refugee students of all races in the public schools; for public investment and public space in the under- served Chinatown community; and for public schooling that engages children as active participants in working for a just society” (“Who We Are Statement” 2011, 1). This vision continues to drive FACTS’s mission today.

FACTS was founded not to undermine the public school system, but to serve as a model of innovation to inspire change in the education system. By positioning ELs and immigrant and refugee students and families at the center of its school mission and design, the school provides an exemplary education for ELs and creates a model of transformative education for all students. Continue reading

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Children of Shangri-Lost


We are a group of youth in Pittsburgh who want to show the world that despite being displaced and sometimes forgotten, we have not forgotten who we are and what we have to offer the world.

Our story is one of survival and of hope. We may be the Children of Shangri-Lost, but we have found ourselves in our new homes around the world. — Children of Shangri-Lost

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is home to approximately 5,000 Bhutanese refugees who are building thriving community of newcomers. In our “City of Bridges,” young Bhutanese have purposefully created a website and a community organization, which the welcome above proudly introduces, that have great potential to introduce different communities and cultural traditions. The website is only the most visible face of a much larger set of cultural endeavors. Young adults in Pittsburgh’s Bhutanese immigrant community share their dynamic, evolving folklife through Children of Shangri-Lost (COSL), a nonprofit organization. Together, COSL members curate an impressive set of social media projects and promote public forums that celebrate their traditional forms of cultural expression. They reach out to their new neighbors and proactively approach writing new narratives of where they have come from and who they are becoming. These resources can provide educators a dynamic model of ways that others can appreciate and incorporate lessons from their difficult journey toward full participation in the United States.

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Intentional Teaching, Against the Odds


Dr. Stuart Grauer is a teacher, the founding Head of School at The Grauer School, and Founder of The Small Schools Coalition.

“When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools.” (King Lear, Act 4 Scene 6)

No sooner had our plane lifted off, on our expedition to London, thinking we might escape the apocalyptic news cycle for a few days and then return home fresh, back to a fresh year on the quad, the sparkle of the English literature seminar, the springy movement of teens on the green …

No sooner had we arrived in London then did Erin Langen, our theatre teacher, foist upon us all in the guise of Shakespearean wit and inspiration, at the Olde Globe theater, open air and much as it was first performed in 1608:

Original 1608 Olde Globe Playbill for “King Lear”

“King Lear,” miserable tragedy of betrayal and hopelessness that we can only hope to act our way out of. Thick tale of a humorless man getting old, making terrible judgments in a world where almost everyone but a kind daughter and a loyal minister, who both die wretchedly, will exploit him mercilessly and relentlessly — did I mention, for over three hours?

A professor at University of Warwick has published a paper called, “King Lear and the Collapse of Civilisation.” All this, in three plus hours of olde English rattled out across the fabled yard — the Olde Globe on the south bank of the River Thames.

So, we’re here in London with 18 students, preparing for the week’s finale, the performance of “The Tragedy…”. I haven’t been to England in over 30 years, but everything looks to me to be about the same — except the faces. Continue reading

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CommonLore—Building Empathy One Student at a Time

CommonLore—We’re Building Empathy One Student at a Time, by connecting students to the people of their communities. learn more:

CommonLore is a powerful place based service-learning and ethnography focused training and support program for K-16 educators. We begin with the belief that we must increase the “commons” in our communities—spaces for dialogue, understanding, empathy, and authentic compassion. Our initial teacher pilot projects are in Los Angeles and Vermont, along with other locations around the U.S. CommonLore provides teachers in local schools with training, inspiration, and hands-on peer collaboration. Our goal is to create and support student driven inquiry projects that bring local communities together. CommonLore projects begin with larger questions. Who makes up our community? What are our stories? How do our stories define us? Why are stories about ourselves and our community so important? Which stories lead to human growth, resilience, and justice? Where should we begin? Find out how we can support your own local work.
contact us  call: 909.480.3966

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Democracy in Action: Social Justice Oriented Service-Learning

Casey O’Meara is a public school teacher in Middlebury Vermont.

Middlebury College students protest Vermont gas pipeline.

Millennials are innovating new ways to problem solve, through their desire to collaborate and communicate using technology (Burstein, 2013). If Millennials are not engaged in designing new ways to approach societal issues, traditional civic systems in America will be decreasingly valued.

A commitment to serve, through social justice service-learning, can develop a civic mindedness and encourage Millennials to participate in America’s democratic process. A generation noted for its sense of entitlement and self-centeredness (Twenge, 2006), Millennials must regularly participate in service in their communities and develop imaginative solutions to societal dilemmas. Through social justice oriented service-learning, students engage in issues of personal and local importance, taking an active role in their communities and influencing the formal democratic systems they seem to disregard.

Higher Education has a moral duty to formally engage its student body in civic learning. Not just theory but literally finding ways to change their worlds and, thus, the world.

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