Teaching for Sustainability on the Bayou


Dr. Cathleen Becnel Richard is an Assistant Professor at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. She earned her doctorate in 2010 from Northcentral University in E-Learning and Teaching Online. Her research interests include academic advising, distance learning, reflective learning, and service learning.


Because higher education prepares most of the professionals who lead and influence society, Nicholls State University is making significant efforts to accelerate the process of providing the knowledge and graduates necessary to meet the great human challenge of sustainability. The seniors involved in the Making Waves along the Bayou Service-Learning Project are saving their precious bayou while learning about service, sustainability, and in particular, environmental protection. Continue reading

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BIG IDEAS for K-16 Education

BIG IDEAS for K-16 Education
—Jehan Morsi, Egyptian educator and CWI Institute alum, shares some very big ideas for creating a real community focused purpose and benefit to K-16 education. learn more: http://bit.ly/1PCRv6u

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Getting Your Faculty On Board

Tonya Williams, principal of an urban middle school discusses her experience with an Institute study group. Her goal was to get her faculty fully engaged with Place Based Service-Learning. She talks about how she sees that process playing out successfully.
—learn more about Community Works Institute

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Why Service-Learning is Essential for Our Students

“They can take the tests, but what does that really mean?” Chicago area educator Dominic Manola thinks that Service-Learning is essential for students in creating real accomplishment and relevance for their education. He has big plans too….
—learn more about Community Works Institute


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Our Kids Are Kids

We interviewed public school administrator Anna Kuykendal, from urban Githens Middle School in Durham, North Carolina. Anna testifies so very eloquently to the power of bringing public and independent K-12 school educators together for the conversations and work that MATTERS. These are all our kids every last one of them.

For information on CWI’s Summer Institutes and on site professional development.


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A Teacherʼs Thoughts on the Brain


There has been an explosion in what we know about the brain in recent decades, The brain is literally on our minds these days as more and more researchers share what they have been finding out about how our brains actually work. Advanced technology has allowed researchers to actually look inside the brain, examine the physical structure and monitor the activity that goes on there. Two years ago it suddenly dawned on me that these brain researchers might be discovering things that would be useful for me to know. I?m a classroom teacher. My job is all about helping young students learn. I’ve been trained in learning theory and learning styles, curriculum development and assessment techniques, child development, human behavior, and classroom management. Little of my educational training, however, involved learning about the brain and how it works. Yet, the brain is where learning happens. How it functions is a pretty big piece of the learning puzzle that teachers try to put together successfully in the classroom. 

Through my research I developed a basic understanding of the brain and how it functions. I also and started noticing specific things I thought were critically important for my work in the classroom.

Continue reading

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Rural Murals By Students as a Public Service


Associate Professor of Art Education, Western Carolina University

EDITOR’S NOTE: Erin has been extremely successful at WCU since she contributed this, and is now Director of The School of Art and Design, and Professor, of Art Education.

This article describes how service-learning based mural projects unfolded and morphed under the full attention and ownership of my college students. While it would be impossible to describe all that was learned in these endeavors, some pragmatic and philosophical aspects are noted, should the reader wish to try their own hand in a similar manner. I am moved when I conjure memories of my college students making public murals. I can still see them climbing in and out of vans and cars, exclaiming their dirty hands caked with paint and discussing at length the funny remarks we would occasionally hear from passersby. Creating murals as a group cast us into a homogeneity that defies the paradigm of individuality so prized in many art classes. Creating murals also enabled us to consider the people for whom we were painting them. Continue reading

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Student Leadership Development and Community Engagement


Beth is the Coordinator of the Recreation Studies Program/Gerontology Certificate Programs at Ohio University, College of Health and Human Services, School of Recreation and Sport Sciences. She primarily teaches in the Recreation Studies academic unit. She has been a teacher for over 25 years.

During the 2008 National Library Week, “Celebrate Reading,” a collaborative partnership with students in a Recreation Leadership course and faculty at Ohio University, Ohio University- Friends of the Libraries, Athens County Public Libraries, and Friends of the Athens Public Library was implemented in the rural Appalachia town of Athens, Ohio; home of Ohio University. This community activity was a meaningful leadership opportunity and cultural sensitivity program for the students and the rural Appalachia community folks. “Celebrate Reading” provided leadership opportunities as a means to connect theory with practice. Student learning objectives included: (1) to expand their experiences at the local community library; (2) to state an understanding how reading has changed over the years; (3) to explore their attitudes towards reading; (4) to know how this community engagement experience applies to leadership; and (5) to identify the diverse community needs and discuss in a paragraph how to meet these needs. At the local library, the program activities were open to the public and included: Circle Discussions About Reading, Lapsit Storytime, and Making Bookmarkers. This year, the 50th Anniversary of National Library Week was held promoting the National Library Week Theme: Join the circle of knowledge @ your library. Continue reading

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Service-Learning Expands Across a High School’s Curriculum

Ray Dumais of Goffstown High School, is an alumni of Community Works Institute’s Summer EAST Institute on Service-Learning. After he attended the Institute, Ray reported significant progress in developing service-learning opportunities at his school. He added, “

The Institute gave me all kinds of confidence. The variety of presenters was a nice cross section, and the site level work was really helpful.”

“The whole key is opening up options for students to learn outside the school, and to apply their knowledge to real-world situations, developing better citizens who have the habit of giving back to the community,” says Ray Dumais. “Our principal, Mark Roth, is not just an administrator but also a visionary who believes in this kind of work.” said Ray.”

According to Ray, Cindy Burns’ Junior/Senior biology class at Goffstown has begun a multigenerational project at the county nursing home. They are studying the aging process and different physical and mental challenges of old age. They will visit the nursing home several times to socialize with the elders, interview them, play games with them and observe. The students keep a journal and engage in regular reflective sessions, answering questions such as “What did we do?” “What do we keep and what do we redesign?” During another visit, they will talk to the nurses about what to look for in identifying physical and mental challenges. At the end they will compile all the information and give a presentation to the class. Cindy and Ray met with the nursing home director, the director of volunteers, and the activities director to talk about how the partnership could be expanded beyond a single project; they discussed various ways that the high school population could get involved with the nursing home residents. Continue reading

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Mapping McCabe: Connecting Curriculum and Community Through Environmental Education

by Susie Denehy and David Sobel

The Reintroduction of Students into the Landscape
Dorothy McCabe, thin, strong and well-preserved as a cedar post, had us captivated with her stories. We sat in the parlor of her old home twelve years ago in what had just become the Forest Society’s McCabe Forest Preserve. “I remember when I was a girl and it was a hot May afternoon. We all had a favorite swimming place down by a bend in the river — near the old oxbow. It was sandy there and deep enough to dive into. When I got there I noticed three big funny-looking water bugs perched on the water. I was going to investigate, but the black flies were so bad, I decided just to strip down and jump in the water. Well, as soon as I jumped in the river, I was scared by the ferociously churning water — like the Loch Ness monster was coming to the surface. And then three deer charge out of the water and stampede into the woods. Turns out those three water bugs had been their noses and they had been suspended in the water, just their noses sticking up so they could breathe. This is how they got a bit of respite from the black flies.” Continue reading

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