Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in Preschool: Why We Teach


This article shares the story of a partnership between a university campus preschool and an elementary education professor concentrating on multilingual family-based, funds of knowledge in schools. The preschool teacher integrated the theme, “Growing up Bilingual in Sunshine Room” throughout the classroom and home-learning activities. This project helped us as teachers understand the ongoing, active efforts we must make as advocates and activists to reframe the role of language and culture in our lives, and in the lives of our preschool-aged children. We learned the importance of reframing the value for language and culture in school spaces, and the ripple effect that such active, ongoing cultural recognition would have on families as learning partners in preschool.

Why We Teach
Building the connection between home and school is a very important component of the Sunshine Room preschool classroom. One way we learned about the many languages we spoke was through our family language board. We created simple boards for the vestibule and posted them above the children’s cubbies, posing questions like, “Do you know how to say friend in any other language” and  “Do you know how to say hello in any other language?” As families entered Sunshine Room, they conversed about the question and recorded their responses. They asked questions, reflected on home life and taught their children about others in the classroom. One parent observed, “ Look someone knows how to say friend in Spanish just like us, just like grandma.” Continue reading

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A Unique K-16 Professional Development Experience

CWI’s 2018 Summer Institutes on Place Based Service-Learning


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.
Summer WEST InstituteSummer EAST Institutespecial early bird rates register now

Place Based Service-Learning is a strategy to explore your own community’s unique characteristics of people, culture and place. We focus on designing service-learning programs that encourage reciprocity, empathy, and student voice. Join inspired educators from across the U.S. and beyond at the Institute for a week of deeply fulfilling work

subscribeExplore and Connect to your own community’s unique characteristics of people, culture and place. Create compelling student projects that bring your community together. At the Institute we focus on designing service-learning programs that encourage academic rigor, reciprocity, empathy, and student voice. Join inspired educators from across the U.S. and beyond for a week of deeply fulfilling work.

“The Institute was invaluable to my practice. It helped me understand service-learning
in a much more sophisticated and nuanced way. I’ve gained the knowledge to improve
my existing projects, to inform likeminded educators at my school, and support my administration
as it seeks to make a more institutional commitment to this type of teaching.”
—Emily DeMarchena, The Hackley School, New York

Our Areas of Focus Include
Best Practice Based Service-Learning • Getting to Real Reciprocity • Student Voice • Social Justice • Sustainable Communities • STEM Connections • Local Culture and History • Project Based Learning • K-16 Partnerships • Interdisciplinary Applications • Meaningful Reflection • Collaborative Ethnography • Gardens and Nutrition • Community Based Art • Creating Schoolwide Buy-In • Building Successful Long Term Programs Since 1995, educators from across the U.S. and around the world have gathered at CWI’s Summer Institutes for deeply rewarding work—immersed in developing Service-Learning, Sustainability, and Place-Based education programs. Our Summer Institutes provide a unique opportunity to understand why service-learning works, how it works, and how to use it most effectively with your students. Join us this summer.
Summer WEST InstituteSummer EAST Institutespecial early bird rates
 register now

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The School Garden as Therapeutic Education


foodJennifer Bettini Baldwin is Director of Art Therapy at a therapeutic day school for ages 6-21 in Virginia. She has been employed there for nine years. Shelia Conant Baldwin is an Associate Professor in Curriculum and Instruction at Monmouth University, West Long Branch New Jersey and an advocate for service learning.

During a summer enrichment program at a therapeutic day school, students transformed a plot of land on the school grounds into a prolific garden, aptly named the Garden of Knowledge. On a typical day during the school year, an observer can see the garden being utilized as a focal point of a teacher’s lesson, a quiet respite for a child, a showpiece for visitors. Since its inception, the garden has become a source of fulfillment for the entire school community.

Marquis is a seven-year-old boy diagnosed with ADHD who did not like taking his medication regularly and often became uncontrollable without it. Working in the garden became an antidote for his noncompliance. His teacher often noticed that even though he was smaller than most of his classmates, he was the first to roll up his sleeves and grab a hoe to help till the hard soil. Like Marquis, the many students involved in the garden project during the summer enrichment program have not had positive experiences with learning. Their creation of the garden provided that needed feeling of success. Continue reading

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Building Community Through Teen Led Public Forums

Building Community Through Teen Led Public Forums


4hShelley Murdock, Contra Costa County, and Carole Paterson, Solano County, are 4-H Youth Development Advisors with the University of California Cooperative Extension. Both have extensive field experience working with and mentoring teens; have conducted numerous applied research projects on adolescent issues; and have master degrees in non-formal education. 

Those of us working in the youth development field have known for many years that young people have the talent and energy to understand, analyze and create positive change in their communities. Research on asset-based youth development, as well as civic engagement principles, tell us that when young people are engaged in their communities and organizations in meaningful ways they are more likely to be civically and philanthropically involved throughout their lives. The struggle for those of us working in the 4-H Youth Development Program, however, is finding, implementing and institutionalizing effective strategies to involve youth. We continually ask ourselves, how do we: Continue reading

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The Community of Campus: Mental Health Service-Learning Projects by Nursing Students

Ball State University, Indiana

Deborah May and Cindy Thomas are assistant professors at Ball State University School of Nursing in Muncie, IN. Deborah’s past work has demonstrated a return of service by students to individuals with mental health issues. Deborah received an Indiana Campus Compact Faculty Fellowship to provide education to the mentally ill residing in group homes and has obtained other grants to implement community work. Cindy works with nursing students to help them learn the skills of leadership and managing nursing care delivery. In the following article, they describe the dual mental health experiences they implemented on the campus over a semester with 16 nursing students.

clinicThe purpose of this article is to summarize two service-learning projects undertaken by 16 nursing students enrolled at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Community is defined as any setting wherever there is a need. Because students on college campuses are at risk regarding mental health issues, student nurses planned and implemented two service-learning projects. The students worked in collaboration with the campus counseling center to provide depression screening; and, the students worked in collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to plan, develop and implement a NAMI on Ball State Campus affiliate that would provide education and support on campus for individuals with mental health concerns. Over 230 students participated in the depression screening that revealed occurrence of some depression in 25% of the students that participated. The student evaluations revealed that they strongly agreed that the projects enhanced their learning and agreed that they better understood how to address the needs of the community setting. Continue reading

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Education through Restoration: Creating Meaningful Service-Learning Projects



pittsburgh parksMarijke Hecht is the Director of Education at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and alumnus of CWI’s Summer Institute on Service-Learning. She and her team of educators spent a week with CWI working on development of the new Environmental Center at Frick Park.

I love breakfast meetings. First off, there is breakfast. Plus I am a morning person so I’m freshest and most engaged for these early morning gatherings. A couple of days ago I found myself at a breakfast meeting sitting next to a woman who works with youth through the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. I had just returned from a week-long training on service-learning with Community Works Institute (CWI) so when she mentioned that her kids need to perform community service and asked if there was anything they could do in the parks my answer was a resounding “Yes!” – but with a twist. I said we had lots of opportunities for youth service projects in the parks, but that we aim to have our programs go beyond service to service-learning. She was clutching her coffee (not a morning person, perhaps) and looked at me with a quizzical what’s the difference? expression. Continue reading

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The Aerial Classroom: Views from Above


Community Works Journal is pleased to share the thoughts and writing of Belle Boggs. Belle has worked in K-12 public schools across the U.S. and is an award winning author. Her new novel is The Ugly Bear List. This fascinating piece from Belle Boggs follows a group of North Carolina high school students as they document their community via interviews, portraits, and aerial photography. Belle’s writing and musings can be found at This article originally appeared in Orion.

Views from Above

I worked recently with photographer Ken Abbott on a project called “Views From Above,” which teaches high school students in rural Columbus County, North Carolina, to observe their communities from a unique dual perspective: through interviews, photographic portraits, and landscapes completed in small towns and farms near their school; and also through aerial photographs taken with a balloon-and-camera rig the students put together.

We have combined their work in a blog, as well as in presentations for the school and community. Following is an explanation of LEAP photography—Low Elevation Aerial Photography—by seniors Joshua Redwine and Hunter Powell, as well as sample aerial photography from the project. In the coming weeks, we’ll share student writing, portraits, and landscapes from Chadbourn and Fair Bluff, two economically struggling towns in eastern North Carolina. —Belle Boggs

Joshua Redwine: How can you take photographs from 500 to 1,000 feet in the air without even stepping foot onto an airplane? My art class did that this fall, sending two digital cameras above our school and towns using tethered helium weather balloons, a process known as LEAP. We had the guidance of Ken Abbott, an Asheville-based photographer who has taken LEAP images of landscapes across the southeast, from mountaintop removal sites to maximum security prisons.

To house and protect our digital camera, we had to build two rigs using rubber bands and recycled soda bottles, which were suspended beneath the balloons. Continue reading

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Educating for Sustainability: An Introduction



David Sobel is a regular essayist and contributing editor of Community Works Journal and is a Senior Faculty in the Education Department at Antioch University New England. He also coordinates Antioch’s new Nature-based Early Childhood program. Through his writing, speaking, and teaching, David plays a major role in what has become a national movement promoting place-based education. This is a version of an article that was originally written as the introduction to A National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability published by the United States Green Building Council and Houghton Mifflin. This Action Plan includes recommendations for enhancing formal education in the U.S. so that all students graduate educated for a sustainable future by 2040.

Education for Sustainability. It’s a tall order. But without some reorientation of our current societal behaviors, the climate will get warmer, the oceans higher, the food supply less dependable, and the gap between rich and poor wider. You know that old saying about how hard it is to change the path of an aircraft carrier? Well, imagine that the aircraft carrier is as big as the earth. It will take a long time and lots of concerted effort on everyone’s part to change the path we’re on. Do we really have any choice? Shall we be like Nero and fiddle as Rome and Moscow burn, as New York and Karachi disappear under the rising tides? Of course not. The schools and educators whose work I share in this article are committed to helping schools become leaders in making the world a more sustainable place. Continue reading

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A Good Sentence


educationLiz Bertsch is a founding faculty member of Hayground School on eastern Long Island. For the passed twenty years, Liz has taught children from three to thirteen years old and is currently teaching a multi-age classroom of kids from five to eleven years old. She holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Stony Brook University and a graduate degree from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. She lives in Riverhead, New York with her daughter and husband.

What makes a good sentence a good sentence? From Pynchon’s, “A screaming comes across the sky,” to Michael Jackson’s declaration in Thriller, “You start to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it,” my students who range in age from six to eleven years old have spent weeks discussing and analyzing sentences, that for a variety of reasons, are considered to be good. After a minute or two of thoughtful consideration, an eight year old, wearing a bright red hat, leans in back in his chair, pokes his finger in the air and says, “Well, I think this–a good sentence is one you have great feelings about.” Continue reading

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Hope on a Tightrope: The Miller Street School


Hope on a Tightrope: The Miller Street School


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. Hector is a regular essayist for Community Works Journal.

“It’s what I must do,” Shakirah Miller said solemnly, turning towards the Miller Street School, in Newark’s South Ward, just behind us—a gray-brown, government building with cages on the windows and dark green, steel doors. “Someone has to be here. Who else is going to do this?”

Shakirah, the principal of this kindergarten through eighth grade oasis, crossed hectic Frelinghuysen Avenue to have some words with the blue uniformed sanitation workers that hang out in front of their facility’s doors, puff on cigarettes and give desirous looks to young mothers walking their kids to the Miller Street School.

Shakirah marches over to the sanitation facility, dodging speeding cars with blaring drum machines walloping hip-hop on their radios, and asks the men to modulate their behavior. Shakirah has had to challenge the Frelinghuysen sanitation facility workers several times. They quiet, appease Shakirah for a time, but eventually persist with their disquieting behavior.
Continue reading

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