Education through Restoration: Creating Meaningful Service-Learning Projects in the Parks


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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Just Say Do It

Join us at CWI’s 2018 Summer WEST Institute, at Otis College of Art and Design. We have partial SCHOLARSHIPS Available, via a generous private funder! SPACE IS LIMITED. learn more:
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Register w/ a Scholarship for CWI’s 2018 WEST Institute

CWI’s  2018 Summer WEST Institute
Register this week with a $400 partial SCHOLARSHIP, via a generous private funder for CWI’s 2018 Summer WEST Institute, at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. No application needed, just register online. Limited to 6 teachers per school. learn more:

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Register Now w/ a Scholarship for CWI’s Summer EAST 2019

PLAN AHEAD for 2019 CWI’s  Summer EAST Institute
Register this week with a $400 partial SCHOLARSHIP, via a generous private funder for CWI’s 2019 Summer EAST Institute, in Burlington, Vermont. No application, just register online. Limited to 6 per school. learn more:


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Don’t Miss This Opportunity for Impact

Join Us at Otis College of Art and Design and in the Streets of Los Angeles this Summer
Summer WEST Institute SCHOLARSHIP Support EXTENDED. Join inspired K-16 educators, working to build community with their students, from the classroom outward. more:

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An Inspiring Story of Student Advocacy Writing Through a Summer Camp Program



Mark Dziedzic, Director of the Greater Madison Writing Project (based at the University of Wisconsin — Madison) has been telling me about a summer camp on advocacy writing that teachers with the Project organized last summer. Not only is the story uplifting, it offers a powerful model for promoting thoughtful and skillful student social advocacy in locations across the country. Educators everywhere need to hear about this. So to do my part for the next few weeks, the Civic Action in Schools blog will feature pieces written by teachers who facilitated the camp. Here’s the first installment, by Gwyneth Hughes. You can read it here, but it doesn’t hurt to check out her blog as well.

Last summer, hope came in the form of a bag of buttons. Shiny and colorful, the buttons displayed stances on everything from promoting kindness to workers’ rights. These buttons were not from big charities or advocacy groups; they were lovingly designed by the students in the Rise Up and Write summer camp. Continue reading

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The School of Nature: Greening Our Schools May Be The Real Cutting Edge of Education

By Richard Louv

Outside Atlanta, after returning from a class hike through the woods, an excited six-year-old grabbed his head and said, “There’s so much nature and I only have two eyes and one brain and I think it’s going to explode!”

A teacher at the nature-based Chattahoochee Hills Charter School shared that story about her student with me a couple weeks ago. Telling it, she seemed just about as excited as the six-year-old, though she did not grab her head.

We were watching a CBS This Morning television crew roam the grounds. They were working on a piece about schools that emphasize the natural world as a learning environment (barring a Trumpian implosion or other massive world event, the segment will run on April 8th, sometime after 8 a.m. Eastern time). Here’s what they saw: a series of classrooms, each in its own building; the front of every classroom is glass to let in natural light, and teachers can open that side of the room to the elements. Surrounding the school is a forest laced with walking trails. From deep in those woods came the sounds of young laughter, running feet and learning. Continue reading

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Bringing Service-Learning to the Core of Your Curriculum

Scholarship Support Extended for CWI’s 2018 Summer WEST Institute.
learn more:
—w/ generous private funder support we’ve extended special scholarship supported registrations.  This is a unique opportunity to join an inspired group of educators working to connect students to their place and community. Space is Limited.


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The Equity Agenda: Holding Fast to Our Shared Beliefs in a Rough K-16 Educational Climate


In 1983 a report about the nation’s public education system was released, “A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform.” It famously warned:

Our nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world….If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.

Since then, nothing that has been done in the name of school reform has improved out national outcomes. Twelfth grade NAEP outcomes are statistically unchanged since first recorded in 1971. Continue reading

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Why We Are in Trouble If We Don’t Change Education


How to Prepare for the Future of Work


“Developers will be at the center of solving the world’s most pressing challenges.”

I used this quote from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in my presentation at the Digital Frontrunners event last week. A similar thought was expressed by a number of other participants.

The logic is obvious. In a digital age, there are more and more devices containing more and more code. They have to in order to offer the convenient and connected user experience that consumers now expect and demand. And this reliance on code puts developers at the center of everything. Continue reading

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