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"CommonLore connects me with the tools, resources and models to strengthen my planning for building student led, service based opportunities in lessons and projects—modeling and teaching sustainable habits for healthy communities."
Aida Lugo, Teaching Artist
Los Angeles

"Inviting students to 'fall in love' with their subject matter is a simple but revolutionary concept. It re-engages students with the learning process in a way that allows students to take pride and ownership in what they are learning."
Jonny Rodgers
Service-Learning Director
Campbell Hall School

"During the Summer Institute we found out that the lake in MacArthur Park in our school's Westlake neighborhood is fed by natural springs and is a watershed for the LA River. My students were excited to learn this and now want to start a park beautification project to support the ecological health of the urban park and its surroundings."
Paul Lowe, LAUSD Teacher
Westlake Neighborhood

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ABOUT CommonLore

Looking Backward and Forward
service learningCommonLore is a educational training and support program designed to help teachers and their students look to the past, present, and the future simultaneously—through a people focused process of connecting to the local community.

Our work centers around supporting teachers and students working to uncover what is unique, special, and challenging within their own local neighborhood through the voices of diverse community members. This is the crucial first stage in a process that leads to deeper curriculum connections between classroom and community. We see the crucial need to deeply involve K-16 educators and their students in a process of cultivating a “remembering,” coupled with an understanding that looks forward. CommonLore, a project of Community Works Institute (CWI), is a professional development and support program for K-16 and community based educators. Among our larger goals is to position students to contribute to an inclusive and connected local community with shared needs, solutions, and innovations. We envision students becoming the catalyst for interest and investment in the history, culture, and future of their own local communities.
aidaCommonLore's work focuses on Place as the Context, Service-Learning as the Strategy, and Sustainable Communities as the Goal. Our core objective is to connect students to their own local communities, through curriculum and programs collaboratively developed by local educators.

CommonLore is a highly innovative service-learning and ethnography focused project for K-16 educators. We start with a 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, along with other locations around the U.S. CommonLore provides teachers in local schools with the training, inspiration, and hands-on peer collaboration needed to create standards focused curriculum focused on local neighborhoods. Our goal is to create and support student driven inquiry projects that bring local communities together. To that end, 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.

service learning
How CommonLore Works
service learningOur educator participants experience intensive and ongoing professional development. Coming together for intensive training and collaboration, teachers are provided the time and space to support each other, working through common ideas and challenges. CommonLore teachers return to their own schools empowered and prepared to connect their students, through service-learning, to their own “place”. Our overarching goal is for our students to deeply engage in, understand, and directly contribute to making their own communties inclusive, sustainable, and socially just.

Professional Development and Student Engagement

la riverloreWe know that dynamic professional development holds the key to creating genuine and sustained student engagement and learning. CommonLore is fueling an effort to develop, create, and connect student projects that are focused on the uniqueness, character, and resilience of their own communities. CommonLore's approach is to bring educators, students, and ultimately the wider community, into a participatory process around student discovery. This work will ultimately take many forms, depending on students' interests, local community needs, and educator teaching priorities. Our common thread is uncovering and sharing stories of local culture and history, understanding each community, and envisioning a sustainable future. Place based service-learning guides our efforts.
Place Based Service-Learning is a process and teaching strategy that emphasizes the unique character of each community and its relationship to the larger world. It combines academic and social education goals to meet real community needs. It requires the application of knowledge, and skills, and systematic reflection about the experience.
—Community Works Institute (CWI)
We are using a collaborative design model, supported by Community Works Institute, to support long term collaboration by local educators. Our pilot CommonLore cohort of educators spent an intensive week working together at CWI's Summer WEST Institute in Los Angeles.
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