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FEATURED REFLECTIONS

pittsburgh
Education through Restoration: Creating Meaningful Service-Learning
Projects in the Parks
By MARIJKE HECHT
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. read more
don taylor
Smart Change and Possibility: Educating for the Teachable Moments
By DON TAYLOR
It was a crystalline moment that brought to bear all of the work we had just finished with the Institute.  Here was a young kid who probably has more knowledge of the woods and the relationship between man and the environment than most young people. And yet he could not find, or explore, or connect his education to that life-knowledge. read more
SUMMER 2017—PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Inspire Your Teaching This Year with Service and Sustainability
Don't miss Community Works Institute's annual series of professional development events for 2017. Limited space exists for CWI's Summer EAST and WEST Institutes on Service-Learning. Join with educators from across the U.S. and around the world for a week of learning, exploration, and practical curriculum design. A perfect way for individual educators and teams to deepen their use of service-learning and sustainability, both in the classroom and program wide. These are best practice based events and appropriate for K-16 and community educators, and administrators. read more
paula cohen
Moving Beyond the Walls in Los Angeles
By PAULA COHEN
At CWI's Summer WEST, I met like minded educators who could see beyond the limitations, who thought outside the box, who were willing to ask big questions and delve deep into the answers. It felt like coming home. When we talk about resiliency in young people, feeling like a part of something important and valuable is a crucial piece. Our school has been going through many of the tumultuous transitions that all public schools are going through. read more
sylvia fagin
Seeing the Larger ContextBy SYLVIA FAGIN
We learned that reflection is (in part) what makes the student experience “service learning” as opposed to “community service.” The reflection is where the learning takes place, we were told. I agreed then and I agree now. But I’m pondering the nuance, especially given the time constraints of student projects. Many community projects don’t end as intended, or don’t end on schedule, or don’t end at all, despite our wish for timely closure. In these instances, students may not feel successful. Their reflections—the essential part of the service learning experience—may then tend to focus on what they learned, personally; and while that is important, it’s not the only important thing. read more
emily wrigley
Service-Learning as a Valuable and Viable Instructional Model
BY EMILY WRIGLEY
I have often struggled with how to share my belief of service-learning as a valuable, and viable instructional strategy with unconvinced or overwhelmed colleagues. This spring I participated in a district-wide “think tank” of other like-minded service learning-focused teachers and our goal was to develop a platform for our district’s administrative team to develop a “guaranteed a service learning experience for all students at every grade level.” read more
Jeff Grogan
What We Love, We Come to Care For
By JEFF GROGAN
I use the natural environment behind the school each fall for studies. I see kids inspired, engaged, and often intrigued by what they discover back there. For me, when they discover the richness of the environment, that nurtures a conservation ethic in them because they know what is there and they want to keep it there and help it survive and sustain. What we understand we come to love, and what we love we want to care for. read more
nicole whelan
Working Collaboratively Across the Education Community Spectrum
By NICOLE WHELAN
My week at CWI’s Institute was personally fulfilling as I was able to nurture my love for the environment, further ponder the quality of life for living creatures, and connect with educators who are striving to facilitate authentic service-learning opportunities for their students within their communities. I was lucky enough to also develop some friendships, which made the week that much more enjoyable. I took away a lot of incredible ideas and shared wisdom from other institute participants. read more
rick cota
Digging Deeper: Charting a Path to Change
By RICK COTA
The experiences of an educator from Mississippi gave me unique perspective that I would not otherwise have ever had an opportunity for. Another educator from Hawaii gave me insight on the challenges that one has on an island paradise...that I later found out were the same as I had in California. What the Institute did for me was allow me the opportunity to share with individuals from different parts of the United States and abroad and realize that we all had unique experiences that we could all relate to. read more
jami spencer
Crossroads in the Heartland
By JAMI SPENCER
Sometimes, old school is better school. Hands-on, apprenticeship-style learning beats filling in bubbles any day. Passing down wisdom about medicinal herbs and edible weeds will sustain longer than instructions on how to use that new smart phone that is sure to be outdated in a few months. I want to share the importance of sustainability with my students by providing them with place-based service-learning projects that speak for themselves. read more

steve colangelli
Trust Your Students, They Will Shine
By STEVEN COLANGELIOne of my students who comes from a tough home life, and has a tough exterior became the sweetest most engaging person when teaching elementary students about the respiratory system or how to plant lettuce seeds. Elementary students would hang on her every word and she had them laughing out loud with their full attention. It was as if she was a different person and so the culture of our program during these projects took on an amazingly positive vibe that is difficult to adequately explain or describe. read more
Iyaunna Towery
Vesting Learners, Facilitating Voice
By IYAUNNA TOWERY-AJIDUAH, M.Ed.
I remember the night before the first day of the Institute I could not sleep. I had gotten this anxious feeling, the feeling that one might get when they knew “something” was about to happen. I really did not know exactly what to expect. Honestly, what could really happen in just a week’s time? Well, I can now say that a lot can happen: inspiration; intensity; purpose; and transformation. read more

Teaching Students to Leave a Legacy
By STEVE BUZZELL
I learned that Service-Learning is really a teaching strategy that combines academics and social education to meet a community’s needs, and that a truly good project will improve the quality of life for all—both current and future generations. That’s really cool! Teaching the kids to leave a legacy. We can now see how to tie the old abandoned village of Little River State Park into sustainability and it will provide students with a great foundation for the rest of the school year, and beyond! read more
Dessa
Service-Learning Applied
By DESSA D'AQUILA
There really is something about a beginning. The idea of place was particularly interesting to me because it so perfectly fit into our gardening program. Realizing the need for students to have a place of safety to retreat to, helped me identify the need to define our gardening program as a place of refuge by allowing the students to own it as their own. read more
larose
Making Sustainability and Service-Learning Mesh in the Classroom
By NATALIE LAROSE
One way in which my classroom is going to improve the quality of life for all is through a service-learning project that I have designed that aligns with the first history unit I will be delivering, “North Street Then and Now.” Over the course of the unit students will learn about the history of the street on which their school is located, an area with rich cultural diversity and history but also traditionally an economically challenged area of the city. read more


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