Join Us This Summer for an Experience to Remember!

CWI’s Summer EAST and WEST Institutes, on Place Based Service-Learning

Burlington, Vermont and Los Angeles, California learn more

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CommonLore! a Professional Development Project in Real Time

 CommonLore! Students and Teachers Digging Deep Into the Community
CommonLore is an exciting place based service-learning PD program, connecting communities through student ethnography projects. We are currently piloting CommonLore in Los Angeles, along with other urban and rural locations around the U.S. CommonLore provides teachers with the training, inspiration, collaboration, and connections needed to create standards focused service-learning curriculum around their local community and neighborhoods. learn more •  contact us
Posted in Curriculum Development, Elementary Education, Environmental Education, Ethnography, Higher Education, LA River, Los Angeles, Place Based Education, Professional Development, Service-Learning, Sustainability, Teaching, Urban Education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Educator Challenging the Status Quo

Tonia S. Lloyd is an educator and psychologist working with Newark’s Public Schools. She’s a strong believer in the power of service-learning to engage students in their community. She shares her experience working with like minded educators at the Institute. learn more:


Posted in Service-Learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Forgotten Human Right


Do children — do all of us — have a right to meaningful connection to the natural world? Annelies Henstra, a Dutch human rights attorney, thinks so. She calls it the “forgotten human right.”

In the March 2009 issue of Orion Magazine, and then in a more detailed chapter in “The Nature Principle,” I sketched out a case for that right; not as legal argument, but as moral stance. And I emphasized that this birthright is accompanied by a responsibility to protect and care for the natural world.

That idea had already begun to take root as part of the children and nature movement. In 2007, California adopted the first statewide children’s outdoor bill of rights, followed by similar symbolic statements in other states, including Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Kansas, and most recently Wisconsin. Cities and regions around the country have embraced similar declarations.

Now the concept is spreading internationally. Continue reading

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking to a Teacher’s Heart and Soul

We glimpse a teacher’s heart and we learn what it means to teach.

Lisa and a team of her colleagues spent a week at CWI’s Summer Institute on Place Based Service-Learning and Sustainability working on their school’s curriculum design for place based service. The faculty at Mulberry School have made a collective commitment to making place based service-learning a foundational core of their pedagogy and practice.

Lisa shares her thoughts here on being deeply inspired as a teacher.

learn more about CWI Summer Institutes and PD:

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brand New Take: American Folk Songs for the Family

— RESOURCE REVIEW from Community Works Journal

Finally a songbook for young people that brings alive the core human life lessons of the deepest traditional American songs, from deep Memphis blues to the sounds of a New Orleans second line, and onto locales far west. Walter Tragert has created a uniquely wonderful resource for classroom teachers, home schoolers, and everyone in between — hands-on folk songs — with a teachers guide soon forthcoming.

This impressive and connective collection of classic American folk songs and accompanying songbook, full of the known and obscure, makes each tune come alive as something always brand new. The collection filters traditional folk tunes like “Oh! Susanna,” “Li’l Liza Jane,” and “Skip to My Lou” through Tragert’s broad musical palette as well as his long trail of memories. Walter’s history with “The Donut Song” dates back to his very first paid gig, as a boy with empty pockets, he sang it for the ice cream man and was compensated with two pieces of sour apple bubblegum. Those personal connections to the songs themselves led Tragert to create a companion songbook to his new disc, complete with lyrics, chords, musings, stories, life lessons, and art for each.

When not touring across the heartland of the U.S. and internationally as far afield as Japan and Europe, Tragert taught music to pre schoolers in Austin, Texas for many years until retiring recently to focus on this new project. He says that he’s “been blessed with the great privilege of teaching music to families with young children.” “It’s been a dream job for me and by far the most rewarding and meaningful experience of my life”. This was the logical next step. Walter says he’s happy to think of the impact this collection could have on kids with music falling out of favor in public education. We agree! learn morepurchase online Continue reading

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking Teacher Education Back to the Future


Our future is in the hands of our children, and our children’s future is shaped and molded by their learning experiences in our schools. “Every road to a sound economy and a more civil society runs through our education system…it is our ability to think, plan and work across disciplines that has been a driver for our economy and a civil society” (Marx, 2015, p. 84).

Where research supports the need for all students to acquire knowledge and skills for the future (Weld, 2005), those not prepared for a new economy could be among “the new disadvantaged” (Marx, 2015, p. 43). But for some, has that future already come and gone? “As we enter the 1990’s thoughtful educators everywhere are calling attention to the importance of developing students thinking skills through their experiences at school” (Resnick & Klopfer, 1989, p. 11). Continue reading

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lise Leist: Poverty as a Service Theme and College Admissions Process

We had a conversation recently with Lise Leist, Director of Community Affairs at the very exclusive King School in Connecticut. Lise digs into the rapidly shifting college admissions process. The usual test score nonsense in admissions continues, but they really DO care now about “activist students”. Lise also speaks clearly to the need for school projects that address larger issues like poverty to be long term, not one-off units classroom by classroom. learn more:


learn morecwi summer instituteswhat is service-learning?

We Can Support Your Efforts at the Local School Level
CWI supports local educators, from schools and communities across the U.S. to international schools and organizations. Our work with K-16 schools and organizations includes extended site based PD, workshops and retreats — from Boston to Oregon, and from Europe to Asia. email us

MORE from the Journal Essays l Articles l Reflections l Reviews l Literacy Corner l Events Continue reading

Posted in Service-Learning, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

School Shootings: What Does Early Childhood Have to Do with Them?


I realize this isn’t the kind of thing I typically write about — and it would certainly seem to have nothing to do with early childhood — but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about school shootings. I’ve found myself asking: What is it that incites such rage in these young people that they see killing as the only resort?

Immediately following all of these incidents, everybody talks about the need for better attention to mental health, in addition to gun control. I couldn’t agree more that that’s essential. But if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking about mental health as it relates to people old enough to purchase or acquire guns. People who have been bullied or ignored for so long that something finally snaps in them.

Upon reflection, however, I’ve realized we can probably assume that the kind of anger, frustration, and helplessness — the mental health issues — evident in school shooters doesn’t just suddenly crop up. It builds! And based on what I know to be happening in the education and lives of today’s young children, I’m firmly convinced that it often does begin in early childhood. Continue reading

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Something Larger: The Benefits of My Anthropological and Humanist Training


Below are a couple of sketched observations why I feel fortunate about my training. I believe it helps me help the world in a time during which humanity faces many urgent challenges. (Forgive me, this is the first time I use this format of publishing, so this is a trial “essay”. Any illogical loose ends are my fault.]

I trained in the classics at school and then did anthropology at university, but it was a recent review article in the THES about the latest book of my doctoral supervisor who reminded me of my own beliefs about why social science and humanities matter. In the book (which I haven’t read yet, so I only have secondary sources), Prof Ingold argues that it may be less worthwhile to “review” the many “conceptions and misconceptions” about anthropology. Instead, in rather typical fashion of him to look at a problem boldly and positively, he outlines what he thinks, anthropology “should aspire to be”. Continue reading

Posted in Curriculum Development, Ethnography, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Artist Says NOW is the Time to Involve Our Students in their Community

A very powerful interview with artist Margo Mullen, a passionate believer in bringing people and communities together through Place Based Service-Learning (and Art of course!)

As Margo says, “Now is the time”.

— Thanks to Nathalie Sanchez and Emiliano Brooks-Luna for this.
Otis MFA Public Practice Otis College of Art and Design #OtisCollege

Posted in Place Based Education, Service-Learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Obvious” Questions & Thinking Like a Child


Have you ever found yourself talking to someone about a seemingly mundane subject, such as “your morning cup of coffee routine,” only to discover to your surprise that he or she doesn’t have a morning cup of coffee routine? As a die-hard coffee drinker, you learn in amazement that this other person relies on Diet Coke as a way to get their day going. Coffee is just not something that is part of their lived experience.

So, why the surprise? Perhaps you’re surprised because you thought you knew this person yet suddenly realize that maybe you really don’t know him or her that well after all. Perhaps you’re surprised because you thought that since you both share the same job title at the same company, and live in the same small town, that you must also share the same lifestyle, habits, preferences, wants, dreams. Perhaps you’re surprised because your closely held assumption — that others in your social circle must also be “just like me,” doesn’t align with reality. Continue reading

Posted in Ethnography, Place Based Education, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment