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Colegio Jorge Washington
Columbia, South America

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Community Works Journal—Online Magazine for Educators

hector vila

This one young woman sitting in my office is a Vietnam. She is tomorrow, not today. In her somehow are the ruins—what has given way since 1975 and re-surfaced in new formations in her sophisticated ways of examining my office, her world, the life she's had, even though she's so young, but 19. She seems older, traveled beyond her years. She dissolves into something more remote then now, past it; she points to something yet out of reach for us, something she'll see and live. read more
An A for Effort? Grading Grades in the 21st Century

What we believe to be objective assessment often has more to do with how much a student has been able to retain for each test than what has been truly and indelibly learned. We don’t have to look any further than the functional illiterates who have “graduated” from high school in our current system to convince ourselves of that. Or we could look at a less harsh example, and ask ourselves how much high school Spanish we can actually use as adults. Or even more probingly, we can ask why, if we truly learn what we’re taught in high school, can’t every high school teacher teach every high school subject?  Maybe we don’t objectively learn the things that we have earned our “objective” good grades on. read more
In Point Breeze, Redemption For A Park

The most striking feature of the park is a wall that displays the names of people who have been affected by acts of violence. It is an evocative backdrop that challenges the neighborhood to overcome its history. On July 12, 1988, 7-year-old Ralph Brooks Jr. was running toward his grandmother’s house on 20th Street near Dickinson in South Philadelphia when a bullet hit him from behind, severing his spinal cord. Today, Brooks is remembered by a local basketball park a block away at 20th and Tasker Streets that was named after him, as his story, over time, has severely impacted the surrounding neighborhood. read more
Summer Opportunities and More • Early Registration Rates more
Don't miss Community Works Institute's annual series of professional development events for 2014. 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
Art By All Means: Revisiting the Legacy of Malcolm X

There is a point in life when you feel the ground shift under your feet. It doesn’t happen in the same way or at the same time for anyone, but it does change the way you look at the world.Recently, my 8th grade International Studies II Majors completed a month-long unit about the continent of Africa, its many countries, landforms, cultures and languages with a direct connection to the city in which they live—Omaha, Nebraska through the life story of Malcolm X, who was born here. Students listened to some of his speeches, some of his interviews and examined his quotes. read more
The Aerial Classroom: Views from Above

I worked recently with photographer Ken Abbott on a project called “Views From Above,” which teaches high school students in rural 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 by seniors Joshua Redwine and Hunter Powell, as well as sample aerial photography from the project. read more
School Behind the Mangroves: On Causing No Harm

We are heading out to a distant point where the surf breaks along a long, clean punta, and all the way along the shorelines look like impenetrably thick, green brush. Steering closer to shore, we eventually begin to notice occasional dark spots in the mangroves and, closer still, they appear as tiny, green, creek mouths, slight inlets big enough for a few dugout canoes. And now closer still, perhaps a small dock, maybe a few little ones doing flips off the ends of them, running and chasing. The Ngöbe kids of the Bahia Honda off Bocas del Toro on the northeastern corner of Panama are waiting for a ride to school. read more
Finding the Words: A Visit with Naomi Shihab Nye

There was an openness that suggested possibility and hope, secrets revealed. And the poems were glorious. Her simplicity, her seeming lack of mystery, belie, I suspect, the decades she has committed to the craft of writing poetry. She wears her expertise lightly; it feels homey, as if one could make a poem as easily as one makes a project on Saturday morning at the kitchen table with glitter, glue, some uncooked pasta and construction paper. And then she said it. “Grown ups,” she said, “have a way of talking themselves out of the things they want to do.” read more
Encountering Self and Other in Community-Based Education

Place-based and community-based educators are united in our efforts to break down the barriers between classrooms and communities—to ground education in experiential, student-centered encounters with the social and natural world. We work to enrich, and perhaps transform, our students’ understandings of history, society, literature, the arts, and the physical sciences by helping them engage with what Michael Umphrey calls simply “the world outside the window”. On this I think we all agree. But a number of important questions remain: What, exactly, should we encourage our students to look for outside the classroom window? read more

Lessons of Reciprocity and Relationships

As service learning coordinators and educators we are all proponents of experiential learning. We want our students to experience all five senses at the service site and we want them to leave the experience being able to apply the knowledge they learned in the classroom and visa versa. Every year I take students on service trips around the world and the site becomes my classroom. I have always struggled with helping them understand the difference between serving, and helping as a partner—along with what real relationships can mean. How do we make sure our students understand this? read more
Real World, Real Solutions: Finding Shared Purpose in Cairo
Students enhance the specific learning outcomes of a course through delivering a service, defined and evaluated by the community. They expand course-related knowledge and develop the skills of problem solving, critical and creative thinking, communication and teamwork. The communities benefit from student expertise, skills and creative energy. The relationship is not hierarchical with privileged students from an elite institution helping a disadvantaged community. Rather, it is a partnership of shared power, benefit and resources.” read more
Improving Test Scores Through a Community Focused Education

My life as a teacher began with a hidden agenda. Today, nearly forty years later, I am teaching social studies at a middle school and my agenda is still being followed, but no longer hidden thanks to the many teachers and organizations who have found that the community and the students need not be mutually exclusive. My students have been involved in countless other activities to educate and improve the conservation of resources. (with significantly improved test scores) read more
Grow a-Way from Violence: Nurturing Community in the Heart
of One of America’s Most Violent Cities

The first year that we moved Heirloom Peace Gardens to Flint, Michigan brought extraordinary results. As the corn grew taller and the whole garden more lush, more and more people stopped by to ask questions. I’d often come home and tell my wife that as much “people gardening” happened as tending of the plants that day. They were very impressed, full of questions, and we often had long conversations about the project. read more
service learning
Creating Positive LGBTQ Visibility in the Borderlands: 
An Overview of the Frontera Pride Film Festival

We envisioned a student run film festival that would focus on the LGBTQ community to “Build Bridges across Borders” that activated an intersectional concept of identity, not simply an appreciation of diversity informed by race/ethnicity or sexual orientation or gender identity. We wanted viewers to understand that many challenges that affect people with non-traditional gender identities and sexual orientations also pertain to other marginalized groups. We envisioned the festival as an opportunity for open and affirming organizations to work together for a positive goal. read more

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Community Works Journal's publication has been made possible, in part, through grants from The Corporation for National Service, The Thompson Trust, The Bay and Paul Foundations, and with support from Shelburne Farms and our other sponsors. Community Works Journal also depends on the generous donations of our individual contributors. Community Works Journal is published by Community Works Institute (CWI). Find out how you can become a supporter of Community Works Institute.

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