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CWI Summer Institutes 2014

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“This was truly an example of people who love and understand learning. How special to have
been a part of it. Thank you!”
Erin Ruegg, Teacher
Colegio Jorge Washington
Columbia, South America

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Community Works Journal—Online Magazine for Educators

Imagining the Possible, Then Making it Happen

Most of my teaching career, I have defied the book. I’ve strived to put learning in context, connect students to issues in the community and make learning as relevant a process as I can. Meanwhile I work hard at helping students reach mastery and upholding the great standards. I signed a contract after all. It is always a great juggling act and way more work than following the “book” or program. The accomplishments do feel great, but there is always this sense that there wasn’t enough time or fluidity in the project. It could have been so much more if it didn’t have to have such a premature ending. read more
The Physics of Humanity and the Power of Student Exhibition

I had seen this classroom before—lab tables with students working independently or in small groups, the clutter of work-in-progress, laptops open and running, a bicycle propped in the corner—but today when I approached and looked through the panel of glass, it was all in medias res. I checked my watch and saw I was neither early nor late. I opened the door and immediately felt like I was like entering a theater through the backstage. People streamed in after me, and gradually the room filled with students and a few adults. There were chairs arranged in a small arc facing a screen and, behind that, the whiteboards. read more
Re-Inspire Your Curriculum This Year • Special Institute Rates in Effect
Don't miss Community Works Institute's annual series of professional development events for 2016. Limited space exists for CWI's Summer EAST, BARCELONA, 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
Finding the Heart of Students, and the Soul of Education

We assume that our system is so complex that's it's nearly incomprehensible to the student; we now have systems, plural. In these systems and their mechanisms we essentially construct discipline, which fosters, primarily, dependency; it weakens the obsequious student who is blindly shepherded towards authority. This is an incredibly false construction caused by higher education's intimate relationship with the economic system; these systems mirror each other. read more
Discovering Community Through Visual Anthropology: A Student Project

As a cultural anthropologist who has lived and done field work in collectivist societies of Latin America, I was eager to have my students develop an understanding of the importance of community and an appreciation of the diversity of communities that coexist and interact in any given location. As a visual anthropologist and an ethno- photographer, I also wanted them to learn how to use the camera, both still and motion, to document the various aspects of these communities and to provide means for members of these communities to articulate their cultures and present them to others. read more
Educating for Sustainability: An Introduction

Education for Sustainability.
 It’s a tall order. But without some reorientation of our current societal behaviors, the climate will get warmer, the oceans higher, the food supply less dependable, and the gap between rich and poor wider. You know that old saying about how hard it is to change the path of an aircraft carrier? Well, imagine that the aircraft carrier is as big as the earth. It will take a long time and lots of concerted effort on everyone’s part to change the path we’re on. Do we really have any choice? Of course not. read more
Small Schools: The Real Story on the Economy of Getting Small

Small design schools have historically been presumed to be uneconomical. We now understand that small schools, defined by the Small Schools Coalition as schools with 399 students or fewer, are no more expensive than today’s large consolidated schools. In fact, research has shown that formulas for determining funding disguise tremendous non-cash costs associated closely with large schools; some of those costs are difficult to affix a price tag to, and some of them include terrible social costs. read more
The Little Things: Uncovering Identity on Campus through
Dress and Adornment

The class chose to tackle this topic by focusing on the student body, a constituency that the museum has struggled to engage over the years. Inspired by readings that explore the complex relationships that people form with objects, they wanted to ask their fellow students about what items of dress and adornment best encapsulate their identity. After a crash course in interview techniques and fieldwork ethics, each student set out to record conversations on this issue with at least five students by the next class. Each week they returned to the group with reports of their progress in recording new interviews and to ask for help. read more
Establishing Deeper Partnerships Between College and K-12

Our successful service learning project began when one of us reached out to a local principal to see if her school could benefit from Whittier College students teaching physical education (PE). I was already teaching the undergraduate course entitled Movement in Elementary School PE, which had a service learning component, but my students were teaching PE at a different school with a higher socioeconomic status and significantly more resources for PE. Through a variety of encouragements by our Dean and community organizers who were focused on a low SES neighborhood near the college, I was able to move my students to the needier school. read more
Reflecting with Students
She approaches the subject wondering about the importance of Hunter boots because she took our classroom conversation about adaptation into the world and felt she could explore it safely, test it—and me. She's exploring trust. The classroom doesn't work if you can't see it in the world, place it in the palms of a community. If you can't see it, you can't trust it—not completely. Her classroom needs to live; it has to be real, something offering transcendence—as it is for so many others, all the kids that walk with me. read more
Visual Anthropology as a Road Into ExperienceLuci Fernandes, Ph.D. is a cultural anthropologist whose research focus is on documenting daily life through audio/visual mediums. She and her students are document life ways in Eastern North Carolina, where she lives and teaches anthropology courses for East Carolina University. Her aim in to highlight everyday people, their joys and struggles to connect people in their human experience. Luci will be sharing her work and K-16 applicable ideas regularly with Community Works Journal readers read more
Taking Hands On Civics to the Street
The charter school where I teach has three areas of focus: environmental science, civics and art. Prospective parents know what environmental science and art look like, but the civics piece seems more of a mystery. Civics, as a subject, can trigger a glazed-over look in people’s eyes—it is associated with mandatory classes in high school where students memorize excerpts of the Constitution. Many people think of civics as the “study of government.” But, by definition, civics is the study of what it means to be a citizen- the rights and duties of citizenship. Noting the differences is essential in how we teach civics and raise citizens. read more
Connecting Biology, Service-Learning and Youth Awareness

I do not think I will be able to tell this story without admitting that I am an absolute novice to service learning pedagogy and have no experience in any community service. It took more than a semester and numerous discussions with our service learning director, Dr. Reddix for me to decide that I will try using this pedagogy in teaching general biology II course. I searched for a pedagogy, which could help our students retain the information, attain meaningful learning, as well as relate to the material covered in this course. Thus, I decided to integrate Service-Learning into this course where students could learn the material and teach high school students, with the focus on how different organisms are involved in diseases process. read more
Digital Native, Meet Digital Immigrant

I anticipated that the project would help older adults improve their technology skills and younger adults reduce ageist attitudes. I did not realize the depth of relationship building that would occur between the groups. student shared in her journal: “Overall, I really enjoyed our experience at the Senior Center yesterday. I am really enjoying the patience and understanding that I am continuously gaining through my interactions with the senior citizens. They truly are a highlight of my week." read more
Taking the Classroom to the Forest

As academic expectations in schools become more demanding, some educators have turned to the outdoors as a means of providing meaningful, relevant, and tangible experiences for their students. The Forest Kindergarten movement, which has taken hold in Europe over the past 30 years, takes a very different approach towards early childhood education. Their conviction is that this real world experience will provide the confidence, resilience and perseverance that are the foundation for increased motivation and improved academic performance. read more
Creative Institutional Partnerships That Enhance Experiential
Learning in Times of Crisis

There is great untapped potential for international schools to develop dynamic experiential learning programs in partnerships with a variety of institutions, including lNGO’s, multinational corporations, and an often overlooked set of institutions: local or national governments. These partnerships provide students with valuable opportunities for experiential learning and have a very positive impact on partners and their constituents, enhancing the school’s image in the community, and reinforcing the value placed on such programs within the school—a self-reinforcing virtuous cycle. 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
T he GrEAU Project: A Student Run Hydroponics Business

GrEAU, which is French for water, is hydroponic based agricultural business founded and run by the students of Mecatina School, a small school located in La Tabatiere, a village on the Lower North Shore of Quebec. At Mecatina School in Tabatiere, students have built a hydroponic garden using cost and energy efficient methods, in order to supply the isolated community with fresh produce. “We started brain storming in early November,” said Christopher Wong, the Science and Technology teacher. It began when three of his students wanted to enter the Quebec Entrepreneurial Contest. Their goal was to create a business that applied the technology and science concepts they had learned in class with their desire to improve their community. 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

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