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Community Works Journal—Online Magazine for Educators
FEATURED ESSAY The Science of Citizenship: What’s at Stake When Schools
Skimp on Science? By BELLE BOGGS The uncertain student had spent little of his elementary school time outside, had not taken field trips to any science museums. He had not gardened or designed experiments about sunlight and plant growth or even diagrammed a leaf. He had never looked at a plant cell under a microscope. His frame of reference for the world, and his relationship to it, was severely limited, but teachers and school administrators had worried instead about how well he could read and multiply. read more
EVENTS—PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Summer Opportunities and More! $500 Scholarships Available 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
Exile and Restitution: Thoughts on the Riddle of Childscape By STUART GRAUER My earliest memories are in nature. I remember filling my pockets with eye-catching stones—stones for gathering and arranging, throwing and hunting. I remember running renegade through the narrow, leaf covered paths. I read that fireflies are hard to find these days, but not back then. On summer nights, we illuminated glass jars with fireflies we caught from around the low hanging trees and set them free the next night. A moon of my own in a jar. Back then, we were free to roam, to take, to lie, to shapeshift and to run to our escape as far as our legs would take us and never be caught. read more
Finding the Words: A Visit with Naomi Shihab Nye By ANN V. KLOTZ
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
FEATURED ESSAY Encountering Self and Other in Community-Based Education By HENRY GOLDSCHMIDT
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
Developing Empathy through Service-Learning:
Finding Friends, Hope, and Community at a Local High School By NADINE DOLBY
It was starting to snow lightly as we gathered in the school entrance on a cold Saturday morning last January. There were about ten of us: myself—a professor at Purdue--a graduate teaching assistant, undergraduates, and committed volunteers from the local neighborhood association. Despite the snow, ice, wind, and cold, we were all determined to venture out for our first look at the neighborhood around the school: it was the beginning step in our community development project, and we all knew it was important. read more
How Peacemaking Changed a School District By CAROLYN SCHODT AND STACEY CRUISE For decades, neighbors called John Paul Jones Middle School “Jones’ Jail.” Repeatedly disruptive student behavior made learning an everyday struggle for teachers and students. Abysmal reading scores were accompanied by rampant incidents involving weapons, serious physical assaults, drugs, and rape among the student body. At dismissal, police cars lined the campus perimeter to protect the neighborhood from an unruly rush of 800 students fleeing from the school. read more
THE ECOLOGY OF TEACHING
Writing as a Transformative Experience By HECTOR VILA Writing is transformative. That's been my experience. Writers write to inquire, to dig deep into an unknown. Writers like to feel as if the experience of writing changes them. A young writer, however, hesitates because transformations like this are like shedding a skin, a layer, something personal changing into something else and the world suddenly looks different. "For starters," writes a student,, "a person does not merely place herself with the group of disposable people. We, the people as a whole, are the ones that force others to become indistinguishable." read more
Real World, Real Solutions: Finding Shared Purpose in Cairo By STAFF OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF 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
FEATURED ARTICLE Giving Place a Voice: Teaching Students to Wake Up to Nature By ROB HANSON A hypocrite, that’s what I was. After years as an elementary teacher extolling the necessity of outdoor education, my students were rarely feeling the wind on their cheeks under my watch. Earlier, while teaching in northern California, I regularly led classes on explorations of California’s plants and animals in the Sierra foothills, the Pacific Coast, as well as coordinating a school-wide gardening project which became a model of science education in the region. I knew these lessons were the most powerful experiences I gave my students. So when I moved to the Green Mountains of Vermont I was confident that a good dose of my teaching would happen outside. read more
Improving Test Scores Through a Community Focused Education By ALAN HASKVITZ 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
On The Road to Find Out: Passionate Engagement
and Counter-Cartography By BRAD HOUK “I’m creating counter-maps....” “What-maps? You have to explain this counter-stuff,” said Troy, genuinely curious but noticeably skeptical. “Counter-maps are maps not done by states or powerful institutions." I said. "Not government offices or banks or corporations. Not those guys watching us,” I said gesturing toward the police in the street. “Counter-maps are art-maps or protest-maps made by the people, for the people, as in groups, or communities, or individuals. read more
Grow a-Way from Violence: Nurturing Community in the Heart of One of America’s Most Violent Cities By TIM and ELIZABETH COLLARDEY 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
The Essence of Social Learning: From Classroom to Community
BY SARAH ANDERSON Middle school students are social animals. Adolescence is a time when we develop a keen sense of self-awareness and an intense interest in other people. Since most 13 and 14-year olds are more passionate about each other than anything else, and since their brains are really geared towards social development, this is the basis of my classroom. Before all else, we practice how to treat each other well and how to share ourselves honestly and openly. read more
Creating Positive LGBTQ Visibility in the Borderlands:
An Overview of the Frontera Pride Film Festival By BRENDA RISCH 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
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
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