Celebrating our inaugural Cohort of K-16 and community-based educators! August 2016 marked our first gathering of Los Angeles area educators who spent a remarkable week together at CWI’s Summer WEST Institute, focused on developing community focused learning experiences, with the LA River as our touchstone. We explored Los Angeles, designed curriculum, and most of all built new and powerful collaborations between teachers, school, and community partners.
LA RiverLore! a Professional Development Project in Real Time, in Los Angeles, CA
LA RiverLore is an exciting place based service-learning PD program, connecting schools and communities along the Los Angeles River. LA RiverLore is providing teachers in schools surrounding the Los Angeles River with the training, inspiration, collaboration, and connections needed to create standards focused service-learning curriculum around the Los Angeles River and its neighborhoods. contact us
Big challenges lie ahead — fixing the economy so that it more equitably serves everyone, not just those with the wealth and power; rebuilding democracy so that it is no longer hijacked by lobbyists and corporations; and redirecting cultural life away from decadent diversions and violence but toward higher purpose. Addressing these and other challenges like global warming will demand more than competent workers and participating citizens. It will demand people with a broader vision and a higher and evolving humanity.
An excellent article not long ago in Community Works Journal by Hector Vila addresses this demand from the point of view of teachers and their responsibilities within the broader culture. In what follows I use a different perspective that I believe complements what Dr. Vila had to say.
Think about those, now children, who will be called upon one day to supply solutions in these three spheres. The problems are daunting and will take decades to resolve, but don’t we owe it to those who are now young and in our charge to equip them to handle the world we leave in their care? We can begin immediately to instill the qualities needed to create a new vision and a vibrant society.
Sifting through themes that revolve around creating and supporting educational experiences that build community and foster meaningful learning, it’s connecting school work to a larger purpose, to the self, to experience that resonates. As it was “then” is how it is now and many of us remember our own school experiences as not so different, regardless of decade. But there ARE schools and teachers working to change the paradigm.
Most teachers, parents, and communities DO support students experiencing school as an early act of civic participation—especially if that participation is directly connected to academic learning. And, they DO value the local in learning, especially when they understand the effect. Service-Learning as a teaching strategy is a most direct way to achieve this.
(Interviewing community elders is one of the most obvious examples, among many. Pictured above “The Great Migration Documentation Project”) Continue reading →
It seems that maturing the human heart depends on developing our insight into other people’s situations; their challenges, sensitivities and talents.
A reasonable hypothesis is that our most fundamental values are motivated by our drive to serve all living systems. This perspective and the healing actions flowing from it are a core instinct for the healthy development of humanity. The quality of our lives, and even our survival, calls upon us to live in intimate appreciation, humility and empathy — empathy for others and for ourselves.
From TED Talks to This American Life and Story Corps, telling our personal stories creates a deep understanding of the person who has lived through the details of their story — from difficult circumstances, temptations and dangers, to redemption by living with struggle, courage, patience, friendship, grace, and transcendence — to name some strategies for traveling the path to personal growth through authentic problem solving.
Oprah, when speaking about her work as a storyteller, begins by saying that she views all of her work as being in-service. Perhaps this realization of living a life in-service is the guiding principle when our hearts speak. Continue reading →
Paula Cohen is a 6th grade Social Studies and Language Arts teacher at Orville Wright School in Los Angeles Unified School District. She uses service-learning to create meaningful and relevant experiences for young people and is passionate about connecting our schools and communities. Paula is an alumnus of Community Works Institute’s (CWI) Summer WEST Institute on Service-Learning.
Participating in CWI’s Summer WEST Institute was a ground breaking experience for me. For years now, I have felt the isolation of being in a traditional classroom. I have cajoled, often begged fellow teachers to collaborate on projects. I don’t understand why it should be unique for a teacher to enjoy the company of young people and get excited by the process of group learning. I don’t want to be unique; I would rather be the norm in this case! I suppose the inevitability of NCLB is that it has caused many teachers to lose sight of the big picture and the meaning of education. The media has demonized us and our districts demoralize us. Still at some point, we have to rise to the occasion that these young people are here right now, ready to receive an educational experience from us and it is up to us how we are going to construct that. 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. Continue reading →
This article was originally published by NBC Latino
Boyle Heights Beat reporters Samantha Olmos and Jennifer Lopez speak to a participant at a neighborhood walk informing residents of effects of contamination by Exide Technologies. Ernesto Orozco — photo by Raul Reyes
East Los Angeles, CA — In a neighborhood that is almost entirely Latino, a bilingual community newspaper has drawn national attention for its coverage of local issues such as gentrification, affordable housing, immigration and police brutality. But the reporters being recognized for their work are not experienced journalists, but young Latinos from area high schools.
We work to transform the learning experience for students, and for ourselves as educators. We seek to connect learning to ourselves, society, and our future. We know that Democracy depends on education and experience.
“The teacher is, of course, an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”
―Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking
Each year, CWI’s Summer Institutes in Los Angeles and Burlington, Vermont bring together a highly diverse community of educator participants: K-16 teachers and administrators; from schools large and small; rural and urban, independent and public; along with community-based educators and leaders. Our focus is on K-16 place based service-learning and sustainability. learn more
Our learning lab atmosphere provides a rich collegial environment for professional learning, planning, and collaborative support for your own project or program. CWI Summer Institutes are appropriate for both veteran practitioners and “beginners”. In addition to expert training, CWI Summer Institutes offer participants a synergy of ideas and experience drawn from the wealth of vision, talent, and experience represented. learn more l special team rates.
OUR AREAS OF FOCUS INCLUDE: Best Practice Based Service-Learning • Getting to Real Reciprocity • Student Voice • Social Justice • Sustainable Communities • STEM Connections • Local Culture and History • Diversity and Service • K-16 Partnerships • Interdisciplinary Studies • Meaningful Reflection • Community Ethnography as Service Gardens and Nutrition • Community Based Art • Creating Faculty, Student, and Parent Buy-In • Building a Successful Long-Term Program learn more l special team rates.
Dr. James Curiel holds a Masters in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Davis. He has written and presented internationally on transformative action learning. Dr. Curiel is an Assistant Professor in Urban Affairs in the Department of Sociology at Norfolk State University in Virginia.
Expensive textbooks hit school districts and college students hard in the pocketbook. Your average textbook runs $180, and a small no frills black and white paperback for my introduction course climbed above $200 this semester, so my department is switching to one that is less than half that price (Weisbaum, 2014). Many school districts, colleges, and students are opting out of the corporate textbook extortion cycle, and are turning to open source textbooks, e-books, used books, and textbook rentals as a solution (Carrns, 2015).
However, the problem is not just with exorbitant textbook costs, it is also with books that spray students with a barrage of information that has been denuded of context, controversy, and relevance. As C. Wright Mills noted, the goal in the corporate world of textbooks is to produce the least offensive texts in order to maximize sales (Mills, 1959).
Geoff Ruth teaches high school chemistry, and he has found that the less he uses a textbook and the more he goes local in the community the more his students learn
LA RiverLore is a highly innovative service-learning focused project for K-16 and community based educators. We’re connecting communities, students, and educators along the Los Angeles River. LA RiverLore is providing teachers in local schools the training, inspiration, collaboration, and connections needed to create standards focused service-learning curriculum around the River and its neighborhoods. Most importantly, LA RIverLore is connecting students in the greater Los Angeles area with their own local neighborhoods and communities through deep academically based service projects. Registration is now underway for our 2017 educator cohort. Space is limited!
LA RiverLore comes alive. We worked with Paul Lowe and his 4th-grade students at MacArthur Park Elementary, using “Community Ethnography”. Students explored their neighborhood, interviewing local residents, business owners, and recording the process with digital cameras.
“The more young people who get the opportunity to travel the world, live in other cultures and learn new languages, the more they will begin to understand our shared ideals and the shared opportunities to keep moving this world forward. ”
— Michelle Obama
Seeing the Between Two Worlds exhibit in Santa Fe at the Museum of International Folk Art inspired me to think about my New Jersey students’ journeys to the U.S. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher at Carroll Robbins Elementary School in Trenton, New Jersey, I wanted to design a curriculum that would inspire my students and meet learning goals for the classroom.
Many young people have traveled through deserts and across oceans to come to Trenton. As an ESL teacher at Robbins School, I am curious about and thankful for each child who walks through my classroom door. What are their experiences like? How do they feel about being immersed in a new culture? What strengths do immigrant children bring and how can teachers empower them to use those strengths? Continue reading →