Week 7 – Peace Learner Commitment (Summer 2013)

Thich Nhat Hanh Peace In Oneself Peace In The WorldThis is the final week of the course and its one where we will spend much time reviewing what’s been covered over these past six weeks and reflecting on what’s resonated with us most strongly. Listen to the podcast below to hear my take-aways from last week’s final forum and to introduce this week’s concluding exercise.

This week we focus on what knowledge, skills, and attitudes we have gained throughout the course and how you plan to implement these learnings into your personal or professional practice.

Your peace learner commitment is a pledge to yourself, and shared with our community, to achieve a goal that seeks to build and foster peaceable learning environments.  This environment can be built in the classroom, your community, among your peers, with your family, in the work place, or for yourself.  The choice is yours.

The key is for an element of this course that resonated with you – skill, content, activity, attitude, technique, perspective, etc. – to bear fruit outside of the online space and time we shared this semester.

To help you in developing and honoring your commitment, I invite you to do three things:

(1)  Review all of your responses to the reflection questions that have been a part of each of the online learning modules. This will help you recall everything we have covered throughout the semester and hopefully trigger aspects of the course that resonated with you.

(2)  Develop and write up your peace learner commitment by first responding to a series of questions (outlined below) that call upon your experiences from the class, and second, guide you through the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework. This will help you formulate a specific goal and a plan to achieve it.  It will also provide our learning community with a mission to keep in touch with you once this class is over and check in on the progress of your commitment.

(3)  Participate in our final all class conference call on Friday, August 16th, where you will have an opportunity to vocalize your peace learner commitment to the rest of the class – why this goal, how you plan to achieve it, and what kind of support, if any, you may need. The conference call will be recorded and then be made available everyone through the PeaceLearner.org website.

Interested in hearing peace learner commitments from a previous class? Check out this post from Fall 2012.

Continue reading for to see the full set of guidelines for developing your peace learner commitment.

Continue reading

Week 6 – Yoga and Mindfulness (Summer 2013)


This week we explore yoga and mindfulness for the classroom and self-care. But before you jump in to this week’s readings and videos, be sure to check out the savoring beauty photo gallery.

The learning objectives of this module are that you will be able to:

  • Explore the use of meditation in schools and learning environments
  • List benefits of meditation and yoga for learners
  • Experiment with yoga and meditation practices for self-care
  • Develop a meditation or yoga routine for yourself or your community or learners

Key ideas and terms from this module are: meditation, yoga, conscious breathing, self-care

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (Peace Is Every Step)
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, August 9th
  • Contribute to forum 6.1 by Sunday, August 10th @ 12:00pm

Continue reading to see the full outline of this week’s assignments…

Continue reading

Week 5 – Environmental Sustainability (Summer 2013)


I am continuing with the podcast this week as my video editing software continues to give me problems. Click on the link below to listen and jump into week 5.

This week we explore the Earth Charter and the various ways in which its principles can be and have been integrated into classrooms and communities. This week also focuses on how to use the outdoors as a learning environment and integrate elements of the natural world into the learning space as a way to understand environmental systems and issues such as the materials economy, climate change, and conservation.

The learning objectives for this week are for you to be able to:

  • Identify ways in which the principles of the Earth Charter are being actualized around the world
  • Calculate your carbon footprint
  • Evaluate different environmental sustainability curricula and lesson plans
  • Think creatively about adapting environmental education curricula for one’s own educational context

Key ideas and terms from this module are: materials economy, Earth Charter, carbon footprint, sustainability

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (Being Present in Beauty)
  • Crowd-sourced, digital photo gallery
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, August 3rd
  • Contribute to forum 5.1 by Sunday, August 4th @ 12:00pm

Continue reading to see the full outline of this week’s assignments. Continue reading

Week 4 – Transforming Conflict Nonviolently (Summer 2013)


I am trying something new this week. There is no video, but rather an audio podcast. So click on the play button below to listen and jump into this week’s module.


This week we look at nonviolent ways to manage and resolve conflicts. This topic follows nicely from the previous week because a lot of the skills and methods needed to successfully resolve conflicts require thought and practice dedicated to social and emotional learning.

The learning objectives of this week are that you will be able to:

  • Define conflict
  • Explore effective ways of managing conflicts between learners
  • Appreciate the opportunities for growth that are present when conflicts arise
  • Evaluate peer mediation programs from various schools
  • Practice reflective and active listening skills
  • Understand the various components of talking circles

Key ideas and terms from this week are: I-messages, conflict, conflict transformation, mediation, RASA, reflective listening, active listening, attending skills, reflecting skills, talking circles

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (What Went Well)
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, July 27th.
  • Participate in the all-class conference call on Wednesday, July 24th @ 5:00pm
  • Contribute to forum 4.1 by Sunday, July 28th @ 12:00pm

Continue to reading for the full outline of this week’s assignments. Continue reading

Week 3 – Social and Emotional Learning + Positive Psychology (Summer 2013)

This week we look at emotional intelligence which, in an educational context, is sometimes referred to as social and emotional learning.  Social and emotional learning really blossomed in the field of education after the release of Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, in 1995. Theories of social and emotional learning are at the foundation of many other elements of peace pedagogy such as conflict resolution, reflective listening, and cooperative learning.  Hence, connections to social and emotional learning will continue to be referenced in other modules. We will also look at the field of positive psychology in this module. Positive psychology is a field of psychology made most famous by Dr. Martin Selligman.

The learning objectives of this module are that you will be able to:

  • Define emotional intelligence
  • Define social and emotional learning
  • Define positive psychology and identify various elements of it
  • Identify skills to enhance and develop emotional intelligence
  • Connect emotional intelligence to concepts of positive psychology
  • Brainstorm ways to incorporate emotional intelligence in your own learning environment

Key ideas and terms in this module are: emotional intelligence, positive psychology, emotional vocabulary, social and emotional learning, empathy, safe learning environment, comfort zone

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (Gratitude Letters)
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, July 20th.
  • Contribute to forum 3.1 by Sunday, July 21st @ 12:00pm

Continue reading for the full outline of this week’s assignments… Continue reading

Week 2 – Foundations of Peace Education (Summer 2013)

This week you will be introduced to a number of individuals whose work has had and continues to have a significant impact on the field of peace education. There are, of course, a lot of people who fit this category – many of which are not included in this module. The eight selected and highlighted for this course have special significance because of not only their written contributions, but the diversity of perspectives and affiliations they bring to this conversation.

The learning objectives of this week are for you to be able to:

  • Identify key scholars and thinkers who have helped shape and define the field of peace education
  • Understand the different ways, approaches, and methods of peace education
  • Trace the history of peace education and the various ways it has evolved since the mid 20th century
  • Reflect on your own experiences, or lack thereof, with peace education

Key ideas and terms in this week are: 7 blossoms of peace education, partnership model, domination model, banking education, liberation praxis, dialogue, five spheres of peace and right relationships, peace through strength, peace through justice, peace through transformation, peace through politics, peace through sustainability, peace through education, conflict resolution training, disarmament education, education for the prevention of war, environmental education, global education, human rights education, multicultural education, nuclear education, world-order studies.

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (Make Someone Smile)
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, July 13th
  • Contribute to Forum 2.1 by Sunday, July 14th @ 12:00pm

Continue reading for the full outline of this week’s assignments…

Continue reading

Week 1 – Building Peaceable Learning Communities (Summer 2013)

Welcome everyone! Let’s jump right in. Begin by watching the welcome video below, then make your way through the rest of the blog post, following the instructions and engaging in the various exercises. I recommend dedicating around 4 hours this week to complete the assignments and activities.

“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.”
-William James

This week we look at different ways educators can incorporate community building practices and methods into their work.

The learning objectives of this module are that you will be able to:

  • Describe and represent who you are and what you bring to our learning community
  • Identify commonalities and differences that strengthen our learning community
  • Brainstorm ways in which icebreakers can be incorporated into your educational practice
  • Define cooperative learning and identify its benefits
  • Think creatively about how to structure learning spaces in ways that foster community
  • Critique and assess the value of rules and rule-making in the classroom
  • Devise questions that can be utilized during check-in processes and with learning buddies

Key ideas and terms for this module are: cooperative learning, icebreakers, community agreements, community building, check-ins

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (Quiet Time)
  • Contribute to Forum 1.1 by Wednesday, July 3rd @ 12:00pm
  • Participate in the all class conference call on Wednesday, July 3rd @ 5:00pm
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, July 6th
  • Contribute to Forum 1.2 by Sunday, July 7th @ 12:00pm

Continue reading for full outline of this week’s assignments

Continue reading

Grades of Green



I found Grades of Green in a Google search for how to incorporate recycling into the classroom. I did this search after one of our class modules that challenged me to consider my impact on the earth, and choose one feasible strategy for mitigating that impact. Recycling in the classroom seems a clear place to start, and thus – this resource was discovered.

This resource is designed for use in a traditional classroom, however, the ideas, initiatives and resources can easily be adapted to fit any type of organization or business. The goal of the website is to propose alternative methods of communicating and educating – those that do not use so many of our planet’s finite resources. For example, one idea they posit is to post chalkboards throughout the building to present ephemeral messages, rather than using paper (ie: bulletin boards) to do this, which ultimately creates a lot of waste as the messages change each month. While this idea is geared toward a school, it clearly can be used for any type of business or organization.

At my school, I would use this resource primarily to model for my students (and colleagues!) how to be good stewards of our earth. I would start small – focusing only on what I personally can control: a recycling bin next to the trash can, creating small chalkboards to use instead of poster paper, taking charge of a display case to communicate ways to be environmentally conscientious, and conserving the use of electricity in my classroom. I believe that these types of actions would foster conversations with my students about why I’m making these choices, which would then lead to a greater awareness amongst my students and colleagues. The attitude I would most hope to develop in those around me in the school (including myself) is that of gratitude and care. I take for granted all that I have that directly impacts the environment. I want to appreciate what I use and consider how I use it. I hope that by making these small but determined changes I would create pause in the young people whom I have been tasked to influence.

Implementing this resource supports the pillars of community building and skill building. We all share one environment. Therefore, whether we like it or not, we are one community on earth. Becoming responsible members of that environment forces us to work together to care for it and share strategies and information of the best choices that will protect it. This illustrates the pillar of community building. Secondly, in order to accomplish change and promote awareness, the pillar of skill building is incorporated into the use of this resource. To be good stewards of the earth, we must develop an array of life-style changes and choices that promote conservation. In addition, we must have the knowledge to empower others to want to make changes in their lives as well. Innovation and practicality are both required to do this effectively, especially when it’s much more convenient to use it up and toss it out. To make better choices, we must access aspects of the skill building pillar as we reflect, analyze, innovate, and communicate.

Peace as Youth Engagement and Advocacy



Link: http://knowledgecommonsdc.org/

Knowledge Commons DC is a “free school for thinkers, doers, and tinkerers – taught anywhere, by anyone, for everyone.” Essentially, each season, this organization will coordinate and reach out to community members to create their own lesson plans and lead a class on any subject matter. From there, anyone in the community can take the class. Overall,  Knowledge Commons acts as an arbitrator to facilitate and set the dates for each of these classes.

In application to students, I would offer creating, teaching and leading a class through Knowledge Commons DC  to any student in the class as extra credit. Hopefully, students would channel their passions and new found academic knowledge into leading an empowering session on the issues they experience and care about. Examples could be, “ Education Reform: a Student’s Perspective on Improving our Schools” or even teaching about a civil rights movement. Overall, leading and creating a lesson plan will give each student the ability to be their own agent, become a teacher (disrupting the banking method of education) and incentive and focus on the importance of civic engagement.


This extracurricular event and project is most appropriate for either  high school or college level students in both a formal or informal atmospheres. This is due to the necessary educational development and skill that is crucial to developing and leading a lesson plan. In respect to the atmosphere, the subject matter and audience is dependent on the student’s interest and focus, and therefore, will alter depending on student’s chosen topic to lead a lesson on.

Objective and Goals

This project will give students the ability to focus on community building and engaging in multiple intelligences.  The student becomes the teacher in this project and will begin to actualize how their education can be applied to their own lives and experiences. As a result, various intelligences are employed as they are both developing and leading the project. Secondly, community building becomes an inherent goal in administering the project due to the nature of wanting to have an engaged audience and clear outcomes for each participant. Thus, each student is  driven to learn and develop an understanding of how to facilitate educational and empowering atmospheres that includes various types of individuals.

Louder than a Bomb


Over the summer I interned at Teach For America. In the corner of the office was a resource shelf with all kinds of books and videos for Teachers and Staff to check out. After walking by the shelf dozens of times I noticed one title in particular – “Louder Than A Bomb.”  I asked to borrow the film and didn’t know I’d picked up the best documentary I’ve seen in a while. Louder Than A Bomb is the world’s largest youth slam poetry contest held every year in Chicago. The “Louder Than A Bomb” documentary follows the stories of four Chicago-area school’s High School poetry teams as they figure out how to work together and ultimately share their stories during the competition. Poetry serves as an outlet for these students to capture their emotions and work through some very complex issues they face every day.

This documentary is an excellent resource for teachers to use in a high school English classroom. By introducing the concept of slam poetry and demonstrating how emotional and “real” these poems can be, the film sets an excellent example for a poetry / journaling piece of the curriculum. One could follow up a showing of the film by challenging students to write their own slam poetry and the class could host its own Louder Than A Bomb competition. For most students, the idea of sharing their own poetry with the rest of the class sounds terrifying. By giving students a chance to try and capture their emotions and develop their voice pushes students outside their comfort zone. For students that are struggling with stressful or traumatic events in their lives, a simple opportunity to share their story is the start to handling the difficulties they face.

Another facet of the poetry lesson can require students to craft a poem together. By sharing their stories and working as a group, students have the opportunity to work on cooperation and teamwork skills. For students that struggle to get started, teachers could provide a general topic or key words to get the creative process started. These starter concepts could focus around the core values of peace education, or one of the 7 pillars of peace building education

Of the core pillars of peace education, this documentary best relates to community building and reframing history non-violently. While I would not start the semester off by asking students to share personal poetry with the class, the exercise mentioned above is a great way for students to take that next step with their classmates and use this platform as a way to share a part of them that they may have never felt comfortable sharing before. The simple act of asking students to share their story may be just the kind of opportunity students have been waiting for. Also asking students to work as a team helps build cohesion as a group and develop ties amongst students in the class.

The more challenging pillar that Louder Than A Bomb integrates into the classroom is the ability to reframe personal history. By giving students an opportunity to share a chosen trauma or part of their up bringing, poetry can help students cope with their past and harness the lessons they’ve learned. By writing your own poetry students gain control over their story, which may be the first time they’ve felt control over an issue.

Lessons like this may go beyond the scope of a typical classroom session and the kind of support teachers can provide students. For students who don’t feel comfortable sharing their own stories, the teacher could provide instances in history that students could write a poem about that defines the event from a peaceful perspective. The stories and poems within this documentary are inspiring and challenging. Poetry is an underutilized medium for students today, and this type of lesson introduces the power of poetry in a modern way. But don’t take my word for it, just listen to their stories: