Fieldwork Coordinator Update September 2018

Date of Activity / Lesson:

September 2018


CSCS and More!


It’s true: autumn is officially here and fieldwork is about to go into full swing at the Cottonwood School. Below is an overview of schoolwide curricular units and related fieldwork this fall trimester.


Kindergartens: Families
Portland Art Museum
Northwest Children’s Theater
Classroom speakers


1st and 2nd Grades: Gardens, Plants, and Farms
South Waterfront Community Garden
Jean’s Farm
Sauvie Island Center
CSCS School Garden Beds


3rd Grade: Oregon’s Geologic Past
OMSI labs: Fossils and School of Rocks
Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals
Gorge Tour led by the Audubon Society


4th and 5th Grade: Watersheds and the Water Cycle
Tryon Creek State Park
Bull Run Reservoir
Sandy River Delta
Gorge Tour led by the Audubon Society
Bureau of Environmental Services in-school visit


6th Grade: Human Evolution and the Human Body
Oregon Zoo
OHSU primate center in Beaverton
National University of Natural Medicine
Portland State University Natural History Museum
Willamette Park (niche study)
In-class visits from experts in the medical community


7th and 8th Grade: Storm Stories: Weather and Climate
Fieldwork sessions led by climate professors and students at Lewis and Clark College
Mentoring sessions led by climate graduate student and Portland State University
Plus community and skill building day led by Outward Bound


Several Grants Supporting Fieldwork and Place-Based Studies


CSCS classrooms received funding for three projects this fall:


West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District granted our 1st and 2nd grade classrooms nearly $2000 to purchase rolling, self-watering garden beds, soil, plants, gardening tools and gloves, and indoor grow light stations to support their garden studies this fall. One great thing about this grant is that it can continue for two more years to help “grow” our on-site gardening program.


The US Forest Service, in partnership with 4-H OSU extension, has granted our 4th and 5th grade classrooms transportation funds for all of their fall fieldwork. This means we are able to charter school buses, and take some of the onus off of parent drivers. Funding for six buses over the fall trimester costs approximately $3000.


Confluence, a nonprofit that works to connect schools with Native educators, is funding the 4th/5th grade trip to the Sandy River Delta on October 22nd. In addition to learning about the natural history of the Delta, students will work with two Native educators to learn about the site’s significance to local tribes. We are thrilled to further develop this partnership and work with Confluence across grade levels in the future.

October is one of our busiest months for fieldwork. I will check back in next month to update you on some of the ways our students are getting out and connecting with the world.


Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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Fieldwork Update for June, 2018

Date of Activity / Lesson:

June, 2018


Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Tryon Creek State Park, PSU, State Capitol building in Salem, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals


In this last month of school, many of our students have been out of the classroom and in the community. Here are a few end-of-year fieldwork highlights.

As part of their study of life cycles, our kindergartners made multiple visits to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge to dip for tadpoles and salamander efts. Students looked for signs of wildlife around the refuge and worked to identify native plants. Back in the classroom, the class created a mural of the frog pond, including plants, animals, and physical features.



First and second graders spent the spring trimester learning about local forests. They identified different trees and native plants and researched native forest animals. To inform their study, they traveled to the Pacific Northwest section of the Oregon Zoo and learned from naturalists on site at Oxbow Regional Park. Students also journeyed to Tryon Creek State Park and the Northwest Forestry Center to find out more. In the classroom, students created their own forest, complete with animals placed in their appropriate forest home. A forest fire fighter from Mt. Hood visited the classroom to teach about the pros and cons of wildfires, which students simulated in their own classroom forest. By the end of the unit, new shrubs were growing and animals had returned to their homes. As a culminating event, students held a poetry slam to share poems they wrote inspired by the forest unit.



The Portland State University Archaeology Roadshow featured projects from three of our classrooms this year. The third grade students incorporated their studies of archaeology and the Chinook tribe to create several displays and interactive activities around the Roadshow theme of “change.” In one featured exhibit, students created models of a plankhouse in different stages of decay to show how an archaeological site is created and identified. Students rotated throughout the day to work at the booth and educate others about what they had learned.


Meanwhile, both fourth and fifth grade classrooms displayed poetry banners they made as part of a collaborative project with artist-in-residence Nina Montenegro. Students reflected on the themes of home and loss of home, relating it to their own feelings and the pattern of displacement and dispossession of native peoples throughout American history. Students wrote one line from each of their poems on individual banners, which when viewed together, create a new collaborative poem. Nina created a booklet that features the banners and gives an overview of the project. The banners and the booklets were on display at the Roadshow, and students spoke to visitors about their work. All of our students at the Roadshow received many kind words for their well-crafted work and their ability to teach and talk to the public.



The seventh and eighth grades traveled to the State Capitol building in Salem earlier this month to present their Project Citizen portfolios. The seventh grade had researched the topic of electives at our school and eighth graders took on the topic of school preparedness for earthquakes. Judges were impressed with our students’ aptitude for public speaking and acknowledged all of the hard work they put into their projects. But the projects do not stop in Salem. The seventh grade class created a plan to pilot an electives program in the middle school which they will try to implement next school year, and the eighth graders made excellent suggestions for how to improve our school’s earthquake preparedness program. Citizens in action!



Lastly, the third grade class finished a geologic timeline that they have been working on all school year and handed it over the the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. It now hangs in the museum as their official timeline. Go see it over the summer, perhaps during their Summer Fest on August 4th and 5th.



Whew! It’s been another amazing year for fieldwork. Our classes went on over 100 trips to explore, learn, and connect. Thank you, as always, to parent volunteers, drivers, and chaperones. We couldn’t do it without you! Looking forward to getting out of the classroom some more in 2018-19. Hope you are able to get outside and enjoy the summer. See you in September!

Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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My Job Shadow, by Noah Mandac, Eighth Grade

Date of Activity / Lesson:

June 2018


Mr. Green Beans DIY Coffee Roasting, Cottonwood School of Civics and Science


The Cottonwood School Of Civics and Science gives students many opportunities to go off campus and learn about topics first hand. In the eighth grade, we are required to complete a job shadow where students contact someone with a job they are interested in and set up a time where they can spend a day doing hands-on activities. You get to put yourself in the shoes of the person who does the job and experience what they do daily.


I got to job shadow with Travis Miller from Mr. Green Beans, a coffee roasting company. I spent the day learning about how to roast coffee beans using a big coffee roasting machine, the different kinds of roasts you can do to coffee beans, where they import their beans from, and how the different beans imported from different countries each have a unique taste that come along with them. I even got to taste test different coffees using a technique called cupping. After we got done with the cupping, we drove to a little cafe and flower shop called Frank, and I got to learn about how it is to own/work at a cafe and make coffee for people every day. I was taught how to make espresso shots using a espresso machine, and I was even told I might get a chance to work there in the near future.


Reflecting on the job shadow, I think it’s really cool to have the opportunity to go out see first hand how a job you may be interested works. Overall, this is a really unique and exciting opportunity our school offers and gets you to really see how the real jobs work.


Noah Mandac, 8th Grade

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Fieldwork Update for May, 2018

Date of Activity / Lesson:

April - May, 2018


CSCS, Portland Mercado, Hancock Field Station, Oregon Trail and more!


Happy May! We’re in the home stretch towards summer and fieldwork has been bumpin’. Here are some highlights from the last month. This report is a little lengthy because there have been so many wonderful things going on!


The 7th and 8th graders installed their “pop-up” museum on Latin American immigration for the Portland Mercado’s three-year anniversary festival on April 7th. Students wore t-shirts (designed and printed by 8th grader, Robin McAdoo) touting the theme for the anniversary party, ”Puentes, No Muros” (“Bridges, Not Walls”) and guided visitors through their exhibit, which included informational posters, maps, booklets, and artwork. The exhibit remained hung in the Mercado to be viewed by the public for most of April. Thank you again to Teaching Tolerance for helping to fund this meaningful partnership!



If you’ve heard some peeping coming from the kindergarten classroom this week, it’s not the kids– it’s the chicks! As part of our partnership with Multnomah County 4-H, our kindergarteners cared for and hatched chicks using an incubator. Students learned about every stage of chicken development in the egg and even practiced the art of “candling” to see the embryos as they developed. The chicks have been adopted by CSCS families and friday the babies will leave the classroom to go to their new homes. This hands-on experience enhances the kindergarten study of life cycles this spring.



8th grade service internships are now in full swing. 8th graders travels to a different site every Thursday afternoon in the spring trimester to practice career skills and provide service for a community partner. Some students travel just down the hall and serve as reading coaches in the 1st/2nd grade rooms while others travel across town to work with cooperating agencies. This year, our students are interning in both 1st/2nd grade classrooms, the kindergarten classroom, the Mirabella memory care facility, the Mirabella library, the Nikkei Legacy Center, New Avenues for Youth, Tryon Creek Watershed Council, and the Neighborhood House Food Box program. I also am hosting two interns who are planning a booth for the South Waterfront Street Fair on May 31st.   

Meanwhile, our 7th grade students have been busy working on a entrepreneurship internship with the Oregon State University business school through our partnership with 4-H. Groups of students wrote business plans, guided by an OSU professor who skyped into the classroom for multiple sessions. Last Friday, the class traveled to the OSU campus to present their plans to a panel of 4-H representatives, a professor and a business TA. According to teacher Chris Wyland, “Everyone on the panel was amazed at the level of work and professionalism of the students from Cottonwood school. I heard repeatedly that they were super impressed with how respectful and on point the questions were of each group. Their presentations were clear, to the point and inspiring. I even heard that we out performed the high school groups that went after us.”



All groups were awarded $200 to put their plans into action and some may sell their products at the Multnomah County Fair at Oaks Park!  The names of the businesses and Mission statements are as follows:

Bath Potions: A company to relax and make happiness for the customer for just a small price. (bath bombs, incense, candles, soaps)

Bounce: to bring happiness to kids by providing them with a simple, low cost toy (bouncy balls)

Customization Jewelry Station: to bring customized jewelry back to life while protecting the environment by using recycled jewelry. (Upcycled Jewelry)

Mira Luxury Goods: providing unique fashionable products that protect what you own and connect to your interests. (Phone Cases)


Lastly, both the 6th grade and the 4th/5th classrooms journeyed to outdoor school this spring. The 6th graders attended OMSI science camp at the Hancock Field Station in Fossil, Oregon.



The 4th and 5th graders participated in Outdoor School’s Oregon Trail overnight. According to teacher Morgen Kelm, “students built log cabins, used tools, cooked their own dinner, made their own butter, dipped candles, made Pioneer Pals, packed a wagon, panned for gold, and danced the Virginia Reel! Needless to say, they were a little busy. . . “   



Whew! We have just over one more month for more fabulous learning experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. Stay tuned!


Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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Fieldwork Update for March, 2018

Date of Activity / Lesson:

March, 2018


City Hall, Clinton Street Theater


Why is Portland the whitest big city in America? What are the historical trends behind the Black Lives Matter movement? Why is there a police oversight committee in Portland?


If you’re looking for answers to any of these questions, just ask a sixth grader– they know! For the past two and half months, Lisa’s class delved deep into the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s and the roots of racism in America. Then, with the help of dozens of photos, newspaper articles, and other primary documents, students worked as historians to learn the history of Portland through the African American experience.


To help with this study, several experts visited the classroom including JoAnn Hardesty, the former director of the NAACP (who is now running for city council), Diane Hess from the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, Donovan Smith, founder of Gentrification is Weird, and Donna Maxey, creator of Race Talks. Destinee Magnum spoke with the students about her encounter with Jeremy Christian, who stabbed 3 upstanders on the Max last year. Students also visited the Oregon Historical Society’s exhibit Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years curated by the Oregon Black Pioneers, they visited the Independent Police Review Division at City Hall, and attended a private screening of Selma at the Clinton Street Theater. One of the high points of the trimester was the full-day scavenger hunt, where students traveled around the city in small groups to visit significant places in Portland’s African-American history. As always, students most appreciated meeting Izora Green of the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church who shared tales of growing up in Vanport and showed them where Martin Luther King Jr. once stood and addressed the congregation.


Inspired by learning about current events and knowing our history, the students concluded the unit by writing letters to either The Oregonian, Mayor Ted Wheeler, Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, or Portland city council members about a current event they care about. Topics include segregated schools, gun control, homelessness, gentrification, police brutality, and more.


Lisa has been refining her curriculum on the black history of Portland every year. This summer, the curriculum will be published and disseminated to all teachers across Oregon. This essential part of Oregon history has been hidden too long, and with the adoption of Oregon’s new ethnic studies social studies standards, it is the perfect time for us to share what we have developed with other teachers and students in the state. Thank you to Lisa for being an innovator in social studies curriculum development and kudos to our students for undertaking the unit with honest curiosity and open hearts.

Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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Fieldwork Coordinator Update

Date of Activity / Lesson:

Feb, 2018


Mirabella, South Portland, CSCS


February is the second month of the winter trimester and classrooms are deep into their place-based units. Next month, I will share a couple of the overall units but in the meantime, here are a few notes related to our place-based programming at Cottonwood.


Our first and second grade students are currently the “Artists in Residence” at the Mirabella retirement community down the street. Nate Orton, one of our art teachers this past fall, led the students in creating two large, collaborative pieces based on the changing seasons at Cottonwood Bay. Mirabella hosted an art opening earlier this month for residents, students, first and second grade teachers and parents. Angie read an “artist’s statement” written by Nate (who couldn’t attend due to his student teaching responsibilities at Wilson High School) and a Mirabella resident who has jewelry on display next to the student art also spoke. Refreshments were served for all. This is just another wonderful way we partner with our Mirabella Neighbors and we hope to showcase student work again next year!


In January, Cottonwood teachers and staff did some professional development fieldwork not far from school. Judith Margles, director of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education led a walking tour of the historic South Portland neighborhood to teach us about the immigrant history of the area. The tour started at Lair Hill Park and moved towards Keller Auditorium before doubling back. We learned about how ethnically and culturally diverse the area was before urban development in the 1960s and ‘70s displaced most of the residents. We also had many opportunities to reflect upon the topic of immigration, then and now.


Emily Conner and the seventh and eighth grade classrooms have just received a $4,000 grant from Teaching Tolerance, a national anti-bias education organization, to fund their current place-based project. The classes are partnering with the Portland Mercado to create a “pop-up” museum exhibit for the Mercado’s three-year anniversary in April. Exhibit topics will include local Latino history and current immigration policy. To learn more about the Teaching Tolerance grant program, follow this link: https://www.tolerance.org/about/educator-grant-guidelines


The fourth and fifth grades have again received funding from OSU Extension 4-H and the U.S. Forest Service to charter four buses to Tryon Creek State Park this winter and spring. This transportation grant helps ensure that our students will be able to keep their adopt-a-place commitments without relying solely on parent volunteers. Good news!


Lastly, the third graders hosted PSU archaeology graduate student Amy Clearman in their classroom. Amy is active in the field of “community archaeology” and is passionate about involving the public in archaeological projects. She is currently working with local residents in Vancouver, Washington to uncover artifacts associated with the original fort site, which is now situated in a neighborhood. Amy posted on her website about the visit to Susan’s class. Check out the post and learn more about Amy’s project here: http://firstfortvancouver.com/index.php/2018/02/02/cottonwood-school-presentation/

Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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Fieldwork Coordinator Update

Date of Activity / Lesson:

January 2018


Tryon Creek State Park, Verde Cocina restaurant, Oregon Historical Society, City Hall, The Oregon Jewish Museum, The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, The Design Museum, CSCS


Despite the rain, fieldwork continues at the Cottonwood School. Owls, archaeology, and immigration are just some of the topics our kids will be exploring. Here is the breakdown of project work and related fieldwork for this winter:


Kindergarten: Birds

Tryon Creek State Park

Portland Audubon Society Sanctuary Tour

Audubon Owl Program visit to the classroom

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

4-H traveling bird kits


1st and 2nd Grades: Restaurant Management

Tour of Verde Cocina restaurant

Tour of City Rotisserie restaurant plus classroom visit from owner

Oregon Food Bank

Urban Lift Food Pantry

Baking class at Portland Culinary Workshop


3rd Grade: Archaeology and Native Peoples

Classroom Visit from U of O’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History

Classroom visit from a working archaeologist

The third graders will also be raising trout in their classroom this winter, with support from 4-H


4th and 5th Grade: Colonial Period and the Revolutionary War

The class will be lending a traveling trunk from the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington D.C. that will help immerse students in colonial times.

This winter, the 4th/5th classes will also be working over multiple weeks with two partners on other projects:

  • Artist Nina Montenegro will be leading a banner-making project around the idea of “home”
  • Board member Jeff Slinger will be leading an architecture unit in which students will learn more about portland buildings, including model-making


6th Grade: Civil Rights and Portland’s African-American History

Oregon Historical Society

Clinton Street Theater for screening of “Selma”

Tryon Creek State Park to simulate the Selma march

City Hall tour and meet with Rachael Mortimer from the Independent Police Review Division

Classroom visit from the Black History 101 Mobile Museum

Classroom visit from JoAnn Hardesty, head of the Portland NAACP and candidate for city commissioner

Classroom visit from Donovan Smith to present his film about Portland gentrification

Classroom visit from Juli Kirby, lifelong resident of Portland

Classroom visit from Diane Hess, Fair Housing Council of Oregon

Scavenger Hunt to multiple locations in North, Northeast and Northwest Portland


7th and 8th Grade: Immigration and Portland’s Latino Community

The Portland Mercado (two visits)

The Oregon Jewish Museum

The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center

The Design Museum to learn how to make a “pop-up” exhibit for the Mercado

Classroom visit from the Columbia Maritime Museum about early Oregon immigration practices

Classroom visit from the Washington County Museum about the Bracero Program

Oregon Historical Museum traveling trunk on Mexican-American Traditional Arts

Guest Speaker from the Oregon Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association

Guest Speaker from the Latino Network (pending)


Another busy trimester! I’ll check back in with stories and photos next month.


As a last note, Angie’s 1st/2nd grade class wrote an acrostic poem about Mirabella. Students visit with residents once a month to meet with their reading buddies.


M is for make magnificent crafts

I is for important

R is for reading buddies

A is for amazing

B is for big beautiful building

E is for extraordinary

L is for loving people

L is for lovely views

A is for awesome


Thank you, Mirabella!

Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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Portland Mapping Projects

Date of Activity / Lesson:

Dec, 2017


Portland State University, Oaks Bottom,


The end of the trimester is always an exciting time when students celebrate their projects, present to community partners, and work to advocate for a cause that has become important to them. Here are just a few highlights from this last week before winter break:


On Tuesday, seventh and eighth graders traveled to Portland State University to present their Portland Mapping Projects to geography professors Hunter Shobe and David Banis. Professors Shobe and Banis are co-authors of Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas, the book that students used as a mentor text when designing their own maps. After enjoying a mini-presentation from the authors, ten students spoke about the cultural maps they created about Portland. Each student’s map focused on a different city feature, such as libraries, dog shelters, or independent tea shops. Students then created illustrative elements that corresponded with the theme. For example, one of the library maps also described the different neighborhoods of Portland by literary genre (Forest Park: Biology, Pearl District: Art, the Industrial District: Dystopian). Students and the authors then had time to ask questions of each other. We learned that many of the challenges students faced when making their maps are the same challenges encountered by real cartographers. Afterwards, everyone celebrated with hot cider and cookies. At the end, Nancee Hunter, director for the Center for Geography Education at PSU, encouraged the group, “Perhaps we’ll see you back here in a few years when you’re ready to become geographers!”


This has been a busy week for the seventh and eighth graders as they also prepared to present their initial data on Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. The students have worked in expert groups all fall to collect soil, water, and wildlife data from five different locations around the reservoir. They presented their findings to PPR ecologist Laura Guderyahn Thursday morning and fielded her questions and feedback. This is the first stage of a three-year-long project to collect data and help PPR fully understand the impact of their upcoming construction project at Oaks Bottom.


And for one last snapshot from our week, a native fish visited our fourth and fifth grade classroom on Tuesday. As a culmination to a mini-unit on lamprey, Maureen Hosty, the program coordinator for Multnomah County 4-H, brought live fish in to school for students to handle. The ancient species, once found abundantly in the Columbia River, are on loan to 4-H and will be released in the Gorge this spring. As part for their unit, students created posters promoting actions we can take to help protect lamprey; they will be on display in the Great Room.


Cottonwood kids will be out and about again in January, starting new projects. Until then, enjoy the break and see you in the new year!

Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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Fieldwork Coordinator Update

Date of Activity / Lesson:

Nov, 2017


South Waterfront, CSCS


Before Thanksgiving break, you learned that we have a new Little Free Library provided by the 1st and 2nd grade students. But this is more than a product from an art or design class– this library is the result of several weeks of hands-on learning about neighborhoods and community.


CSCS Little Library DrawingThe students began by constructing three-dimensional maps of a neighborhood in their classrooms, including people, buildings, streets, and transportation. Students then set out into our own neighborhood to learn more about the essential features. On their forays, they toured Umpqua Bank, Gray’s Landing apartment building, the OSHU tram, a fire department downtown, the Central Library, and local parks. They rode the streetcar and learned more about walking the city sidewalks. Additionally, a Portland police officer visited the classrooms and Charlene Zidell talked to students about her family history and the future development of the South Waterfront. All through these explorations, students asked the people they met what community means to them. The answers helped to build students’ own understanding of community. In the classroom, teachers shared books to support this learning and contribute diverse perspectives of children living in other urban area.


CSCS Little Library Drawing After thoroughly exploring our neighborhood, students discovered that the South Waterfront does not have a library. They decided to build a Little Free Library, which several students had seen in their home neighborhoods. Jeff Slinger from Andersen construction visited the classrooms to give a quick lesson on essential design features and using the list of features, students came up with designs for the folks at Andersen to build. Among others requests, students asked that the library be shaped like a house, have a triangle-shaped roof with a chimney, and have a glass door. The builders created a beautiful structure based on student drawings and brought it into school for the children to paint.


CSCS Little LibraryThe project has two culminating events:

– On Friday, November 17th, the library was installed, unveiled, and is now open for business!

– On November 30th, students will be meeting with their reading buddies at Mirabella retirement home to share lunch and join together in a community-building activity.


Not only has this curricular unit been enriching and educational for the students to learn about the place where they live, but they have also provided the school and neighborhood a service by giving us a Little Free Library. Thank you, 1st and 2nd grades!

Sarah K. Anderson, Fieldwork Coordinator, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

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