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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