November, 2017 Fieldwork Update

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.

The 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.

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.

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