Fieldwork Coordinator Update – April 2019


Fieldwork Coordinator Update - April 2019

Date of Activity / Lesson:

April 2019


Fossil, Oregon; Smith Rock; Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Willamette Park, Tryon Creek Natural Area, Willamette Greenway and Cottonwood Bay; South Waterfront


Middle School Overnight Trips


If you noticed that the school was a little more quiet earlier this month, that’s because our middle school students all had overnight trips in April.


The 6th grade class ventured to outdoor school soon after spring break. From teacher Lisa: “The 6th graders, courtesy of Outdoor School for All funds, spent 3 days in Fossil, Oregon at OMSI’s Camp Hancock. They spent a day learning survival skills including firemaking, shelter building, and finding and purifying water. Students played teambuilding games, went on a night hike to experience adaptation skills and learn about triboluminescence, hiked to the Hancock tree to learn about rocks and minerals and the local geology, and observed plants during an ethnobotany class. Highlights for sure were the campfires, the food, and the squirrely dance.”


Sounds like so much fun and definitely something for the fifth graders to look forward to next year!


Meanwhile, the 7th and 8th graders journeyed to Smith Rock for a four day rock-climbing camp led by Outward Bound. Students set up their own sleeping tarps, survived a cold, rainy night exposed to the elements, and enjoyed the beauty of Smith Rock while learning rock-climbing basics. From Teacher Chris:


“In our final closing circle our director asked the group if they had fun in Smith Rock and the group overwhelmingly yelled ‘yeah!’ A few students have come up to me during this trip to say that they didn’t want to come before the trip but they are so glad they came. All students seem able to articulate how cool of an opportunity this was for them. Giles, our Outward Bound director, finished out by talking about transference. This is where you take lessons learned on this course and transfer it to your life. After the climbing wall the instructors asked students “Who belays you in your life back in Portland?” Many students listed parents, friends, pets etc. they were thinking about people/beings who support them through challenging situations. Many students expressed overcoming hurdles they thought were insurmountable. At the evening meeting I attended last night, the whole group identified how everyone deserves to feel proud because of how they supported each other and overcame personal challenges.”


Thank you to everyone who make these invaluable trips possible, including Outdoor School for All, Outward Bound, parent chaperones and drivers, and those who supported the fundraising bake sales. These trips are an important element of our school culture and we are grateful that we are able to provide such lasting memories for our students.




Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Willamette Park. Tryon Creek Natural Area. Willamette Greenway and Cottonwood Bay. What do all of these local natural areas have in common? They have all been “adopted” by our classrooms as part of our Adopt-a-Place program. Through this program, every class visits their adopted place several times over the school year. Some of those visits are exploratory, some are related to classroom curriculum, and a couple are focused on restoration efforts to help maintain the site, such as planting, mulching, or pulling invasive species. The purpose of the program is to foster connections between our students and our natural areas by providing time for them to play, learn, and care. We have also built meaningful relationships: Portland Parks and Recreation and Friends of Tryon Creek two of our longest standing partners. Thank you to parent chaperones who help us maintain the program by chaperoning our visits- we couldn’t do it without you!

Place-based Art


When you walk down the hallway between our 4th/5th grade classrooms and the kindergarten, you have certainly noticed and appreciated the student artwork hung by k-5 art teacher, Melissa Allen. Melissa brings many topics and themes into student projects, such as holidays, families, art history, and she also connects to our place-based themes. Examples over the winter include animal crowns as part of the “Animals in Winter” unit in kindergarten, mountain portraits in the 1st/2nd grades, and etchings of the trickster god Raven as part of the 3rd grade unit on the Chinookan People. Melissa has collaborated once again with Sean Z Becker Real Estate in the South Waterfront to host a student art show. Please come on May 7th, 3-6pm to support our budding artists!

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

Stay tuned for more updates of Place-Based Education (PBE) adventures at The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science.

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