Fieldwork Coordinator Update – Dec 2020, Part 2


Fieldwork Coordinator Update – Dec 2020, Part 2

Date of Activity / Lesson:

Dec 2020


Homes, Backyards, Neighborhoods


Kindergarten: Family and Identity


This fall the kindergarten class explored family diversity through close examination of people, place and time. We focused our study by looking closely at identity: What are the characteristics that make us who we are and how closely are they related to the place we live, the people we come from, history, historical events and the time in which we live? The kindergarteners considered the elements of self-identity and discussed how our beliefs, ideas, interests and appearance influence our sense of self. We then “traveled” to the Portland airport where we looked closely at the PDX mural entitled A Place Called Home to explore cultural, racial identity and diversity. We traveled in time through the creation of family trees, timelines, family artifacts and artistic representations of “identity” at The Portland Art Museum. The kindergartners shared how their families are unique through “family gifts,” recipes, and special places. We discovered diversity within our small kindergarten community and learned that the “Beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people.”


– Kindergarten Teacher, Kimberley Bonder


6th Grade: The Medical School of Colombo


This Fall, the 6th graders were gifted a free ride to the University of Colombo Medical School. In this hands-on unit, the students explored what it means to be human, looked deep into the organs and tissues that make us up, created cell models and analogies, bred marshmallow insects to explore genetics, and even dissected at home. The students taught each other about each body system to prepare for the MCAT (a tough exam on all the body systems). It was a proud moment when all the hard work paid off!


– 6th Grade Teacher, Lisa Colombo


7th/8th Grade: Trash and Recycling


This fall we took an extensive look at the system of extraction and deposition we call “trash.” We started with the foundational fact that just by being alive we naturally produce byproducts, like any living organism. We looked at how humans are different from other organisms around the planet in how we use what is around us. We then explored the definition of “trash” and how it can change based on who is looking at an item. We extended this concept in our exploration of the Honorable Harvest through Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass. Students read passages from Kimmerer’s book about the topics of Honorable Harvest and gratitude. Each time students seamlessly made connections between how we live and what we end up throwing away.


We also looked at the amount of trash in each of our neighborhoods by taking walks for three different days in the same areas to see what litter we could find. We were able to understand this data better through graphing and discussion. We used online resources from Metro to explore their transfer station, watch videos about what happens to trash after it is picked up from the curb, and even welcomed a Master Recycler as a guest speaker. Students took their foundational knowledge and created their own questions which drove 90% of our talk with Master Recycler, Colleen Johnston. Students really appreciated how Colleen was able to answer all of their questions! Using this experience students then created surveys about trash and recycling to learn more about how our community deals with these essential parts of being alive. The culmination of the unit had students analyzing the results of those surveys and presenting that data to each other.


Students also looked at the concept of Fast Fashion through our partnership with artist and author Nina Montenegro. Nina presented on how Fast Fashion creates a plethora of negative impacts, from the working conditions of those who are making the materials and clothing we buy, to the environmental impact of waste water from where the cloth is dyed, to actual clothes and how they are thrown away once the next fashion comes out. Nina also presented the concept of Slow Fashion as a response to the overproduction and wasteful practice of fast fashion. By reading excerpts from Nina’s book, Mending Life, students learned the concepts of mending and were tasked with mending an article of clothing as a small action project to reduce the impact of clothing waste. Our last class of the term students presented the results of their mending, their data from the surveys, and reflected on what they learned about trash and our part in the system.


– 7th/8th Grade math and science teacher, Chris Wyland


The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science Teachers and 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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