Welcome back! School may have only just begun a few weeks ago, but our field work program is in full swing! Here are a few things of note as we start a new school year.
We have launched a school-wide program called “Adopt-a-Place” which partners every grade level with a near-by natural area. Our goal is to encourage a deeper connection between students and specific places — and to foster future stewards of the earth, as proposed in our school’s mission! Each grade level will visit their place at least six times a year (twice a trimester). Two of those visits will focus on service or restoration work and the other four visits will connect with the curriculum in some way (art, literacy, community building). Some teachers are planning additional projects in their places to take advantage of a natural setting for fieldwork, like the sixth grade extended study of banana slugs! As students move through the SWCS grade levels, they will develop strong bonds with the lands around us. The grade-level partnerships are:
Kindergarten: Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
1st and 2nd Grades: Cottonwood Bay
3rd Grade: Willamette Park
4th and 5th Grades: Johnson Creek Park
6th Grade: Tryon Creek State Park
7th and 8th Grades: Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge — This overlap with the Kindergartners allows older students to come full circle in their stewardship cycle, and allows our youngest and eldest students to work together on projects.
Our school has made mapping one of our place-based learning priorities for the 2015-16 school year. Over the summer, teachers read the book Mapmaking with Children: Sense of Place Education for the Elementary Years by David Sobel to prepare for this year. (It’s a good read- check it out!) Not only is mapping (both reading and making maps) a basic geography skill, it is also one of the best tools for developing a sense of place in children (and adults!). This fall, students are mapping local areas in a variety of ways. The size of the location grows with the age of the children: The kindergartners are mapping their classroom, the 1st and 2nd graders are mapping the playground, the 3rd graders are mapping the school, the 4th and 5th graders are mapping the two neighborhood parks, the 6th graders are mapping the South Waterfront neighborhood, and the 7th and 8th graders are mapping Portland. Many of the maps will be on display in the hallway starting next week, and all of the maps will be on display during conferences. All classrooms will incorporate at least one more mapping project into their curriculum this year, but perhaps more.
7th and 8th Grade Retreat
The 7th and 8th grade classes embarked on their first annual fall retreat this month. Students traveled to Twin Rocks Friends Camp in Rockaway Beach for three days of what turned out to be beautiful weather. While on retreat, students hiked Cape Lookout, climbed Mt. Neah-Kah-Nie, played team-building games, created a class contract and spent quality time together, setting up for a fantastic year.
What to look for in future fall updates:
-4th and 5th graders partner with the Geological Society of the Oregon Country
-1st and 2nd graders work with South Waterfront Community Relations to help welcome and orient new residents