Info Sessions 2018

In The Field

Fieldwork Coordinator Update, February 2018


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...Read More »

Fieldwork Coordinator Update January 2018

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...Read More »

December, 2017 Fieldwork Update

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...Read More »

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...Read More »

Spring Fieldwork and Place-Based Education Round-Up

What have our students been up to this spring? Here’s an overview:

Kinders exploring the pond at Oaks Bottom

Kindergardeners have made multiple treks to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge to investigate pond life and learn about native plants. They’ve created a...Read More »

Winter Trimester Fieldwork Update


      As a place-based school we are always looking for ways to lead our students in local explorations. But by the time they reach middle school, students are ready to further investigate how local issues connect to the bigger picture.

This winter, our 7th and 8th graders...Read More »

New Place-Based Education Article by Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson, the Fieldwork and Place-Based Education Coordinator of Southwest Charter School has written a new article for

Here is a sample of the article below:

Place-based education is helping students make greater connections between their lives, their learning, and the places where they live. Through this approach, teachers find ways...Read More »

Winter 2017 Fieldwork Coordinator Update

How does the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s connect to Portland? Didn’t segregation only happen in the South? Hasn’t Portland always been a “progressive” city?

If you’re looking for an answer to these questions and more, ask a 6th grader!

In January, 6th graders...Read More »

Fieldwork Coordinator Update January 2017

Despite the rain (and snow!), fieldwork continues at Southwest Charter. Forays into the community are augmented with classroom visits from local experts and other knowledgeable neighbors. Here is the breakdown of project work and related fieldwork for this winter:

Kindergarten: Animals in Winter
Tryon Creek State Park
Classroom visit from...Read More »

November 2016 Fieldwork Coordinator Update

Kinders and Farming

At Old McDonald’s Farm in Corbett

This fall, our kindergarteners have been asking themselves the questions: What is a farm? What is a farmer? What does a farmer do? To answer these questions, they have conducted a lot of...Read More »

October Fieldwork Coordinator Update

Ready or not, the rainy season has started. Water is trickling down streets, tumbling down creeks, and rushing into the Willamette. At the same time, Salmon are struggling to make it back home. This fall, our 4th and 5th graders are studying the path water takes from the...Read More »

Fieldwork Coordinator Update September 2016

Autumn is here and fieldwork is about to go into full swing at Southwest Charter. Below is an overview of school-wide curricular units and related fieldwork this fall trimester.


Kindergartens: Farming

Zenger Farms is SE Portland

Lee Farms in Tualatin  

Old McDonald’s Farm in...Read More »

Agenda for the Southwest Charter School Board

Southwest Charter School
0640 SW Bancroft St, Portland, OR 97239

Thursday, September 22nd 6 :30 p.m.

The Southwest Charter School board will meet in Special Executive Session pursuant to ORS 192.660 Section 2(i) to review and evaluate the employment‐related performance of the chief executive...Read More »

Fieldwork and Place-based Coordinator Report 2015/2016

To gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the work of our school please take this opportunity to look over Southwest Charter School’s Fieldwork and Place-based Coordinator Sarah Anderson’s 2015/2016 Annual Report.


Fieldwork and Place-based Coordinator Report 2015-2016

...Read More »

Spring Fieldwork Roundup

Here are fieldwork highlights from around our school this spring trimester:


Kindergartens made several visits to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge to explore, play and learn lots of important facts about wetlands, frogs and the life cycle. They presented their learnings in a wetland museum in their...Read More »

Spring 2016 Fieldwork Coordinator Update

Here are a few place-based highlights from this spring at Southwest Charter:


Chef Seth at Aquariva

This March the 1st and 2nd graders celebrated the end of their restaurant unit. As part of this unit, students designed their own restaurant and studied different aspects of restaurant...Read More »

Go on a Geology Quest!

The 4th and 5th graders of Southwest Charter School have worked hard to create a unique guide to downtown Portland, dubbed the Downtown Portland Geology Quest. This self-guided tour of fourteen downtown Portland buildings is intended to teach curious folks of all ages about the kinds of rock our city’s...Read More »

7th and 8th Graders and Project Citizen Featured on FM News 101 KXL

A group of 7th and 8th graders and Fieldwork Coordinator, Sarah Anderson, are interviewed by Jim Ferretti. Students talk about their current Project Citizen project, the unique process they go through in the classroom, and the overall success of the program in our school.

Listen Here

...Read More »

Portland Tribune Story - School Notes: Outdoor School funding rally; Portland kids' geology quest

A geology quest for local kids, by local kids

A group of Portland elementary school students have created a geological “quest” that will live indefinitely at the Wells Fargo Museum in downtown Portland.

Read the article here.

...Read More »

Fieldwork Coordinator Update-January 2016

You may think that winter is not a great time to be outdoors in Portland, but don’t tell that to our kids! As part of our adopt-a-place program, our kindergarteners, 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th and 8th graders have all braved the rain and mud while improving their partner parks in...Read More »

Field Work Update - November, 2015

Ancient squid and starfish fossils. Roots of a 1.8 billion year-old, compressed Minnesota mountain. Rocks from France, Germany, India, Italy, California, and Indiana. The same marble that Michelangelo used to carve David. Where can you find all of these geologic treasures? As our 4th and 5th graders...Read More »

Field Coordinator Update - September, 2015

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...Read More »

Field Coordinator Update - 7/6/15

This spring, many of our students completely immersed themselves in our local history and environment!


Our third and fourth grades spent the spring trimester studying Portland history, with a special focus on bridges. Both classes went on a walking tour of downtown and toured our bridges from the unique perspective of...Read More »

SW Charter Students Take Inaugural Ride on Max Orange Line


New Tilikum Crossing Bridge.

SW Charter students got a special opportunity to be some of the very first Max passengers across the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge. The Bridge, which formally opens in September, is built specifically for mass transit, bike and pedestrian use and will...Read More »

SWCS Students Sing Up a Storm

Mayor Charlie Hales joins in the singing with students from Southwest Charter School, King Elementary and Oregon Trail Academy on May 22, 2015.

On May 22, 170 students from King Elementary School, Oregon Trail Academy and Southwest Charter School came together with Aaron Nigel...Read More »

Field Work Coordinator Update #6 - May 2015

Fieldwork Coordinator Update, May 2015

With only two weeks left of school there is much activity to report! Here are some highlights from two of our classrooms:

The first and second grade students are deep into a food unit, with a focus on food security. They are asking guiding questions such a...Read More »

Student Comic Book: SWCS’s Hunt For History

In Spring 2015, Know Your City partnered with SW Charter School to offer a comics workshop that supported their term-long study of the history of civil rights movement and local African American history. During the course of several weeks teachers Lisa Colombo and Karinsa Kelly led the students in discussions and...Read More »

Field Work Coordinator Update #5 - 7/8 Classes Study Immigration

Immigration is a hot topic. For middle school students tuning into recent news, there are lots of questions: Why is there so much debate about immigration? How did we get to our current legal position on immigration? What are the different perspectives and who has them?

This winter, our 7th...Read More »

Field Work Update #4 - 5th and 6th Grades Study Civil Rights and Local Black History

Are you looking for a dynamic, revelational, and creative study of local history? Look no further than our 5th and 6th grade classrooms at SWCS!

To prepare students for an in-depth investigation into Portland’s African-American history, Lisa and Karinsa led students in a week-long conversation about the recent police shootings...Read More »

8th Graders' Smoking Ban Project Helps Bring Cleaner Air to Portland Parks

Some of you may have heard that the Portland City Council voted on Wednesday (February 18) to ban smoking in all City of Portland Parks. The ban, proposed by Commissioner Amanda Fritz, passed on a 4-1 vote. A group of our 8th graders who had worked on this ban for their Project Citizen...Read More »

Field Work Coordinator Update #3 - 2/3/15

What are elements of a mountain? What lives on a mountain? How do weather and people effect mountains? How are mountains created? These are just some of the questions our 1st and 2nd graders are exploring this winter. As part of this trimester-long unit, students trekked to the...Read More »

SWCS Awarded Arts Grant from Regional Arts & Culture Council

We are pleased to announce that SWCS has been awarded a grant of $2,600 for 2015 from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)! The grant will fund a project that partners our 5/6 classes with the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) and local multi-disciplinary artist, Nina Montenegro. The NCNM has...Read More »

SWCS Middle Schoolers Help City with Tree Inventory

During this fall, seventh and eighth grade students embarked on a big job.

Their task?

To catalog as many trees in the South Waterfront as possible. They learned how to use dichotomous keys to identify the trees, and then collected standard measurements of the trees for the City. Prior to our students’...Read More »

SWCS K-7 Students Preview New Park

On a cold, clear and blustery day, Southwest Charter School K-7 students got a special sneak-peek tour at the new South Waterfront Greenway. This is the new park that has been built between the condo towers and the Willamette River just a few minutes from our school. JW Fowler...Read More »

Field Work Coordinator Update - 12/2/14

5/6 teacher Lisa Colombo sees things differently now that she has taught an intensive animal tracking class. “At first, the forest just looks like a forest, but when you look closer, you see MILLION little things!” This was among the many observations she shared after returning with...Read More »

Field Work Coordinator Update #1

Note from Anne Gurnee, Education Director: Your amazing support at last year’s auction helped make a new position possible at Southwest Charter School, the Field Work Coordinator. We were fortunate to hire our own, Sarah Anderson (former 7/8 Humanities teacher) to fill the position. And she has been busy! She...Read More »