Deepen Your Place-Based Professional Practice

The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science offers programs for place-based education (PBE) professional development to help you strengthen and organize your program. Opportunities extend across curriculum and grade levels and can be tailored for your organization’s needs.

In the field
What Educators Have Said About our Workshops:
One of the best PD experiences ever -- meaningful, insightful, practical, and important.
I couldn’t be more happy or satisfied. Thank you!
This was the only time I can honestly say that I left a professional development session with a bit of a burning fire in my gut to go out and do excellent things…. Thank you for your guidance, organization, and positivity. It was extremely refreshing.
Who are we?



The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science (CSCS) is a tuition-free public K-8 charter school in Portland, Oregon. Our vision is to look beyond classroom walls. We believe that healthy communities are created by engaged, informed and compassionate citizens, and that children learn best when participating in authentic, hands-on learning experiences that are closely tied to the community. Through service, integrated curriculum and experiential learning, we provide opportunities for our students to actively build relationships locally, inspiring them to become catalysts of change in a global community.


As established by the Oregon Legislature, charter schools are intended to serve as laboratories for learning that disseminate successful practice to other educators and institutions around the state. The Cottonwood School aims to fulfill this charge by collaborating with educators across the region to build a network of place-based practitioners who share a common vision. Join us!


How do we define place-based education?



A holistic view of environment: Place-based education immerses students in their local environment by looking through cultural, social, natural lenses.


Community-building: One of the primary goals of place-based education is building healthy, sustainable communities both in and beyond school walls. Curricular goals merge with community goals. Students and educators collaborate with local partners to create meaningful projects.


Student and Civic Engagement: Students and educators apply skills and content from multiple disciplinary areas when working of projects. Integrated studies have proven to be one of the most successful strategies for increasing student engagement. Young people gain hands-on experience with leadership skills and the democratic process through civic engagement.


Diverse Perspectives: We seek and honor multiple, diverse perspectives to build a more complete and inclusive understanding of the places we live. We apply the lenses of eco- and social- justice when developing partnerships and projects.

Professional Development Workshop Options



Workshops can vary from one day to multiple days. Any of the elements listed below can be used to custom tailor a program specifically for your school. Expectations for participants will vary according to the program we build together. Follow-up mentoring is recommended, as this has proven to be the most successful way to help teachers develop skills and confidence as place-based practitioners.



  • Definitions of the “what” and “why” of place-based education (PBE) and information that helps to build a deeper understanding of how place-based curriculum design works
  • Examples of place-based projects (slideshow, videos)
  • The concept of place and why it is vital for schools/teachers to incorporate it into the curriculum
  • Integrated learning: how does it work?
  • Mapping and geography in the place-based classroom
  • How to incorporate student voice
  • How to connect place-based projects to the standards
  • How to create authentic assessment
  • And more


Process for the workshops include facilitator presentation, hands-on activities, time for reading and reflection, time for collaboration and trouble-shooting, and practice with planning and implementation. Most importantly, we can work with you to create a professional development experience that is unique to your place and institution. Our goal is to make the program relevant, useful, and clearly connected to your needs.


Rates will vary according to program and duration.


More Testimonials From Educators:
Great resources and a variety of teaching styles throughout the day. Very collaborative.
I loved the hands-on activities that were incorporated into the workshop…. Very well-organized and

For more information or to discuss professional development options, contact Sarah Anderson
503-244-1967 ext. 317

One Hour Presentations



These short sessions are designed to introduce participants to place-based education as an instructional approach. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the power of local studies, civic engagement, and education for sustainability. In some cases, participants will leave with planning materials and other resources. Sessions can also have a hands-on component for teachers to brainstorm, collaborate, and share.


What is Place-Based Education (PBE)?

  • Definition
  • Examples of projects at multiple grade levels
  • Necessary elements for a successful practice


Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs: The Black History of Portland, Oregon

A Middle School Curriculum

  • Explanation of place-based education and origin of curriculum
  • Hands-on training on how to use the primary source-based lessons
  • Lots of resources, practical information on implementation, and tips on how to bring community connections into your classroom


Learn More at the website: Civil Rights And Civil Wrongs, The Black History Of Portland, Oregon


Why is Now the Time for Place-Based Education?

  • Ten reasons why now is the time for PBE (based on Chapter One from Bringing School to Life: Place-based Education Across the Curriculum by Sarah Anderson)


The following presentations include an introduction to place-based education, examples of projects related to the topic, and necessary elements for a successful practice. They can also include a hands-on, participatory element.


  • Place-based Social Studies: Connecting Students to their Communities
  • Place-based Science: Connecting Students to their Communities
  • Mapping and Place-based Education
  • Building Local Partnerships through Place-based Education
  • Place-based Education, Justice, and Civic Engagement

For more information or to discuss professional development options, contact Sarah Anderson
503-244-1967 ext. 317

Past Events:

August 13-15, 2019

Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs:

Teaching Portland’s Black History through Primary Sources

An Educator’s Workshop


The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science offered a 3-day workshop to prepare educators to teach the middle school curriculum      


Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs: A History of Portland’s Black Community.    


There is no cost for the training, thanks to the Library of Congress. Here are all of the benefits:


  • Access to the curriculum online, containing over 100 primary sources
  • Library of Congress resources and strategies
  • Coaching in culturally responsive teaching practices
  • Several additional resource books
  • 24 PD units
  • Light breakfast and lunch included
  • Limited number of stipends available to help with travel costs
  • Opportunity for networking and continued support into the next school year


This 3 day workshop took place August 13-15, 2019 at the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science in the South Waterfront neighborhood of Portland.


Learn More

Visit the Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs Website


Testimonials from last summer’s attendees:


“One of the best PD experiences ever- meaningful, practical, and important.”


“Thank you for all the labor of love and passion that went into putting together such a rich curriculum AND bringing together an amazing group of individuals.”


“I couldn’t be more happy or satisfied.”


“I feel so lucky to have been able to be part of this.”

For more information or to discuss professional development options, contact Sarah Anderson
503-244-1967 ext. 317

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