Fieldwork Coordinator Update – May, 2021


Fieldwork Coordinator Update – May, 2021

Date of Activity / Lesson:

May 2021


The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science


The Teaching Fence


Over the past year, our fence facing Bancroft Street has attracted much attention. Last summer, many students and families showed their support for our Black families by posting homemade signs. These cardboard and paper messages filled the fenceline and elicited responses from the greater community, some hostile, but mostly encouraging.


This experience taught us that we have a powerful teaching platform that we were unaware of until now: our fence! We realized that we can use our fence as a way to bring student learning into the community in a natural and effective way. Our first installation was posted at the end of April. 6th grade students in Lisa’s class researched and wrote biographies about influential Black people from American history and their work is now hanging for all to see. We regularly observe neighbors and visitors to the South Waterfront reading the biographies and snapping photos of the artwork. The students have become the teachers! Thank you to them for sharing their work with the community.


Below is the statement that accompanies the student work on the fence. Stay tuned for a new installation soon!


Black History = American History = Our History


At the Cottonwood School, 6th graders become historians and investigate the past as historians do. By reading and analyzing primary source documents such as photos, government documents, interviews, maps, and more, the students pieced together how America was formed and how it has changed over time. 


What you see here are short biographies (around 250 words) written by the students meant to answer the question “Why should we know and care about …..?” We met and worked with several professional historians who guided our research. 


Finally, students put their visual art skills to work as they explored several ways to highlight a person’s face and created a portrait of the person they wrote about. 


We hope you enjoy these little views into history and perhaps learn more about our past and are inspired by the resilience and courage of these powerful Americans.


By: 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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