Chagrin Falls Middle School eighth grade students experienced higher-level learning before, during and after their visit to Washington D.C. Prior to the trip, students examined the definition of “values” and how they are are reflected in United States’ monuments. They enjoyed talking with Vietnam veterans from the group Rolling Thunder to make personal connections to the meaning behind monuments. In social studies, students researched a monument that they would visit while in Washington, D.C., demonstrating how values are reflected in it. After researching the symbols, meaning, history, and materials used for an existing monument in D.C., the students were asked to work with their D.C. roommates to create a monument that should be built.
The students wrote a persuasive business letter, created a slide presentation, who/what was being honored, and materials used to build the monument to pitch to adult judges. They then were given some materials to build a 3D model to show during their presentation.
The students incorporated this lesson in many subject areas. In English Language Arts, students read a narrative of a girl from Vietnam and wrote a persuasive business letter to convince adult judges that the monument they have designed should be built in our nation’s capitol. They also created blueprints in math class and chose a material to build the proposed monument based on erosion studies in science. In world language, students produced brochures on their monument in the target language. As a motivator to produce top quality work, the highest scoring group from each room became the “DC V.I.P.S.” These V.I.P.s received passes entitling them to first choice of seats on the bus, choice of movie, first dismissal at buffets, and a pizza delivered to their hotel room.
While in Washington, May 31st to June 2nd, all students took part in an interactive scavenger hunt and selfie adventure to document their time and experiences. When the students returned to school after their trip, they created slides to share with the entire eighth grade of their six super selfies and experiences.