Student Trips to NYC: Try a a Behind-the-Scenes Workshop About Broadway Acting, Singing and Staging

by Howard Clemens

Theater arts, dance and music students are fascinated with Broadway Theater in New York City. Many take class trips to New York City to experience the theater district, take in a Broadway Musical or two, and eat in New York City restaurants and delicatessens. How many student groups on a NYC tour have also considered a Broadway Workshop? These workshops are designed to enhance acting skills and help students develop a greater understanding of one of the highest and most demanding levels achieved in the acting profession – Broadway acting.

Not too long ago, High School Musical was all the rage for students with acting aspirations. Once it was Wicked and The Lion King, drawing large audiences. Now it is Hamilton that is hot – and tickets hard to obtain. Behind the scenes Broadway Workshops keep up with what is trending on Broadway in some fun and extraordinary ways. The workshops are applicable to theater arts and inspire students to probe deeper into Broadway Musicals. At the same time these learning experiences show the hard and constant daily effort that goes into making sure all parts of the Broadway show work in concert.

Many trip leaders opt for the Broadway Rehearsal or Choir Workshop. The score from the musical the student group will attend is used, making the experience of seeing a Broadway musical more familiar. Students learn about choreography, staging and music from a cast member and a musical director. Choir Workshops focus on learning the vocal score of the musical.

There are other workshops to engage the young actor or actress, including a useful one for every aspiring actor – The Audition Workshop. Then there’s the Improv Workshop, Stage Combat and the Make Up Workshop for students who want to jump right into the action.

For teachers who want student groups to meet real Broadway Actors, Meet the Artist Q & A will be an excellent workshop to do so. Students meet the Broadway actor or actress in a rehearsal studio. Here the group can ask questions about life on Broadway in a private session with the artist, at a show which they may attend later. This is a great way for students to gain insights about life in New York City and the day-to-day demands and scheduling of a Broadway actor or actress.

For the student who already knows how hectic it can be backstage, the Broadway Quick Change workshop may be a great way to learn some tips from the experts. Student tour groups will see how the professionals change costumes quickly and effortlessly. A real Broadway actor will demonstrate a quick change and students will be invited to try it. Students will learn the importance of this skill for the acting profession – where space is often tight and several actors must change in a short period.

As mentioned earlier, Hamilton is now the hit Broadway Musical most theater art students will be familiar with already. The star of the show is loosely based on the historical Alexander Hamilton, a Cuban orphan who came to New York City penniless and emerged as a top writer and revolutionary of his day. The story is told in hip-hop style so students can relate if this is their preference in music. Trip leaders can either select a Hamilton Meet the Artist workshop, where students meet a real actor in his or her rehearsal studio, or the Hamilton Dance workshop, where students are introduced to the choreography behind Hamilton.

As a whole, participating in one or several Broadway Workshops is an active learning experience students will remember for some time. For more information on booking class trip to New York City that includes a Broadway Musical and participating in a workshop, Request a quote.

Students Trips to D.C. Include a Visit to Holocaust Museum: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors

by Howard Clemens

Student tours of Washington D.C. often include a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. A visit to the Museum can be an eye opening experience for students of this generation, who did not live through the war, and were not raised by parents that fought or participated in World War II.

Many of the popular Hollywood films about the holocaust focus on the experience of the Jewish population in Germany. However, the Jewish population throughout Europe was deeply affected by anti-Semitism and genocide. As the war progressed, the Nazis came to invade many different European countries and round up Jewish people for extermination at the camps in Germany.

The First Person Podcast Series by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is a wonderful resource for teachers who want to introduce students to the individual stories of holocaust survivors. It is also a great way to prepare them for a class trip to Washington D.C. that includes a stop to at the Museum on the itinerary.

Visit the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum and select the menu ‘Survivors and Victims.’ Page down and peruse the selections of audio podcasts available for online listening.

Genocide of the Jewish Population in Europe in the 1940s
These first person accounts of war and its consequences to families and whole populations will be an awakening for many students. Students may be familiar with the major battles of World War II and the politics of the war. However, these are personal accounts of intimidation, fear and hiding. Jewish people had to disguise their true identities and survive in a small amount of space – or go from house to house. Separation of husbands and wives and mothers and children was all too common.

These stories will leave students spellbound – and should be digested slowly. Post-listening exercises are recommended so students can fully integrate. A visit to the Museum will also assist in learning more.

The Nazi Resistance in Europe
There are also important details about those who courageously resisted Nazi control and aided those who were fleeing. Many of these allies were non-Jewish and taking a huge chance by hiding those who were. Listening to these Survivor Stories adds a whole new dimension to students’ knowledge and learning about the holocaust of World War II.

Each story has its own unique description of the challenge of a Jewish adult or child leaving war torn Europe. With the German army crossing through many war torn territories, this is quite a challenge and took a great deal of courage for the many who aided those who sought refuge elsewhere.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Nazi’s Stalled
One highlight of the First Person Podcast Series includes the story of Estelle Laughlin: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Poland, some of the fiercest resistance to a Nazi takeover came from an ill- supplied but prepared group of urban fighters. The resistance movement in the Warsaw Ghettos helped families to build secret bunkers before the Germans arrived. While war raged in the streets of
Warsaw families hid in bunkers to survive. This actually saved quite a few families, who were spirited away during lulls in this urban war. Laughlin’s story of resistance and escape is compelling, mostly because she was just a child.

Romania: Hiding from a Pogrom in Iasi
Heim Solomon’s story explains what the word ‘Pogrom’ means. After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 21, 1941, the Romanian Jewish population came under the authority of the Germans. The Nazis pressed upon the authorities of Romania to eliminate the Jewish population. The Jewish men of the town were summoned to the City Hall to be reissued new identification. From this room they were escorted into a stone outdoor enclosure. Here German soldiers would either split their heads or shoot them in the temple of he head. Later a garbage truck would clean up the trash. In the July 29th massacre, 4,000 would perish within the perimeter of the stonewall.

This particularly vicious form of genocide was terrifying to the Jewish population. Two of Heim’s brothers scaled the stone wall that night, and hid for 6 days without food or water. They hid themselves in a space above wood piled to the ceiling. Many more were lined up and sent by train and because it was so hot, one half of those who traveled died from lack of water. Solomon’s family was scattered during the roundup and after the Pogrom calmed down, in 4-5 days, they reorganized from their hiding. His scathing account of the inhumane treatment of the Nazi’s is not easy to listen to, however it gives a perspective not often recorded in history books.

Teachers may have to face hard subjects with students and will find creative ways to help them understand materials.

Resistance to fascism, survival in a hostile environment, and the ability to live in secrecy are just a few of the characteristics many survivors share. Students will learn about the struggles and turmoil of separating from family–immediate and extended. Most of all students will learn about the bravery of survivors and those who helped them.

For more information about a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. Request a Quote.

Take a Student Tour Group to Philadelphia to Study Black History

black history tour philadelphia
Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia was gathering place for abolitionists.

A student trip to Philadelphia is an excellent opportunity to study African American History. The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is the best starting point for the tour. The AAMP is the most definitive collection of African American art, culture and history and best describes the ever changing social fabric of African Americans that define the region. The native cultures of Africa are also honored here.

When founded, Philadelphia was a mixture of free slaves and indentured servants and the rules between each group were not clearly defined. At one time it was possible for a slave to be freed by his or her master, or to purchase freedom. Thus Philadelphia evolved as an abolitionist city and a place where some African Americans moved freely

The African American Museum in Philadelphia is located at 7th and Arch Streets, in the heart of Downtown Philadelphia. After a morning trip to the Museum, student travel groups can have lunch in nearby Chinatown or at the Reading Terminal Market.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia

The African American Museum in Philadelphia houses far more than art. In fact it traces the lives and work of a wide diaspora of African Americans across the United States and their heritage in the Philadelphia region and in native Africa. There is usually a rotating exhibit in one gallery. A significant show from the Permanent collection is always on display in another gallery: Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876. The exhibition is interactive, with a narrated timeline that spans 100 years. Trailblazers from the African American Community are highlighted with video projections telling the story of their lives. These video narratives make history larger than life for students. There are other educational programs at the Museum as well. For teachers preparing students for the trip, expect exercises will be eye opening and told from a unique historical perspective. Visit: http://www.aampmuseum.org/education.html to learn more about Traveling Trunks, Iconic Images Mural Tour and the Passport to Culture Summer Youth Enrichment Program.

Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation relocated from an estate in Merion, Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia several years ago. In order to satisfy Barnes’ will, which stated the art must be kept in the original mansion, those who designed the building’s interiors recreated them exactly as they were in the 1920s. The collection was displayed precisely in the same places inside the new building. The Barnes Foundation is next to the Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Albert C. Barnes is known for his collection of post-impressionist and early modern paintings. He also has an extensive African American collection of arts and practical items used in African cultures. Barnes felt the African Art to be a highly developed form. So, he collected figural sculptures, ceremonial masks, and domestic objects as well as those used in rituals and celebrations. The collection is worthwhile seeing on this tour. Many of these pieces of the African diaspora are now well documented by African American Art Scholar Christa Clarke, PhD.

President’s House Commemorative Site

A perhaps unknown facet about the President’s House in Philadelphia, which honors George and Martha Washington, is about the enslaved members of the household.

Altogether Washington brought 9 enslaved Africans to his three story mansion in Philadelphia, where he and Martha lived from 1790-97. President Washington was known to treat his slaves in his household well. Eventually he freed them in his will and donated money to the creation of the African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas. Students of Black History will find this remarkable and important historical site to visit.

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church

One of the first historically black and abolitionist churches in the new country was the Mother Bethel. A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia located at 6th and Lombard Streets. The first church was convened in 1794. In 1805, the building was expanded and the church leaders and congregation would become a leading force in fighting against slavery by helping those who escaped and were on the run. Beginning at its infancy, and as the decades wore on, the Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church would be a leading force in abolishing slavery all together. Bishop Richard Allen constructed the first church and expanded the second while leading a congregation of black Christians and allies in a fierce anti-slavery movement. All students of black history will want to visit the Richard Allen Museum, which is part of the Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church.

As any teacher can easily see, Philadelphia is a city rich in African American history, culture, politics and the arts. There are many more places to visit in Philadelphia, which celebrate black history, besides those noted here. Trip leaders and teachers may feel free to explore and suggest other places in Philadelphia that would enrich a black history tour.

For more information on taking a student group on tour of Philadelphia with black history as the focus, Request a Quote.

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Presenting a Fun, Online Classroom for Prepping Student Travelers

by Howard Clemens

There are many art museums across the United States with notable collections. Yet only a portion of these museums specialize in American Art. It is true that many museums collect American art, but few focus solely on it. A student tour of Washington D.C. is greatly enriched with a visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. A visit to this comprehensive museum will expose students to American Art and artists.

Class preparation for a trip like this is important. Many teachers will want to incorporate blended learning exercises to pique student interest in the class trip to D.C. Prior to a visit, teachers will want to explore the rich, in-depth classroom activities available online. Visit http://americanart.si.edu/education/activities/online/index.cfm to review them all.

AmericanArtMuseumTeachers will love the prepared exercises. Students will learn about American art from different perspectives. There are classroom exercises that focus on different eras in American Art, evolving identities for various ethnic groups, and fun, mystery solving exercises that help students retain what they learn.

An example of an inspiring and interesting exercise is Meet me at Midnight. This imaginary adventure involves a folk art sculpture coming to life at night and mixing up the art in the museum. Students are tasked with setting things aright.

There are a plethora of ways to learn about art. One of the ways to do this is to immerse students in the stories of artists. Many of the artists featured in American Kaleidoscope emerge from working class backgrounds or specific ethnic groups and achieve greater recognition for their works through social movements, such as Chicano Rights, Black Rights or even Women’s Rights.

Selecting Del Corazón! is a way to immerse students in the experience of the Latino artist. This classroom exercise features bi-lingual interviews of artists. Plus, the interactive zoomify feature allows students to take a closer look at work by this important group of Americans.

In Cleopatra: Lost and Found, students will learn more about the intersection of art and history. The focus in this exercise is gaining a unique understanding of historical, literary and biblical figures celebrated in the art of sculpture.

For many art students, participating in classroom activities online will be stimulating and fun –but these exercises still do not compare to a real time visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Downtown Washington D.C. Teachers will want to combine the online learning with a real visit to see the exhibitions.

class trips d.c.
Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum was renovated from 2000-2005. The Renwick Gallery is a centerpiece of the work completed and it is a stunning example of architecture. This was actually the first building in the U.S. specifically built to be an art museum. An important part of the gallery that is not to be missed is the Renwick Gallery. Located right across the street from the White House – this building houses American craft arts. The current exhibition is called Wonder. This exhibition of large-scale installations includes well-known cotemporary American artists.

Smithsonian American Art Museum continues to be a leader in art education across the United States. Since 2006, the Museum curatorial staff has launched 14 major traveling exhibitions of more than 1,000 pieces of art from its permanent collection. The Museum’s renovations left more time for curatorial staff to take a deeper look at the collection and send parts of it on tour.

There are plenty of reasons to take student groups on a trip to Washington D.C. For more information on a Student Art Tour of Washington D.C. or a general student tour of Washington D.C. that incorporates a visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Request a Quote.

Student Travel to New York City Includes a Look at a Diverse Immigrant History at Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum is a great place to visit to understand 19th Century immigrant lifesytles.
The Tenement Museum is a great place to visit to understand 19th Century immigrant lifesytles.

by Howard Clemens

Located near Chinatown in Lower Manhattan at 103 Orchard Street, the Tenement Museum is one of the most important museums chronicling the extensive history of American immigration in the past two centuries. There are restored apartments with detailed histories of the people who left their homes and families to live and work in this new and hopeful and often unpleasant new country. There are also many walking tours and themed exhibitions, making this the most in-depth museum of its kind.

A Time Capsule in Lower Manhattan?
While many Americans reluctantly recognize a new wave of anti-immigrant fervor, it is the perfect time to educate students about the historical trials of the millions who made their way to the United States for a better life. One of the best places for a closer examination of this history is New York’s Tenement Museum, founded by historian and social activist Ruth Abram. It was almost an accident that Abram and her cofounder Anita Jacobsen found their perfect location for the museum when inspecting the storefront property on Orchard Street. Cracking a door to a backroom was all it took for them to discover that the entire building was former tenement housing sealed from the public for more than half a century, the perfect time capsule.

Since then the site has become a national trust for historic preservation. Extensive and meticulous research has revealed details about the many mid-19th Century immigrant lives at the Orchard Street address. Over the past twenty years museum staff have restored half a dozen apartments, most recently the home of Irish immigrants, The Moores, who lived in the building in 1869. Students and teachers alike will learn while enjoying the restored tenement building for a complete time travel experience.

Museum Workshops Train Teachers in Diversity Learning
Educators can attend workshops at the museum that are specifically designed for them on building classroom curriculum about the historic aspects of early immigrants. The workshops include details on basic survival skills of the early immigrants. This included learning to buy and sell goods in the neighborhood. Outdoor markets, corner stores, bakeries, meats and dry goods stores shaped the overarching definition of what it means to live in an American city in an immigrant neighborhood.

Teachers will participate in discussions on individual immigrant histories and how families preserved their traditions to enrich the ever-changing cultural history of the United States. Sadly, part of this story involves a hard look at discrimination. The details of discriminatory hiring, housing and social practices against early immigrants can pave the way for a more complete and empathetic understanding of the difficulties in their lives. Large groups of people from various countries and backgrounds came to the United States for different reasons. One of the major reasons was to improve their situations by making better livelihoods – for themselves and their children. The U.S. offered this by being the ‘land of opportunity.’

Educators Learn About Immigrant Life in 19th Century NYC
A key component to the workshops looks at industry and how immigrants were used as cheap labor for factories. The kinds of work and the on-the-job dangers experienced are an important part of this discussion. Ultimately, immigrant communities would create unionization of workers to combat abusive practices of factory owners. The struggles of the new Americans helped shape the idea of fighting for control over the well-being and rights of every working person. These early immigrant workers made marks upon our nation that continue to be a point of contention for industry, workers and leading politicians.

Tenement Building and Walking Tours for Student Tour Groups
Many different experts have come together to uncover the history of the Orchard Street apartments. Wallpaper conservators, paint specialists and urban archeologists have combed the building to piece together stories that have implications in understanding family life and legislation of landlords.

The building tours have various themes. The “Shop Life” tour examines the many family owned businesses that grew out of different immigrant communities from butchers to undergarment discount stores. The “Sweatshop Workers” tour takes a look at the garment industry and the “Irish Outsiders” tour focuses on the Moores, a family faced with prejudice as they prepare for the historic St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Walking tours also have various themes, like “Tasting the Tenement,” a tour of the food in the surrounding neighborhood, from bagel shops to falafel cafes which remain an important part of the history of immigrants. There is also the “Tenements Talks” which are an ongoing series of discussions by writers and artists about their lives connecting to earlier immigrants. Upcoming talks by Laurie Anderson and others can be found on the museum website in the events listings.
Extending the Student Learning Experience
The museum offers activities on learning with objects and primary sources as well as lessons in oral history. There are also English as a Second Language (ESL) programs available. The Tenement Museum is situated in the heart of Lower Manhattan. It is a very quick walk to Chinatown, and New York City offers one of the busiest and most delicious Chinatown experiences in the nation. The Tenement Museum is a complete experience for students and teachers alike, and the surrounding neighborhood helps enrich the time spent there.

For more information on scheduling a student trip to New York City with the Tenement Museum on the itinerary, Request a Quote.

A Popular Broadway Musical Choice for Student Travel Groups is Hamilton and Other Shows

The 2016-2017 Broadway season is promising and filled with some popular choices in musicals for student travel groups. The Lion King and Wicked continue to make long-term runs on Broadway. These Broadway Shows are an excellent choice for student travel groups – because they accommodate groups in larger numbers. Each musical is presented in high Broadway style with video and audio sound effects and exceptional costuming, music and dance. A student trip to NYC is not complete without a trip to Broadway to take in a show.

For some students, perhaps the musical Frozen, due out in 2018, will be their first choice for a Broadway show in the near future. For now, audiences will have to wait for the production to come together.

The newest, hottest ticket on Broadway is Hamilton. This Broadway show won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Broadway Theater Album. As Hamilton’s popularity surges, so will ticket sales in the future. Be sure to arrange tickets far in advance with the help of a student travel company.

Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant and now he is an important part of Early American Revolutionary War studies. For history and social studies teachers, Hamilton promises to be a great boon to classroom studies and fun to attend as well. Taken from the 2004 biography by the same name as the musical, the book by Ron Chernow is a close look at Alexander Hamilton’s life. The musical traces this immigrant’s rise to fame as the youngest signer of The Declaration of Independence. Hamilton’s writings and ambition are what brought him to the inner circle of founding fathers. At the age of 22 Hamilton was the Aide de Camp of General George Washington, and by 34, he was the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury.

The composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has taken an unusual approach to this Off-Broadway musical, now the hottest ticket on Broadway.

Lin-Manuel Miranda also plays Hamilton and has based his life on the biography of Hamilton, but has given him the songs and dreams of a hip-hop star. Because Hamilton came from the Caribbean and was abandoned by his father, he had much insecurity about his birthright and his lower station in life. Hamilton is portrayed as a man who tended to overcompensate in dress and speech yet was eloquent enough to be successful.

One thing is for certain, the comparison to hip hop culture and speech will not be lost on high school students visiting Broadway for the first time. Hamilton’s costume is designed for the era in which he lived, with a flamboyant nod to Early American attire and styles. The musical is composed of songs that are a bold mixture of hip-hop, R & B and even 1970s pop. It’s a great example of a montage of American styles mixed into musical composition. Hamilton is truly a Broadway show student travel groups can get excited about.

Hamilton’s untimely death in a duel with his lifelong nemesis, Aaron Burr, came about in 1804. Perhaps this is another comparison to hip-hop culture – dying young yet courageously of a fatal gunshot wound from an enemy.

There are other great musicals for student travel groups to select from on Broadway, such as Beautiful, the Carole King Musical about the 1970s singer/songwriter star. Or groups may want to check out Holiday Inn, an Irving Berlin musical production that closes in the fall of 2016.

Student travel groups are sure to be amazed and dazzled by any of these professional theater productions.

Whatever the choice for Broadway musical, teachers and trip leaders will need assistance from a qualified student travel company in reserving and purchasing the correct number of seats for the desired production. To learn more about scheduling a student trip to New York City and Broadway, Request a Quote or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

A Class Trip to Harpers Ferry, Historic Armory and Civil War Battlefield Near Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

For those interested in studying the Civil War, a visit to Harpers Ferry will easily explain its critical geographical position. The natural boundary between north and south is the Potomac River. The Potomac River joins the Shenandoah River here, at the headwaters of the Shenandoah River Valley. During the Civil War, rail and ship transportation were key to supply chains for both armies. Harpers Ferry had both forms of transportation and was a strategic location between north and south. The Confederates were wooing Maryland residents to take up the Confederate side during the war and Harpers Ferry was a good position for this sort of public relations campaign.

A Short History of Harpers Ferry Before Civil War
The U.S. Armory and Arsenal was opened at Harpers Ferry in 1797. This facility produced over 600,000 muskets, rifles and pistols from 1707-1861. Harpers Ferry was also the first place in the U.S. to mechanize the production of weapons.

John Brown’s Raid
John Brown was an abolitionist with radical ideas about freeing slaves. He set out on the evening of October 16, 1859 to raid the U.S. Armory and Arsenal with the objective of seizing 100,000 weapons. These he planned to distribute to slaves to fight a guerilla war against slavery in the Shenandoah Valley. About a day and a half later, with Brown’s men killed or wounded, he was captured by the U.S. Marines. For his crimes of sedition against the country, he was hanged on December 2, 1859. John Brown’s Fort stands today as a memory of the raid, and the place where he was captured. It would take less than two years from the time of John Brown’s raid, and the country would be in a state of civil warfare.

Harpers Ferry During the Civil War
Confederate and Union soldiers passed through Harpers Ferry, making it a vulnerable location. Less than one day from the time Virginia seceded, Federal soldiers burned the armory n April 18, 1861. Yet only 15,000 weapons were burned, and Confederates were able to take the weapon making machinery into the South. The Confederates held Harpers Ferry until the Battle of Antietam concluded in 1862 then the Union reoccupied it . All together the town changed hands eight times between 1861 & 1865 – which illustrates its significance.

Harpers Ferry Jeopardy – Easy to Download and Play
To make it fun for students to prepare for a trip to Washington D.C. and Harpers Ferry, the National Park Service has a game (designed in Powerpoint) called Harpers Ferry Jeopardy. Another useful classroom teaching tool, The War for Freedom is designed for the student to gain a better understanding of slavery and emancipation. The War for Freedom includes intro text, teacher pages, learning activities and additional resources. Students can learn about slavery from the viewpoint of a slave and trace his or her journey to emancipation. Also documented in this section are actual stories of African American soldiers who fought hard for their freedom on different battlefields of the Civil War.

Middle School Lessons Plans for Social Studies Students
The National Park Service has designed a lesson geared towards 5th-8th graders that focuses specifically on Harpers Ferry. The Battle for Harpers Ferry, 1862: Harpers Ferry is the Key! includes four lesson plans that take 30-40 minutes to cover in the classroom. Students gain a better understanding of the strategic importance of Harpers Ferry for the Union and learn more about the life of a Civil War soldier.

With so many great classroom tools to work with, teachers will find it easier to help students understand the importance of Harpers Ferry during the Civil War era. They will also be able to tie this lesson into another about the Battle for Antietam. A real visit to Harpers Ferry will enable students to understand the geographic position of Harpers Ferry today and to view some of the historic sites where armies were situated. Harpers Ferry has sites and trails in three different states: West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

To plan a student tour of Harpers Ferry with a student travel company, Request a Quote or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Resources for Teachers:

The Battle for Harpers Ferry
http://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/education/classrooms/battle-of-hf-2.htm
War for Freedom
http://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/education/war-for-freedom.htm
Harpers Ferry Jeopardy
http://www.nps.gov/hafe/learn/education/classrooms/curriculummaterials.htm

Antietam: A Civil War Battle to Defend the Capital and Gateway to the North

by Howard Clemens

Student groups studying the Civil War Battle of Antietam will find a visit to this historic place to be a beneficial learning experience. Named after a creek in Maryland near Sharpsburg, Antietam Creek once ran through farmland and forests. It was in this remote section of Maryland that General Robert E. Lee made his first incursion into the North and took a firm stand against the Union Army.

The fated day of the battle of Antietam was on September 17, 1862. This first battle in Maryland was traumatic, with 100,000 soldiers clashing. Over 23,000 soldiers were lost during the 12-hour battle of Antietam with casualties the heaviest on the Confederate side, around 15,000 soldiers. Although most people believe Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, in fact it was the Battle of Antietam.

Antietam was part of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s overall strategy of advancing his Army of Northern Virginia into the North. This would bring the Civil War to the Union territories. He hoped to inspire some to rethink their position on the Civil War altogether. In Maryland, the populace was divided as to allegiance to North or South. Lee sought to convince the slaveholders and propertied landowners of Maryland to join the Confederate cause.

Not far away, Washington D.C., the Union Capital city, needed to be defended. Lee’s first attempt to bring the battleground North was also seen as a mighty force being brought upon the nation’s capital. His invasion was answered with the full force of the Union Army.

General Robert E. Lee gathered his army on the western banks of Antietam Creek. Meanwhile, Stonewall Jackson’s troops held the left flank and General James Longstreet’s army held the center position for the Confederates. Human losses at Antietam were devastatingly large because the battle lasted over 12 hours. There were huge casualties on both sides. On September 18th, both armies carried the wounded away and buried their dead.

Lee and the Confederate Army took leave of Sharpsburg and Maryland altogether. They crossed the Potomac River back into Virginia, much to the relief of the Union soldiers and citizens of the North. This first decisive battle would leave its mark on Confederate and Union troops. It surely was a bold move by a General whose strategy was unique and took chances.

antietam-large1
The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

For the small town of Sharpsburg, Maryland this battle of the Civil War was a devastating blow. Properties were destroyed and crops were burned. Much was lost, including livestock and other food sources. Now the people of the North knew what it was like to live amongst battle torn countryside and ruins.

Students Travel to Battle Site to Learn More About Antietam
Prior to a planned class trip to Antietam National Battlefield, students will want to study this year in the Civil War that included other decisive battles. One such battle was for Harpers Ferry, which took place in tandem with Antietam. While Lee positioned troops on the northern front, Stonewall Jackson’s army took Harpers Ferry, a town that possessed a strategic railway station and a large munitions cache.

Another focus area of study may include an investigation into Lee’s strategy to bring the Confederate Army – and Civil War – North. By visiting Antietam, students can participate in the Parks as Classroom program and learn more about the background of the land, its people and the soldiers who fought there. At the Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center students can review historical photographs, sketches and paintings of the battlefields during Revolutionary times and tour the battlefields today to learn more about pivotal skirmishes during the battle.

When considering a class trip Antietam, teachers and trip leaders may want to schedule a trip to Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia to to visit other key Revolutionary War Sites. Request a Quote or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Students Travel to Charleston, South Carolina to Learn About Revolutionary War Battle of 1776 and the Siege of 1780

by Howard Clemens

Charleston, South Carolina has a rich history, beginning in the Revolutionary War era and pre-dating it. The Ashley and Cooper Rivers converge to create an inland harbor, making it one of the most prosperous and perfectly formed and located port cities in Early America. Seen as a ‘crown jewel’ city by the British Navy, Charleston was attacked twice in the Revolutionary War: once in 1776, when it was defended by General Moultrie successfully, and again in 1780, when the main peninsula and harbor were commandeered by the British and no ships besides theirs were allowed into port.

Students of history and social studies and even military history can learn much through the active study of Charleston. Since its inception in 1670, Charleston has always been a strategic coastal settlement and bustling port city – and remains so to this day.

While the army of Patriots in the North fought off the British and dealt with traitors (Tories) and espionage, the South was also faced with inconstancy in allegiances. In Georgia, prosperous landowners and businessman aligned with the British, so the state was easily taken over by the British. Some of these sentiments spread to the landowning class in South Carolina. In South Carolina the entire population was not so easily converted to ‘Tories,’ especially in the upstate, the rural areas and the backcountry, where resistance to British rule was strong. So the Revolutionary War resembled a civil war in the South because these open alliances with the British divided families, neighborhoods and towns.

1776: Charleston is Bombarded & Defended During Revolutionary War
The first shots of the American Revolution may have been heard in Massachusetts – but they also resounded in the south in Charleston’s harbor on June 28, 1776. With some foresight, Americans built fortifications at Sullivan’s Island, which sits at the mouth of the harbor. An assault force of nearly 3,000 British soldiers and seaman were repelled by Patriot General Charles Lee in 1776, protecting the city from harm. By engaging the British forces here, the Patriots were able to save Charleston from falling. This important first battle for Charleston encouraged many to join the Patriots and fight for a new united country.

1780: Charleston Under Siege and Occupation
Recalling the battle of 1780, when the British once again attempted to lay siege to Charleston, is a far darker episode in the Revolutionary War. Overwhelmed by the nearly 10,000 British troops in the harbor – the Patriots fought valiantly. The second time the British Naval forces entered the Charleston harbor, they passed Sullivan’s Island and laid siege upon the City. The British successfully captured the Peninsula and the entire city of Charleston fell into British hands on May 12, 1780. Over 5,000 Patriot soldiers were imprisoned and British troops occupied Charleston until the Revolutionary War concluded. Over a year later, the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781 would free Charleston’s occupants from British rule and captivity.

Knowing the history of Charleston’s struggle with Patriotism, it’s no wonder the movie, The Patriot, was filmed in Charleston and in some of its historic homes and estates. Some sites student groups will want to tour include Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter, the Heyward-Washington House and Middleton Place House Museum. All of these sites date to the Revolutionary War era.

Trip leaders may want to take shorter trips west, into South Carolina, where the Revolutionary War continued. In Camden, South Carolina British troops were met with strong resistance that spread into other battles across Clarendon County. A tour bus can easily take student groups out to selected battlefield destinations. Work with a student travel company to determine which sites work best for Revolutionary War studies and are accessible at the time of year Charleston is visited.

Learn more about a student tour based on Revolutionary War sites in South Carolina. Request a Quote for more information.

Blended Learning About Wildlife: Saint John’s River and the Hontoon Dead River in Florida

manatee_experience-300x198by Howard Clemens

September through May is an excellent time to take student travel groups on an eco tour of the Saint John’s River. Student travelers will be fascinated by the famous manatee, the gigantic sea creature with a Buddha-like personality. At the intersection of Blue Spring State Park and Saint John’s River, students are likely to see this joyous creature that visits the back-waterways of Florida seasonally, where there are warm waters and plenty to eat.

The world of reptiles, wading birds and more awaits the eager student of the environment who will learn more about Central Florida through active immersion in the natural world.

Classroom Preparation for the Adventure of Saint John’s River
Have students engage in online studies about wading birds such as the blue heron, wood duck or water thrushes. In reptile species, students can investigate alligators, turtles, frogs, lizards or snakes – all plentiful in the Central Florida region. Or, perhaps they are interested in studies about bottlenose dolphins and river otters or even muskrats- all native to this eco-system.

Why Are People So Fascinated with the Manatee?
Also known as the ‘sea cow’ the manatee has a bizarre yet fascinating appearance. Its overly large body is buoyant while its head is small in comparison. A set of docile eyes gives the manatee the natural look of compassion and empathy not seen in many species. The manatee lives in the Saint John’s River from November-March. During this time no swimming or boating activity may occur at manatee protected areas – including Blue Spring State Park. Student travel groups may still observe them in their winter habitat. This part of Saint John’s River provides the warmth and food the manatee need and all who visit love to gaze on the many manatee that gather in the River.

Riverboat tours of the Saint John’s River
The upper Saint John’s River provides diverse swampy habitats and boating activities are not restricted during manatee season. Upriver, there are an assortment of riverboat tours to choose from. Schedule a boat tour in advance in conjunction with a student travel company. Touring the river like this will give students a chance for close observation of many species of mammals, reptiles or birds they have studied beforehand. A science or environment teacher’s presence enhances the experience. On board, students will listen as a tour guide points out and describes different habitats and parts of the river, while students look closely for the animals that live in Central Florida’s inland rivers.

Facts About the Saint John’s River & the Hontoon Dead River in Florida
The Saint Johns River is unusual because it flows south to north, is relatively young (5,000 years old), and runs a length of 310 miles. Yet, it flows very slowly, making it the perfect environment for a student group study of an eco system. The Saint Johns River basin is inhabited by 3.5 million people and spans 8,840 square miles. The northern end is in a warm temperate climate while the southern end of Saint John’s River is in a subtropical climate. This student tour focuses on the area close to Orlando, or Central Florida.

A canal links the Saint John’s River to the Hontoon Dead River. A dead river is very much alive. What distinguishes it from other rivers is there is little current. Snake Creek is another tributary that surrounds Hontoon Island State Park. This is another warm water refuge for manatees and is protected by the State of Florida. Manatees are reportedly friendly to paddlers on the Hontoon Dead River. The marshy landscape beyond the island is lined by Cypress Swamps and hardwood hammocks. Here, waterfowl, reptiles and various swamp vegetation can be studied by student groups. The slow movement of the river is an advantage.

Central Florida Eco Tour for Student Travelers
With a span of 310 miles there is so much to see on the Saint Johns River. Each of the tributaries has something different to offer, too. The most exciting thing for students will most likely be sighting manatees or even getting close. However, boat tours can only get so close to see them in season without disrupting their protected natural environments. The boat tour has a great deal to offer student groups by passing through different environments on the river, illustrating diversity of habitat and species.

Post Trip Sharing
Many students will want to post photos to their individual Facebook accounts. Why not make a community Facebook page just for the adventure? If set-up of a special page is too complicated, consider asking the educational tour company to use their Facebook page to share these outdoor adventures. What is important is sharing in one place on the Web, to gain differing perspectives. Pictures and captions of the class trip to Central Florida are sure to be colorful. Sharing is a great way to engender learning.

Have students collect information about the mammals, reptiles, or waterfowl they choose to study. Share the experience of seeing actual manatee in one whole class session – using photos, film and writings captured along the way.

Choose a seasoned student travel company to help make a visit to Saint John’s River spectacular and fun. Email: info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

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