Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall: a Blended Learning Experience for Student Travel Groups

carnegie hall outside
Carnegie Hall

by Howard Clemens

For many ambitious music and performance students, a class trip to New York City is the holy grail of rhythm. From jazz to classical to pop to Broadway Musicals, a student trip to New York City continues to be a premiere destination for student travel groups.

There are literally hundreds of musical landmarks and hotspots in the city to choose from, so deciding where to start can often be a music teacher’s biggest challenge. However, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, in particular, can offer students the kind of up-close and personal “blended learning” experience they aren’t likely to forget. After all, studying contemporary music—and musical history—is one thing, but actually traveling to legendary musical destinations is a complementary learning experience that has the potential to excite and engage students even more than classroom studies.

For many aspiring musicians and performers, a gig at either Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall is perceived as the apex of one’s career. Following are some facts that students can learn online about these two major venues in New York City.

Student Tours of Lincoln Center
Constructed in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a massive community renewal project, Lincoln Center houses some of the nation’s most famous musical landmarks, including the Metropolitan Opera House—home of the Metropolitan Opera—and the internationally renowned Julliard School. The school offers campus tours so make sure to have an educational travel company arrange one for a student group prior to visiting.

Lincoln Center is also known for a popular Meet the Artist School Series, a guided student tour that guarantees students VIP access to Lincoln Center landmarks and special performances not open to the public. A student travel company can pre-arrange all of this well in advance, ensuring music students touring New York City have an eye opening experience when they tour this legendary venue.

Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center

To fully understand the immensity and significance of Lincoln Center as well as the work that artists perform behind the scenes, students can prepare for their journey by viewing YouTube performances of Lincoln Center concerts and/or taking virtual tours of Lincoln Center on the Web. These types of preliminary activities are sure to provide a valuable historical context and amp up pre-tour excitement for the student group.

Carnegie Hall
For almost 130 years now, Carnegie Hall has been one of the world’s most beloved classical and popular music venues. Indeed, well known musicians from George Gershwin to Louis Armstrong to Judy Garland to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles have played here. Whether a student wants to be a classical violinist or a rock-n-roll star, Carnegie Hall is a pilgrimage worth making. The Hall is also known for its extensive on-site educational resources: its Resnick Education Wing is impressive. It has 24 brand new spaces that are designed for students and music educators. The Weill Music Institute offers the kind of interactive, hands-on learning experiences that are bound to inspire music students —and galvanize them into dreams of a great future.

Weil Music Room in Carnegie Hall
Weill Music Room in Carnegie Hall

Post Trip Blended Learning Experience in Conjunction with Carnegie Hall
Even after a student tour of New York City is over, the learning experience may still continue. Students can join Carnegie Hall’s Musical Exchange Program, an online community where students and young musicians can share performances, participate in virtual workshops, and network with each other. The Exchange program can be a great supplementary classroom learning experience that is ongoing. It also serves the dual purpose of opening possible doors for students who are serious about a musical career – which makes it a wonderful and potentially invaluable resource.

Online Sharing, Chatting and Documentary Work About the Class Trip to NYC
In the same spirit, teachers can encourage students to share their observations post trip with each other in school-facilitated chat rooms. Students can also film and photograph their group’s tour, and have them collaborate in making a mini-documentary about their New York City experience. Some music educators may want students to try their hands at their own musical compositions, which they can then share on the Carnegie Hall Music Exchange or on their YouTube page. All of these experiences will stimulate creative minds to collaborate and share.

In short, when it comes to blended learning—especially in music, which is interactive by nature—the sky is the limit. At Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, students can really get a sense of just how exciting a career in music can actually be.

To learn more about scheduling a class trip to New York City that includes an inside look at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or visit: http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Helpful Links for Music Educators:
http://www.carnegiehall.org/Education/Musical-Exchange-Online-Community/
http://www.aboutlincolncenter.org/education-community/lincoln-center-education/meet-the-artist/meet-the-artist

Junior ROTC students: Major Battlefields Near Washington D.C. Student Tour

The Battle of Antietam was fought in Maryland during the Civil War.
The Battle of Antietam was fought in Maryland during the Civil War.

by Howard Clemens

For students who are studying to become soldiers and officers in the U.S. Armed Forces, reflecting on some of the largest (and bloodiest) land battles fought in our history can be insightful. Contemporary armies have far more technology on their side with faster transportation and communication, while their predecessors had much less. Despite obvious differences in eras studying the preparation and enfolding of significant Revolutionary and Civil War battles – and visiting these sites, can prove to be quite a lesson in strategy and execution in the theater of war.

Combat is a last resort for any country. Once initiated war has casualties. Troops and their families have to bear the brunt of war, with the threat of death, dismemberment and injury. With limited medical knowledge about infection and its cure, troops in the Revolutionary and Civil War had to suffer illnesses and infections that would be curable today. In addition, movement of deceased and injured bodies was a hardship, so the historical battlefields are often grave sites for those who have fallen.

This is all the more reason why ROTC students should visit these battlefield sites in person. Students will stay at a hotel in Northern Virginia so Washington D.C. is easily accessible. Bus service will be provided to each destination with maximum time estimates to be two to two and one half hours to reach the furthest battlefields.

Yorktown National Battlefield, Virginia (Revolutionary War)
Virginia is the site of many famous battlefields. Yorktown National Battlefield is the place where General George Cornwalis surrendered to General George Washington and French forces in the fall of 1781. This famous battlefield marked the end of the Revolutionary War. The victorious union of 13 states celebrated the culmination of a struggle to free themselves from British rule. Yorktown Battlefield is not only the jewel of all battlefields – it is vast. The tour is 16 miles and can be seen on a trolley. Earthworks have been preserved and areas where skirmishes were fought are marked and described. Learn how artillery and strategy as well as the placement of Yorktown on the York River helped to win the victory in the Revolutionary War.

Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland (Civil War)
Called the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862 . Over 23,000 soldiers who were killed, wounded or missing. In this battle, General Robert E. Lee shows his prowess by attacking the North in Western Maryland, in a 12-hour siege that devastated the city of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Because this battlefield is so close to Washington D.C., Lee was threatening the seat of power in the North. But Lee had other plans. He instructed Stonewall Jackson to secure Harper’s Ferry, the armory and supply line for Confederate soldiers in Virginia and further south. After securing Harper’s Ferry, Stonewall Jackson returned to Antietam to defend the battle line. The Confederate forces held their ground but buried their dead and retreated across the Potomac River, back to Virginia. President Lincoln responded by issuing a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, the first step towards making slavery obsolete.

Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia (Civil War)
There were two battles in Manassas, Virginia and both strengthened the positions of the Confederate army. Taking the battle to Virginia was seen as a way for the Union to end the war quickly. General Irvin McDowell set out to Richmond, the South’s capital, with 35,000 soldiers. He was stopped by approximately 22,000 Confederate soldiers, waiting for the advance. With the assistance of 10,000 troops stationed in Shenandoah Valley, the First Battle of Manassas began. Also called the Battle of Bull Run, so named for the river, this decisive battle is an example of military strategy and communication converging to bring about victory on the Confederate side. The second Battle of Manassas was another example of General Robert E. Lee’s exceptional battle strategies. After chasing the Union army away from Richmond and North, across the Rappahannock River, the Confederates engaged in another bloody battle near Manassas and held their position as the Union Army retreated to Washington D.C. to defend the capital. ROTC students will learn a great deal by considering the First and Second Battle(s) of Bull Run.

Gettysburg National Battlefield Park, Pennsylvania (Civil War)
Historic Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania is the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Here, President Lincoln delivered the “Gettysburg Address.” Gettysburg recently celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 to mark the battles of July 1863 that brought the Civil War to Northern territory. The National Park Service published several retrospective books on the “contributions of diverse ethnic groups to the Civil War” such as Asians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Hispanics. To celebrate the 150th anniversary, there was a re-enactment of the Iron Brigade Charging McPherson’s Ridge –a decisive move for Union troops. The collections, relics of war and stories as well as photos and multimedia presentations and educational tours make the experience come alive for the young ROTC student.

ROTC instructors will consider this tour geared towards the future officer a solid learning experience. It will be especially helpful for the study of strategy. Even more notable will be the price of victory – through death, injury and loss of property for many. Students will come away from the Great Battlefields Tour with a greater body of knowledge about the United States early military history than before.
Learn more about creating a Great Battlefields Tour of Washington D.C. Email: info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Helpful Resources for Teachers
http://www.nps.gov/anti/learn/historyculture/upload/Battle%20history.pdf (Antietam)
http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/books.htm (Gettysburg)
http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/books.htm (Yorktown)

Capitol Renovation Project: Blended Learning For Class Trips to Washington D.C.

The Statue of Freedom stands high atop the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
The Statue of Freedom stands high atop the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

Begun in 2013, the Washington D.C. Capitol Renovation project is now winding down. With the final coats of paint being added now is an excellent time to learn about the nation’s Capitol building – and see it anew. The signature dome needs periodic renovation because it is made of iron, and there are places where moisture has rusted the dome and its embellishments. This leakage affects overall structure. Since the status of the exterior threatens the interior of the Capitol, time was of the essence in spearheading this project.

The exterior of the capitol building was last renovated in the 1960s. A study revealed over one thousand cracks in need of repair, many on the east end of the building. To expeditiously reverse the aging building’s decay the Architect of the Capitol, Stephen Ayers, stepped in with a plan for a thorough overhaul of this historic building. He adapted a “lock and stitch” technique to patch the aging iron structure and envisioned a thoroughly repaired and sealed Capitol Dome from start to finish.

Piece by piece, the Architect of the Capitol and crew have been stirring up lost histories about the U.S. Capitol. The building itself was more like a forum at one time, with a large rotunda and place for representatives to meet formally to debate bills. In the 1860s, Thomas Walter, an architect, won a contest for plans to add two wings to the Capitol: one for senate offices and one for the house of representatives’ offices. His idea for the dome was not included in his contest submission. Instead, his vision of an ancient Roman and European inspired dome was part of a large drawing on his office wall. Being in the unique position of architect, Walter was able to convince government officials to sign onto his vision. The dome was completed in 1863.

Blended Learning About the Capitol
Students may not be on site at the Capitol, but can learn much about what goes on there by visiting the Architect of the Capitol website (www.aoc.gov) and viewing YouTube footage of this historical project. Here, individual details of the Capitol and its builders are featured.

A lengthier piece on the history of the Capitol to present day is available in a clip from Sixty Minutes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu3DicMrzKY). Viewing this news story will help students put the history of the Capitol into perspective.

Students may be all too familiar with the sight of the scaffolding covering the Capitol building on the news. Through class exercises students can be asked to closely examine the history of the U.S. Capitol. Informed by research, students will become familiar with the people and stories behind the Capitol building.

The Statue of Freedom
Considering the unique history of the Capitol’s expansion, it should come as no surprise the Statue of Freedom atop its peak is also mired in a remarkable history. Made by Thomas Crawford, an art student in France in 1863, the Bronze statue is a true symbol of the melting pot of humanity – converging in the United States. Crawford cast freedom as a woman who appears to be dressed in Native American garb and also has an eagle’s feathers and open beak draping her crown, with the nine stars of liberty around he forehead. In her left hand, the statue grasps “the laurel wreath of victory and the shield of the United States with 13 stripes.” The charm of her exquisite natural beauty and native garb combined with the symbolism of the eagle and stars and stripes make the crowning sculpture on the U.S. Capitol a symbol of a diverse nation with pride.

Students can further explore the history of the artist, Thomas Crawford, and detailed features of the statue of liberty at: http://www.aoc.gov/capitol-hill/other-statues/statue-freedom.

Teachers will want to think about capping the in-classroom Web based learning and research by planning a real time class trip to Washington D.C. In D.C., student groups can see the inside of the Capitol Rotunda and tour the interior of the building to learn even more facts. Student groups will be able to observe the representative branch of government in action.

To learn more about scheduling a class trip to Washington D.C. Request a Quote.

Top Cities in the U.S. for Performance Tours: NYC, Washington D.C. & Orlando

High school bands, orchestras, ensembles, choirs and other student performance groups generally tour cities where they may perform in a public venue.   When arranging a band trip, I often recommend specific cities where musicians are encouraged to perform in some of the most visible public venues. Performance groups often travel to: New York City, Washington D.C., Orlando when traveling on the East Coast of the United States. Philadelphia and Atlanta are also popular choices for performing groups, however this piece will not offer an overview of these two cities.

I have selected the most current and popular performance venues in these cities. Adjudicated performance dates and parades for marching bands in these selected locations are also noted. Working with a student travel company with experience in performance is a must for a successful trip. Whatever need a performance group may have may be planned and adjusted by a professional. Band, orchestra and choir leaders can focus on preparing the group for performance through rehearsals, while the educational travel expert takes care of all of the necessary details for the trip.

New York City

Since many performing artists aspire to work on Broadway or in television or film, New York City is a premiere destination for student groups. Some of the most highly respected performance venues are located in New York City and available for booking public performances: the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations building and Lincoln Center are all popular choices for bands, orchestras and ensembles. Choir directors may also select The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. For performance groups that require adjudication (formal judging) the season for this type of festival runs from March 12-June 4.

Washington D.C.

Band trips headed to Washington D.C. will find a plethora of choices for performance venues. These include: The White House Ellipse, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Union Station, the U.S. Navy Memorial, the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall. For more information about adjudicated festivals in Washington D.C. contact a student travel company experienced in performance booking. For bandleaders interested in participating in parades in Washington D.C., consider the National Cherry Blossom Festival or the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Both occur in early spring – a great time to travel to Washington D.C.

Orlando

Orlando, Florida is an excellent destination for a student performance group. Universal Studios Florida provides the Star Performance Program for concert bands, marching bands, show choirs, dance teams and other performance groups. Student groups may perform at one of the five themed islands at Universal Islands of Adventure.

In Disney World, student bands, choirs, orchestras and ensembles as well as dance troupes have a variety of choices, too. Here they may play publicly at: Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT Center, the Disney-Hollywood Studios Theme Park and the Disney Village Marketplace.

For marching bands, Disney provides several different parades in their parks. Band trips can join the parade at Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot Center and Disney-Hollywood Studios Theme Park. Marching bands may also end up on stage after a parade for a ‘stand-up’ concert.

 For band leaders, choir leaders and music teachers, having the band perform to a new public audience is a large part of the reason for traveling. Students are introduced to new cities and travel experiences with fellow musicians. They rehearse more vigorously for these performances, and learn to set-up and break down a performance in an environment outside of school. In some cases, where time and budget allow for it, an educational travel company may even be able to schedule master classes with professional musicians in conjunction with the tour.

To schedule a band trip or performance tour, email info@eudcationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote.

Blended Learning About September 11th, 2001

By Howard Clemens

Visiting New York City for the first time is an exciting experience for student tour groups. Many students of junior high and high school age were quite young when 911 occurred. Pennsylvania and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. also suffered casualties that day in separate strikes. Now it’s time for them to study the historical date and events that unfolded that day in the place that was the center of the world’s attention: New York City. On this hallowed ground in Manhattan, also known as Ground Zero, a rebirth of hope and prosperity has taken place during the intermittent years.

Before journeying to New York City, history and social studies teachers can prepare students with online lessons about 911. The websites for the National September 11th Memorial and Museum and the new One World Trade Center are a great place to start. Teachers may also ask students to research magazine and newspaper articles and television news clips of that time period- and present their findings to the class to share.

Ground Zero has changed immensely since 911. It took a long span of time to remove the rubble from the site of the former Twin Towers. The rescue workers and those who carried the rubble away were sensitive enough to keep some mementos of the building and the towers to memorialize the day and better explain the events to those who were not there.

New World Trade Center
One World Trade Center opened to the public in 2015. The project spanned many years in fundraising, planning and construction. One World Trade Center incorporates the materials and concepts of contemporary architecture and design. Best of all, the newly opened One World Trade Center’s 100th floor is designed as the main observatory. Students will love the glass elevator and the commanding view of New York City and New Jersey from the 100th floor. Groups who visit may step into the interactive Sky Portal, which offers remote real time street viewing of the neighborhood below. After finishing the tour, students may visit the gallery to purchase one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

National September 11th Memorial and Museum
Also known as the 911 Memorial and Museum, this site was developed prior to the opening of One World Trade Center, and has been on most student travel itineraries since its opening in May 2014. At the Museum, students will see the actual bedrock of the original World Trade Center and relics of the towers – such as the twisted piece of “impact steel.” Student tour groups will learn more about first responders and victims of the catastrophe on September 11th and examine some of the personal items left behind such as: shoes, glasses or a United Airlines lapel. Fragments of lives lost and stories about first responders heroism make the 911 Museum a must see for students.

The Memorial is arranged to celebrate each victim lost on 911 and on February 26, 1993, when the World Trade Center was bombed for the first time. The name of each person who died in these terrorist attacks is inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools. There is also a survivor tree, and a memorial exhibition made up of contributions from families and loved ones.

Post NYC Student Trip Chat Room
Teachers who want to create a true blended learning experience of the trip will want to start either a page on Twitter.com for sharing thoughts and photos during and after the school trip to New York City or a private room where the class may post such materials and thoughts. This activity will allow students to engage their thoughts and share videos and photos post trip – a vital part of any active learning experience.

New York City is a premiere destination for student travel. To learn more about a trip to NYC that incorporates a visit to the national 911 Museum, email: info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote.

Student Travel Groups Visiting NYC: Include a Tour of the Most Magnificent Cathedrals in the World

by Howard Clemens

student travel nyc
Saint John the Divine Cathedral in NYC is a great place for student tour groups to visit.

When most people hear the word ‘cathedral,’ they generally think, initially of cities like London, Paris, and Rome. But it’s also true that many wonders of religious architecture are located in North America. And New York City, in particular, is home to some of the most breathtaking cathedrals in the world. Which means that student travel groups headed to NYC looking to experience the full impact of architectural excess and Catholic iconography are in for a truly immersive treat.

Exploring all of the Big Apple’s cathedrals is a no small task. For Catholic school trip leaders, a full Cathedral Tour of NYC may be desirable. Other class trips may choose to incorporate a tour of one of New York’s cathedrals in a neighborhood they are visiting, or to expand upon the study of a historical period.

Consult with an educational travel company prior to building an itinerary that showcases some of the city’s most impressive cathedrals. So where is a trip leader of a student travel group to begin? This short list of cathedrals in NYC is a great place to start.

student trips nyc
Saint Patrick’s is a famous cathedral in NYC.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: A NYC Landmark
With its spectacular Neo-Gothic architecture and interiors modeled on the ancient churches of Italy, the world famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a magnificent starting point for any student tour of NYC. The cathedral has over 65 stained glass windows, the most famous being its 26-foot rose window, a towering masterpiece made up of more than 10,000 pieces of glass in a dazzling variety of colors. Students can also see a statue of the Lady of Guadalupe at the Altar of the Sacred Heart, an awe-inspiring devotional site that’s lit by hundreds of candles. For student groups visiting other sites in Manhattan, St. Patrick’s location is perfect. It’s right in the middle of bustling midtown Manhattan, across the street from the Rockefeller Center and its ice-skating rink. A visit to Saint Patrick’s is worthwhile. After visiting the cathedral, student tour groups may want to cap off the day with a fun-filled whirl across the ice.

Saint John the Divine: The Fourth Largest Christian Church in the World
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, located in the Manhattan “college neighborhood” of Morningside Heights, has the notable distinction of being the fourth largest Christian church in the world. The church is known for its exquisite works of art, which include the Barberini tapestries, woven in the 17th century and inspired by the life of Christ. Saint John the Divine’s entrance is magnificent with its bronze doors, which were cast by Ferdinand Barbedienne of France, the same artist who cast the Statue of Liberty. The cathedral also has its very own cultivated Biblical gardens, which feature a wide variety of the plants and flowers that are mentioned in the Bible. Student travel groups may even take a guided rooftop walking tour, taking them up spiral staircases that wind up to the very top of the cathedral. Since Saint John the Divine is located in an academic neighborhood, groups can take the opportunity to spend part of the day touring famous nearby institutions such as: Union Theological Seminary, the Manhattan School of Music or Columbia University.

Riverside Church: History and Architectural Grandeur
Morningside Heights is also home to Riverside Church. As the tallest church in America (and the 24th tallest church in the world), Riverside covers two full city blocks and boasts a 392-foot bell tower. It is also known for its impressive stained glass apse dome, and for the labyrinthine “maze” inlaid on its floors. The church has a rich cultural and social history. Dignitaries such as Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela have spoken there. The Riverside Church has its own theater, which is has been host to many musical and dance performances.

New York City has many cathedrals in different neighborhoods, as well as churches with longstanding religious and political histories. These three itinerary selections were made because they are in Manhattan and all student groups visit this part of New York City. To further enhance the student travel experience, work directly with an educational travel company for even more ideas on cathedrals to visit in NYC.

Inquire about booking a cathedral tour that’s bound to be as spiritually enlightening as it is fun and educational: email Educational Travel Consultants at info@educationaltravelconsultants.com, or visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Advance Planning for Student Tours of D.C. to Include White House and Capitol

2015  Student Travel Update

by Howard Clemens

Government, Social Studies & History Teachers often take class trips to Washington D.C. to experience democracy at work. This type of active learning is a great way to immerse students into thinking and questioning about various facets of the U.S. government. Security measures are more complex across the United States and internationally – and rules change from time to time. Nowadays, teachers and trip leaders must be aware advance planning is needed to tour the White House and the Capitol.

For student tour groups headed to Washington D.C. – there are some recent changes in rules about bringing electronic devices to the White House, too. The good news is that students can now bring smart phones in the White House, so long as they do not use it to take video (only still shots). With enough planning, student groups can be well informed about what to bring – and what items to leave on the bus or in the hotel room.

Student Tours of the White House
There is no denying that a tour of the White House can be a memorable experience for students and persons of any age. Trip leaders must be prepared well in advance of the student trip to Washington D.C. A minimum of six months planning time may be required to ensure that every person who is attending the tour provides a formal name, date of birth and city in advance of the trip. On the day of the White House tour, each person must present a valid government picture Identification that matches the information provided exactly. Acceptable forms of ID include: valid government issued photo IDs, drivers license, military ID or a passport for foreign students.

In the past, students were not allowed to bring electronic devices such as smart phones and cameras on tour of the White House. On July 15, 2015 the White House, through Michelle Obama, declared (on a YouTube.com video) that visitors are now allowed to bring their smart phones and small cameras (lens must be 3” or less) on tours. No video recorders are allowed on tour and no live streaming of videos on any device is permitted. Lifting the ban on cell phones and small cameras on White House tours is excellent news for student travelers. Many students want to take photographs and post them to social networks while they tour Washington D.C. Now they can share their experience with others publicly.

Leave Personal Items Behind
While student groups may bring smart phones and cameras, they still must leave their purses, handbags, book bags and backpacks behind on the bus or in the hotel. Similar to school zones, no explosives or firearms are allowed. This includes: aerosol containers, guns, ammunition, fireworks, weapons or knives of any size.

Students may bring their smart phones and cameras but they are still expected to give their full attention on tour. This means students are not permitted to talk or text while on tour. Students will not be allowed to use flash photography, or – as already mentioned – video recording or live streaming on their devices.

Trip leaders and teachers need to make students aware they are in a sensitive area for national security and breeches are taken seriously. While security measures have loosened in some respects, the Secret Service still reserves the right to confiscate phones if they are used in the White House.

Educational Tours of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Though the rules are less strict in the Capitol Building for touring student groups, the advance time frame of six months or more to schedule a tour is still relevant. An educational travel company can book the student group tour online or through the school’s Senator or Representative’s office. Trip leaders do not need to provide advance lists of visitors for a tour of the Capitol.

Electronic devices are allowed in the Capitol Building, but not in Senate and House Galleries. Students will be expected to hand over their battery operated electronic devices, cameras and video recording devices of any kind before entering. These items will be securely stored and then returned to visitors once their time in the galleries is concluded.

Student groups can expect to begin the tour at the Capitol Visitor Center, where they will see a brief film, “Out of Many, One” on establishing democracy. Then they will be escorted into the Capitol to see the Crypt, the Rotunda, and the National Statuary Hall. The student tour will end at the Capitol Visitor Center.

Visiting these significant buildings in Washington D.C. is a must for students of history, social studies and government. Seeing government representatives in action, in the environment where political, legal and social battles are fought will be a strong memory for years to come.

Learn more about custom tours of Washington D.C. which include a visit to the White House and Capitol Building. Email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or visit Request a Quote.

Foreign Student Trips to Washington, D.C.: Winding Shopping, Dining & Sightseeing Together

The National Harbor is a shopping, dining and entertainment area on the shores of the Potomac River in MD, that overlook the D.C. skyline.
The National Harbor is a shopping, dining and entertainment area on the shores of the Potomac River in MD, overlooking the D.C. skyline.

by Howard Clemens

Washington, D.C. is the center of American political and social life and has been a hub for international visitors since the beginning. For foreign students traveling to Washington D.C. for the first time, it is almost always a thrilling experience. However, seeing everything that the area has to offer can take weeks. So the question for trip leaders may be – where is a student tour group to start? And which are the most important points of interest?

Many students from other countries want to shop in the U.S. They can obtain goods that may not be available in their country. Trip leaders need to know that there are several points of interest in the Washington D.C. area where the visitor can combine sightseeing, shopping and dining.

National Harbor: A Grand View of Washington D.C.
With its many shops and restaurants, The National Harbor is situated on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. It is a great place to kick off any excursion. Students can board The Capitol Wheel, a towering 180-foot wheel with enclosed cars, that offers sweeping views of the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol building, and the whole glittering panorama of the city itself. Groups can also cruise the Potomac (or even sail right to the National Mall & Memorial Parks) on the Alexandria-National Harbor Water Taxi, which operates day and night.

When it’s time to shop, choose from 150 retailers, with an outlet mall that appeals to everyone. There are also 30 different restaurants to choose from at the National Harbor, ranging from McDonald’s to a high end dining experience overlooking the Potomac.

Downtown Washington D.C. also has more than its share of fun theme restaurants: the Madhatter, which has been a city institution for more than 30 years, takes its name, its décor, and its inspiration from Alice in Wonderland. Or, have the student group sample some Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. Here, patrons can sample maple-bacon, s’more, or passionfruit pastries. Astro Doughnuts is the kind of fun and quirky eatery that students are bound to love.

Shop, Dine & be Entertained in Georgetown
There’s also never any shortage of shopping, historical sights, and dining in D.C.’s legendary Georgetown neighborhood. Students can take the Gastronomic Georgetown Food Tour, an outing that will expose them to gourmet French and Italian cuisine, delectable desserts from D.C.’s best bakeries, and other capitol-region culinary delights.

Shop at the Smithsonian Museums or National Air and Space Museum
One-stop shopping (as in something-for-everyone) is also an apt way to describe D.C.’s Smithsonian Museums. Students can take in three centuries of American art at once, or explore “the final frontier” (as Star Trek calls it) at the National Air and Space Museum. At these prominent museums, the foreign visitor will find lots of interesting merchandise for purchase, from clothing to jewelry to interesting limited edition art and memorabilia. Students may also want to visit the magnificent Anderson House, a lavish 50-room mansion-museum located in the city’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood. This is always a feast for the eyes, and a rare glimpse into what it’s like to live like American royalty.

When it comes to dining out, it doesn’t get any hipper than the Hard Rock Cafe, located near Washington D.C.’s bustling Chinatown district. Students can also visit the cafe’s “Rock ‘n Roll Embassy,” which is situated right next to the world-famous Ford’s Theater. Washington D.C. is also known for its lively dinner theater scene: at Medieval Madness at Renaissance Hall, students can enjoy a 4-course “knights of the round table” type feast while they take in a medieval-themed play, complete with sword fighting.

Finally, if foreign students are looking for really offbeat entertainment, they’ll find it at the Spy Museum, where they’ll learn how to decrypt secret audio conversations, escape from inescapable places, and engage in their own missions of espionage and intrigue. It is definitely an educational experience—and a great time that gives the term “interactive exhibit” a whole new meaning.

To sum it up, there’s no shortage of entertainment in the nation’s capitol, and for foreign students looking to get a taste of sightseeing, dining and entertainment all in one – there’s no place quite like Washington, D.C.

For more information about booking a tour your foreign students will never forget, email: info@educationaltravelconsultants.com, or visit the website at http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Student Trips to Washington D.C.: Social Studies and History Students Participate in Democratic Process

by Howard Clemens

A student tour of Washington D.C. often includes a visit the White House or Capitol Building. Putting a visit to these sensitive government buildings on the itinerary does take special planning.

For educators who want student groups to meet with representatives from their region or state, I recommend at least six months of advance planning or more.

Teach Students About Participatory Democracy
Social Studies and History teachers will take students through an exercise to illustrate exactly how a participatory democracy works. First, select a representative, either a Senator or Congressman from the group’s originating district. Be open to having the group meet with aides and/or staff if the representative is not available, to discuss important issues. Choose an experienced educational travel company to ensure a smooth visit and the optimal learning experience.

Learn More About How the U.S. Capitol & the Democratic System Really Works
What would students gain from meeting with their representative and/or their staff in the Capitol Building? A knowledge that within the democratic process, national and international as well as smaller, more personal issues can be discussed. Some smaller issues may even be resolved through participation in the democratic process. How would a teacher initiate such a meeting between students and representatives? A competent student tour consultant will be able to step a teacher through this process. The result of this exercise will be to engage students in the process of democracy and the relevance and importance of expressing their views.

Here are some things to consider, when organizing a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes a visit to a representative’s office in the Capitol Building.

1. A representative or senator must be selected to approach. The educational travel company will approach a staff member of the chosen representative and schedule a convenient time during the trip to visit the representative. The educational travel representative will conduct follow-up with the representative’s office in preparation for the visit.

2. Teachers will prepare the class before the trip so students will visit the representative with a clear objective, and be able to communicate this precisely in speech or writing.

3. If students have specific questions related to the topic at hand, they may ask the representative.

4. Be prepared to meet with an aide, should the representative be called into session, or is traveling on other official business.

5. Before or after initiating a conversation with the representative, take students on tour of the Capitol Building and watch Congress or the Senate floor in action. Have students observe the process of democratic discussions while representatives conduct the necessary business of this country.

6. After the trip is over and students return to the classroom, instruct them to write or give an oral presentation on their views of the democratic process. Ask them if they feel participatory democracy works.

Through this exercise, students will learn that democracy is not just about voting.

This real life lesson will teach students participatory democracy is what the founding fathers envisioned when they modeled the U.S. system on Grecian democracy from the classical period. At this time in Greek history, the Forum could be equated to the floor of the Capitol. The only difference was that Ancient Greece allowed anyone to step into the forum and voice an opinion to the public. Because of a large population – this sort of discussion is not entirely possible in the contemporary era. Instead Americans have representatives who argue on their behalf.

Having a ‘Forum’ or Capitol building is one way of bringing people together. This means the individual and groups must participate in governmental decision-making that affects them directly. Visiting a representative before he or she casts a deciding vote on a bill, budget item, military action or other concern is the way to influence political outcomes.

To learn more about planning a student trip to Washington D.C. which includes a visit to the Capitol and a pre-arranged meeting with a Congressional or Senatorial representative visit: http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Blended Learning: Art Students View Guggenheim & MOMA Collections Online and Tour NYC

By Howard Clemens

The virtual tour of a historical site, art museum or even a college or university has become the standard for many websites’ online visitors. As an educational tour consultant for many years, I do not recommend that students gain their whole experience from the online tour of an art museum. There is no replacement for seeing art in person. I always encourage a visit to at least one major museum when student groups travel to a city like Washington D.C. or New York City.

Nowadays, teachers can more easily prepare students for a student trip to New York City by virtually taking their classroom to the destination and specific sites in that place, such as museums. This is the beginning of a blended learning experience. Visiting the actual destination and seeing current exhibitions and authentic paintings or sculptures complements the online viewing experience. A visit to New York City allows students to wander inside the museum, the district and the community – learning to see art as part of the fabric of life.

I want to focus on two specific international art museums in New York City – The Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Part of these museums’ permanent collections are available for viewing online – with more being digitized and added.

The permanent collection of many museums is not available for viewing at all times. Often major works of art are in storage. Some are in the restoration process, while some are only displayed for special shows or regular exhibits and rotated back into storage. The work of famous artists also goes on tour and is leant to other museums. Traveling art brings notoriety and resources to a museum.

All of this may frustrate the art student and teacher. Exposure to the works of the masters helps students acquire new techniques and gain inspiration from fellow artists ideas about color, form and theme.

Teachers can more easily develop lesson plans around the work of specific artists in these digital collections. Or, perhaps teachers will focus on studying periods of art, and the type of work and artists who defined that era.

Let’s step through a sample blended learning exercise, utilizing digital works in these two collections to understand Modern Art of the first part of the 20th Century.

First, go to the page on the MOMA website where you can search for artists:
http://www.moma.org/collection/works?classifications=

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
MOMA is named after the Modern Art period and has an outstanding collection, with 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art in the collection and 61,000 works available online. A look into Pablo Picasso’s work will show students that Picasso was an adept painter who also made lithographs. Students can even view the drawings that later became paintings – gaining insight into Picasso’s artistic process.

Guggenheim Museum

Now, let’s visit the Guggenheim’s collection, and see more work by this master painter who took Paris by storm. Visit: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online and search for ‘Picasso.’ Guggenheim’s collection contains many selected and famous paintings by Picasso, beginning in the early part of his career in 1900 and ending in 1965. Art students can observe and analyze the evolution of an artist, beginning with an interest in painting the figure and people, and evolving into a fascination for abstraction. By viewing Picasso’s work, students will understand why he is often referred to as the progenitor of Cubism.

As students are tasked with viewing Picasso on their own, they will learn more from Moma.org and the Guggenheim’s website about the subject matter of individual pieces. Picasso’s contemporaries, such as Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec are also mentioned in painting descriptions and Picasso’s biography.

Complementing these studies in the classroom, a visit to MOMA or the Guggenheim Museum to see some of the actual works of Picasso or his contemporaries is an excellent way to blend the classroom experience with real world encounters. Students can wander around the interior of the museums, viewing real works and learning more about the Manhattan communities where MOMA and the Guggenheim are located.

The number of masterpieces in museum collections in New York City is staggering. To have these works available for viewing online is a phenomenal leap. This can be said for other large urban museums housing collections as well. The number of digital masterpieces available will continue to grow and expand.

Use technology and student tours as a means of inspiring students to gain insights through careful study of the masters who have gone before them.

For more information about scheduling a student tour of New York City, request a quote.

Tips, Information, and Stories About Student Travel