Pre-Trip Activities for D.C.

The Curriculum & Academics team is proud to introduce a set of resources designed to capitalize on the excitement and anticipation of your upcoming educational travel program to D.C. and prepare your students for the trip.

With the help of experienced Program Leader Linda Krajcik, our team developed a series of pre-trip activities that will help students build background knowledge of some of the most popular sites in Washington, D.C. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy and Costa’s Levels of Questioning as a pedagogical foundation, these activities are designed to give students accountability and build investment in their educational travel experience. These pre-trip activities help spark recollection and inspire inquiry as soon as students arrive in Washington, D.C.

Students do a lot to prepare for their first trip to Washington, D.C. They are learning how to pack, how to manage their own money, and how to function in a group. They may not be thinking so much about the content they are about to experience in the nation’s capital – but you are! These activities are designed to ensure that students are ready to fully take advantage of the sites on the itinerary, and to help teachers incorporate travel program content into instructional time when there is just so much to cover!

Krajcik, a classroom teacher from Wisconsin, led her first group of students to Washington, D.C., in 2004. To help her students prepare, she created the D.C. Club, an opportunity for students to meet monthly during lunch to discuss pre-departure topics like behavior expectations and investigate their itinerary destinations. After explaining to her students that the adults planning the trip invested lots of time and effort to make it and that they needed to do their part, too, students embraced the challenge to learn more about the places they were going to see for themselves.

Using both her school’s U.S. History curriculum and the WorldStrides itinerary as jumping-off points, Krajcik created activities that anticipated on-site learning at places across the D.C. area, like the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and Mount Vernon. In these activities, students turned to carefully curated web resources, videos, and articles to respond to questions, share opinions, and make predictions. Knowing how differently students learn, Krajcik prioritized content diversity in order to provide something engaging for everyone, no matter their existing understanding of United States history, politics, and government. So Krajcik’s approach included a range of prompts and lessons, from identification to analysis and comparison, application, and evaluation. This structure makes these pre-trip activities accessible and beneficial to students, no matter their grade level.

And the result? Students impressed the Course Leaders with their background knowledge, allowing Course Leaders to take advantage of opportunities to propel students further in their understanding. Students simultaneously could enjoy themselves and could embrace new learning opportunities. Parents were relieved, too, that students were responsible for taking their learning seriously and returned home from D.C. with a more thorough understanding of our nation’s history.

“I want the content to stick with them beyond seventh grade,” Krajcik said. “Hopefully they’ll remember these experiences when they get to high school and learn more about these topics in future classes. The foundation is already there.”

Tips for Incorporating Pre-Trip Activities in your Classroom

You know your students best, so feel free to add these in a way that works best for them. These activities can also help teachers cover material not addressed in the curriculum. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Start with your WorldStrides Washington, D.C., itinerary and download the documents that relate specifically to your trip.
  • Students can work on these activities as individuals, in pairs, or in small groups – whatever works best with your classroom dynamic!
  • These documents are fillable – no need to print! Students can submit their saved work directly to you electronically.
  • Groups can complete activities on certain locations and then make presentations to the class. They love to be experts, both in class and on program!
  • Do you need your own refresher? Teacher answer keys are available for your reference.
  • Encourage your students to share their pre-trip learning activities with your Course Leader!
  • Not a history teacher? Don’t worry! These pre-trip activities provide a golden opportunity for cross-curricular collaboration. Share them with your colleagues and encourage students to make connections in their math, science, English, and art courses.

We look forward to hearing more about how you use these resources! Please share additional tips, success stories and challenges with our team at discovery@worldstrides.org.

Article written by Randi Kessler Chapman

Randi Kessler Chapman
Randi is part of WorldStrides' own team of teachers, facilitating online learning for credit and professional development for our educator partners. Prior to joining our team, she launched her own independent business, and taught for eight years in the classroom. Today, she's passionate about increasing the accessibility of meaningful professional development to educators around the world.