This 6th Grade trip to our nation’s capital is one of the key experiences carried in our children’s memories for the rest of their lives. It is part of the STS commitment to experiential learning opportunities where students go beyond the walls of the classroom to experience learning in the field, working with experts as often as possible. This is when history truly comes to life!
In the spring of their 6th Grade year, students journey to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Monticello, Gettysburg, and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Everything that they see will have been the focus of study over the course of the year, and upon return students engage in self-reflection about what they experienced on the trip and produce academic responses that draw upon this rich set of experiences.
The D.C. trip represents the culminating moment of our two year study of US history. The 6th Grade year focuses on American history, from the American Revolution to the modern era. The intention is to highlight key moments in American history. In the first trimester, 6th Graders build on the foundation laid in the 4th Grade with a study of some of the great documents of the era. Students examine draft versions of the Declaration of Independence, annotate the Constitution, and then compare their knowledge of early American civics with other parliamentary systems. In the second trimester, the African Diaspora, slavery, and the Civil War become the areas of focus. The third trimester moves to an exploration of the 20th century including important topics such as immigration, the industrialization of the country, and the beginnings of the Great Migration from south to north. The 6th Grade trip carefully interweaves much of this historical context into the fabric of the experience itself, and students experience a profound sense of the nation’s identity as they also experience history first hand with their class community.
The 6th Grade year follows a year of US history in 4th Grade, with a hiatus in 5th Grade to explore Ancient Civilizations. This allows students to understand the experimentation with governments and ideas in ancient Greece and Rome, and then witness this first hand in D.C. as they are surrounded by Classically-inspired institutions, art, and architecture!
This is also a time away from home and from the familiar school setting. As students step away from their familiar worlds, they forge close friendships with their peers and develop a close-knit community of mutual support – critical experiences that help define the STS experience.