Walter H. teaches Social Studies at a Jr-Sr High school in Newfoundland. He is a huge believer that students can learn a lot more by being out of their seats and experiencing things for themselves. To get out and visit a site, to see where and how their ancestors lived, to truly experience a location and to not just see it in a textbook or online… those are the best ways to really experience the world.
A half dozen years ago, I discovered that EF Tours ran what I call the Canadian Roots Tour, bringing students to Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa. I was intrigued by the idea of visiting these locations… the Grade 9 Socials Studies curriculum in our province has a focus on Canadian Identity and I felt that visiting these locations would be a wonderful opportunity to see other parts of Canada besides our own. Many students have been on vacations out of the country, but an amazing number have never been anywhere else in Canada....a real life experience for them to learn about our past Click To Tweet
Most tours take place over the Easter break in NL. Students travel with tour groups and visit places around the world. When I looked at the idea of visiting Ottawa, our nation’s capital, I thought about some of the significant events in our nation’s history… and our powerful history of involvement in the wars and peacekeeping efforts around the globe was first in my mind. To me, it seemed that the perfect time of the year to take my students to Ottawa would be to experience the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial. On our first visit there, several of my students flinched and shook during the firing of the Howitzers during the 21-gun salute to our fallen soldiers. Our classroom talks of the soldiers in the trenches listening to these guns firing overhead for hours before a battle did nothing to prepare them for the sounds in real life. Several of them spoke afterwards of the stress that those young men must have gone through under those guns… a real life experience for them to learn about our past.
Seeing my students taking part in this tour, standing and watching the national service in Ottawa, hearing them talk about the amazing history of Canada that they are learning about… all while having fun in exploring for themselves, makes it all worthwhile. This year, in November 2017, will be my fifth outing with my Grade 9 students. We have gone from 30 students in the first tour to 103 travelers this year. Hearing my travelers return home and speak about what they experienced for the rest of their high school careers really makes it worthwhile to me. It truly is a wonderful experience for the students, my incredible volunteer teacher chaperones, and myself. It has become something of a tradition at our school and I hope that it continues for many years to come.
I feel really hyped about this tour. Despite the fact that it is the same tour year after year, EF and I have tweeked the schedule and worked together to make this a fun-filled, eye-opening adventure for my students. The fact that the students are a different group every year makes watching their wide-eyed, head-turning experience a reason for me to take this on each year. I know that they will remember this event for many years to come… and that’s what makes it worthwhile to me. I am so pleased that EF Tours is able to design this tour with students in mind and so glad that they get so much out of it.
Inspired to build your own customized tour? Make sure to get your school involved, today!