Grade 7: Colorado State Capitol & Supreme Court Field Trip
During the month of November, Grade 7 students had the exciting opportunity to enhance their studies of the US Government by taking a trip downtown to tour the State Capitol Building, the Colorado Supreme Court, and Civic Center Park. According to Grade 7 history teacher Emma Simmons, "This field trip takes place just as we are beginning Unit 3: The United States Constitution in Grade 7 history. The excursions serve as a 'hook' or 'launch' into the unit, ignite student curiosity about ways citizens participate in their government, and help students build connections as we learn more specifics about federalism (the shared and divided powers between state and national government) and popular sovereignty (the voice of the people in local, state, and national government)."
Mrs. Simmons also shared that while the field trip has been modified over the years, it still serves as a perfect introduction to a larger lesson coming later in the year. "Back in 2018, the Grade 7 team hatched a plan that would turn into what we call the 'Denver to DC Project.' The idea is to strengthen student curiosity and engagement before the Washington DC trip in the spring. To do this, we use local government landmarks to help students build connections between state and federal government, start to observe patterns of how cities are designed and public spaces are used, and simply practice the art of traveling in large groups through busy public spaces," Mrs. Simmons said.
During the trip, the students also visited the Judicial Learning Center, an interactive learning experience within the Colorado Supreme Court and the State Capitol tour. According to Mrs. Simmons, these sorts of activities not only help to engage students in what they are learning but spark their interest long-term. "At times, studying the workings of government can feel distant, abstract, and reserved for adults. The goal for field trips such as these is to help students visualize that real people do these jobs and to inspire them that they could one day have a similar role. This moment on the trip was particularly impactful and special as the students got to meet Supreme Court Justice Melissa Hart, a Graland graduate from the class of '84," Mrs. Simmons said.
While this fun and immersive learning experience may have come and gone, Mrs. Simmons knows that the field trip was just the beginning of new discoveries for her Grade 7 students. "As an educator, I appreciate the students' continued observations, curiosity, questions, and connections when we return to the classroom in the days, weeks, and months to follow. That is how you know that a field trip truly made an impact on students."
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.