What is a flipped classroom?

Hey, y’all! I am almost done with the Fall semester of Junior Year! My placement this semester has been with a classroom of high school seniors at Western Alamance High School and I have absolutely loved it. Western Alamance experiences significant technological challenges and I have found myself wondering how I would deal with technology struggles if I had my own classroom there.

Therefore, for my final project in “Teaching in 21st Century Classrooms”, I decided to research Flipped Learning. In a series of three blog posts, I will be filling you in on what I’ve learned and linking you to the valuable resources I have come across. In compiling this information, I hope to provide a resource that will be valuable to my fellow education majors as we take on our own classrooms in the next couple of years.

What is Flipped Learning? 

In their book Promoting Active Learning through the Flipped Classroom ModelJared Keengwe, Grace Onchwari, and James Oigara provide a comprehensive discussion on the flipped classroom and the challenges and benefits it brings. The authors state,

The flipped classroom is an instructional approach that educators use to turn the traditional classroom lecture model into a more active learning classroom. In the flipped model, the traditional practice of spending class time for direct instruction and completing content-related activities for homework is “flipped”.

In other words, flipped learning is all about combining face-to-face instruction with online instruction. In most flipped classrooms, teachers film themselves teaching or find videos on a certain subject and assign the video as homework. Then, in class, students have time to work on what traditionally would have been considered “homework.” This might include solving math problems, reading Shakespeare, or working in groups on a project.

6th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher Cheryl Morris (linked) has one of the best blogs I have found about what it means to really flip your class. Morris gives a TON of ideas regarding flipped lessons, data on her first flipped class, and feedback from her own students. Additionally, a wealth of information can be found by searching the hashtag on Twitter #flipclass

Flipped learning has gained a lot of attention among educators recently. While it is not a “silver bullet” fix, flipped learning has the potential to increase student understanding when it is well planned, focused, and implemented on lessons that best fit with the “flipped” method. In this series of blog posts, I’ll be letting you know some benefits and challenges to watch out for, how to get started when filming, and what to do in class the day after flipped content.


What are the benefits?

Great for classroom management and conferencing:

Many teachers try to schedule weekly or twice weekly conferences with each individual student to touch base and allow students to ask questions. The best method for classroom management is rigorous and engaging coursework. If lectures and memorization activities are moved outside of the classrooms (and filmed in an engaging way), then more class time frees up and can be spent on engaging and interesting material.

Allows students to work at their own pace:

Stacey Roshan writes about the must-have tools that she uses in her flipped classroom. Students can listen to the lectures and re-watch them at their own pace at home. Additionally, teachers can set up online quizzes that give students immediate feedback. Online sites like EdPuzzle help teachers cater to individual student needs.

Encourages active learning:

When flipped lessons are well planned, the lesson both encourages active learning at home and in the classroom. As I will expand on in my next blog post, flipped videos should require the students to take notes or answer questions during the video. Most importantly, content learned at home must be connected to the next classroom lesson. Students should come to class prepared to participate in engaged inquiry, discussion and debate, cooperative learning, and reflective learning.

Maximizes class time:

If the “lecture” is moved to homework, then class time is freed up for more teacher-student and student-student interactions. Teaching strategies like Project Based Learning work together well with a Flipped Classroom because students are able to get the teacher’s help and ask questions during class.

What are the challenges? 

So far, all research I’ve found has suggested that only some content works well “flipped”, and therefore it is best to only flip some lessons. Additionally, while research shows that some students do report being more engaged and scoring higher grades when the flipped method is implemented, it is not yet supported or confirmed by long-term research.


The best information to teach at home is content that can be memorized or will need to be referred to at a later date. In a math class, explanations of formulas make for great flipped content because students can review them and rewind at any time. In an ELA classroom, reading and writing strategies, grammar videos, or lesson introductions make for an easy “flip.”

Not best for every student:

Students with technological challenges or a strong preference for in-class lectures might not like “flipped units”. In order to cater to the most students, only flipping some units and lessons is best. Both teachers and students may be hesitant to branch out and rely on technology. While this should not be a complete deterrent, it is a factor that should be considered.

Might perpetuate lecture model:

Some scholars worry that flipped learning perpetuates the lecture model by asking students to sit at home and watch videos where the teacher transmits information to them. They argue that in this model, the teacher is still the “holder of knowledge”. However, I believe that if the flipped lecture video acts as a foundation and resources for students to ask questions and engage with the material in class, then it is a beneficial tool. Teachers should offer multiple resources for students to encourage not only learning the material but ultimately learning how to learn.


So now you want to flip?!

Watch out for my next post to learn how to make a flipped video and how to best integrate the information into your classroom!



Class Projects Uncategorized

My Teaching Philosophy

** Disclaimer: This post is for a class project and is an example of a page that I would use for my future class website **

Preparing Students for the “Real World”


Hello, Parents!

I am so glad that you have taken the time to scroll through our class website. Having all of your students in class this year is an absolute pleasure and I cannot wait to get to know each one of you better throughout the course of the year. My contact info and personal information is under the “About Me” page on your left hand side. This site will be a resource for both you and your students. Please feel free to shoot me an email or call me about any concerns you may have or just to say hello! Additionally, my door is always open! Stop by anytime and email me if you would like to sit in on a class.


In this technological day and age, there is a lot that we have to prepare students for. My job and duty as an educator goes deeper than just teaching students how to read. Fundamentally, my job is to prepare students to be educated citizens primed to contribute to society in the “real world”.

My goals are as follows:


  1. Instill a LOVE of reading within each student
  2.  Encourage students to have a personal experience with each work they read 
  3. Expose students to new cultures and ideas through reading
  4. Prepare students for a diverse workforce in which they will be expected to know how to use technology



Now, I know what you’re thinking…



Most importantly:

I want your students to leave my class truly loving to read! Instead of asking them to memorize plot lines and giving them comprehension quizzes, I want them to focus on the language of the text! After all, this is what makes great books so special! Class time will be focused on literature they would not be able to read on their own.

A love of literature inspires a lifetime of reading. Books have the unique ability to provide a window into other worlds and teach us things. With a love of reading comes a lifetime of learning.

Multi-cultural literature

In my class, we will cover a variety of works that all have authors and main characters with different perspectives. These differences should be appreciated! I want my class to be a safe space where each individual’s opinion and personal experience is valued. However, anything that devalues or demeans other students will not be tolerated. Furthermore, I will have a classroom shelf full of a wide variety of Young Adult literature that the students can “check out” at any time.

Multimodal literature


The term “multimodal” refers to anything that is characterized by several different forms of activities – just like this website! Even though you might not have noticed, the gifs used on this webpage help break up the text and enhance understanding. They serve to add to the overall experience, not take away from it. The same thing is true in multimodal teaching! This includes but is not limited to: film, audio, video, performance, pictures, and graphic novels.

What will class look like?

Depending on the assignment, students will be asked to read for homework and write down any questions that they have. Class time will be spent discussing whatever we are working on as a class. Literature often does not have a “right answer”, and we will talk about a work’s historical context and the multitude of ways that it can be interpreted.


Each book that we read in class will be accompanied by some sort of “multimodal” activity. This will not replace traditional classroom literature, but instead will be used to supplement and add to the students’ experience.


I’m going to give a few examples of how this would work in my classroom. Once again, multimodal forms help enhance your students’ experience with text, not take away from it.

Raise your hand if you like watching movies, plays, or listening to audiovlvu8bvv67mvs

With that in mind, lets think about some great ways that we can combine traditional literature with various multimodal assignments!

Example one: POETRY



Poetry is often one of the most difficult units for students and even adults. When complicated poems are shoved in front of us and it can be frustrating. Students will start to believe that they can never understand poetry.


A great introduction to poetry is having students write and perform their own poems. This helps to get them over the fear of poetry being “scary”. During this unit, I will provide a variety of different poetry books and spoken word performances for the students to browse during class. They will watch and read, find what they like, then base their own poem off of it. After several drafts, they will perform their own spoken word poetry piece for their classmates.

HERE are some great links to spoken word poems!



Let’s talk about Shakespeare and be honest about it – Shakespeare is difficult!


We do not want this to be the students’ reaction when they hear Shakespeare’s name! It is easy to forget that Shakespeare was written to be performed, not read on a page. During the Shakespeare unit, students will be given a plot summary so that they can focus on the language of the play and various ways it might be interpreted. Then, they will be split into groups and asked to perform a scene of my choice for the class. While the scene is chosen by me, interpretation will be up to the students.

This improves confidence, public speaking, and allows them to come up with their own interpretations of the text! They will be graded on group effort and style.

EXAMPLES of student performances 



Example three: FILM

Have you ever read a book and then watched the movie and absolutely hated it? This happens because when a book is turned into a movie, the director has to make certain choices that often change the meaning of the film.

This year, my class will be reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. After we have finished the book, we will watch the film and discuss how the director chooses to convey certain scenes. Students might have trouble pulling out imagery from the text, but when it comes to watching film they can do it easily. Students will gain a better understanding of literary terms and will be able to discuss how they are conveyed in a film. They will be graded on their understanding and written responses.

Watch the trailer and see if you can pull out some things to discuss!


Here are a few questions I would use for discussion points in class

1 – When the twin towers are falling, why is the scene filmed at an upward angle?

2 – Why do you think that both the book and movie are told from Oskar’s (the young boy) perspective?

3 – Why do you think that in the film version, the grandfather is introduced in the beginning instead of at the end?

4 – Why do directors make different choices than authors?



These are just a few examples of ways that multimodal lessons can be implemented in the classroom. I want students to gain valuable and applicable information that can be used beyond my high school English class. A multimodal education provides some of those skills and benefits. Ultimately, we all just want to prepare students to be successful in whatever they choose to do!


Class Projects ENG 363 Final



Travel Day to Gettysburg (January 18th)


Above is the gorgeous view out of our Gettysburg hotel window.

Thankfully, the Gettysburg portion of the trip is only 2 nights and one full day. By this point of the trip, we were all ready to go home and a bit sick of museums. Additionally, there aren’t many restaurant options in the town. We ate at TGI Friday’s once which was altogether disappointing and then ordered delivery from Tommy’s Pizza one night which was a much better decision.

Main Day (January 19th)

Gettysburg National Military Park



I was pleasantly surprised at Gettysburg’s treatment of slavery and its role in causing the Civil War. Slavery was a key point of discussion during the orientation film and throughout the museum exhibits. The orientation video began by explaining that in the year 1860 when the country was preparing for a new President, slavery was the hot topic. The question was not whether or not to outlaw slavery but whether or not the institution of slavery would be expanded. For the south, slavery was vital to the agricultural economy. One third of white families owned slaves. When Lincoln (a Republican against slavery) won the Presidency, southern states began to secede. A devastating war would soon follow. By the time the Union claimed victory, 620,000 soldiers died.

The cyclorama was probably one of the coolest things that I’ve ever seen. It is absolutely incredible that something that big and realistic could be created in about a year. During the audio explanation of the battle the technological effects dramatized the painting in an awesome way. I was not surprised to hear that veterans who have seen the painting wept in remembrance of the day. Despite how awesome the painting is I noticed that the audio soundtrack unnecessarily repeated a lot of things that we had just heard in the orientation video. The cyclorama focused more though on the battle itself rather than the causes of the war and the issue of slavery. I thought that this was okay considering that the orientation video and museum focus on it plenty.

The Gettysburg museum argues that the Civil War was fought over three issues: Union survival, the fate of slavery and the common rights of citizenship. I thought that these points were all very well developed via the orientation film and museum exhibits. Although slavery is discussed the most, the museum also does a good job of dealing with the other causes. It argues that while the South’s reasoning for rebellion against the Union is to end slavery, the Union cares more about trying to preserve America. The North refused to recognize the legitimacy of secession and feared that the Civil War would tear the states apart and delegitimize democracy.

Additionally, the museum argues that the war was fought over the common rights of citizenship. Lincoln reminds us all during the Gettysburg Address that all men are created equal. Indeed, this is the great contradiction of the United States and its acceptance of slavery during the time period. In several places throughout the museum and in Lincoln’s speech it is mentioned that the soldiers have not died in vain. The North used the Civil War as a way to accomplish something huge: freeing the slaves. No longer would the Constitution be a contradiction. Very few men during this time believed that blacks were equal to whites. Although progress would be slow, the Civil War was the beginning of turning America into a better and more equal nation.

I did not find the Gettysburg museum suffered from a pro-Confederate bias. The orientation video, cyclorama, museum and bus tour all stayed focused on telling about each side’s reasons for war and efforts during the battle. Even though the Confederate side was weaker, they refrained from pinning them as ragtag underdogs like McCullough does to the American side in 1776. I think that the Gettysburg makeover did a great job of getting rid of any bias towards either side. Slavery was pinned as the key reason for the war and the issue of secession was not treated lightly. I remember talking about in class how it was the Sons of Confederate Veterans who did a lot of the retelling of the war, especially in the South. I did not see evidence of their impact on the Gettysburg museum and sites (but perhaps just on the monuments themselves which we did not analyze closely). Both sides of the war were spoken of as facts and while southerners weren’t pinned as the devil for wanting to preserve slavery, they certainly were not praised either. During the bus tour though we did see some of the state monuments that Loewen talks about in his book. Our tour guide did not really delve into the issue of their bias and whether or not they served to praise the Confederate cause. It makes sense though that the Sons of Confederate veterans and other groups would try to glorify the cause their ancestors fought for.

The downfall of my Gettysburg experience was the bus tour. I was trying to stay positive and remember that this was our last history lesson of the trip, but unfortunately Bob’s rudeness made it hard to do so. This tour was also a lot of detail about what seemed like every moment of the battle and each side’s position on the grounds. We had already covered a lot of the basics about each of the 3 days during the museum portion. While it was cool to see where the battle was fought, I found it very hard to stay interested during two whole hours of discussion on the details. I felt very singled out and uncomfortable by Bob’s questions throughout the tour. The tour could’ve been better had we had a better guide and perhaps more about the monuments and the Civil War as a whole. I felt completely overwhelmed with the amount of detail about Gettysburg and I cannot imagine that many people who want a bus tour want or can retain that much-detailed information about a battle.

Headed Home (January 20th)


The History Study Tour was such an incredible class and experience and I wish I could live it all again! From Jim’s jokes, to endless museum days, to Italian food in North End – I wouldn’t change a thing. It is the opportunities like this that Elon provides that makes our teacher education program so special. We aren’t just memorizing facts in a history textbook, we’re getting out in the world and learning about it!

Class Wrap-Up

12592732_10204675454521172_4412950915132844043_n.jpgJournaling hard
FullSizeRender.jpgBack to The Lon’

Unfortunately, the last day in Gettysburg does not equal the last day of class. You still have your journal and thematic essay due when you get back. Keep in mind that Jim does grade these and does not give out the “easy A.” Try to finish your journal on the bus so you can have it ready to turn in on that last day of class! Then, you can switch gears and knock out your thematic essay.


Thanks for following along with me on the History Study Tour! Good luck on your own traveling and blogging escapades. Stay hungry for adventure ❤



Class Projects ENG 319 Final History Study Tour Teaching Fellows Trips United States



While you have four nights in Boston, you only get three full days! There is TONS to see in Boston and so many amazing places to eat! Use the “t” line train and take advantage of every second!


Travel Day (January 14th)

Quincy Market

IMG_5201.JPGFaneuil Hall


IMG_5202.JPGLobster Mac and Cheese


12540521_10204667464921437_4857469800735057068_n (1).jpgThis Wydham Hotel is the best of the trip!



Day 1 (January 15th)

IMG_5215.JPGOld South Meeting House

IMG_5205.JPGOld North Church


On day 1 in Boston we visited the Old South Meeting House and Old North Church, both of which were built during the Revolutionary War time period. Both of these buildings are quite beautiful to look at and it was interesting to see how different churches looked like back in those days compared to now. Both also feature box pews that families purchased to sit in during sermons. They were useful in keeping warm and families might even bring blankets or even the family dog to help with heat. On the second level, poor people and people of color could have free seating.

Old South Meeting House was a Quaker Church and Meeting House. In 1773 when the tea act was passed, meetings about what to do were held here. Samuel Adams, member of the Sons of Liberty, helped to organize a plan in which a group of Americans dumped over 340 chests of tea in the Boston harbor. Sixteen months later the war would begin. As McCullough mentions in his book 1776, the British turned this building into the Queen’s riding school when they overtake Boston. After the war, the Quaker people refurbished the church. The guide’s discussion of what happened at the Old South Meeting House was very interesting but it was a bit hard to stay focused in a sort of lecture hall style discussion of the events. We sat in the pews while she discussed what all had occurred here. In the back of the church, a timeline and exhibition were set up to further explain the course of events. These were very helpful in gaining a greater understanding of the time period and maps were useful in picturing what Boston used to look like.

Old North Church is the oldest church in Boston at almost 300 years old and is still a working church today. The woman who spoke at this church did not seem very enthused to be here. She told Paul Revere’s story and explained how the Revolution began. There were no exhibitions or any other ways to get information and I left feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused about why we visited that site. She spoke so quickly with so little emphasis on anything that I struggled to understand the importance of the site as a whole. The church itself though (especially the organ!) was absolutely beautiful.



IMG_5208.JPGPappardelle Selvatiche



Kristy and I broke off from the group on this afternoon to fuel up with some carbs before we took on the Freedom Trail! Since the weather looked bad on the next day, we decided to knock it all out at once. I actually suggest this because it gives you more free time on the next day. Lunch was at an Italian place in North End called Strega. The owner is pictured above and was hysterical. Lovely place!


Freedom Trail

IMG_5214.JPGState Capital




That last picture of fellow Teaching fellow Megan perfectly describes how I felt after completing the Freedom Trail. My Freedom Trail experience was exhausting but rewarding. I really enjoyed getting a chance to explore the city while learning about history at the same time. Following the ‘red brick road’ around the city was almost like a game. However, we struggled to find a few of the sites and some did better job than others of interpreting and explaining Boston’s history. According to Young the Freedom Trail has improved greatly over the last few decades, but there is definitely still improvements to be made.

Slavery was popular during this time, and none of the sites on the Freedom Trail really pay proper homage to that. The different burial grounds commemorate the different white men and skim over the slaves that are buried. We risk fragmenting history, especially concerning race and gender, when we split up history into different trails. Boston also offers a Black Heritage Trail and a Women’s History Trail. This takes the pressure off the Freedom Trail to properly recognize these groups.


Celtics Game


12439048_866259050139734_3567691762768250488_n.jpgDana, Megan, Emma


1919081_10204653948983547_5933732140657466682_n.jpgEmma, Megan, Dana


996781_10204653948823543_3507614492626427747_n.jpgPersonal shoutout on the Jumptron!


The Celtics Game was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! Fellow Allie Roth organized a group rate with the tickets and even had them flash a welcome across the jumbotron for us to see! TD Garden is a great arena and getting out of the hotel and doing something fun was awesome. I definitely recommend planning a group activity like this. We did have to Uber there and back because it was a couple mile walk.



Day 2 (January 16th)

Old State House


First on the schedule this morning was a visit to the Old State House. The tour began with a short introduction discussing the building’s history. The building housed Massachusetts’s government between 1713 and 1798 and became the state house in 88’ before the move to Beacon Hill. After the government’s move the building went through several different hardships before it became the Boston owned museum that it is today. At the end of the tour there were two more lecture style information sessions about the council chamber and the Boston Massacre. While it was clear that the tour guides were passionate about the topics they were speaking on, the lecture style sessions failed to capture our attention without any use of visual aide. This site in particular did not seem to have quite adapted to technology.

The museum calls itself an ‘American Revolution museum’, and as expected, most of the information on those two floors was very repetitive to some of the other museums that we have visited. There was a lot of information about Boston’s role as a thriving seaport and the important men that led during the time of war. The museum was clearly biased towards Boston and told about its role in the Revolutionary War. I preferred the Boston Tea Party Museum and Yorktown’s hands on approach to telling about the war. It is much harder to retain information and imagine the time period when you are simply listening to a lecture or reading an exhibit versus an interactive lesson or video presentation.


Soul Cycle

IMG_5244.JPGIMG_5241.JPGPre-Soul Cycle
IMG_5243.JPGPost-Soul Cycle



One evening a small group of us went to try out a near-by Soul Cycle Class! A couple of the girls had memberships and the rest of us were able to go for free since it was our first time. The class was a great mix of challenging and fun. I was completely exhausted but the upbeat music keeps you going!


Light Dinner


Great, light post-workout meal! This place is near Soul Cycle and has incredible salads made with all local ingredients.



Day 3 (January 17th)

Boston Tea Party Museum

The Boston Tea Party Museum was a nice change of pace from some of the more traditional sites and museums that we have seen, but I felt that it was aimed too much towards little kids. It reminded me of my middle school history lessons and tours, and Young mentions it in his article as a museum run for profit. The tour began with a skit reenacting a meeting at the Old South Meeting House about the outrage that took place when the Tea Act was put into place. Three ships of tea sat in the harbor and the colonists had twenty days to decide what to do with it before the contents of the ships could be seized. The governor refused the last request at compromise and so the colonists decided that they must act. The plan of action (dumping the tea overboard) is one of the best-kept secrets in American history because it was considered an act of treason.

After this original informative skit where we were encouraged to yell and chime in, we went outside in the freezing rain onto one of the ships to pretend like we were throwing tea overboard. While it was sort of fun to pretend like we were committing treason, it was really cold and wet and I honestly just wanted to go back inside. Next we went through several indoor interactive exhibits. We watched two women, one loyalist and one patriot, discuss which stance had more merit. Additionally, we saw one of the two surviving chests from the Tea Party, watched two paintings argue with one another and watched a short film on the start of the Revolutionary War. This museum was more focused on patriotism and out on the boat I felt like I should be running around chanting “USA!” After the tour ended we were invited upstairs for tea.


Bunker Hill

th-4.jpg The Momument

The Bunker Hill site consists of a monument and museum. The Bunker Hill monument itself was created to commemorate the fallen American soldiers in an understated and classy manner. It was built between 1825 and 1842 and dedicated in 1843. I found it very interesting that the monument association decided not to have names, dates or events recorded on the monument. They wanted the monument to serve more as a symbol for national unity that honored the soldier’s sacrifice. The Washington monument was later modeled after the Bunker Hill monument.

At the entrance to the museum there was a brief overview of the Battle of Bunker Hill that explained that although the Americans lost, the battle was a significant strategy gain that showed that American troops were a force to be reckoned with. However, this is the only place in the entire museum that I could find that even mentioned that the Americans lost the battle of Bunker Hill! We incurred devastating losses. The town of Charlestown was badly burned and wrecked during the battle and it took them years to rebuild. Only one small area of the museum was dedicated to British leaders and perspective. The museum reminded me a lot of 1776’s treatment of the Revolutionary War and constant reminders that the Americans were the “ragtag, underdog” army. This sort of pinning was evident throughout the museum. As we’ve heard several times during class and throughout this trip, the victor tells history. It is interesting though that we were not the victors of the Battle at Bunker Hill, yet we still place so much importance on it in American History. Young mentions the Bunker Hill museum and monument in his article.


Last Dinner



This little Italian place was absolutely incredible. It was only about a 7-8 minute walk in the snow from our hotel, and it is thus far the best meal I’ve ever eaten. Inside is tiny and candlelit – the perfect date venue. Luckily I was there on a date with two of my two best friends. They had a 3 course dinner option for $40 and while that is definitely a splurge, I knew it would be my last great dinner of the trip. I started with beef tenderloin and portobello mushroom fondue, then had pettini (scallops), and finally ciacolotto (chocolate cake). Meal of a lifetime.


On to Gettysburg (January 18th)

IMG_5279.JPG Snow!


Leaving Boston was SO sad. I didn’t expect to love this city in the way that I did and I will definitely be back. Three days is not enough time!


Follow my blog to see our final stop – Gettysburg!



Class Projects ENG 319 Final History Study Tour Teaching Fellows Trips United States


Arriving (January 10th)

Jim’s Philly Cheesesteaks



To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with Jim’s! It has won awards for best Philly cheesesteaks and I had high expectations. I found it to be a bit dry and just not that special. Maybe I’m just spoiled by Texas meats. This being said, it’s Philly! You HAVE to try a Philly cheesesteak. Above is my adorable friend Kristy digging in.

Cartilage Piercing


Yep, I got my cartilage pierced on our first night! I’d been wanting to get it done for a while and when I saw all of the tattoo parlors down the main strip I got impulsive. The shop where I got it done was fantastic. It was a bit pricey, but the quality service and real metal earring definitely made it worth it! If you’re looking for something slightly rebellious to do, this is it.

Day 1 (January 11th)

Independence National Historic park

(Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Liberty Bell, President’s House)

IMG_5092.JPGDefinite Kodak moment with Kristy
IMG_5094.JPGIndependence Hall
IMG_5093.JPGIndependence Hall
congress-hall-house-of-reps-5x7.jpgCongress Hall
IMG_5090.JPGLiberty Bell

Independence National Historic Park was a great start to our sightseeing in Philadelphia. We rose early and the sites were only a short walk from our hotel.

It was clear from visiting the various sites today that Philadelphia is a city rich in history. Our day started with a visit to the Visitor’s Center where we watched the two orientation films that were offered there. The first video, Choosing Sides, told stories of various people that lived during the Revolutionary War and the difficult decision they had to make in choosing which side to support. Some were loyalists who stayed true to the British, some Patriots who vied for independence, some Patriots who thought a declaration of independence was too risky and some thought war wrong altogether and did not know which side to support. The second video was a story of independence that explained the thought process behind the revolution and writing of the declaration, which was thought to be a death sentence. It was not until 1787 that a national government was finally founded and a constitution was written in America’s original capitol, Philadelphia.

Next, we crossed the street to see the Liberty Bell Museum. The Liberty Bell is on display in Philly and is well known as a cultural icon that can be used as a symbol in relation to almost every American cause. It was originally named the state house bell and later renamed by the abolitionists. The Liberty Bell is a symbol of liberty and the struggle for freedom and is an inspiration for patriotic sacrifice. After the Civil War, the bell becomes a symbol of national reunification. The bell was also used symbolically in the fight for women’s suffrage. Despite the cracks, the bell symbolizes the never-ending quest for freedom giving it the ability to resonate with people of different cultures from all over the world.

To be quite honest, I had trouble staying focused during the tour guide’s explanations of Independence Hall and Congress Hall that we saw later in the day. The information seemed to be repetitive from the things we have learned by reading 1776 and the Moodle Articles and the tour guides spent too much time droning on about each minute thing that had happened in each room, particularly in Independence Hall. Both put emphasis on the “fact” that what happened in those rooms changed the course of American History forever.

The first time I walked by I completely missed the President’s House. I was expecting it to be an actual house and instead it was just a few little signs. It explains that history is not “neat” and instead we must think about the contradiction of our country: the rising of liberty during a time of slavery. The plaques pay tribute to the slaves and explain in detail the hardships they were forced to endure while crossing the sea and in American homes across the country. President George Washington owned and transported slaves, a troubling thing to think about. Learning that some of history’s greatest heroes made mistakes are important because we as a society need to learn from those mistakes. Hearing that our Constitution required the return of escaped enslaved people to be returned to their owners is shocking and sad. The President’s House does a wonderful job of teaching visitors about the horrors of slavery in hopes that we can learn from our predecessor’s mistakes. I hope that the President’s House will set an example for other parks and museums around the country.

Mrs. K’s Coffee

IMG_5096.JPGCutest little place to stop for breakfast or lunch!

Liberty Museum



IMG_5109.JPGKristy bear


This afternoon (the 11th) my group chose to visit the Liberty Museum – my favorite place we have been thus far! Upon entering, we watched a short orientation film that greatly encompassed the themes of museum as a whole. It began by asking, “what does liberty look like?” Liberty looks like people working together and choosing their own path. Liberty is an opportunity that sometimes it requires that you risk it all. Liberty is not a destination, but a long journey. Liberty is not about what you can’t do, but about what you can do. Both the museum and the video emphasized that there are all different kinds of heroes. There were exhibits dedicated to political heroes from all over the world and exhibits dedicated to young kids who have stood up to make a difference. Some honored have faced jail time for standing up for what is right while others have even faced death.

I really appreciated how inclusive this particular museum was. People of all different backgrounds, cultures and religions were recognized. There was a room dedicated to America’s religious roots that had several displays incorporating Native American religion. It is so rare to see them included despite the fact that they were technically the original settlers of the America’s. Although there were more sections dedicated to the United States than any other country, I felt that the museum did not put America on a pedestal. On the contrary, they showed that America could be a tough cruel place at times. In one part of the museum we had the opportunity to write down mean things that we have been called or that we have called other people and then shred the paper, symbolizing those words leaving our vocabulary. I left the museum feeling inspired, refreshed and free. Philadelphia has already managed to steal my heart and we had only been here one day.


IMG_5115.JPGCutest friends


12512318_10204634089727078_6443570528619551868_n.jpgCute lil’ tea cups

Chinatown is an absolute must-see in Philly! It is quite the adorable neighborhood. We looked online to get some recommendations on where to eat and settled on a place called the Peking Duck. Upon first approach, this place absolutely terrified us. There were tons of dead ducks hanging in the window and it didn’t look the nicest. However, we took a chance and the food was absolutely incredible. I ordered Kung Pao Chicken and it was the best I’ve ever had. I’m sure any of the duck dishes would be amazing as well. Additionally, they serve ice cream for dessert!

Day 2 (January 12th)

12565419_775199582625156_5058829242487763560_n.jpgFriends take on the Magic Gardens

National Constitution Center



The National Constitution Center is a very modern museum. You start off going into a large circular stadium room where a live play is shown. Then, you are shown upstairs to another big circular room full of loads of information. My main issue with this museum was that all of the text was overwhelming and not broken up well. It seemed as if they were trying to spew every pro-American text and argument at us.

We must keep in mind that at big national historic sites they are trying to inspire patriotism and unity among us all. It makes sense that they would not bring up problems that arise with the Constitution and instead focus on what all it accomplishes. The short play at the Constitution Center focuses on the fact that the Constitution allows for change and opportunity for people of all different cultures and backgrounds. Some would argue that the Constitution does not provide a true democracy though. Nonetheless, many nations have modeled their own governments after the United States and it is important to remember how lucky we are to be born in this great nation.

Overall I found the museum to be very pretty and appealing, but with an overwhelming amount of information. Everywhere I looked there were paragraphs and paragraphs about every section of the Constitution and how it came to be. While this is all very interesting, I found myself struggling to decide what I needed to read and what I could skim over.

Fireman’s Hall

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FullSizeRender.jpgMarlies and I

Our second visit was to Fireman’s Hall. This is a two-story museum filled with different old-school fire station gear and information about Philadelphia firefighters both past and present. This site is meant to pay tribute to the men and women who have bravely worked to keep their state safe. I was glad to see that they had an area dedicated to discussing segregation of the fire station and how that segregation came to an end. Fireman’s Hall was a cool and fun place to visit clearly geared towards families. It definitely does heroify the men who have served as Philadelphia firemen. I’m not sure however, that this is a bad thing. Firefighters risk their lives every day and are either volunteer or underpaid. In my eyes, they deserve the upmost recognition and praise. It is men like them that keep our country running strong.

This site was cute, short, and entertaining. You get to dress up in uniforms! I highly recommend it.

Betsy Ross’s House

My group’s third visit was to the Betsy Ross house. We walked through the home and stopped in a small room where “Betsy Ross” explained her line of work. She explained that she is not a seamstress but an upholsterer. Before making flags she focused on curtains and other cloth items. Then, according to legend, she was asked by George Washington to make a flag for the colonies. Considering that this was treason against England, she had to sew the flag in her chamber. It is so interesting to me that even though we have no evidence that Betsy Ross actually made a flag, thousands of people tour her home and listen to her little speech every year. Symbols in America catch on so quickly that it is tough to decipher what is true and what is false. If you (Dr. Bissett) hadn’t mentioned that Betsy Ross hadn’t actually done anything, I would’ve gone my whole life believing something that has no evidence to back it up. We heroify people who have done nothing at all.

This site is really nothing special. It is a completely fabricated and yet they are collecting money for people to go see it! We walked through this one quite quickly.

Race Street Cafe

12438966_10204638429235563_5348607910709138712_n.jpgChicken Roulade and Ricotta Gnocchi

The Race Street Cafe had phenomenal food but terrible customer service. I’d still recommend it for a lunch, but make sure you go with a small group and ask for separate checks beforehand! I would recommend both the chicken roulade and ricotta gnocchi and the deconstructed quinoa Napoleon.

Happily Ever After

12540635_10204634587579524_7767112932769428863_n.jpgMarlies and Megan
12509300_10208197647768108_4781135797777589616_n.jpgMy pal Sully
IMG_5140.JPGMacaroons and a caramel macchiato
IMG_5145.JPGChocolate Belgian waffle

GO TO THIS PLACE. Book your flight, do it right now. Not only are the Belgian waffles, macaroons, and espresso drinks incredible, but they have Disney stuffed animals all over the place. You can’t go here and leave unhappy. If we had one of these in my town I’d be there every single day.

Day 3 (January 13th)

Eastern State Penitentiary



Eastern State Penitentiary was probably my favorite mandatory site that we visited despite the frigid weather. Something about old creepy jails is sort of fascinating. It was also a nice break from the typical museums. The “hands on” method of teaching reminded me of our trip to Yorktown where we got to explore the soldier’s barracks and try to all fit inside a tent. Stepping inside the jail cell at Eastern State made the experience all the more real to me. I also found it interesting that a lot of current jailing tactics were learned during the time period of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Before Eastern State came to be there was the Walnut Street Jail. All of the jailors were kept in one room and antics ran rampant. Guards were corrupt and inmates did not learn their lesson. Eastern State Petitionary’s goal was to change this with the separate system. This required inmates to be in their cell 23 hours a day with only an hour allowed for exercise. Over time this proved to be unmaintainable and unrealistic. The jail became overcrowded, inmates began to go crazy and security began to fail. Although security at jails has improved, America has yet to find the “perfect method.” Our tour guide showed us a shocking statistic comparing how many people were in jail during the time of Eastern State compared to now. It has risen almost 600%. This is not only bad for society, but also a bad use of tax money. Clearly, something needs to change.

Over the last few months’ legislation has been passed to decriminalize some drugs and even legalize it in some cases. America cannot afford to continue down the path of jailing so many. A solution must be found. Eastern State is an important part of American History because it is a great example to teach that learning and progress never stop. Like we discussed in class, mistakes repeat themselves. In order to stop that cycle, we must learn about these mistakes and how to fix them. America must keep the spirit of experimentation and progress at its forefront in order to stay ahead. Perhaps there is no “perfect” solution to jail or anything else, but it is vital that we continue to try to better ourselves.

Franklin’s Ice Cream

12508685_10204673597674752_4606183564070600509_n.jpgRachel and Katie

This place is WAY overpriced, but is adorable and has fantastic ice cream!

On to Boston (January 14th)

IMG_5185.JPGFirst time driving through NJ and NY
IMG_5189.JPGNew York!

Brb, currently craving that Belgian waffle. Follow my journey to our next stop – Boston!



Class Projects ENG 319 Final History Study Tour Teaching Fellows Trips United States

NC + Virginia

Trip kicks off (January 6th)


Alamance Battleground Tour

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Alamance Battleground is the very first stop of the trip and is fairly close to Elon. This morning was also COLD. Pretty great indicator of what the rest of the trip would look like. The tour starts off with a short film about what happened during the Battle of Alamance and then moves to the grounds where the battle occurred. We had a male and a female tour guide who were knowledgeable, passionate, and intent on pushing the importance of the Battle of Alamance and North Carolina’s rich history. This battle was fought when some Carolina colonists became unhappy with the taxation and means of collecting money in the colony and decided to take a stand against the British. The colonists were known as the “regulators.”

The interesting thing about the Alamance Battleground is that they are claiming that they were the first battle of the American of the revolution when in fact they weren’t even fighting for freedom from Britain! In my opinion, those who run this site are making a bit too big of claims about their importance. While this battle may be important to North Carolinians, it isn’t really the start to the revolution.

While this isn’t the most interesting of sites, it’s a good little start to the trip. As a displaced Texan, it’s interesting to learn a little bit about the history of other states.



1424301_10204606310752621_8179687888206471555_n.jpgDowntown Raleigh


IMG_4991.JPGDr. Carpenter joins us in Raleigh!


1005518_10204606309832598_6956037191979720978_n.jpgLunch time at Cafe Carolina


Our next stop was the state capitol grounds and quick lunch in Raleigh. Quite honestly, the assignment concerning the state capitol grounds is kind of silly. We were asked to go in the museum and look at the statues in order to consider whether or not the monuments are biased towards the Confederacy. Of course, considering that we’re in North Carolina, they are very biased. We were able to pick up a bulletin from inside the museum and write about it without looking around much.

The most interesting part of this day was finding a foreigner’s wallet that contained over $1,000 in cash. Turning it in to the police was a sad moment but it had to be done.

For lunch we stopped in a little cafe called Cafe Carolina which is very similar to Panera! I’d definitely recommend it for a quick stop.


On to VA

12400474_10204607239575841_8182828965564321939_n.jpgRachel, Danielle, and Hannah



VA Day 1 (January 7th)



12484732_10206972861097895_5774956173932578140_oAnna, Daniella, Kristy, and I


12469567_10206972861857914_3665725131702548494_oGroup shot on the “settlement ships”


1655439_10206972860377877_3683065652151935662_oMy roommate for the trip, Kristy!




12469476_10206972858177822_3077191874418897283_oRecreation of the settlement ships
Colonist church


Our Jamestown tour was quite possibly the worst of the trip. I found the majority of the tour to be slightly uncomfortable and disappointing overall. Our guide spent most of the time talking about the different cultures of people that became mixed at Jamestown and how those different types of people lived, while failing to mention the importance of Jamestown as a settlement.

The guide tried too hard too hard to force us to answer questions and engage us, almost as if we were young kids. I think that he was overexcited that we weren’t little kids (his usual touring age group). The tour became boring and it was hard to follow his rambling at times. Additionally, he did not seem to realize that some teenage girls would be made uncomfortable with an older man they did not know touching their shoulders or getting in their personal space during his demonstrations. It is very important to respect boundaries when teaching others. Despite the disappointing guide, I found the discussion of the different cultures to be interesting – especially the outdoor portion of the tour where we got to see how the Powhatan tribe lived.



IMG_5001.JPGLearning soldier skills


12471556_10206972871378152_588426458047452886_oDrill practice



12487307_10206972870138121_2031006017899628082_oSoldier’s tent


Thankfully, Yorktown was a MUCH better experience than Jamestown.

Yorktown is remembered as the last major battle of the American Revolution and the deciding factor in the outcome of the war. Despite Yorktown being at the end of the Revolution, our guide did a wonderful job outlining the whole revolution and explaining how it all started. She began her by showing Ben Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon that sought to show the colonies that they could not win the war separately – they must all fight together. Then, she explained the different reasons that the war began. As a result of a costly French and Indian war and British soldiers monitoring of the border of 1763, Britain began to enforce more taxes on the American. Thus, taxation without representation began. Americans begin to get fed up with these taxes because they believed that they were unfair, so they rebelled. The Boston Tea Party was organized by Sam Adams and represents the throwing away of the King’s property. Others follow suit across the colonies. The 1st shot is fired at Lexington and Concord and just like that, the war begins.

Our tour guide’s presentation was interesting, engaging, contained college-appropriate material and was to the point. It was especially fun to see the soldier’s living quarters and pretend that we were soldiers learning drill. The tour was, however, biased towards the American side. Our guide told a story of being shocked that a museum in London only had one small display remembering the American Revolution and the American victory at Yorktown. The Revolution is such a small deal to the British but is a huge deal to Americans including her and the rest of the staff at Yorktown. She stated, “history is told by its victors.” This certainly rings true at Yorktown.



VA Day 2 (January 8th)


IMG_5017.JPGJefferson’s beautiful home


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12489196_10206991918694323_413867814679839796_oPotomac River


12465892_10206986546280016_6492635289319298674_oUnder Jefferson’s home



12507465_10204606310352611_8690693153169655045_n.jpgDanielle and Megan


Monticello, as a whole, did a more than adequate job of explaining the Jefferson contradiction – a man famous for proclaiming all men free and equal in the Declaration of Independence owned over a hundred slaves. This being said, workers at Monticello clearly admire Jefferson for his various accomplishments and his ingenuity despite the fact that he owned slaves.

Our tour started with a short orientation film about Jefferson’s life that opened with a Jefferson quote claiming, “Equality is man’s natural law” and following with a list of his many accomplishments. The film goes on to discuss his living contradiction. Jefferson had more than 140 African Americans living at Monticello and only freed the children that he fathered with Sally Hemmings at the time of his death. Although the film mentions the contradiction, it ends with further heroification of Jefferson by comparing him to the other great men who have worked towards freedom in their lifetimes: Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, Obama and various others.

Monticello seemed very progressive in its discussions of slave life during Jefferson’s era. Our tour guide brought up that it was not always this way though and that they are still learning more about Jefferson each year and working to give the most accurate and informative tours possible. We must also keep in mind that Monticello is a family attraction that should leave visitors feeling good, not scare little children off with the horrors of slave beatings. I appreciated that our guide “kept it real” with us and was able to appreciate and criticize Jefferson without quite granting him hero status. After all, he was a human just like all of us.

Monticello was one of my favorite stops of the trip. Not only are the grounds and buildings beautiful, but the tour does a fantastic job of portraying history accurately and teaching visitors about the time.


On to second hotel

IMG_5020.JPGMegan out



VA Day 3 (January 9th)

American Civil War Museum

Unfortunately, on this tour day I was sick! I spent the day eating Dominoes in bed and drinking sprite. Jim was kind enough to give me a “free pass” on the journal from this day! Luckily, I recovered quickly and was back in commission soon enough 🙂



VA Day 4 (January 10th)

Mount Vernon

12419048_10206991916174260_4421457257096873475_oWashington’s Home





The Mount Vernon tour began much like Monticello with a video. The Washington heroification begins from the moment the video starts. A deep narrating voice tells us that “Washington never told a lie” and that “this estate shows his true personality.” The only time that slavery is brought up during the whole video is when the slave memorial is mentioned. There is more time devoted to sales ploys in the video than time spent talking about slavery. This sends the message that money and white history is more important than slavery. How ridiculous. The video moves on to tell a very romanticized story of how Martha and Washington met and how bravely he was able to rally his men to win the Revolutionary War. Slavery is never mentioned again and Washington is crowned the “patriot of liberty.” The video ends by asking us to “remain true to his memory.”

This version of Washington that the Mount Vernon video describes is the one I spent my childhood learning about. In reality though, Washington was not that perfect and painting him as so is ludicrous. When we heroify we miss out on so much of history and the lessons that can be learned from it. Our tour through the house was interesting (and not in a good way) to say the least. We began by touring the “servants house” in which a flat screen TV was housed and servants were not even mentioned. Is calling them servants supposed to disguise the fact that they were enslaved? Of course, the house itself is beautiful. The extra staff member on guard in each room was a bit unnerving though.

Our guide Nathan Noble seemed uncomfortable with our slavery questions and was clearly a huge Washington admirer. He even called himself our adopted professor (what a goof). Monticello did a much better job of balancing the contradiction of Jefferson overall – they were willing to admit that owning slaves was an issue even though he accomplished great things. Brushing slavery under the rug is not an honest recount of Washington’s life. Guests to Mount Vernon deserve to hear both the good and the bad. After all, that is what makes history interesting and how we learn from it.

On the grounds of Mount Vernon, we explored the area and visited both the Washington family grave and slave gravesite. Washington and Martha’s graves are magnificent and quite the spectacle. After seeing them though, walking over to the slave’s gravesite and seeing a few simple stones serving to commemorate the unmarked graves of over 300 slaves seems very sad in comparison. It does not seem to me that these people were ever paid proper tribute then or now. The memorial that exists now was not even commissioned until the 80’s.

After visiting the graves we spent some time exploring the museum and education center, both of which were very impressive. As expected, most of the museum was dedicated to Washington’s life and the Revolutionary War. There was one section in the education center with a plaque “Behind the Shadows of Slavery” that explained how Washington inherited the slaves and the tasks those slaves played both at Mount Vernon and in the Revolutionary War. While this plaque was good, I would’ve liked to see more things like it incorporated throughout Mount Vernon.


On to Philly

IMG_5049.JPGPit stop in Maryland

What a great start to our trip! Follow my journey as we take on Philadelphia next!

With love,




Class Projects ENG 319 Final History Study Tour Teaching Fellows Trips United States

History Study Tour

As a Teaching Fellow, you have the incredible opportunity to travel for FREE over winter term freshman year up and down the East coast AND earn credit for a history course. I’m here to give you the inside scoop on what the trip is really like and give you tips to make the most out of your travels! This will be a series of blog posts detailing things to know before you take off and what to do in each city!

I hope that reading about what I have learned will inspire you to keep track of your own travels and start your own travel blog! Having a sort of “online scrapbook” to look back on is such a wonderful thing. Happy blogging and more importantly, happy traveling from my cohort to yours!


12486034_10206986523519447_816728758461189875_o (1).jpg 2019 Teaching Fellows Cohort 



Christmas Break


Quite possibly the most annoying part of this class is that it requires work over Christmas Break. Do not be mollified by the director’s insistence that this isn’t actually that much work – it is a solid amount for a short break and he is a fairly hard grader. The book itself, 1776, is enjoyable but long. I recommend starting it right away on the plane or car ride home. Once you have it out of the way, writing the essay itself isn’t too bad. However, you’ll want to have read the essay prompt before reading the book so that you can look out for quotes and things to use in your essay! I recommend putting sticky notes on pages with quotes or summaries that you want to use. This will make the writing process so much easier. There are also going to be some articles and book chapters up on Moodle that you have to read. You’ll need to read these for discussions and in-class writing assignments that will take place in the couple days before your trip takes off. Once this is out of the way, the real fun can begin!



What to pack

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WARM CLOTHES. That is pretty much the gist of everything you need to know about this one. As a Texan, I was completely unprepared for how gosh darn cold it would be. With the wind coming off the ocean, it can be absolutely brutal. Prepare for it to be 0 degrees or even colder with the wind chill. Most of my Christmas presents before the trip were warm clothing items to bring. In addition to your normal packing list, I would recommend:

  • MULTIPLE pairs of gloves
  • Wool socks
  • Snow boots or other warm walking boots
  • Ear warmers
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Thick sweaters
  • Snacks for the bus and hotel
  • Medicine (people will get sick!
  • Layers, layers, layers
    • This includes pants and shirts!
  • Cute shoes that are also comfortable for walking
  • A cross body bag
  • Cash (you will need it!) 



What to expect:


In general

boston_panorama-wallpaper-1280x800.jpgThis trip is a blast and a half. Expect to have so much fun! If I could do it all again, I would! While you should expect to work hard and learn, this is the perfect opportunity to explore and have great times in amazing cities with friends that will last a lifetime. This trip really encourages you to get to know your cohort and by the end, you’ll be so much closer. My roommate Kristy and I had daily dance party breaks during our journaling time each day.

However, to be quite honest with you, I was not expecting this class to be as much work as it is. They tell you that the afternoon will be yours to spend freely, but working on the journal takes up a decent portion of that time. In addition, the trip is physically exhausting. You will be doing A LOT of walking. I recommend planning some time in each day to spend resting and journaling at the hotel. Kristy and I usually planned this time to be right after our morning group outings. That way, you regain some energy and get some work done at the same time. We’d spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening doing our own thing in smaller groups and exploring the city.


Bus rides


Riding on the bus was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Most travel days you’ll get on the bus around 8:30 and spend a good portion of the morning and afternoon on it, but you’ll be tired enough that the rest will be appreciated. You stop every two hours or so at gas stations that usually have multiple restaurants in them. Be prepared – there will be a lot of fast food and Wendy’s. I recommend eating lighter things like sandwiches or salads while on the road. I don’t eat out a ton and found that food was not settling so well by the end of the trip. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to eat great food in the cities, so don’t be afraid to take it light on the road!


Jim Bissett



The reason that this so special because of this man right here. The History Study Tour is not your typical history class. Instead of having you blindly accept the status quo and believe everything that books and museums tell you, Jim encourages you to question everything and consider their bias. This makes learning about history so much more fun! Instead of being asked to memorize facts that you’ll never remember anyway, you are asked to challenge authority. This was definitely the best history class I’ve ever taken. While Jim takes the class seriously and is not an “easy” grader, he makes the trip fun and is an overall great guy to be around.


Pro tips:


  • Keep up with your journal each day
  • Go to bed as early as possible so that you can make the most of each day
  • Edit your journal entries on the bus
  • Combine rest time with journaling time
  • Break into smaller groups when possible to get things done more quickly
  • Request separate checks BEFORE you order at the restaurant
  • Be social BUT plan some down time for yourself
  • Budget your money and save some for shopping and souvenirs (you have plenty!)
  • Take tons of cute pictures!
  • And of course, keep a personal journal or take notes each day so that you can blog about your trip

Happy traveling,


Class Projects ENG 319 Final History Study Tour Teaching Fellows Trips