Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah. We had just finished touring the main floor of the Library of Congress on Friday. Our next stop was the Reading Room. This room is pretty much world famous as it has been in scenes of many, many movies (like All the President's Men, National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets, and Born Yesterday). Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to snap any photographs in this room, even though it was absolutely gorgeous. So I'm going to borrow some photos to explain it's structure for you.
Each time you visit the Library, the clerk will assign you a specific desk. When you find the material you would like to use, you will request it, and then a clerk will bring it to you. The Library is not a lending library, so you must do all your research within the Reading Room. Isn't it gorgeous?
Each pillar has been designated a particular field of study (e.g. philosophy, poetry, science). Above the designated label is a statue that personifies that field of study. Between the pillars, the dark figures you see above, are statues of "great thinkers" like Newton and Plato. I thought my students would be most impressed with this room--and don't get me wrong--they were impressed, but it wasn't their favorite room on the tour. More on that later.
After a 10 minute stop in the Reading Room, our tour ventured to the other side of the main floor. When my students saw how bright and lively the building was after being in the dark Reading Room for so long, they were truly in awe. I overheard many of them say (especially my history-lovin fellas), "this place is beautiful." That made the entire trip worth it.
We peeked at the Capitol building across the lawn on our way down the stairs.
And then their minds were blown. Our last stop was visiting how the Library originated: Thomas Jefferson's personal library. Even though photography wasn't allowed in this room, I asked if I could photograph the ceiling, and my tour guide said yes, so I just snapped a shot really quickly ;). It was incredible. My students were essentially scouring the shelves to see "what Jefferson was reading." I think many of them are interested in politics, but I know for sure, many of my male students are very curious about how historical figures earn their way into those positions. I wouldn't be surprised to see many of my students in political office.
After we toured the Jefferson room, we headed to the Gift Shop to meet with the other group. The students had worked up a hefty appetite by that point, so we wondered down the block to give them a few options for lunch. Understanding they needed to be with a chaperone at all times, they had a choice between Cosi, Subway, or Burrito Hut. I stayed at Cosi with the majority of the students and they were happy to try something they had never had before (even though Cosi isn't exactly out-of-the-box). It's really important that when you're on a field trip with high school students (I would say 10th - 12th grade) that you afford some free time for them. They are really great at staying inside parameters, so long as they are clear and they don't feel as if you're hounding them. I decided to give my students a choice for lunch, since they had to stick to their tour groups all morning. They appreciated the freedom and choice.
All in all, I had a really wonderful day. I am so sad to think that after this coming week, I will not see many of them every day. It has been a pleasure getting to know each of them throughout this semester. They have worked so hard to become better writers, and I truly believe they are well on their way to academic success.
If you have never been to the LOC, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a tour (they're free)! You will learn so much more about the history of the building, our country, and Congress than if you were to just visit it yourself. My students had a really lovely time, and I think, they realized they're just as big of a nerd as I am :)
Have a great rest of your day!