Students in science class

“EL Education is a powerful and inclusive model and is, at its essence, how humans learn.”

— Mary Lord, Former Ward 2 Representative, D.C. State Board of Education

Capital City was founded as an EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) school in 2000. Our innovative learning expeditions allow us to teach all subjects through the lens of a broader topic so students learn in the context of the community and the world in which they live. Watch this EL Education video that was filmed at Capital City to see a snapshot of the amazing learning experiences that happen here every day.

In 2015, after a collaborative effort in creating a portfolio showcasing our practices and results in three main areas: Mastery of Knowledge, Student Character and High Quality Work, Capital City was approved as an EL Education Credentialed School. View our Portfolio to learn more about how Capital City infuses the EL Education model in every aspect of the learning environment. Examine our gallery of high quality student work, which will be constantly updated with current samples from our students.

Through learning expeditions, students engage in fieldwork, community service and work with experts, to complete in-depth studies in one or more subject areas. Expeditions culminate with projects and exhibitions that demonstrate mastery of standards. During their senior year of high school, students will design their own personal expedition to further an interest or passion. Learn more about our school year 2017-2018 PreK - 12 expeditions below.

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Market to Market (Pre-K)
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Market to Market (Pre-K)

During this year-long expedition, students will study plants and how they come to market. In the Fall, students will embark on a long-term exploration of how plants grow in gardens and how people use those plants. The Spring will provide opportunities for the exploration of markets. This will culminate in students using their expertise around the harvesting of plants from the garden, to sell, share and trade products at a Pre-K created market. In order to meet this goal, students will read a variety of books, including Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, visit places like Butler’s Orchard, and create a Garden Guidebook which will educate the community about plants in the school garden and how to care for them. All of this will support children in developing a deeper understanding of how to grow and care for plants, and how tools can be used to create plant products that can then be sold at a market.

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Birds of DC (K)
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Birds of DC (K)

During this Fall Expedition, students will explore birds in D.C. This will culminate in children personally delivering seed packets with informational labels and scientific drawings to neighbors around our school community. In order to meet this goal, students will read Birdwingfeather, Counting is for the Birds, and About Birds: A Guide for Children, visit Rock Creek Park, the National Zoo, and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and bird-watch at Fort Slocum Park. All of this will support students in the development of their scientific observation skills, understanding of animals and their habitats, as well as supporting students’ early literacy growth.

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Going Places (K)
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Going Places (K)

During this Spring Expedition, students will study where we go, how we go and why we go through the exploration of their neighborhood and city. This will culminate in a child-designed and child-created 3-D city. In order to meet this goal, students will read Going Places, Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, and Where Things Are, From Near To Far, visit Georgetown and the National Building Museum, and explore their home neighborhood and school neighborhood. All of this will support students in the development of their understanding of basic engineering and math principles, diverse urban cultures and what it takes to plan a city.

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Celebrate Good Times (1st Grade)
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Celebrate Good Times (1st Grade)

During this Fall Expedition, students will explore celebrations across the world, beginning with themselves. This will culminate with a student-created coloring book of celebration traditions here in our classroom and around the world. In order to meet this goal, students will read different texts, visit local museum and other sites, and decide how to best celebrate birthdays here at Capital City. All of this will support students in developing their empathy and understanding of diverse cultures and backgrounds, while strengthening their foundational literacy skills. (Badge coming soon!)

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Give Bees a Chance (1st Grade)
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Give Bees a Chance (1st Grade)

During the Spring Expedition, students will work to protect honeybees in Washington, D.C. against Colony Collapse Disorder. This will culminate in a Farmer’s Market where students sell candles and greeting cards with scientific bee drawings to raise money and awareness for local beekeepers. In order to meet this goal, students will read books on Colony Collapse Disorder, visit local beekeepers and think about why pollinators are important to their everyday lives. All of this will support students in the development of understanding why inherent traits are important to the survival of a species, while working to hone their advocacy skills for important environmental issues.

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DC: Our Diverse City (2nd Grade)
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DC: Our Diverse City (2nd Grade)

During this Fall Expedition, students will uncover the role of money, economics, and business and how they function in a diverse city such as D.C. This will culminate in students learning about a variety of local D.C. businesses via interviews and end with them producing a brochure about entrepreneurs. In order to meet this goal, students will read a variety of texts, visit the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and create a working classroom economy. All of this will support students in the development of a Manor Park/Takoma businesses brochure to be shared  locally and featured online.

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What’s the Matter? (2nd Grade)
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What’s the Matter? (2nd Grade)

During this Spring Expedition, students will explore properties of matter and their effects on the environment through the lens of lunchbox packaging. This will culminate in the creation of a brochure outlining the best products to use within and for a lunchbox that will be distributed to families. In order to meet this goal, students will read various texts, visit a landfill, and learn from experts about trash and its effect on the environment. All of this will support students in the development of understanding the properties of matter and how how it affects the world in which we live. (Badge coming soon!)

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History of the Americas and Natural Resources (3rd Grade)
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History of the Americas and Natural Resources (3rd Grade)

This Fall Expedition is a study of the Americas with a focus on the ways that human interactions with natural resources have impacted the course of history. Through this lens, students will learn about the ways that encounters between Native American nations and European and American settlers created new cultures and ecosystems that continue to shape the Americas today. This will deepen students’ understanding of how humans and the environment influence one another over the course of time.

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A Force for Good (3rd Grade)
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A Force for Good (3rd Grade)

During this Spring Expedition, students will learn about scientific concepts of forces and motion. Students will apply their learning to design a prototype for a device that assists a person with restricted movement. In order to meet this goal, students will learn about disabilities and how they affect people’s day-to-day actions, how forces affect the movement of objects, and how engineers use forces and motion to help others. They will also visit with and interview experts who have limited mobility, as well as engineers who work in this field. All of this will support students in the development of their knowledge of forces and motion, and of their ability to design solutions to real problems. (Badge coming soon!)

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Rock On! (4th Grade)
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Rock On! (4th Grade)

During this Fall expedition, students will dive into Earth’s geological history and processes that affect our everyday lives… even though we probably don’t realize it!  This will culminate in the creation of stop-motion videos that will serve as a public service announcements related to important geologic issues, such as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. In order to meet this goal, we will kick-off our expedition by rock climbing at Carderock to help frontload information about large-scale geological processes. Students will read informational texts, pourquoi stories, and watch TED talks. Students will meet with experts on energy to deepen their knowledge and then consult with a local DC graphic artist, as they design their own PSAs.

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New Nation, New Thinking (4th Grade)
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New Nation, New Thinking (4th Grade)

During this Spring Expedition, students will learn about the formation of a new nation by studying how involuntary and voluntary combinations of cultures led to the rise of of Colonial America. In particular, students will study the experiences and perspectives of those who are not equitably represented in history texts due to their race and/or gender. Students will study primary sources and conduct fieldwork to Mt. Vernon and Claude Moore Farm. The culminating project will be a biography on a colonial figure from a marginalized perspective (female, African American, etc…), in addition to a short FaceSwap video explaining the significance of the historical figure in context of today’s society. Students will also petition to add their completed biographies to the CCPCS library in an effort to tell these forgotten stories.

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A More Perfect Union? Game On! (5th Grade)
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A More Perfect Union? Game On! (5th Grade)

During this Fall Expedition, students will create a high-quality, commercially produced board game that teaches 4th graders about how the three branches of our government function. In order to meet this goal, students will read excerpts of the Constitution and A History of Us, visit the National Mall, and participate in game-design workshops with an expert from Labyrinth Games. All of this will support students in the development of a deep understanding of the features of the U.S. government as well as skills to interpret informational texts.

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Trash Talk (5th Grade)
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Trash Talk (5th Grade)

How much trash do we make? Where does it go? How does our trash impact the Earth’s systems? During the “Trash Talk” expedition, students will investigate the impact our trash production has on the environment. This will culminate in the creation of proposals to the leaders of Capital City explaining  ways to improve our trash disposal at CCPCS. In order to meet this goal, students will read Where Do Garbage Trucks Go? and Trash Talk as anchor texts. They will visit local waste management facilities to talk to experts to learn about where our trash goes. Students will take an overnight trip to Hard Bargain Farms to learn from experts about sustainable living and how to reduce our negative impact on the environment. All of this will support students in the development of gathering and making meaning of information about ways that communities can use science ideas to protect Earth’s resources and environment.

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Revolt! (6th Grade)
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Revolt! (6th Grade)

During this Fall Expedition, 6th grade humanities students will explore REVOLT! Students will explore revolts in American history in relation to slavery, the Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution/child labor. To generate background knowledge, students will read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (excerpts), a variety of texts concerning the Civil War including Patricia Polacco's Pink and Say, and Iqbal, by Francesco D’Adamo. Throughout this expedition, students will continuously read, watch, analyze and write about current events concerning contemporary protests or revolts in our society and our global community. They will tap into our nation’s capital area as a resource to examine historical sites and landmarks that were the settings of societal changes. After studying these examples, students will pinpoint injustices in their communities and will strategize their own ways to revolt.

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Humans: Masters of Disaster (6th Grade)
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Humans: Masters of Disaster (6th Grade)

During this Spring Expedition, students will explore how we not only impact our environment, but are also impacted by it. This will culminate in a city-planning project, where students will focus on human resilience to natural disasters and express their learning in a digital mapping project. In order to meet this goal, students will engage in lab experiences, STEM-building challenges and two long term projects. Texts for this Expedition include Drowned City by Don Brown, The Whirlwind World of Hurricanes: Max Axiom by Katherine Krohn, and more. Students will participate in the Extreme Event Game, hosted by Koshland Science Center. The Expedition will culminate in student-produced Story Maps (digital, interactive maps that are hosted online) in order to share their findings about how Climate Change stands to affect Washington, D.C.

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The American Dream (7th Grade)
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The American Dream (7th Grade)

During this Fall Expedition, students will investigate immigration and the American Dream. Students will take on the role of resource providers for today’s Dreamers. They will create print and online resources to support and entertain these young immigrants. In order to meet this goal, students will read fiction about past and contemporary immigrants, texts such as The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and the poetry of Langston Hughes. Fieldwork will include a walking tour of D.C.’s own “Harlem Renaissance” hot-spots and a trip to the National Mall to conduct interviews on perceptions of the American Dream. All of this will support students in the their ability to think critically and express their learning through well-crafted literary and argumentative writing.

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Swimming in the Gene Pool: Genetics and Biodiversity (7th Grade)
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Swimming in the Gene Pool: Genetics and Biodiversity (7th Grade)

In the first semester, students will jump off the platform and dive into the diversity of organisms, including humans, throughout the world. Seventh graders will investigate the similarities and differences across the three domains of life, including the four kingdoms in Domain Eukarya, and 11 phyla in Kingdom Animalia. As a team, we will create and implement strategies to protect biodiversity within our local community. In the second semester, we will sprint right into Human Genetic Diversity. Students will connect their work in biodiversity to investigating the “why” and “how” of the genetics shaping our lives and societies. With the dual nature of our Expedition, we will apply our knowledge on biodiversity and genetics to investigate two key areas of diversity: 1) How differences within a species happen, from a molecular level to an environmental level. 2) Why these differences matter?

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Designing the Future (8th Grade)
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Designing the Future (8th Grade)

This year long expedition challenges students to design a potential solution to an issue of injustice. It begins with a deep-dive into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). They will also read The Giver by Lois Lowry, which will serve as a dystopian counter-example. These texts, combined with a number of focused case studies, will build student understanding of human rights violations that occur civilly in the United States, and provide a launching point for their creation of a prototype that intends to solve or alleviate an aspect of the problem. Students will learn the process of invention in science and utilize a design-thinking method to engineer a prototype to address the violation they have identified. Past examples include a solar powered vending machine for the homeless and a cell phone application that helps recent immigrants obtain proper documentation.

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My Generation: Gender and Power in Popular Music (English I)
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My Generation: Gender and Power in Popular Music (English I)

During this Fall Expedition, students will analyze how messages about gender and power are communicated in popular music, examine the impact of those messages, and craft an argument for how consumers should respond.  The expedition will culminate with students creating videos synthesizing their learning over the course of the expedition, presenting their findings on the artist they chose and suggesting specific actions people can take in their everyday lives to advocate for gender equity. In order to meet this goal, students will read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and participate in workshops from guest experts from Men Can Stop Rape, The Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and 826DC. All of this will support students in their critical thinking,  argumentative writing and academic discussion skills.

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Wild DC: The Anadromous Fish Factor (Biology)
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Wild DC: The Anadromous Fish Factor (Biology)

In the Anadromous Fish Factor Expedition students will learn about Ecology through the lens of Anadromous fish in our local aquatic community. Through interactive fieldwork and work with experts in the field of fish ecology, students will explore the history of Anadromous fish in our community and the impact the Anadromous fish life cycle has on our local ecosystem. Students will also investigate the factors that affect biodiversity in our river community, the relationship between local organisms' populations and their environments, how the health of our watershed impacts organisms that live within it as well as human practices that will help restore and revitalize the local river community.

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Water=Life (Chemistry I/ World History II)
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Water=Life (Chemistry I/ World History II)

Throughout the school year students will be working in chemistry to study the global water crisis. In the Fall semester, students will investigate bottled and tap water, study elements and compounds in our water, and analyze the water treatment process.  In addition, they will visit the chemistry lab at Trinity University to conduct water testing with Trinity students. In the second semester in World History II, students will study human rights and focus on issues connected to water as a human right in a current water crisis.  In the past we have looked at communities that are experiencing a water crisis such as Gaza and the Dominican Republic. Last year we studied the Dakota Access Pipeline and students produced an in-depth research paper that including graphs, data analysis of water clean up issues and a human rights analysis of the indigenous people. Students created a final proposal addressing questions about the building of the pipeline. This expedition builds students understanding of fundamental chemistry and skills needed to apply a human rights lens to a real world social justice problem while making authentic connections to how people’s lives may are affected.

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Food Justice (Environmental Science/ English III)
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Food Justice (Environmental Science/ English III)

During this Spring Expedition, students will investigate issues of food justice in D.C. Their work will culminate in organizing and hosting the city-wide Food Justice Youth Summit, where they will present food justice workshops alongside other youth from around the region. In order to meet this goal, students will read books, scientific journal articles and other research about their food justice topic and synthesize that information into a literature review, a data analysis/ project, a research paper and finally, their food justice workshop. Students will visit Rocklands Farm, the University of the District of Columbia and a student-selected location, specific to their research topic. As students learn about the complex ways that our food system impacts communities and the environment, they will simultaneously hone their ability to research, synthesize and apply information from a variety of sources and perspectives. Most significantly, they will demonstrate their ability to advocate for change.

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Senior Expedition (12th Grade)
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Senior Expedition (12th Grade)

As the capstone experience to their education at Capital City, 12th graders will design their own independent senior expedition research project exploring a topic they are passionate about. Their research culminates in a 10 page research paper, the creation of a product that serves the needs of a real-world audience, and a 50 minute panel presentation. In order to meet this goal, students will locate and read 25 scholarly articles, identify and interview two professionals in related fields, and schedule an interactive fieldwork that allows them to experience their topic first hand. After completing senior expedition, students are ready to excel at college-level research and writing, defend a provocative thesis with compelling evidence, and use the design cycle to tailor a product for a target audience.

Top photo of Capital City students courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action