European Vacation

Activity Overview: 

After studying a unit on Europe, in freshman world geography, students work in groups of two or three to plan a trip through Europe. They present their trip to the class using PowerPoint, which is displayed on the classroom TV.


  • Review the geography of various European countries and prominent historical sites

  •  Have the students prepare a Power Point presentation based on a set of criteria. 

  • Work Cooperatively.

  • Use the Internet to locate information. 
  • Present the information to the class. 

After studying the unit on Europe in my freshman world geography class, my students work in groups of two or three to plan a trip through Europe.  This is a project I have done before and each year I have improved it.   They present their trip to the class using PowerPoint.  This is displayed on my classroom TV. 

The planned trip must be made as realistic as possible.  Students access travel websites in which they are able to get real prices on items such as: airline, hotel, car rental and train tickets.   Using Microsoft FrontPage, I create links to these websites.  I also have links to graphic and sound pages to help them enhance their presentation.  My students use their previous knowledge of search engines to find specific historical sites.

Students have a budget of $5,000 each.  They have to track their expenses and chart them using an Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint Graph and incorporate it into their presentation.  They also have to convert currency from United States dollars to that of the local currency and must spend money in every country they visit.  They also have to keep track of their travel mileage and convert that into kilometers.  As part of their travel schedule they have to visit five different countries and visit at least one historical site.  During the presentation they have to give some physical and cultural information about that country as well as information about the historical site.  They may use the Encarta Encyclopedia CD-Rom for information as well.  They need to complete this trip in two weeks time.  

Using the World Wide Web, students need to find photos of the country and the historical sites and place them into the presentation.   Since they are in groups, they need to share drive space on the network.  With the help of the network administrator, we setup shared folders, in which only the members of a particular group have access to that folder from any computer in the school. 

Before the students put the complete presentation into PowerPoint, they must present a storyboard for approval, outlining their graphics and display pages. 

They are graded in several areas.  The members of their group, using a rubric, grade them.  They are also graded by me and receive points for a completed storyboard.  They also receive a grade for the presentation to the class via a presentation rubric.

This activity integrates the following content areas: social studies, with emphasis on geography and history, math has been included with the tracking of expenses and conversion of mileage and economics is incorporated through the conversion of money and balancing of a budget.

Planning A Trip Through Europe - European Project

(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)




Curriculum Standards from

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators from

Unit on Europe (general)

Social Studies: High School III, b, c

Social Studies: High School IX, c

Social Studies: High School VIII, b

Grades 9-12: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Using certain Web sites and search engines


Grades 9-12: 2, 7

Presentation of Project via PowerPoint and a TV


Grades 9-12: 2, 5

Using CD-ROMS for information


Grades 9-12: 9

Working with the group members to produce a final project


Grades 9-12: 10

Using an Excel graph to present a chart of expenses and conversion of currency and mileage

Mathematics: 8


Presearch and Search

Information Literacy Standards: 1, 2, 3


Working with a group to produce a final Product

Information Literacy Standards: 7, 9


Researching and Understanding Historical Sites of a particular country or site

Social Studies: High School II, C


The importance of a historical site within a country

Social Studies: High School VIII, A


Relative Location of a country

Social Studies: Middle Grades III, A


Using Currency Conversion Charts and Miles/Kilometers Charts 

Social Studies: High School III, B, D


9 Compaq Pentium computers. Compaq. Available:
1 Sony Digital Camera. Sony. Available:
1 HP Scanner.  Hewlett Packard. Available:
Internet Explorer. Microsoft Corp. Available:
PowerPoint. Microsoft Corp. Available:
Adobe Photoshop.  Adobe. Available:
2 HP color printers.  Hewlett Packard. Available:

These 9 computers were spread out around my room. 

Web sites:
Yahoo! Travel.  Available:
Yahoo! Travel.  Available:
Yahoo! Travel.  Available:
MetaCrawler.  Available:
Online Travel.  Available:
Clip Art.  Available:
Bali and Indonesia On the Net.  Available:
The students used various Web sites to locate information.

Cooperative Group Grading Sheet
Group Presentation Grading Sheet

Kevin Briggs. Thornapple-Kelogg High School.  Middleville,
Angie Ruger. Thornapple-Kelogg High School.  Middleville, Michigan.
Miriam Taylor. Thornapple-Kelogg High School.  Middleville, Michigan.
Barb Maring. Thornapple-Kelogg High School.  Middleville, Michigan.
Tonya Walcott. Thornapple-Kelogg High School.  Middleville, Michigan.
Gary Warner. Thornapple-Kelogg High School.  Middleville,
Kim Robinson. Angling Road Elementary. Portage Public
Jerry Robinson. Thornapple-Kelogg High School.  Middleville, Michigan.

This activity follows our chapters on Europe.  As we reenact this activity, each group is given as area in which they excelled for the video.  We then videotaped them doing what they did best.  In a regular course outline, it takes 3 classroom days (90 minute periods) for the research and storyboard and 3 classroom days for putting the computer presentation together and one additional day for the students to present their presentations.

Since I have taught this activity before, a few things have changed.  I used to let students present using HyperStudio and PowerPoint and I now only allow PowerPoint because it’s a program that is more available.  I also allowed the students to pick their groups… I however picked the students who would pick their members based on computer experience.  I have also required a storyboard before putting the presentation together in PowerPoint.

Technology Resources: 
I chose these technology resources because they were available in my classroom.  They enable the students to do what they need to do.  

School Background Information:
The town of Middleville is a bedroom community near the city of GrandRapids.  We have a population of about 3,000 people.  Most of our parentsare employed in and around the city of Grand Rapids.   Our high school has a population of about 920 students.  Our student population is not verydiverse.  Our building is about 99.5% Caucasian and .5% is other. With  that in mind, the amount of  students who have limited English fluency is about 0.5%.

Teaching Strategy: 
I thought it would incorporate a lot of different strategies.  Such as technology use, cooperative work, classroom presentation.

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity
(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

In this project students had to work as a team. There were several choices that they had to make, such as destinations and historical sites. They also had to put in graphics into a presentation. All of this requires Tolerancefor different members ideas and thoughts.

Critical Thinking and Decision Making:
There are several decisions that need to be made. Students must make choices as to cities and historic sites to visit. They must learn how to convert currency. They must also decide what goes into the presentation.

Power Sharing and Empowerment:
Since this a group project, there are several aspects of Power Sharing.Some of the most basic is who get to "run" the computer. Who creates the rough draft, who searches for items on the Internet and who places it in the presentation. Also, when it is time for the presentation, who completes what task.

Individual Responsibility and Civil Involvement with Others:
Each student is ultimately responsible for his/her own grade, but the ability to work with others is key. If they are unable to do this, they need to take the responsibility to talk with the teacher and to help resolve any conflicts.

Content Standards:
Social Studies:
Some from the 18 National Geography Standards
Standards #1, 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17 and 18.

Information Processing:
The students conducted a Presearch when we went through the chapters in our book over Europe. They were also given an opportunity to talk with their team members as to where they wanted to go.

The Search of information was done via the Internet. General search engines were used such as google and metacrawler. They were also given a set of "sites" to help them with this process.

The students put all of their information into a PowerPoint presentation. Using this tool, they presented their findings to the class.

All students were evaluated by both myself as their teacher and by the group members they worked with closely. The rubrics for each are located in the lesson plan.

Active Involvement:
Students were given general guidelines to produce their presentation. How they presented the information was in their control. They also took all the information they could find and place it into a concise presentation.

Direct Experience:
Many students have never "booked" a flight or a hotel. This experience allowed them to do that. Also students most likely have never planned their own vacation. This project gave them the experience of doing that.

Enjoyable Setting:
Students were allowed to pick their own groups as long as one member had computer experience. The project took place in my classroom and not a crowed computer lab.

Frequent Feedback:
I constantly moved around the room, giving students input. They also had a chance to look at other projects done over the past years.

Patterns and Connections:
This project allowed students get "away" from the traditional book learning. Some students who didn't normally excel, did so in this environment. They also realized that this was a "real world" application and that what they learned doing this, would allow them to create their own "vacation."

Student Characteristics: 
I made sure that every group had a computer literate person in their group.  Other than that, they were allowed to pick their groups.

Evolution of the Activity: 
Over time I have changed the following.  I have allowed only one presentation application, instead of two.  I have also allowed the students to pick some of their group members.  Instead of going to the computer lab, I had 9 computers brought to my room.  This is only the second time I have done this activity.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology