The Angel family, the Ingram family, Lyndsay Moore’s grandfather, and a very nice lady that I met at Loft. Before my big adventure to Iceland, those were the only people I knew who had traveled to Hammond School’s country of study.
Before this school year is out, I hope all 298 middle school students and all 40 teachers feel like they have traveled to Iceland vicariously through me.
July 19, 2021
We landed, went through customs, and headed straight to The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s number one tourist attractions. As I slid on the luxurious white terry bathrobe, I wondered how in the world I could justify this expense. It didn’t take long until the lesson-plan ideas poured in like the waterfall in one of the caves.
Turns out Blue Lagoon is a man-made hot spring resulting from a design flaw in the local geothermal energy plant. I couldn’t wait to share that with Mr. Boeschan so he could use that as a great example when he teaches the design process.
My daughter and Lyndsay took photos and notes for me to share with my middle school colleagues. Plans are already under way to set up a Zoom with my favorite Blue Lagoon guide so students can take a virtual tour of one of National Geographic’s Wonders of the World. Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Harrell are already collaborating on a metric conversion lesson. Meaningful connections. Bringing history and science and math to life. Merging curriculum with adventures. That’s the purpose of Coutnry of Study.
The next day we travelled to the capital city of Reykjavik. One of my “must see” spots was the Hofdi House, the site of the historic meeting with Reagan and Gorbachev back in 1986. Because of Covid, I had it all to myself. I couldn’t go inside, but I literally sat on the steps where photos of world leaders made front page news. Anyone can read about this historic place online or in a travel book, but I was there. I took photos and made videos. I looked out over the same harbor that they looked out over as they began the talks that would eventually lead to the end of the Cold War.
Throughout our time in Iceland, every time we passed that house, the taxi driver made sure we knew the significance of the Hofdi house. Almost each taxi driver gave us a mini-history lesson. The house itself is a modest white two-story house, nothing impressive. But the Icelandic people take great pride in the history that happened in that white house. The Cold War isn’t a part of my curriculum, but our history department will take my experiences, my photos, my videos and bring it to life for our Hammond students. That’s the point of Country of Study.
Any student at any school can read about Iceland and geothermal energy and silica and black lava rocks and peace talks, but at Hammond, through Country of Study, our students will get a richer, deeper experience.
I’ll be sharing adventures throughout the year. If I do a good job, everyone will be able to say, “I’ve never actually traveled to Iceland, but I feel like I have.”
Tammy Davis is a teacher and a writer finding lessons in every day life. To read more about her Big Iceland Adventure, visit www.tammydavisstories.com.