Board-wide study tour to Iceland

Board-wide study tour to Iceland offers a new approach

 Teacher Christy Armstrong in front of the North American tectonic plate

"As a Geography teacher you use resources such as a textbook or Google Earth, but to actually stand there and see the size and scope, and imagine the raw power that must have been needed to create such a unique landscape, that was an "Aha!" moment for me."

Christy Armstrong,
Sir Robert Borden HS,
Teacher and Department Head,
Social Sciences & International Languages


 Rainy weather did not dampen the excitement of the students as they hiked a glacier covered in volcanic ash at Iceland’s Thorsmork Glacier


Most often one school or several schools may collaborate to organize an international study tour. These trips are usually restricted to only students attending those particular schools.

In late June, a subject focussed study tour travelled to Iceland and what was unique about this trip was that students from any OCDSB secondary school in any grade were eligible to participate on the 6 day trip.

A primary motivation for organizing the trip to Iceland came from a concern by some Geography teachers that few schools offer the Grade 11 Physical Geography course, Forces of Nature: Physical Process and Disasters. Teachers Bob Barter and then Vice-Principal Steve Jackson from A.Y. Jackson SS, Christy Armstrong from Sir Robert Borden HS. and Joanna Hughes from Longfields-Davidson Heights SS recognized that a study tour to Iceland was a perfect fit with the Geography curriculum. The teachers also saw the trip as a great PD experience.

Along with their four teacher chaperones, 36 students from 10 OCDSB high schools witnessed geological wonders first hand. They hiked on a glacier covered in volcanic ash in Thorsmork Glacier Valley, explored the Raufarholsheillir Lava Tunnels, visited the Blue Lagoon hot springs, saw spectacular waterfalls, walked black sand beaches and stood at the meeting of two tectonic plates at Thingvellir National Park. And while eating at a restaurant, the Canadians got an interesting lesson on human geography too as the group witnessed a sign on a wall move from 350,798 to 350,799 to indicate a new Icelander had been born. All the Icelanders in the restaurant applauded and cheered!

The study tour was a great success and a similar type of Geography focussed trip is being considered for the future. Also, in part because of this study tour, there are now 6 OCDSB high schools offering the Grade 11 Physical Geography course.

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