In November, our Einstein Fellows professional development day was at National Geographic. National Geographic’s headquarters is here in Washington, and we had a great time talking to some of the folks who handle education and professional development for teachers, touring the buildings, and visiting the museum. This post will detail some of the opportunities we learned about during our visit and end with some photos and links to the history of the National Geographic Society.
National Geographic has an impressive array of classroom resources and professional development available for educators. Most educators probably know about the National Geographic TV station and magazine—I know that the iconic yellow-bordered magazines were a huge part of my childhood.—but there is much more to explore. Educators can start by going to the National Geographic Education page here, and I’ll talk about some of resources below.
First, there is the opportunity to learn more about National Geographic resources and to use them in your classroom on the way to becoming a National Geographic Certified Educator. Becoming a certified educator starts with participating in a free, 12-week online course. There are two courses a year, and registration is currently open for the spring course starting on January 12th. The course consists of three parts: 1) completing a self-paced, online workshop explaining the resources and National Geographic’s education philosophy, 2) applying what you’ve learned to implement two activities in the classroom, and, 3) creating a capstone project. Educators in the program have access to a vibrant online community for support and encouragement, including the option of having a currently certified educator serve as a mentor as they progress.
If you’re not interested in certification, there are plenty of other online courses. Registration is opening soon for these amazing courses: Teaching Global Climate Change in Your Classroom, Connecting the Geo-Inquiry Process to Your Teaching Practice, and Integrating Service With Learning Goals. Go here for more information and to sign up.
One of the perks of becoming a certified educator is that you become eligible to apply for the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship. This amazing opportunity puts you at the heart of a Lindblad Expeditions’ voyage as the educator on board. Your trip and professional development are paid for, with the understanding that you will take what you learn back to your classroom and stay active in the community for at least two years—leading webinars, mentoring other teachers, and participating in meetups . A sampling of some of the journeys available: the Galápagos Islands, Antartica, and the Arctic. The application for this year’s cohort is due on January 3rd.
Outside of professional development, there are an amazing array of resources available to teachers. All of the educational materials center on National Geographic’s Learning Model, which is based on a rigorous system of knowledge that students should have from K-12, and is standards-based. Some of the highlights include: National Geographic’s Explorer Magazine for for young readers, (K-6); graphic-rich digital resource collections exploring a variety of topics, (for example, GIS, Erosion, or the Solstice); and amazing resources for mapping, including a GIS interactive mapmaker, giant maps for the classroom, customizable, printable one-page maps, and mapmaker kits. There is also a supportive education network you can join, and educator grants for early career opportunities, exploration classroom projects, and specific request for proposals.
Finally, there are also student-centered experiences available. Students can participate in the GeoBee, help think of solutions for the yearly GeoChallenge (this year’s is plastic-focused), interact with a National Geographic Explorer in the classroom through a live video experience with the Explorer Classroom program, or take a field trip to see a National Geographic Student Matinee film.
Truly, there are an embarrassment of riches for educators to explore. Personally, I plan to become a National Geographic Certified Educator this spring, and try my hand at a Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship in the near future. Will I see some of you there? I hope so!
Here are some of my photos from our day at NG Headquarters. I’ve included some of the history of the organization in the captions. As always, click for bigger versions and the detailed cations.