April 11, 2012

National Geographic Education

I have very fond memories of climbing up on my daddy's lap and looking through National Geographic magazines. I can still remember how excited I would get when I would see those bright yellow magazines.  I was intrigued when my dad would read me the stories of explorations we could never imagine.

National Geographic has redesigned their education page and it is fantastic.  The site is just in beta and now is the time we need to speak up to tell them what we need.

The first thing I can see is that they have aligned their content to the national standards.  They have included tons of multi-media to meet the needs of our 21st century learners. Their interactive maps are perfect for our interactive white boards.

The site is broken down into several categories.

Teaching Resource
The teaching resources include lesson plans, activities, and downloadable and printable worksheets.

The first lesson I looked at was called "Geography of a Pencil: How is the world connected to the pencil you hold in your hand?"

The objectives included
  • identify component parts of a pencil
  • recognize major producing countries of pencil materials on a map
  • create maps of trade and transport networks
  • discuss global trade and identify factors that affect it
Now, how cool would that be on the first day of school? 

Reference and News
The Reference and News section is a place where students and teachers can go when researching.   The middle section includes bright, colorful news stories.  Along the right side of the page you will find a "glossary quick find" and an "encyclopedia quick find". 

The site shines on the mapping tab. (We would expect no less.)  
We will find
  • printable maps
  • featured maps
  • map making kits
  • satellite imagery
  • map maker interactive
  • mapping activities
  • learning about maps
The map activity I looked at was "Make a Contour Map".  Students make dimensional clay mountains and then use them to make a contour map.  The activity included a complete lesson plan  and all of the resources. 

The media tab includes video and the beautiful still photography that National Geographic is know for.
There is also illustrations and comics. The great thing about this section is that student questions (and answers) are included.

The collections tab seems to be a teachers dream.  The people of National Geographic Education have done all of your research for you. They have found the best resources for a variety of topics.  They are all nicely categorized by grade level.

I believe that National Geographic Education has worked very hard on this amazing site and it will be an unbelievable resource for all of us.  Remember, this is a beta site and they are asking for our input. 

Bonus: You can sign up for educators newsletters here. 

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