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National Geographic Educator Certification

National Geographic overlook

For teachers, National Geographic has always been a great place to go for resources for social studies and science. Now they are offering a new opportunity for educators: National Geographic Educator Certification. This certification is FREE and is a must-do for globally minded educators at any level and of any subject. The course teaches educators how to include more global issues into their teaching through the National Geographic Learning Framework, which is definitely helpful for curriculum planning.

Working with an online mentor and in groups with other educators provides the opportunity to network and get ideas from other like-minded teachers, plus get access to and become familiar with the NatGeo online resource library for educators.

I was so excited to see this opportunity because National Geographic has been a part of my life for, well, pretty much forever. Before Youtube, evening entertainment included tuning in to public television NatGeo specials to watch elephants give birth (no cable TV for this girl!) and doing the geography quizzes in my dad’s National Geographic Magazine. Moreover, NatGeo found a permanent place in my heart when I was runner-up in the elementary school Geography Bee in 5th grade. More recently, Nat Geo Magazine had a great issue about race, where they included an honest and groundbreaking analysis of their often racist past. Good for them for encouraging dialogue and not shying away from the hard issues.

Man using binoculars

How does certification work?

The whole process takes 15-20 hours of work, depending on how long it takes you to create lessons. It is fully online and asynchronous with three phases:

Phase 1: Certification workshop (learn about the NatGeo Learning Framework)

Phase 2: Classroom Activities (Create two units or lessons-one must use one of NatGeo’s resources)

National Geographic activity

Phase 3: Capstone Project (document and reflect on the lessons created in Phase 2)

There is a lot of flexibility for educators to create materials that they are actually going to use, and not just something to fulfill program requirements. For the lesson I created that needed to use a NatGeo resource, I used their website called What the World Eats. This website shows charts of the consumption of different foods around the world, including the amount of meat that is eaten. It’s a great resource to get students talking and making inferences! Although I teach Spanish and the site was in English, I made worksheets in English, Spanish and French so this could be used in a Social Studies or World Language class.

Watch the video below to see how you can use this website in your classroom.

Why get NatGeo certified?

If the thought of free PD from NatGeo and improving your practice isn’t enough for you, certified NatGeo educators are eligible to apply for coveted NatGeo grants like the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship where small groups of teachers participate on real NatGeo expedition ships to places like Antarctica and, for you Spanish teachers, Central America and the Galapagos Islands.

Once you have the basic educator certification you can join other free PD opportunities through National Geographic. There is a new course for 2021 that is digital storytelling, which would be perfect for language teachers. I’m already on the wait list and I can’t wait to tell you what I learn!

Galapagos Islands Ship

When is National Geographic Educator Certification Available?

There are usually three cohorts a year around September, January and April. If you start one cohort late and realize you don’t have time to finish it by the deadline (like me, gulp) you can easily save what you’ve done and move to the next cohort a few months later. Basically, there are no excuses not to do this great PD opportunity! Click here to get started with National Geographic Educator Certification.

Looking for more PD ideas? Check out my post about Online Professional Development Opportunities for 2020


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