Moore becomes first VBCPS National Geographic Certified Educator

Stacey Moore loves science. You could say it is in her blood.

“Everything growing up was a science lesson,” said Moore of her childhood with her father, a science teacher.

It’s hard to imagine that the third-grade teacher’s enthusiasm for science could increase but her participation in the National Geographic Educator Certification program did just that.

“It’s a very cool program,” she said. “National Geographic for science is huge! It’s fun as a teacher and the kids absolutely love it.”

Administrated as a beta program since August 2015, 410 teachers have earned the National Geographic Educator Certification according to National Geographic’s communications staff. An additional 1,488 educators are in the process of completing certification.

Moore is the first and only National Geographic Certified Educator from Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS).

She hopes to help change that.

Moore will share certification information with her Three Oaks Elementary colleagues during teacher in-service week in August. She also is attending what National Geographic calls a “Phase 1 workshop” at Radford University with two Three Oaks teachers to help them begin the process.

“There are three phases,” explained Moore. “Teachers can go to the designated weekend workshop or complete a series of online self-reflective questions about current teaching practices.” Moore completed the online reflection for Phase 1 rather than travel to the workshop held in New Mexico last year.

For Phase 2, teachers select two activities or lessons from National Geographic’s education website and implement them in their classrooms.

“Teachers are highly encouraged to use these lessons, ideas or activities as a springboard to extend their project,” said Moore. “Their idea, I feel, is not to limit teachers to teach what National Geographic has already created but to use their activities as a platform and then stretch children beyond.”

She added, “Their lessons are open to all teachers online whether you do the certification or not. Their lessons are wonderful and they align beautifully with our curriculum and the units we have.”

Moore used the lessons “Endangered Species” and “Storytelling Through the Use of Photo Ark,” and created a student research project that incorporated use of Safari Live and Skype sessions with scientists around the world.

“Having their research questions answered by scientists, wildlife experts and safari guides made the students’ research authentic and validated their research,” said Moore. “It makes it more real and engaging when they hear it from someone other than Mrs. Moore.”

She saw students’ enthusiasm for the Skype sessions extend beyond preparing research questions. “One student came in with a Technic, which are these movable Legos, of a pangolin he created at home while researching the animal. Another student came in for a Skype interview with all these (temporary) tattoos of animals on her face.” Moore also received an email from a parent who said her son would go “on and on” about his research project and talked about how he wants to be a researcher when he grows up.

The virtual field trips and live conversations left a lasting impression not only on her students but on Moore herself.

“It breaks down those walls and barriers of just being inside the classroom. You don’t have to leave the classroom to take them on the virtual field trips and it doesn’t cost anything,” said Moore. “Skyping has been fun. It’s been fun letting them interview scientists who are actually doing this work in the real world.”

The third and final phase of the National Geographic Educator Certification program is a capstone project. Moore had to submit a multimedia reflection that included a six-minute video about her activities and lessons, a detailed lesson plan, evidence of student work and five photos related to the project. She also had to respond to five questions about her experience with the project and certification process.

Moore said it took her almost three months to complete all three phases and National Geographic evaluates submissions within one month. If an application needs improvement, Moore said evaluators will provide feedback and invite you to resubmit it.

As a National Geographic Certified Educator, Moore has access to a private blog where other certified educators share resources, lessons and experiences. Additionally, she is eligible to apply for the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow program which she plans to do in November. “It allows you to travel abroad with National Geographic scientists and you do a two-week research activity while you are with them. It’s very difficult to get into but it’s worth a shot.”

Just like it was worth a shot for Moore to embark on the National Geographic certification process, something she recommends all teachers consider.

“It’s engaging. It’s fun for the teachers and it’s fun for the kids. It’s just one more resource that they can grab onto and it’s helping to prepare students for what’s out there, expands their vision of what the world is all about and expands their knowledge beyond the classroom walls.”

As much as the work has inspired her, Moore hopes it will inspire her students even more.

“I hope to spark a future conservationist or at least the love for science in the minds of my students. I want my students to understand the importance they have on our global society and to start by making an impact within their own community.”

For more information about the National Geographic Education Certification program, visit www.nationalgeographic.org/education/programs/educator-certification.  

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