How I Use It
The site is eye catching but does have a lot of content to navigate. The top bar allows educators to go straight to Daily Ideas, an Interactive Globe, Teaching Resources, Reference and News, and Mapping. Some of the daily ideas are ready to use. For example, the first one I saw was an A to Z Geo Scavenger Hunt where students learn to use an Atlas while working in teams on the hunt. However, it is not clear which grade levels an activity is for until you read the details. However, for other daily ideas, it is not clear what is to be done. On each page there are links to Related materials and resources.
To best use the site, I suggest teachers go straight to the Teaching Resources and choose the Lessons menu item. The lessons are based on grade level and topic. Each lesson gives an overview, time requirement, age and grade information. There are also links for each activity of which some include interactive online activities for students. I chose the Electricity: Sources and Challenges lesson and it had clear teacher instructions and links for students to complete the activities. The lessons may include links to outside websites. In this case, the lesson used High_Adventure Science for the energy lesson modules. Students were able to read information, look at graphs, and even watch videos while answering questions on the site. At the end, students are given the opportunity to "Generate a Report" which included all of the questions and the student's typed answers. After completing, students are given the option to print the report or share it with a link to be emailed to the teacher. I am not sure all lessons provided on National Geographic will provide this type of interaction, but it is nice that the site provides quality resource web links to support the lessons. All lessons include necessary files to download or links to websites for the lesson. Each lesson also includes directions and modification suggestions as well. Most provided resources are searchable by subject and/or grade level.
The information on the site seems to be organized well and provided good quality links and materials. There are activities for all grade levels and clear instructions for using them. A teacher would need to spend some time becoming familiar with any lesson before attempting with the class. The ones I previewed had downloads, links, interactive activities and videos and long detailed instructions. It would be best to make sure everything worked with the technology in the classroom before assigning. Teachers might find that the site could be used for independent research for students who have a particular interest in one of the topics covered. The Map Interactive is useful since students can create, save and email custom maps. Also, there are many options to include country facts, latitude and longitude and additional layers. Overall there are a lot of resources on the site and you could spend a lot of time viewing them all. However the search features are robust so you should be able to find what you need quickly and if you need a science or social studies lesson, you will probably find some valuable resources to use.