Washington, DC Pre-Expedition Workshop

 Me at National Geographic Headquarters.  Photo by Julia DeMarines

Me at National Geographic Headquarters. Photo by Julia DeMarines

I looked down at the vibrating phone on my desk and saw a 202 area code. I recognized the number was from Washington, DC from my four years teaching there. I also knew that applicants would be contacted about selection for the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship in early February. My breath caught a bit as I turned back to my first graders, who were beginning to pack up to head home. I was more than a little distracted during dismissal that day.

When I called back half an hour later, I was informed that I'd been accepted into the 2018 cohort of Grosvenor Teacher Fellows! Almost two months later, it still feels surreal. I am overwhelmed and humbled to partner with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions for this professional development opportunity of a lifetime. I can only begin to imagine how I and my students will be impacted over the next year and beyond.

 Alex Tait, The Geographer at National Geographic, speaking about his work.  Photo by Alison Travis.

Alex Tait, The Geographer at National Geographic, speaking about his work. Photo by Alison Travis.

It all came together when I flew to Washington, DC this past week for the Pre-Expedition Workshop. I met 39 truly influential educators from across North America who make up the rest of my cohort. I also met Fellows from past years with wisdom to impart, guest speakers, and so many fascinating, tireless National Geographic and Lindblad staff.

Over the next 9 months, 2018 Fellows will be traveling on expeditions to remote locations such as the Arctic, Antarctica, Alaska, and the Galápagos Islands. Then, we will bring back and synthesize our data, media, and stories to enhance geographic literacy for students in our schools. We will also share our lessons, strategies, and resources with the broader community of teachers. I can't wait to see what the amazing 2018 Fellows produce!

 Three 2018 Fellows exploring Hubbard Hall, where National Geographic was founded 130 years ago. On the right is Stacy, my shipmate!  Photo by Alison Travis.

Three 2018 Fellows exploring Hubbard Hall, where National Geographic was founded 130 years ago. On the right is Stacy, my shipmate! Photo by Alison Travis.

Now, not only am I preparing for my Galápagos expedition in September, but I have also been immediately inspired to use some best practices picked up at the workshop. The other 2018 Fellows are already doing cool things every day that make me want step my game up.

2017 Fellow and author Wendi Pillars provided us with visual note-taking strategies for our students to increase content retention, encourage creativity, and gain insights. I already chart and diagram some, and I'm excited to let my first graders do more sketching to show and solidify their thinking.

John Bailey, Program Manager at Google, demonstrated easy-to-use interactive mapping tools that I intend to pull up in front of my kids next week. I invite you to explore the new web-based Google Earth and Voyager feature, Tour Builder, and Street View with me.

Only eight more weeks in this school year, so stay tuned for ways that I try out these techniques now through May!