This post was written by Chelsea Zillmer, director of the National Geographic GeoBee!
Things really start to buzz this time of year at National Geographic as we help nearly 10,000 schools across the U.S. prepare for the National Geographic GeoBee.
The first level of the annual competition for grades 4-8 is the school-level. School competitions can vary in size from the minimum requirement of six students to an entire school, with each classroom sending representatives to a final round.
We asked a couple of our veteran GeoBee coordinators to share tips for GeoBee success, and how they adapted the GeoBee to fit their school. Here’s what the hivemind had to say:
- Start small. If the idea of organizing a school-wide event is too daunting, try holding the GeoBee with a smaller group of students. “Look to do small chunks at a time and build grade-level-by-grade-level enthusiasm using announcements, newsletters, and parent groups,” said George, an 8th-grade social studies teacher from Iowa whose school has participated for 27 years. “We started with one grade level and then included two more and eventually expanded to four grade levels so that the whole school could be involved.”
- Broaden your search for volunteers. “Ask the whole staff to help! You would be surprised who has a secret passion for our world, and they make the most loyal volunteers,” said Kristi, a middle school teacher from Alaska who has coordinated her school GeoBee for 19 years. It takes a village. According to a recent survey of GeoBee coordinators, the average school has about five people helping organize the school GeoBee.
- Prepare your students. The GeoBee Study Corner features games, Kahoot! quizzes, lesson plans, and other free resources to share with students. The GeoBee registration packet also includes a study guide you can send home with students or use in the classroom.
- Make it your own. The GeoBee is designed to be flexible, so don’t hesitate to do what works for your school.“We do the GeoBee at night and I always give away map bags and t-shirts,” Kristi said. “The principal judges and a retired teacher who used to organize the GeoBee is gracious enough to come and moderate. It’s just fun!” Some schools hold the preliminary competition using oral questions to create a live GeoBee experience in the classroom while other schools have students take a written quiz to kick off the competition.
- Learn from your mistakes and adjust. “We tried to get parents involved but it became too much of a distraction for the kids,” George said. “We now open the finals to the parents of contestants only and run it at the end of the day so that as many can be involved as possible.”
- Celebrate student success. Reward your students for their curiosity about the world using the certificates and school champion medal included with your registration materials. Spread the good news about your school by sharing the included press release with local media and using the hashtag #NatGeoBee on Twitter and Facebook.
Start your students on a journey of discovery and ignite their curiosity about the world with the National Geographic GeoBee! Schools that have paid the registration fee can download contest materials and get started today. Register your school today at NatGeoBee.org.