National Geographic

Phase 3: Capstone Project

Picture of woman with mic and headphones

Photograph by Joel Sartore/National Geographic Creative


Your capstone project will be a multimedia reflection form. This is your chance to tell us about both of the activities you completed in Phase 2, how they connected to the Learning Framework, and how your students were impacted.

However, you should also choose either Activity 1 or Activity 2 as your “capstone activity.” For your capstone activity, you will be asked to submit the following additional items as part of your multimedia reflection form and on the Google+ community to inspire other educators. See “Uploading to the Google+ Community” to learn how to post your materials.

  • A lesson plan, in accordance with this template, written in your own words with sources cited
  • 2-6 photographs of student work with no recognizable student faces visible
  • A video that tells the story of your students’ learning in a visual and creative way. See “Capstone Video Requirements” for more details.

Click the button below to fill out the multimedia reflection form. You will be prompted to create an account with Submittable, our software partner for submissions. Once you create an account, you will be able to save your work and return to it later.

Multimedia Reflection Form

Capstone Video Requirements

The purpose of the capstone video is to bring the Learning Framework to life in a visual way. It works best to focus your video on one or two attributes of the Learning Framework (even though we know you’ve covered it much more deeply in the written portion of your multimedia reflection form). The best videos summarize the activity’s impact rather than a description of the activity. 


  1. The capstone video should be between 2-6 minutes long and you should be sure to introduce yourself.
  2. The capstone video, lesson plan, and photos of student work should be submitted with the multimedia reflection form and on the Google+ Community.
  3. The capstone video must not—under any circumstances—show recognizable student faces.

Assessment Criteria (Evaluated on a scale of 1—4)

If you receive below a 3 on any of the  following capstone criteria, you will be asked to revise that item and resubmit for the next submission date.

  • The capstone video should include a brief overview of one of the lessons completed in Phase 2, and the lesson should incorporate multiple scales and perspectives.
  • The capstone should include a thoughtful explanation of how the lesson relates to the National Geographic Learning Framework.
  • The capstone should include a thoughtful reflection on the student impact of the lesson.
  • The capstone should tell a compelling story. The video should show that you pushed yourself to improve your digital storytelling skills. 

View detailed rubric of assessment criteria

Capstone Video FAQs

Can I see a really stellar example video?

We love this one from Charles Dabritz, and this one from Karen Richards. Note a few things they did well:

  • A simple explanation of the activity to give context
  • Use of visuals of students and student work (without showing faces)
  • The mention of why this activity was chosen, and how the teacher hoped it would help their students learn about the world
  • The explicit mention of how the activity highlights one of the attitudes or skills of the Learning Framework, and possibly a knowledge area

What if I have photo release forms for my students? Then can I use faces in my video?

Sadly, no. Because of privacy restrictions, we can not accept any capstone videos with recognizable student faces. However, you can include student work, student voices, and footage of students that does not include their face (hands, feet, backs, etc). If you submit a video that shows a student face, we will have to ask you to edit it using a facial blurring software such as this one.

I’ve never made a video before. Can I submit a PowerPoint or another type of file instead?

Sorry, but no. At National Geographic, we value storytelling for its power to influence, inspire, and make the world accessible. Exercising your storytelling muscle in a new way will help you engage your students in new ways—and we hope you’ll challenge them to create compelling stories, too.

What are some tips for video storytelling newbies?

See our “Tips on Telling a Great Story in Your Video” section below.

Do you have any suggestions for the technology I should use for my video?

See our “Technology Tips” section below.

How do I share my work to the Google+ Community?

See our “Uploading to the Google+ Community” section below.

Uploading to the Google+ Community

Please share your capstone materials (capstone video, photos of student work, and lesson plan) with educators in our community—and with your own personal and professional networks, if you desire! Follow these steps to make sharing your work easy.


  1. Once you submit your Multimedia Reflection Form, you will receive an email confirmation. That email will contain a link to your capstone materials. Copy that link.
  2. Go to the Nat Geo Educator Community. In a new post, paste the URL and write a short blurb giving context. Click "post" and you will be prompted to select a category. According to the grade you teach, select Grades PreK-2 Lessons, Grades 3-5 Lessons, Grades 6-8 Lessons, or Grades 9-12 Lessons. 
  3. If you like, share the same link to your personal Facebook or other social media site. We bet your networks will be proud and inspired to see your Nat Geo Educator Certification work!

Tips on Telling a Great Story in Your Video

There is no need for your video to be technically impressive, but we do challenge you to tell the best story you can with your 2-6-minute short. At National Geographic, we value storytelling for its power to influence, inspire, and make the world accessible. Exercising your storytelling muscle will help you engage your students in new ways—and we hope you’ll challenge them to create compelling stories, too.

Here are some tips for telling a compelling story with your video.

1) Make the beginning count.

You want to grab viewers right away, so think about interesting ways to start the story. Here are just a few examples to get you thinking.

  • Describe the way the classroom looked, sounded, or even smelled, and include shots or pictures to back up the description
    ex: 60 tiny fingers were tinted green and the room smelled like play dough when we were done. But the impact of our lesson on Dr. Seuss’ “Bartholomew and the Ooblek” will remain long after our homemade clay has dried out.
  • Start with something that surprised you.
    ex: When I set out to do a lesson on climate change, I never expected it would lead to a conversation about the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow.”
  • Start with a quote from a student that impressed you.
    ex: “I want to protect endangered species so someday when I’m a parent, my kids will get to know about them too!” Martha said during the discussion portion of our lesson.

2) Be creative with images.

We know the privacy restriction against showing students’ faces can feel limiting. Here are some other ideas for what to feature visually in your video.

  • Close-up shots of students’ hands as they work on a project, especially if they’re doing group work where the collaboration is clear
  • Still images of students’ work
  • Still images from
  • Don’t hesitate to feature yourself as a talking head, but consider including other visuals as well

3) Be specific.

Stories are more interesting when they include unique and even quirky details. Instead of saying a summarizing sentence like, “The students really learned to respect the environment,” consider giving specific examples, like:

  • One student decided not to run the water while she’s brushing her teeth as a way to conserve.
  • Some class members have even started observing nature during recess!

Technology Tips

Please don’t worry about making your video technically impressive! We’ve found that many educators have enjoyed the challenge of producing a video—some for the very first time—and we hope you’ll find that same sense of satisfaction. Here are some easy tools for making a video.

1. Smartphone or tablet

If you already have a smartphone or tablet, its camera app is a great and easy tool for capturing video. Just email the footage to yourself or save to a flash drive when you’re done if you want to edit on your computer. Or, try one of these free apps to edit the video from your smartphone or tablet. (If you find a different app you like, feel free to try that as well!)

-Splice (iOS)

-WeVideo (Android)

2. Macbook, tablet, or iPhone, + iMovie

Once you have your raw footage, you can edit it using iMovie. Depending on your iOS system, you likely have iMovie automatically installed. Try using finder to search for iMovie in your applications. If you don’t already have iMovie, you can buy it for $14.99 here. Check out apple’s great tutorial for using iMovie.

3. PC

Once you have your raw footage, you can edit it using Windows Movie Maker (free download) for PCs. Also check out this tutorial for Windows Movie Maker.

4. Chromebook

Several certified educators have recommended using Stupeflix for editing on a Chromebook.