Geographer and glaciologist Dr. M Jackson studies the relationships between people and glaciers to better understand environmental change. She worries that the main narrative of glaciers and climate change is too narrow and that glaciers have lost their cultural context. As part of her doctorate degree at the University of Oregon she examined glaciers and the stories of the communities that surround them. In 2015, she published her book While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Change.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to M Jackson and the topics (glacier, climate change, geography, storytelling) that she will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.


Before the Show:

  • Have students review M Jackson’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided maps of northwestern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Alaska, or use the MapMaker Interactive, to explore the areas where M works.

  • Have students read the glacier, crevasse/">crevasse, and moraine/">moraine encyclopedic entries. Then use Glaciers and Glacial Features collection of satellite images to have students identify key parts of the glacier.  Afterward, ask: What impacts do you think these glaciers have on their local communities?

  • Watch the Why Melting Glaciers Matter to the Coasts (2:18) video to learn about a hands-on experiment that illustrates how ice melting in places like Antarctica have an impact on coastal cities and towns.

  • Examine the image of serac/">Seracs, a pillar or block of ice where crevasses intersect, to help students visualize a glacial landscape.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the graphic organizer collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example:

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class.

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and M Jackson. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which that they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that M Jackson shared. Ask: What role did place play in M Jackson’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions.

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did M Jackson use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did M Jackson talk about today? In what ways does M Jackson demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in her work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?


gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.


deep crack, especially in a glacier.


mass of ice that moves slowly over land.


study of glaciers and ice sheets.


large chunks of ice that break off from glaciers and float in the ocean.


material, such as earth, sand, and gravel, transported by a glacier.

sea ice

frozen ocean water.


large pillar of glacial ice formed by the meeting of two or more crevasses.