Invite the Experts

By: Mary Kienstra on: June 23, 2016  in: #tlap, author, Engagement, , ,

Why is it that our students will sit and listen to total strangers in a way that they would never listen to their teacher? When we invite the experts to our classrooms, our students learn from primary sources.  They hear real information and listen in a new way.

Last year, I invited experts of all kinds to come to my class.  Some of the experts accepted my invitation, some did not, but we met so many interesting people and extended learning to places we’d never been before.  I learned that people are generally very happy to share their knowledge with students.

When we studied mysteries, I invited our local police forensics experts to tell my students about solving real life mysteries.  These experts set up a crime scene in my classroom and taught my students about how they collect information to solve crimes.  I left the crime scene tape up for several days – it was too amazing to take down.  Click here to see my full post.


When my classroom became a crime scene


When we studied sharks, my students met Chris Fischer, the founder of Ocearch, a shark research organization.  They carefully wrote questions and interacted with Chris via Skype.  That was a day they won’t soon forget as his passion for his topic made quite an impression on them. Click here to see my full post.


4th graders learning from Chris Fischer of Ocearch

My students met several authors via Skype this year and I think the authors enjoyed meeting the kids as much as the kids enjoyed meeting them.   I contacted authors on Twitter and set up times for them to meet my class.  Each time we met an author, the kids’ interest in their books soared.  Click here to see the post about when we met Cassie Beasley. Click here to see how we met Dan Gutman.


Cassie Beasley telling my students about her debut novel, Circus Mirandus

Another expert that visited my class was my sister, Julie Smith, who posed as the judge for “The Trial of Sponge Bob.”   Julie joined our class via Skype to hear the evidence from each side and provide a verdict.  I could have been the judge, but having an “expert” as the judge made this project much more engaging.  Click here to see my full post.



Judge Julie in the Trial of Sponge Bob


The Stock Market Game was a huge success in my math class this year.  I don’t know anything about stocks, so I invited an expert.  A representative from the Stock Market Game who is affiliated with Northern Illinois University joined my class in person to talk about the stock market.  She taught my students so much about buying and selling stocks – things I would never have known. See my full post here.

Next year I hope to host even more experts in my classroom.  Heidi Jones (@MrsJones_Merton on Twitter) presented a session at USM Summer Spark on “Tear Down This Wall” about how to open your classroom to the world.  She suggested Global Read Aloud and Mystery Skype as examples of ways to connect with kids around the world.

Social media and internet connections allow our students to interact with experts from around the world.  Kids need to know that we can learn from people any where, not just in our own school.  What are you doing to show your students the world of experts?  Isn’t it exciting to invite the experts?

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