Special Projects, Special Events
People in the local community can add immeasurably to your classroom program. Besides bringing in a wealth of experiences to share with students, people in your community can demonstrate to students that education is an everyday part of their lives or occupations and that learning can be shared and enjoyed by all.
The following list provides you with some possibilities for potential guest presenters to incorporate into your everyday curriculum:
|4-H club leader||computer operator||gardener||person with unusual hobbies|
|architect||construction worker||farmer||pet store owner|
|artist||cook||high school science teacher||plumber|
|astronomer||county agent||high school students||restaurateur|
|baker||doctor||local author||sanitation worker|
|biologist||local industry representative||mason||shop/store owner|
|butcher||ecologist||early community inhabitan||train conductor|
|carpenter||electrician||medical laboratory worker||traveler|
|college professor||environmental group leader||newspaper reporter||TV weatherperson|
|commercial pilot||exchange student||park ranger||veterinarian|
|community worker||factory worker||pharmacist||zoologist|
As you can see, the possible “experts” you can bring into your classroom are nearly limitless. Each of the people listed here, as well as others from your own community, can add substantially to your teaching effectiveness. It is important, however, that both the guest presenter and the class be sufficiently prepared prior to any visit. Consider the following items when inviting any speaker to your classroom:
Be sure the people you invite are not only knowledgeable about their subject matter but are also able to present it in an interesting and informative manner. Outside speakers sometimes get caught up in their own jargon, not realizing that their level of vocabulary might not be understood by students at your grade level.
It is important that whomever you invite addresses a topic relevant to a concept or issue currently being discussed in class. Inviting an amateur pilot in to discuss wind and weather three months before the topic is addressed in class may have little carryover effect for students. Be sure you clearly communicate the objective to the speaker when you invite him.
Plan to meet with any speaker in advance of his or her presentation. This will ensure that the speaker is aware of the presentation objectives and how it should relate to the topic(s) being presented in class.
Always confirm the date and time of a speaker's visit several days in advance. A phone call or short note would be most appropriate. Also, it is advisable to let any speaker know about any time limits or the classroom schedule.
The speaker will need to know about the format of any presentation. Is it going to be a lecture, a demonstration, an informal discussion, or a question-and-answer session? Consider bringing in more than one speaker for a panel discussion. Some individuals are more comfortable speaking with others than they are as a solo presenter.
Be sure to provide any speaker with information about your class or your students. What is the age or grade of the students? Are there any learning disabled students, and if so, how should they be dealt with? Are there any potential discipline problems, and if so, how should those be addressed?
Prepare students in advance, too. Ask students to suggest a list of possible questions they could ask the speaker either during or immediately after the presentation. List and duplicate these questions on a sheet of paper for all students. Also provide students with some background data on a visiting speaker prior to the visit, such as the speaker's occupation, background, experiences, and topic of presentation.
Here's a tip for finding speakers: keep a recipe box on your desk. In the box, add tabbed dividers, and write the chapter titles from the textbook or various topic areas on separate tabs. As you read your local newspaper and come across the name of an individual in your community, write his or her name and contact information on an index card and file the card in the appropriate section of the box. Then, in advance of that chapter in your textbook or topic in the curriculum, you can contact that individual as a possible speaker. Keep the card file up to date, and over the years you will build up a valuable resource file of community “experts” for many parts of your classroom program.
Field Trips: Into the Void
Remember field trips when you were a student? Ahhh, the joys of piling into a school bus, the thrill of bouncing along (forever, it seemed) to travel to some distant place, the euphoria of listening to someone lecture about an historical site or collection of artifacts, and the delight of wolfing down a stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich! It does bring back fond memories, doesn't it?
Although some schools and districts are eliminating field trips due to budgetary issues, they are still an important part of the learning landscape. An effective field trip is a combination of planning, preparation, and appropriate follow-through. It also involves coordination between the host site, school, and chaperones. These tried-and-true suggestions will help make your first (or your next) field trip worthwhile.