Among the most important people in a school are the people who make up the larger school community. This includes parents, volunteers, and guests in the classroom. Experts - those people who hold an in-depth knowledge of a certain topic - are in important resource for every classroom, particularly when addressing broad subjects such as climate change science.
The PEEL project has relied heavily on the innovative and creative thinking skills of experts in the development of each lesson plan provided and within the teacher training sessions. You have been provided with content that has been developed and approved by leading industry professionals.
The PEEL project encourages teachers to consider inviting other experts into their classroom to present on a topic related climate change. When experts are willing to join a cohort of students in the exploration of a topic, students benefit in many ways:
- It brings authenticity to the work
- It contextualizes the work in a way that reveals to/reminds students that what we learn about in school does not only exist in the classroom
- It validates and builds confidence in their own voice
- It develops skills in receiving data from a primary source
- Experts help develop and increase academic language
- It provides mentors and hero's in particular fields of study (ex: female scientists, innovative careers, etc.)
- It connects students to their community
- It expands student understanding and awareness of 21st Century careers and areas of study
- It gives students space to ask particular questions to someone who actually knows what they're talking about
- It gives students an avenue for discussing multiple perspectives and point of view
Teachers also benefit from experts in the classroom. Teachers gain authenticity when experts support classroom content, experts provide opportunity to discuss perspective and point of view and for teachers to observe and assess student learning while the expert guides the lesson.
Who exactly are these experts?
Experts don't have to be any type of person in particular, other than someone who holds an in-depth knowledge of a particular topic. Often, your parent/grand-parent population will have much to contribute. The PEEL project encourages you to draw experts from your local area. Local experts often have a more direct connection with students and can be more easily incorporated into action projects with your students. As well, experts from near to your school help to reduce the cost to have the expert in your classroom as well as reducing emissions created in getting the expert to your classroom.
Examples of possible experts:
· Joe from the local Newspaper is invited to come and discuss what it means to have a persuasive voice in writing and how to use your voice to educate and persuade others
· Samara from a local solar energy business comes to talk about the importance of practicing what you preach as a business model that produces profit and encourages social change
· Jessi from an engineering firm shares his research on current Carbon Capture and Storage research and practices. Students use this information to write their government about this new technology.
· Kim from the local college comes in to talk about rain water harvesting and the new technology emerging around residential water use
· Juan from the local community garden invites students to come visit the garden and grow their appreciation for nature as well as their knowledge of food production
A few tips on incorporating experts
Prepare your students for their visit ahead of time. Get a sense of what students already know regarding the topic. Cover vocabulary, discuss their job, do a recent search of current events to help students generate a question/comment list before the presenter/expert visits.
Have a student or two meet them at the office with a warm welcome, an offer to help carry equipment, and show them the way to the classroom.
Select a student to thank the presenter at the end of your time together before the presenter even arrives. This will give students a chance to craft a thoughtful thank you.
Provide an introduction for the presenter and consider writing their name on the board. Consider having a student provide a couple sentences about what they are learning in the PEEL project to help situate their learning for the expert
Have students keep a PEEL log book. They can use this book to organize their thinking around topics, experts, interesting facts or learning, and questions that arise during a presentation.