Bringing Experts into My Classroom

Recently a brilliant colleague of mine (@jancey5 on Twitter) did a PD session on Global Connections. One of her recommendations was very exciting to me. Curiosity Machine is a place where students, scientists and engineers (as well as teachers) meet to solve engineering challenges like building a self propelling boat or a suspension bridge. Students share their solutions and difficulties and get feedback from scientists and engineers. How incredible is that? In this way I can improve my student to teacher ratio exponentially especially considering how this can empower students to be experts as well. Not only that it brings a certain excitement and calibre of excellence that would not otherwise exist in my class.

I recently posted this in my classroom blog about Curiosity Machine.  I hope to be able to engage my students to use the site an incredible resource. My biggest hurdle is the fact that I teach classes only once every six day cycle. Curiosity Machine will either help to bridge the gap between classes or get forgotten during the time kids are away from my lab. I am hoping on the former rather than the latter. At the very least it will act as a valuable resource for my own professional learning, planning and preparation.

Curiosity Machine is not the only global learning taking place at AIS-R. Technology is clearly allowing us to take our learning global. My son is participating in the Global Read Aloud led by the lovely and talented Laurie Dukes in the ES Learning Commons. He is so excited to be connected to hundreds of thousands of students across the planet. Global connections also act as a way to motivate and “jazz up” learning in way we never could have imaged when we were growing up.

4 thoughts on “Bringing Experts into My Classroom

  1. Hi Andrew,
    I love the idea of having our kids connect Globally! I also went to Jancey’s presentation on Global Connections (link to and loved all of the different ideas she presented. It seems that when some students know that a global audience will be viewing their work they take more time to ensure that it is more complete and they have done their best work!
    During our last ER day, we participated in The World Is My Audience project (link to which came from Jancey’s presentation. Our grade 3 students worked with our grade 1 students to create patterns using whatever medium they wanted to. They were really engaged and thought it was really great that there patterns would be then part of a published book that others around the world could later access.
    By having students connect globally with others they can showcase their own learning for a wider audience but it also allows them to connect with other students who may be creating similar projects or see similar projects that have been done by other students. As educators, how cool is it that we can have “experts” from around the world come into our classrooms to give our students feedback or educate them on a topic that they specialize in because at the end of the day we really can’t know everything 🙂

    1. Disha,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for reading my post. I was very excited to hear what your team was doing during the last ER day. What a cool way to interact on a global and local level (the grade threes working with the ones)! I can’t wait to see how it all works out.

  2. Andrew,

    I will be using curiosity machine in my classroom as well. What a great way to extend learning beyond the classroom and this looks like it will suit your class perfectly. I also think it will be a great way for your students to stay engaged with your STEM class while they are away for the long stretch that you are talking about. I think this is the solution for that, because like you said, by doing this you will be empowering them which I feel is one of the most effective ways to engage students. Will you be allowing students to explore their interest areas with this as well? I think this will be another way to get them hooked. I really like this idea of extending learning beyond the classroom and will be implementing some of these ideas myself. The only thing I’m struggling with is how I will manage this and fit it in along with all the expectations we have as teachers. If I have other professionals giving my students, that I am responsible for feedback, I feel like I will have to monitor that somehow. What are your thoughts? Have you thought about these types of scenarios? Are there any other implications that we need to think about?

    1. Hey Rob,

      I think as a teacher that sets up the class in Curiosity Machine we have access to the feedback that they have received from other professionals within the site. I like to believe that many of our students get feedback from other professionals (their parents) and we are not responsible for monitoring this feedback. We might want to though because we have many highly qualified parents in our community and it is always cool to see things from different perspectives. I know that students reach out to others that they may feel are experts without really knowing for sure. I mean, anybody can put a video on youTube and our students may think that what they are viewing is a good, reliable source of information. What I like about Curiosity Machine is that the experts are in fact experts, giving expert advice and feedback. There is always a risk of online predators taking advantage of this opportunity to connect with one of our students but I think that we have a responsibility to teach our students how to protect themselves online as part of digital citizenship education. I also feel that this issue is very unlikely to occur using this resource.

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