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Next Generation Science Standards

Guest Speakers in the Middle School Classroom

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Anne Bryant Anne Bryant 2855 Points

All, I want to have guest speakers next year, but I can't figure out how to make it work in the middle school.  My colleagues don't like to miss instructional time and we don't do interdisciplinary instruction.  I teach four life science classes, from 7:30 am - 11:53 am.  There is a 20-minute lunch in there.  I feel bad to ask a person from the community to stay all day and repeat themselves four times, but that's what it would take for all of my students to hear the presentation.  Otherwise, I thought I could have the presentation in one of my classes, I videotape it and show the presentation to the other three.  However, it just doesn't seem like it would be as great as the in person where they could ask class-specific questions.  Any ideas out there? TY.

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10275 Points

Hi Anne-- You're asking a person basically to come in for half a day (4.5 hours, ending before noon), so I would suspect that most would be able to spend that much time. As you know, each class has a different "personality", so even though your guest would do the same presentation, the questions and comments from the students might be different. And it would give you guest an idea of what it's like in a classroom (and how to each lunch in 20 minutes) Mary B

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10275 Points

NSTA's Ken Roy just published a blog on Safety Guidelines for Guest Presentations with some things to consider, especially if your presenter is going to do demonstrations or bring materials into the classroom.

Mary B.

Ling Xu Ling Xu 6458 Points

This is a great idea~

Whitnie Hutchinson Whitnie Hutchinson 4598 Points

Hi there, Form what I have gathered and having parents of my own come in and speak to classes and in the upper grade level, they nothing but love it. When members of the community have the opportunity to come in and speak to students, they enjoy every second because these are "real people" coming to talk about "Real experiences" that happen daily. As a very visual and real life learner I have found that I enjoy speakers and guest because as students we can get so caught up into the textbook and lecture life that we forget there is more out there to connect to these text books. Best of luck!

Joy Blasengame Joy Blasengame 1753 Points

I think it is a great idea to have a guest speaker in the classroom. It really helps the students connect Life Science to people in the real world. I think it would be better to have an actual person there in the classroom for the students, this way the students are connecting it with a real person. If you find the right person they will not mind coming and spending a good amount of their time there. I know there are websites that send in people for Social Studies so I am sure there are a lot of great websites that will send a person into your classroom to talk to the students. Good luck!

Alyssa Hawkins Alyssa Hawkins 2485 Points

Hello Anne! I am a preservice teacher at the University of Northern Iowa. I don't have my own classroom yet, but from the research that we are doing in our classes and having almost completed my degree, we have discussed heavily on this topic. Currently, students are being taught a lot of the lecture style of classes with some hands-on learning activities thrown it when possible. Students can tend to pay less attention to a teacher as a year progresses, by allowing individuals to come into your classroom and can share their knowledge with students on a topic, not only will allow the students to have a change in environment but studies have shown they retain more knowledge in these types of settings. The students will be able to take away something from the guest speaker and can give the students a different set of ideas and opinions. As for the guest speaker, as long as they are passionate about the topic they will be discussing and can physically be there for all four lectures, the students will gain more from it. The students who would be watching the video of it most likely would not get the same experience has the other students. Students will love seeing new faces in the classroom and will create a fun learning environment for the whole year. 

Keylee Vela Keylee Vela 50 Points

Hello, it would be a good idea to ask students to bring their parents so they could be the guest speakers. 


Jennifer Hicks Jennifer Hicks 680 Points

One option that you could consider is having the person 'visit' via the internet by doing a Skype conference. This would not require the person to physically be there all day and they could sign on and off when the classes are or aren't in session. They would still be able to have personalised responses to your students and they would have to say it multiple times but ususally the people who are willing to come talk wound not have an issue with that. The only real materials you would need to accomplish this is a computer hooked to a projector. This does remove the 'in person' aspect but the students would get just as much out of it and would probably enjoy conferencing in this manner. 

Marcos Aurélio Silva Marcos Aurélio 2927 Points

Ótima ideia

Courtney Brown Courtney Brown 801 Points

Hi, Anne! I love a good speaker, and I believe that your middle schoolers would as well. If you have trouble getting someone to come to your classroom, maybe consider going to them (you personally) and interviewing them with a set of questions that you gather from your students. So, when you go to talk to the interviewee, your students will really be the ones asking the questions. You could take a video on your phone or other device of the interview and then show your classes. This might would take away from the disapproval of your colleagues, and solve the timing situation. I hope this helps. Good luck!! Great job for going the extra mile for your students!!

Kimberly Tangaro Kimberly Tangaro 1725 Points

Aloha! I teach 7th grade life science from 8:40a-2:20p and have about 8 guest speakers a year. I have found that most guest speakers are willing to stay all day and repeat themselves!! I usually provide them with water and lunch/snacks. I have found that most guest speakers do not provide notes for students to take, so I ask for their PowerPoint before they come in order to create a student handout. My students are much more engaged when they have something to follow and take notes on. Go for it! Guest speakers enrich the unit and experience! Kimberly

Margaret Purtell Margaret Purtell 495 Points

I think that incorporating guest speakers is a great way for the students to be engaged and also for them to see how the content they are learning can be applied in the "real world." I am currently in a teaching program, and this is something I would like to incorporate into my future classroom. Based on my experiences in middle school, when we had guest speakers that could relate to the grade as a whole for cross-curriculum, we were able to have a class assembly. However, on the smaller scale, we typically received a handout and the speakers were always happy to spend the day to answer our questions and present. Additionally, I have even experienced a group Skype session that was a very influential experience.

Natalie Peyton Natalie Peyton 20 Points

Hi Anne! I am a current pre-service teacher in Iowa and think incorporating guest speakers into the classroom is a great idea! Even in my college classes, my professors bring in guest speakers to talk to us. It might seem like asking a lot from a speaker to spend a day in the classroom, but what I have learned is that most of them like doing it! So many people out there want to help students in the classroom and do not mind taking time to talk to them. Guest speakers usually feel honored being asked and enjoy discussing their passions and careers to students to hopefully inspire them to follow in their footsteps. I would recommend not video taping because that would be unfair to the students. Half the fun of guest speakers is interacting with them and asking them questions. By videotaping, that does not allow your other classes to ask questions. Another idea if you do not want to keep one speaker for the whole day, maybe see if you could get multiple speakers from the community that do the same job/passion and trade off who comes in to talk. Then each speaker would only be there for an hour or so and every class gets to hear from a speaker regarding the same information. I think the best thing to do would ask community members and see their responses, the worst they could do is say no. You might be surprised how many community members want to help. Good luck and keep up with the great ideas. Natalie

Mackenzie Haight Mackenzie Haight 4227 Points

I think that guest speakers in the classroom is a great idea! As a soon-to-be teacher, I hope to be able to get guest speakers in my classroom. As a current student, I have had many guest speakers that stay for teach section of the course, often repeating themselves. This could also be good for them to because they can figure out which content of their talk is the most important so they don't run out of time, or what else to add!

Marcos Aurélio Silva Marcos Aurélio 2927 Points

Concordo com essa sugestão

Isaacah Bell isaacah bell 1900 Points

I agree that having guest speakers are an effective way for students to also stay engaged. Instead of always listening to the voice of the teacher, they can explore other instructors or professionals philosophy on science.

Torrey Wenger Torrey Wenger 907 Points

If you can't get a real person for whatever reason, check out Skype a Scientist (  They match up classrooms with working scientists.  Teachers can request different kinds of scientists (biologist, geologist, etc) & experiences (1st gen college student, etc).

So far I've been matched for 3 of my 4 classes & we're arranging for our meetings.  My scientists are a cancer researcher (twice) & an ocean current researcher (from NOAA).

Shelby Betz Shelby Betz 2355 Points

Hi, I'm a preservice teacher at UNI. So I don't have a classroom of my own yet, but having been in the schools at least once for most of my classes I have experienced a ton of different teaching styles and classrooms. So it can often depend on the school and specifically the classroom, but if you want to have guest speakers in your classroom I absolutely think you can do that even if the other teachers are not as on board. Many speakers are already used to giving the same speech more than once so many of them would be completely fine with giving the same presentation more than once. And if you still aren't sure you can reach out to someone you know well to try it out once before getting a speaker you don't know as well. I think having speakers is a great way to enrich instruction so I absolutely encourage it. 

Carisa Meyer Carisa Meyer 2780 Points

Hello Anne! I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa and I think this was a great question! As a future teacher I would love to have as many outside guest speakers in my class because I feel like the students can relate to what they learning more if they hear it from a person who uses it in their everyday. This also eliminates the 'when are we ever going to use this' thought that many middle school students have. As for the speaker repeating themsleves, if the person truly cares about what they are talking about they will enjoy repeating it a hundred times if they had to! They also want to help educate students on what they do every day and maybe convince students to do the same when they grow up!

Alexus Fanning Alexus Fanning 2675 Points

I think it is a great idea to have guest speakers in the classroom. It would be beneficial for the students to be able to see science being used outside the classroom, that way the students are able to connect science topics to real world situations. By having someone who uses what the students are learning about in the classroom in their daily life, it brings excitement to the students because they are talking about something they love doing. 

Gabrielle DuVall Gabrielle Howat 1260 Points

Awesome! I think that guest speakers add a lot of insight to the classroom and keep the students engaged.

TyAnna Stevenson TyAnna Stevenson 350 Points

Visitor speakers as a rule feel regarded being asked and appreciate examining their interests and vocations to understudies to ideally motivate them to emulate their example. I would prescribe not video taping since that would be uncalled for to the understudies. A large portion of the enjoyment of visitor speakers is interfacing with them and asking them inquiries. By recording, that doesn't enable your different classes to pose inquiries. Another thought on the off chance that you would prefer not to keep one speaker for the entire day, possibly check whether you could get different speakers from the network that do a similar activity/energy and exchange off who comes in to talk. At that point every speaker would just be there for an hour or something like that and each class gets the chance to get notification from a speaker with respect to a similar data. I figure the best activity would ask network individuals and see their reactions, the most exceedingly awful they could do is say no. You may be shocked what number of network individuals need to help.

Jennifer Hicks Jennifer Hicks 680 Points

I really like the idea of having multiple speakers come in and speak to the students. Not only would it benefit the people who are volunteering their time but I also think it would be cool for the students to get to see differing perspective about the same subject. The teacher could record parts from each of the presentations and make sure the students get to see the different information and questions asked. I also agree that many industries are excited to come talk to schools and I bet there would be multiple people at each place that would want to come talk to them. 

Kaitlyn Warner Kaitlyn Warner 315 Points

Hi Anne! I think having guest speakers is an amazing idea for your students. It makes the content they are learning come to life. I often find that students don't understand why they are learning the content; bring in a speaker would give them an idea of how the content can be useful. Also, my husband is a scientist. He is absolutely thrilled anytime I ask him to talk with my students and show them what he does for a living. I honestly think that most people who are asked to speak to a class understand that there are multiple classes they would have to speak to. From my experience, any guest speaker who says yes generally understands and is okay with the schedule. 


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