You NEED to use Guest Speakers & Skype in the Classroom. Like...yesterday.

I have several passions.  Too many, if there is such a thing.  One of them is keeping my classroom fresh for students.  I refuse to have a classroom that is predictable and where students know what is going to happen every day.  I do my best to have an attitude that I am not the expert in everything, and it is more valuable for students to hear from professionals than to hear another lecture from yet another teacher.  

If you're an educator and you're reading this, you have a few minutes of time.  If you've never been, go to Skype in the Classroom.  Immediately.  You won't regret it.  The part I've taken advantage the most so far is connecting with guest speakers, but it also offers virtual field trips and Mystery Skypes, which are awesome if you're teaching Social Studies, particularly geography or World History.  

If you're a fellow science teacher, I have an amazing resource that you tap into if you haven't already. Skype a Scientist is a website where you can connect with scientific professionals who are excited to talk about what they do.  My first experience with this was having a Applied Physics Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan named Andrew McAllister connect with my classes.  He still talked to me even though I'm a huge Buckeyes fan.  We all have flaws.  Andrew's research is centered on the improvement of LED light bulbs.  You can check out a short video about it here: 



After the Skype session with my first period AP Physics class went so well, I asked Andrew to talk to the rest of my classes too even though two of them are Chemistry classes.  He wasn't at all reluctant to do this and I'm glad all of my students experienced this.  It was extremely valuable for my students to simply talk to a graduate student, let alone one who was studying science.  High school students often don't have a concrete grasp of what graduate school entails and how it's different from undergrad.  This exchange was awesome for some of my students that I can envision going beyond their undergrad and thinking about how a Ph.D. would open several doors for them, regardless of the field they want to pursue.  

In conclusion, no matter what field you teach, I'd highly recommend you take advantage of Skype in the Classroom and especially Skype a Scientist if you're a science instructor.  We have another session coming up in March with a different professional and I'm sure my students will learn a lot and enjoy the process again.