Everyone is an expert on something. For some people, expertise comes with a particular job. It could be a computer-programming expert, a teaching expert or a driving expert.
For some people, expertise comes from a passion. A person could be a self-proclaimed ice-cream expert, a Justin Beiber expert or a skateboarding expert. You can use the expertise each of your students has to offer to help them practice their English in real and effective ways.
How to Make the Most of Your Students' Knowledge
Get the Discussion Moving
Start your expert unit with a class discussion. Ask your students what it means to be an expert. Help them understand that an expert is someone who is very skilled at something or who holds a great deal of knowledge about a particular thing. Take some time at this point to review vocabulary words associated with being an expert: advice, experience, expertise, familiar, knowledge, wisdom. They should understand that a person can be an expert on anything (ways to getting rid of a pesky little brother, for example), and that people become experts in different ways. He may have read a lot of information on a topic. She may have handled the same situation many times to become an expert. He may have taken lessons to become an expert. She may have learned to be an expert by having a job or other responsibility. Anything with which they have extensive experience is their area of expertise. Pair students and have them discuss with each other what their area of expertise might be. You can give them some discussion questions to help:
What are your hobbies?
What do you do in your spare time?
Do you have a job or chores that you do often?
What are you good at?
What do you know that other people don’t?
What do you like to read about?
What kind of television shows do you watch?
Once your students have determined their areas of expertise, they can begin to share what they know with the rest of the class.
Compile the Information
Now that your students have determined their areas of expertise, tell them that they will be sharing their expertise with their classmates. You can choose either a written or an oral project though doing both would be ideal. Give your students some class time to think about their area of expertise and make some notes to themselves. They can think about the questions they discussed with their partners, but they can also make a list of what someone else should know about that area of expertise.
Is there a certain process someone might have to follow when baking the perfect muffin?
Are there particular qualities a person should look for when making the perfect match?
Is there essential information a person needs to know if her car breaks down?
Students should then focus on the information they will share by listing bullet points for four different areas of their expertise:
- what they are an expert on,
- how they became an expert on the topic,
- how they have used their expertise, and
- what others need to know about it.
From this point, students can begin writing a rough draft of either a paper or a presentation answering these questions with one paragraph focusing on each question.
Share Your Wisdom
After students have compiled their ideas and written a rough draft, now it is time for them to share their expertise with the class. First, students should write a final draft of their four paragraphs. Then, have each student plan to give a presentation to the class on his or her area of expertise. This may mean that they play an instrument in front of the class, that they demonstrate how to cook a particular item, or that they give a power point presentation on the subject of dinosaurs.
Encourage your students to be creative and make the presentation interesting. You may want to give them an assigned amount of time for the presentation.
The second way students can share their expertise with the class is though nuggets of wisdom. A nugget of wisdom can be like a piece of gold under the right circumstances. Ask your students how expert knowledge might be very valuable in a particular situation. Can they think of any times they needed specific knowledge? Then allow your students to share their nuggets of wisdom with the class though this activity. If you can get a burlap sack, use that. If you cannot simply draw one on a large piece of paper and post it on a bulletin board. Label it “Golden Nuggets” and give each student three or four small pieces of yellow paper. Students should then tear the edged of the paper unevenly so each piece is shaped like a gold nugget. On each paper, your students should share one piece of important knowledge from their area of expertise. Make sure you do this, too; your students want to know about you as well. Then post the nuggets on or around the sack you already put up on the wall. Give students time to read each other’s bits of wisdom.
Finally, allow some time for question and answer to round out the sharing experience. Ideally, each student should have some time in front of the class to answer questions from his classmates. Make sure each student has at least one question to answer by asking it yourself if necessary. Also, make sure your students know it is okay to say they do not know the answer to a question. Most likely, though, they will be able to answer the questions that their peers ask.
Everyone has valuable knowledge to share, and the teacher does not have to be the only one who presents it to the class. Take advantage of all your students have to offer by giving them an opportunity to share their expertise.
Not only does it inform your other students, it builds each child’s sense of self-esteem and self worth. Try it and you may become an expert, too.