Mr. Dean: Sometimes the grandfather clocks, or the bigger clocks, have a lot of dark areas. So we have a little special flashlight (holds up the flashlight).
Mr. Dean: And it bends (demonstrates)—
Child 1: Can we touch it?
Mr. Dean: —so you can get in there and see what’s going on.
Mr. Dean: (Gets tool from toolbox off-camera.) We use one needle to oil the clock. It’s a little flat-tipped needle, and this has got oil in it (holds it up for the class). Then you oil the clock.
Child 2: Nice.
Child 3: Nice.
Mr. Dean: (Shows a gear panel to the class.) So each one of these, everywhere where there’s a gear, you put a little drop of oil on it (points out gears).
Child 4: Can you do it?
Mr. Dean: Well—
Becca: It may not need it right now.
Mr. Dean: Yeah (shows the gear panel again). So there’s a gear there, right? So we put a little drop of oil right there (demonstrates).
Having a guest expert visit a class can enable children to get answers to their questions about a topic from someone with firsthand knowledge. This video clip shows some of the interaction between a preschool class (ages 3–5) and a visiting clock repair specialist.
The class has been engaged in a project on measuring. One of the small study groups has been particularly interested in “measuring time.” The seven children in the study group brought clocks in from home to investigate. They also visited the home of a community member who owns more than 50 clocks, where they made sketches and asked questions about the clocks. Afterward, the clock study group still had more questions about what is inside clocks and how clocks work. The teachers decided to invite a clock repair specialist to talk to the class. They found Mr. Dean’s name in the phone directory. He was available and agreed to come to the school.
To prepare for the visit, head teacher Becca Johnson and her assistant teachers asked the children to dictate questions to ask Mr. Dean. The teachers also asked children to predict what they thought some of Mr. Dean’s answers might be. They posted the questions and the predictions on sticky notes on a chart labeled Questions/Predictions/Answers. (For more information about using question charts, see The Question Table.) Ms. Johnson also sent Mr. Dean a list of the children’s questions via email.
During the video clip, an assistant teacher sits to one side. She takes notes as Mr. Dean talks. She writes on a sticky note when he addresses a question in the Questions column and puts it in the “Answers” column to discuss later with the class.
Mr. Dean has brought a variety of items to show the children, including a 200-year-old wooden clock, several clock parts, and clock repair tools. He has set several kinds of clocks on a low table in front of the class. When the clip begins, he has already shown the children some important features of the clocks: how weights make the antique wooden clock work, how he attaches the clock face and hands, what the clock chimes sound like, and so forth. He has also shown the children several tools that he uses to fix clocks. He has explained how people put the numbers on clocks.
The first section of the clip begins with Mr. Dean showing the children a specialized flexible flashlight that lets him see the dark areas inside a clock. He shows how the flashlight bends, and he lets the children handle it. He also has let the children pass around gears and other clock parts.
In the second section of the clip, Mr. Dean tells the children that he uses a kind of needle to oil clocks. He shows this specialized tool to the class. He gets down to the children’s level to demonstrate how it works. The children watch, and those at the back of the group stand to get a closer look.
It is important for children to closely observe and safely handle items that guest experts bring to the class. However, the children are likely to have a difficult time focusing on a guest’s words while examining an object the guest has passed around. A teacher may want to wait until the guest’s talk is finished before the children have access to the items.
Benchmarks & How They Were Met
1.B.ECa: Use language for a variety of purposes.
- The children dictated questions and predictions for a Question/Prediction/Answers chart in preparation for Mr. Dean’s visit. They listened to him explain specialized tools used in his clock repair business. They made comments that showed interest and enthusiasm.
10.A.ECa: With teacher assistance, come up with meaningful questions that can be answered through gathering information.
- Before Mr. Dean’s visit, children formulated questions about how clocks work. The teacher shared the questions with him so he could address them during his talk. The assistant teacher added his responses to the Question/Prediction/Answer table for the class to discuss later.
10.B.ECb: Make predictions about the outcome prior to collecting information, with teacher support and multiple experiences over time.
- Before Mr. Dean’s visit, children predicted possible answers to some questions they formulated about how clocks work. (After the visit, the teachers will help them check their predictions using the Question/Prediction/Answer table.)
13.B.ECb: Become familiar with technological tools that can aid in scientific inquiry.
- The children observed Mr. Dean using and explaining specialized technology for working with clocks. They handled and observed some of the tools and clock components.
15.A.ECa: Describe some common jobs and what is needed to perform those jobs.
- The children learned about the work of a clock repair person.