I am new to NSTA and having difficulty finding activities/lesson plans on the website for my middle school classes. Right now, I’m looking for ideas on earthquakes and Newton’s laws. Where is the best place to find them?
—Chris, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Once you’ve identified your topic and learning goals, you can access a variety of resources for activities and lesson plans via the NSTA website.
Search the NSTA Learning Center (under the Professional Development tab) for resources that appeared in NSTA publications, seminars, and professional development opportunities. For instance, here are some resources for earthquakes and Newton’s Laws. You can filter your search by type of resource, grade level, cost, and subject area.
As an NSTA member, you have electronic access to all current journals as well as archived issues. Select “Choose your classroom” in the left margin of the NSTA home page to access Science & Children (preK-4), Science Scope (5-8), and The Science Teacher (9-12). When I taught middle school I read Science Scope regularly, but I also browsed the other journals for ideas and activities I could adapt. And don’t overlook the Journal of College Science Teaching. Some of the articles and research published there could be relevant to K-12 teaching, too.
NSTA’s SciLinks www.scilinks.org (under the Publications and Products tab) is a database of websites on hundreds of topics for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12—reviewed by educator “webwatchers.” Many textbooks and NSTA publications have SciLinks codes in the margin that you can enter, and you can search for resources by topic and grade level. Registration is free. This is the list you would get from the search term “earthquakes.” Enter “Newton” as a search term for grades 5-8 to get lists related to Newton’s Laws in general, or each of the three laws specifically. You can tag specific sites as “favorites” and create a list of sites for your students to examine. Look at similar topics at the K-4 grade level that could be appropriate for your struggling readers or at the 9-12 level for background information or more advanced activities.
NSTA has a Social Networking Dashboard (under the Get Involved tab) to access the organization’s Facebook and Twitter messages, blog posts, and discussion forums.
NSTA’s email list servers (under the Member Services tab) are group e-mail discussions that allow members to exchange information in a peer-to-peer forum. NSTA members can subscribe to any (or all) of the 13 topic areas: biology, chemistry, computer science, Earth science, elementary, environmental science, general science, physical science, physics, and technology education, new teacher, and retired teacher. Colleagues on the list server can share ideas, get information, and ask questions. The lists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so information from your peers is available when you need it. If you ask about activities or lesson plans, it’s helpful to include the grade level, learning goal, and time frame so your colleagues get a better idea of what you need, and they’re always eager to help. I’d suggest setting up a separate e-mail account (e.g., gmail) for the list so your school or personal e-mail accounts don’t get overwhelmed, especially if you subscribe to more than one list.