Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

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Hesitate to participate?

I know this is a rare problem: quiet kids. But what suggestions do you have for a ninth-grade class that is made up predominately of students who seem to be unwilling (or unable) to share thoughts or ask questions during class discussion. They’re even hesitant to answer direct questions aloud. Add to that all the girls [...]

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Crosscutting Concepts in NSTA Journals

The more I learn about NGSS, the more I’m intrigued by the crosscutting concepts. These concepts are the big ideas that transcend and connect the core ideas and processes within and in between traditional subject areas. This month’s Science & Children has a guest editorial on the topic that is a must-read for teachers of [...]

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Any questions? Good.

I need suggestions on encouraging students to tell me when they don’t understand something. I ask my classes if they need any help, but no one seems to have any questions. The next day, it’s as if they never heard of the topic before! —A. from Nevada Questions are good, but sometimes people don’t have [...]

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Play and exploration

I’ve been reading the literature on the value of play in learning. I do give my students unstructured activity time in science class, but I’m not sure they’re getting anything out of it. For example, I gave each group of students a board and several toy cars. They began playing with them, and when I [...]

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“Time” on task

I’m a new high school teacher looking for suggestions on how to estimate the amount of time a lesson will take. My lessons look good when I plan them, but I find that often a lesson is either too short and we have extra time at the end of the class or I run out [...]

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NGSS and 21st century tools and skills

One of the perks of being an NSTA member is having access to all of the journals online. Regardless of the grade level you teach, the journals have ideas for authentic activities and investigations that can be used, adapted, or extended for different levels of student interest and experience. In NSTA’s September K-12 journals, the [...]

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Middle school to high school

I’ve heard that there will be a vacancy in the high school science department next year. The position is for three sections of general biology and two sections of environmental science (not AP). I currently teach middle school general science but I’m credentialed in biology and tempted to make a change after 10 years. What [...]

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Classroom science centers

One of my goals this year is to focus more on science. I teach at the elementary level (third grade), and I’m thinking of setting up a science corner in the classroom with materials and activities for students. Rather than reinventing the wheel, do you have any ideas? —Kate, Davenport, Iowa In a school I [...]

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Action research on notemaking/taking

In your response to my question about notetaking, you suggested “action research” on notetaking/notemaking as a professional development project. How would I go about beginning such a process? I have the question but I’ve never tackled something of this nature. —Kelly, Raleigh, North Carolina Action research is inquiry or research focused on efforts to improve [...]

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SciLinks Resources

For many of us, the school year is starting soon (if it hasn’t already). If you are looking for new materials to add to your collection or to supplement a textbook or other resource, check out SciLinks, NSTA’s online database of vetted websites. The websites in SciLinks have been submitted by a corps of “webwatchers“—teachers [...]

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