Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

Mary Bigelow

Have a question for Ms. Mentor? E-mail her: msmentor@nsta.org.

Contacting parents






I have several students in my biology classes who are very disruptive. I know I should contact their parents, but as a new teacher I’ve never done this. How I should handle this? —C., California I found at the secondary level, it was more effective to work with the students first, then contact parents (or […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s March 2017 K-12 journals






Regardless of what grade level you teach, you the resources in this month’s journals can help make this summer’s eclipse a memorable occasion for your students. Not all students will be back to school on August 21, so this spring is a good time to spark their interest and provide resources. Science Teachers as Community […]

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Setting personal and professional priorities






I teach fifth and sixth grade science, and I’m finding it hard to balance teaching, grad school, and family responsibilities. Are there any secrets for this? —E., Washington Everyone’s situation varies, so unfortunately there are no universal secrets. It may help to prioritize activities into essential, nice-if–you-can-get-to-it, and back burner. Your family and your health […]

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Learning more about NGSS






I’m a science teacher in a small district, and I’m curious about lessons that incorporate the three NGSS dimensions of and what they “look like.” Where can I find examples to share?  —B., New Hampshire A good place to find examples of lessons aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is NSTA’s K-12 journals […]

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“Iron Science” students






I used to assign projects for students to complete at home. But I’m now at a middle school where many students do not have access to materials and resources outside of class. I need alternatives for in-class projects!  –A., Colorado In-class projects would level the playing field if students receive materials and class time with […]

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Scaffolding science skills






Some of my students have little experience in lab investigations. My colleague suggested I “scaffold” my instruction to help them develop lab skills, but I’m not sure what that would look like.  —C., Virginia “Scaffolding” refers to guiding strategies designed to help students develop greater understanding of concepts and skills to become more independent learners. […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s February 2017 K-12 journals






All three journals this month include the inaugural Best STEM Books for Students K–12 with descriptions and reviews. The rubric and criteria used in selecting these books is also provided. Share it with your librarian, too. Crowdfunding for Elementary Science Educators in S&C has fund-raising ideas applicable to any grade level. Science Scope — Water […]

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Science education “trifecta”






I’m looking for creative ways for students to share what they know, other than traditional written reports or essays.  —K., Michigan The creative process in science involves novel ways of thinking, problem solving, and communicating. When students are given the opportunity, encouragement, and support, their creativity can be astounding. I found reworking information and/or experiences […]

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Mentoring — A team effort






The most experienced science teacher is retiring this year at the middle school where I am principal. The other five teachers on the science faculty are early in their teaching careers. What are your thoughts on asking an experienced non-science teacher to mentor the new hire?  —K., VA When I started as a teacher we […]

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Keeping Students Engaged Before a Break






I finished a unit in middle school science two days ahead of our winter holiday break. We went on to the next unit, but my students didn’t seem focused, and I think I’ll have to review or repeat the activities when we come back. My colleagues advised that next time I should do holiday-themed activities, […]

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