Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

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

Science vocabulary: See it, say it






How do you make vocabulary terms meaningful for students? I’m talking about really getting them to understand how the word or words are used in context. I feel students often just copy down a definition and never truly grasp how it relates to the topic at hand.   —S., Missouri Science students at all grade levels […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged , | 1 Response

Connecting students and scientists






As the new school year is getting underway, are you looking for some experiences to get students focused on scientific thinking and research skills? How can we show students what scientists actually “do” and how they communicate? Many teachers share science articles on current research with students  or assign students to find them on the […]

Posted in SciLinks | Tagged | Leave a comment

Electronic science notebooks






We’re a 1:1 school, and all of my students have access to iPads in class. I’m thinking of transitioning from hard-copy notebooks to electronic notebooks. My students are not thrilled with this.  —R., New York In a previous blog/column, Mary Morgan, a science teacher at Belton High School in Belton, Texas, shared her thoughts on […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Interactive science notebooks






Teachers often have questions about interactive science notebooks, especially at the secondary level. Mary Morgan, a high school science teacher from Belton High School in Belton, Texas, shares her experiences (These ideas refer to traditional formats. Ms Morgan will share her thoughts on electronic notebooks in a future blog.) Ms. Mentor: How are interactive science […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged , | Leave a comment

NSTA summer journals for K-12 teachers






Add these journals to your summer reading! The Science Teacher: Big Data As the editor says this month, “Scientific progress doesn’t result from simply accumulating data.” And data is definitely accumulating rapidly! Analyzing and interpreting data is one of the NGSS science and engineering practices, and how to organize, analyze, and interpret data (from students’ […]

Posted in SciLinks | Tagged | Leave a comment

A graphic organizer for writing






When I ask students to write about a topic, most try to submit a collection of copy-and-paste paragraphs. I’m looking for strategies to help students create original writing.  —H., Georgia Before the Internet, when students were assigned to write on a topic, they went to the library, found the topic in an encyclopedia, and copied […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged | Leave a comment

Finding out what students know and can do






I teach sixth grade science, and my students come from five district elementary schools and several private schools. Some schools emphasize science more than others, so it’s hard to know what knowledge and experience each student has. My principal suggested giving a pretest at the beginning of the year or for each unit, but that […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged | Leave a comment

Meters, liters, and grams






Do you have any suggestions for how I can help my middle school students understand and use the metric system? We struggle with this at the beginning of every year.  –E., Indiana It’s hard for U.S. students to get a handle on meters, liters, and grams when in their everyday lives they are surrounded by […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged | 4 Responses

Classrooms as ecosystems: The physical environment






(This is a continuation of Classrooms as ecosystems: Social interactions, in response to a question about creating a classroom that is a positive place for learning: The physical environment When I taught a graduate education class, I asked my students to provide visual tours of their classrooms with photographs and descriptions explaining why the room […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Tagged | Leave a comment

Classrooms as ecosystems: Social interactions

During my student teaching, I was impressed with how the classroom was a very positive place for learning. I wasn’t there at the beginning of the year when the teacher set things up, so I’m wondering what to do when I get my first classroom.  —A., Massachusetts I’ve had the opportunity to visit scores of […]

Posted in Ms. Mentor | Leave a comment