Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Va-cation, stay-cation, and edu-cation

But teachers get the summers off!! How many times do we see that in op-eds and online conversations? Those who make that comment obviously have never been a teacher, a family member of a teacher, or friend of a teacher. As a teacher, I never had a summer “off.” My classes did not end until […]

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Goal-setting

Our new principal wants us to come up with goals to accomplish in the next year. He hasn’t provided much guidance yet, so I don’t know what to do. How can I do this meaningfully?   —J., Delaware The end of the school year is a good time to reflect. This often leads to developing professional […]

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Science for all






The most recent NSTA K-12 journals have suggestions, lesson ideas, and resources for helping all students engage with the disciplinary content, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices that make up the NGSS. Science & Children — Stability and Change Although this may sound like an oxymoron (“the more things change, the more they stay […]

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Gardening in schools






I want to encourage elementary students to spend time outside. We don’t have a lot of funds for field trips, and I think it would be better to have an ongoing project. I also want to involve teachers and students of all grade levels and subject areas, not just science. I’m considering a school garden, […]

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What time of day is best for science?






When scheduling science at the elementary level, which is better for students: having science class in the morning or the afternoon? We have always had reading and math in the morning with science and social studies in the afternoon. But now my colleagues and I are wondering if there are better ideas. —H., Maryland When […]

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Reviewing during a unit






Do you have any suggestions on how to help students review and apply what they learn during a unit? I’ve tried creating games and contests, but the students don’t seem to get much out of them.   —C., Minnesota Many teachers have special review sessions prior to a test. With my middle and high school students, […]

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Online resource collections






NSTA’s SciLinks has a searchable database of vetted websites with information, graphics, and lesson plans. These cover topics K-12 in the life, physical and earth sciences as well as health and engineering. The sites are correlated to specific keywords (such as Food Chains, Phases of the Moon, or Magnetic Fields). The data base is available […]

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Professional development strategies






I’ve been asked to conduct a science workshop for elementary teachers. Can you suggest fun activities for us?  —D., Illinois I’m concerned about science professional development (PD) that consists of gee-whiz, dazzling “experiments” done by a presenter in front of an audience of teachers. I witnessed such a presentation once. The K-3 teachers all replicated […]

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