Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

Mary Bigelow

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

Teacher as scientist






I have a degree in biology and teach high school. Although I love teaching at this level, I miss doing real scientific work myself. Any suggestions on how I can still stay engaged and current in science? —T., Illinois Although we teach a variety of topics, teachers have areas of special interests. And as we […]

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Suggestions for a lab update






I have a chance to contribute to the design of the science classrooms in a middle school. What should be on a “must-have” list? —S., Connecticut I would strongly recommend using the NSTA Guide to Planning School Science Facilities. This publication has a chapter on safety guidelines (including material storage), sample floorplans, Americans with Disabilities […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s November K-12 journals






Educators at all levels  will find ideas on helping students with Meeting the Challenges of Communicating Science in his month’s Science and Children. Many of the strategies can be adapted for other levels. Science and Children – The Speaking, Reading, and Writing Connection to Science This issue is a must-read for teachers of all levels. […]

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How many “labs?”






I’m a first-year biology teacher. How do I decide how many labs I could or should do each week. My colleagues have different ideas about this.  —L., South Carolina Sometimes the word lab is used to describe any activities students do in groups in science class including investigations, experiments, projects, teacher demonstrations, laptop or tablet […]

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Encouraging questions






I need strategies to encourage students to ask their own questions. They answer mine and discuss topics, but when I ask them if they have any questions, I get a lot of blank looks. —A., Washington Asking questions and defining problems is one of the science and engineering practices of the Next Generation Science Standards […]

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Making the Most of Class Time






At the beginning of class, it takes my students a long time to settle down. We are wasting time as I try to get their attention. Any suggestions? –T., Maryland                                   To take advantage of the class time we have, it helps to have an established routine so students know what to do when they come […]

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Time for science?






When I was student teaching, I had some really good science lessons for second-graders that lasted about an hour. But now I have only a half-hour for science each day. I need suggestions for shorter lessons. – C., Colorado I’m glad to hear that your school schedules science daily. In many elementary schools, science and […]

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Working cooperatively






I’m frustrated by my sixth graders. When they’re supposed to be working cooperatively, they are unfocused—it seems more like a social event. By middle school, shouldn’t students know how to work cooperatively? Or are they too immature? – G., Virgina Immaturity is not an excuse. I’ve seen wonderful cooperative learning taking place in kindergarten classes, […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s October K-12 journals






The Four Strands of Science Learning and the Next Generation Science Standards from Science Scope is an informative article for teachers of any grade level. Science Scope – Earth Science Activities According to the editor, “Today’s students will become adults tasked with making decisions about environmental issues that will require a solid understanding of the […]

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Figure-it-out time






I get frustrated when I give directions for an activity and students immediately have questions about what to do. How can I help them become more confident and self-sufficient?  —C., Michigan Students have us trained! We offer directions or suggestions, and students know we’ll go over them again (and again). Some students panic right away […]

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