Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

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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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Presentation options

One of my goals is for students to communicate what they’re learning in science through presentations. For many of my students, traditional oral reports are overwhelming. I’m looking for authentic, less stressful alternatives.    —T., Oregon One year, I assigned every student a 5-8 minute oral report on a science topic that interested them. I thought […]

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Crosscutting concepts

Themes, big ideas, unifying concepts—as the editor of Science Scope writes, the idea of crosscutting concepts in science is not a new one. (See the guest editorial Interdisciplinary Science: A Fresh Approach From the Past in Science Scope) But what is new in the NGSS is how the concepts integrate with science/engineering practices and disciplinary […]

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Meet me in the middle

Another round table/poster session at the NSTA conference–this time focused on middle school science. It was quite a hike to the end of the conference center, but the sharing session (and the view of Lake Michigan) was worth it! Those who attended were treated to another “extravaganza” of ideas for their classrooms. From activities that […]

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Elementary Extravaganza

I just finished visiting the Elementary Extravaganza at the NSTA 2015 conference. What an amazing display of what our youngest student/scientists are doing! The teacher/presenters showed how to engage students in experimenting with circuits, studying living things up close and personal, notebooking, going on virtual field trips, building/making things, and connecting reading and writing with […]

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Materials for elementary science?

I’m starting a new position as a first grade teacher in a few weeks. When I toured the classroom I’ll be in, I saw very few science-related materials. I want to emphasize science with my students, so what should I start to gather up?  —J., Georgia There are many schools in which science, especially in […]

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Avoiding burnout and staying positive

I’ve taught Earth Science for 10 years and I like my students and what I’m doing. But sometimes I feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Is this normal? How can I avoid burnout and stay positive?  —R., Washington This dilemma came up at a recent event I attended. Most teachers identified with how you feel. One teacher […]

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Science and literacy

Every teacher is a literacy teacher. Each discipline, including science, has a language and strategies for communicating both verbal and nonverbal information. As the TST journal editor notes: “…it turns out that reading and writing comprise over half of the work of practicing scientists and engineers.” Reflecting this reality, Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information is […]

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Answers and questions

My middle school students have lots of questions in class, which is not a problem. But I’m torn between trying to provide the answers (sometimes I feel like a live version of Wikipedia with lots of empty entries) and telling them to figure it out for themselves (which discourages some students). Do you have some […]

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First-Timer Tips for #NSTA15 Chicago

Are you attending the 2015 NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Chicago March 12–15? At this point, you should be registering, making arrangements for lodging and transportation, and thinking about your lesson plans for the substitute (if you haven’t done so already). If this is the first time you’ve attended the national conference, it […]

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