Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

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Making connections

One of the perks of being an NSTA member is having access to all of the journals online. Regardless of the grade level you teach, the journals have ideas that can be used, adapted, or extended for different levels of student interest and experience. In the July K-12 journals, the overarching theme seems to be [...]

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Professional Development Options

I was recently appointed K-12 science department chairperson. Our professional development budget is slim, but I’d like to do something other than the generic “sit-and-git” presentations we’ve had in the past. I’ve heard about using social media and other online resources for professional development. I’m open to any other ideas, too. Where should we start? [...]

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What is “rigor”?

At the end of the year, my principal mentioned—again—that he wanted Honors Biology to be the “hardest” ninth grade course. I have tried explaining and showing that my Honors students are having different, more thought-provoking assignments, in addition to going into more depth than my general Biology classes. I think he equates rigor with students [...]

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Science safety

Ken Roy, NSTA Chief Science Safety Compliance Consultant and NSTA Safety Advisory Board Contact, has some comments based on the issue of a substitute leaving a science lab unattended, a situation described in a previous blog entry: In lieu of a “safety contract” as suggested, there is a need to have a safety acknowledgement form. [...]

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Literacy and science: Writing and communicating

This is a continuation of a question about Literacy and science: Reading and comprehension. The question dealt with incorporating literacy practices and activities into science instruction and the role of the science teacher in doing so. At an inservice event I attended, a museum herpetologist described his work to a group of teachers. His research [...]

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Literacy and science: Reading and comprehending

One of our goals for the coming year is to incorporate more literacy practices into science instruction. Some of our teachers are eager to do more of this, while others are more skeptical about taking on this responsibility. As the department chair, I’m looking for some discussion ideas and resources. —Kevin, Chesapeake, Virginia The topic [...]

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Science beyond the classroom

Among the misconceptions that students may have is their perception of the “mad scientist” — a solitary person in a white coat who works in a laboratory with odd smells and beeping noises. So when teachers refer to students as scientists, they may be a little wary of the label. Students might not realize that [...]

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Teacher on special assignment

I am a first grade teacher, applying for a STEM position as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). This will be the first time a position like this has been offered in our district, and ours is the first elementary school to have a STEM focus. What should be the STEM teacher’s role? How do [...]

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Organizing students for learning

I’m thinking ahead to how I will organize my classroom next year. Could you share some thoughts or resources? For example, should I let students choose where they sit each day or have a seating chart? Should I keep the desks separate or arrange them in groups? As a beginning teacher I want to do [...]

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Science 101

Each issue of Science & Children, NSTA’s elementary school journal, features the column Science 101 with explanations of various topics and phenomena. These are written for teachers and include many examples and illustrations. The author is Bill Robertson, who has also written the NSTA Press book series, Stop Faking It! Finally Understanding Science So You [...]

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