Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

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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’ […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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