Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

Mary Bigelow

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

Keep PD sessions focused






Recently, there was a question about what to do when students were off-task. I conduct many professional development programs, and I could use some ideas to keep adult participants on-task! —T., Virginia As a presenter, it’s frustrating to see participants grading papers, texting, or reading the news. But in all fairness to our colleagues, their […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s April 2017 K-12 journals






Two articles of interest to all K-12 teachers: Commentary: The Importance of Cultivating Empathy in STEM from Science Scope, discusses how students can understand how STEM-related issues can affect people and society. Eclipses Across the Curriculum in S&C has ideas for integrated lessons pertaining to the August 2017 event. Science & Children – Matter and […]

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Classroom atmosphere






I recently took a teaching position, after several years in a different job. I thought I could create a calm, focused atmosphere in my middle school science classes, but some of my students have really annoying and off-task behaviors. How do I deal with this. —C., Maryland Even though they try to act like adults, […]

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Ideas for science “camp”






I’ve been asked to teach a voluntary summer enrichment science class for 20 upper elementary students.  I can determine the content and structure for the class. I have a modest budget, access to the science resources in the school, and the principal will assist with logistics. I’ve never done this before, so I’m looking for […]

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Sparking Discussions






Students in most of my classes actively participate. But in one freshman class, students are engaged in labs, but they just stare at me during class discussions. I ask open-ended questions a lot and make an effort to get students involved. How can I get these students more involved? – R., Iowa Who knows what’s […]

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Teaching as an art form






I’m preparing to be a chemistry teacher. In addition to chemistry and teacher prep classes, what else should I study to become an effective teacher? More math or physics? —T., Colorado While math and physics are important (especially if you’re pursuing other certifications), you also could become familiar with another language and the special education […]

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Contacting parents






I have several students in my biology classes who are very disruptive. I know I should contact their parents, but as a new teacher I’ve never done this. How I should handle this? —C., California I found at the secondary level, it was more effective to work with the students first, then contact parents (or […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s March 2017 K-12 journals






Regardless of what grade level you teach, you the resources in this month’s journals can help make this summer’s eclipse a memorable occasion for your students. Not all students will be back to school on August 21, so this spring is a good time to spark their interest and provide resources. Science Teachers as Community […]

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Setting personal and professional priorities






I teach fifth and sixth grade science, and I’m finding it hard to balance teaching, grad school, and family responsibilities. Are there any secrets for this? —E., Washington Everyone’s situation varies, so unfortunately there are no universal secrets. It may help to prioritize activities into essential, nice-if–you-can-get-to-it, and back burner. Your family and your health […]

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Learning more about NGSS






I’m a science teacher in a small district, and I’m curious about lessons that incorporate the three NGSS dimensions of and what they “look like.” Where can I find examples to share?  —B., New Hampshire A good place to find examples of lessons aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is NSTA’s K-12 journals […]

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