Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

Writing in Science






I’m looking for ideas to incorporate writing into my general biology classes. I’ve tried term papers but many of my students struggled and it took a lot of class time. Any ideas for other relevant writing assignments?  —V., Ohio Writing in science has alternatives to traditional term papers or reports. Rather than making a formal […]

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






Science Scope – Systems Thinking The articles this month provide “examples of how to integrate the crosscutting concept of systems and system models” into the classroom. (From the Editor’s Desk: Systems Thinking Solutions) Featured articles that describe lessons include a helpful sidebar (“At a Glance”) documenting the big idea, essential pre-knowledge, time, and cost. The […]

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Science classroom libraries






I am a new elementary librarian, and I want to prioritize science nonfiction. I’m looking for suggestions to help teachers who often do not have time to collect books from the library. I also need ideas for books to purchase.  — J., New York I spoke with a librarian colleague, who did what you are […]

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Lab debriefing options






My ninth grade students enjoy doing labs. But afterward, most do not participate in the debriefing. How can I improve this? —A., Washington You could try an alternative to teacher-led discussions. Here’s one that worked with my students. Instead of you asking questions, assign one team of students to present their results to the class […]

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Student recycling project






I sponsor an after-school science club for upper elementary students. They’d like to expand the recycling program at the school. I’m looking for suggestions on what they can do. – C., Pennsylvania It may help to add a context to your students’ efforts. In a “garbology” lesson, the teacher collects the classroom trash for a […]

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Feedback from participants






Recently, I did a hands-on workshop for other teachers on science apps and probes. I thought it went really well, and no one had any questions at the end of the session. But now, I’m getting lots of messages and phone calls for help. My colleague said that I must not have done a good […]

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






Elementary and middle school teachers have a real gold mine this month – both journals have the theme of Energy. Food for thought at any grade level–Commentary: Proactive Leadership in The Science Teacher describes what leadership should look like for teachers, departments, and administrators. The Science Teacher — Bringing Research Into the Classroom This issue […]

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Busy vs. Engaged






After a recent observation, my supervisor commented that the students did not seem engaged in the activity. I was surprised because the students were busy working. How can you tell if students are really “engaged”? —P., Oklahoma Ask your supervisor what he or she saw (or did not see). What indicators would have determined “engagement” […]

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Statistics for younger students






Our math department wants students in all subjects and grade levels to do more with statistics and graphing. I do graphing with my students in elementary science, but are younger students ready for statistics? —G., Pennsylvania The science and engineering practices in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) include several that incorporate statistics and graphing: […]

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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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