Author Archives: MsMentorAdmin


I’m trying to use more projects and open-ended assessments this year, but I’m getting bogged down with grading. I know I should use rubrics, but it’s hard to create them for every assignment. Any suggestions on how to streamline this process? —Sarah, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Scoring objective tests is simple: the answer is either correct […]

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Science notebooks

I’ve heard about “interactive” science notebooks. I would like to use them with my classes, but I think I need to learn more about them before I start. —Randall, Columbus, Ohio For many teachers, the word “notebook” conjures up a traditional folder or binder to hold lab reports, homework, class handouts and notes, tests and […]

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Observing a student teacher

I’m going to have a student teacher in my biology classes next semester. I’ve never done this before, and I’d like to provide her with feedback on effective science teaching practices. Do you have any suggestions for resources on this? –Deborah, Stockton, California Congratulations on your new role, and thank you for agreeing to help […]

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Teacher book groups

Some of my colleagues in the science department and I would like to start a book group, but we’re not sure how to get started. What books should we read? How often should we meet? Any other suggestions? —Allison, Lexington, Kentucky How many times have we said to ourselves “I know I should do more […]

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Living things in the classroom

Many NSTA journal articles refer to working in “Outdoor Classrooms.” I teach in a neighborhood school with no grass or trees in the schoolyard, so I’m thinking of bringing the outdoors indoors by adding some plants and live animals to my classroom. I’ve never had animals before. Do you have any recommendations? —Jack, St. Paul, […]

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Testing blues

I’m feeling really frustrated. I thought the students were following along in my first unit, but I am really disappointed in the test results. What can I do differently in the next unit? —Lisa, Topeka, Kansas The first unit is the toughest one. You’re learning about your students’ capabilities and background knowledge, and they’re learning […]

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Individualized professional development

The middle school where I teach just changed the topics taught each year to align with our state standards. My specialty is biology/life science, but now I’m also expected to address topics in earth and physical science. The inservice agenda for this year focuses on teaching strategies, but what I really need are crash courses […]

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Take-home projects

I’m thinking of requiring some “take-home” projects for students this year. (I teach at the elementary level). I think these would provide a good opportunity for students and parents to work together on science topics. Do you have any suggestions or guidelines? —Janine, Boise, Idaho I suspect the most dreaded words many parents hear from […]

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Cooperative learning

What’s the best way to set up cooperative learning groups for labs and other activities? How often should I change the groups? I’d also like to assign roles for group members, but I need some examples. — Doug, Henderson, Nevada Cooperative learning is a strategy supported by a wealth of research. The term often reflects […]

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Perseverance and “failure”

With all of the curricular demands and a focus on preparing for state exams, I am concerned that we do not create situations for students to persevere if they don’t succeed in their first attempts at experiments in science. How do we communicate the value of curiosity and perseverance to high school science students and […]

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