Category Archives: Ask a Mentor

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I like to infuse humour into my classroom. What is your opinion on teachers and students joking around? — T., Utah I, too, am a jokester and like to have fun with my students. I attribute a large part of this to my own teachers who were funny and made their classrooms enjoyable. Never make […]

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Sad State of Affairs

I have observed a lack of emphasis on science concepts in the elementary classroom. Does this seem to be common practice in other schools? Any suggestions on how to incorporate multiple subjects within a science lesson to help alleviate this? – K., Tennessee The sad fact is that science, like many disciplines, takes a back […]

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Ersatz Kitchen Table

I recently discovered a Facebook post in which a parent expressed disagreement over how I graded her son’s assignment. This unleashed a torrent of hateful, profanity-laced comments including one person saying I should be fired. I’m afraid something like this could ruin my good reputation at school. Any thoughts on how to handle this? — […]

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Chrome-Plated Activities

Do you have any suggestions on how to use Chromebooks in middle school for more than just watching videos and reviewing material? —A., Indiana   The real power of computer technology for a science classroom is in graphics, communication, calculations, creativity, and interactivity. Simulations like those at allow you to augment lessons that would […]

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STEM, literacy and the young mind

What is the best way to introduce science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through literacy lessons in kindergarten? —Y., New Mexico   To young children education is a single entity—they don’t make distinctions between disciplines until adults get involved! I think teachers of young children can easily capitalize on their innate curiosity and willingness to […]

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Who’s Who?

What are some interesting ways to introduce some of the major players in scientific discoveries so that my students can have a better grasp at who these people were and that they can aspire to be just as innovative and crucial to the world of science? —T., Ohio I would often hold a series of […]

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Tired of Cooking

I am sick of using cookbook labs in my chemistry class and want my students to conduct more inquiry labs. However, my principal thinks that this might be a recipe for disaster. What do other chemistry teachers do to incorporate more inquiry into their chemistry labs? —R., Kansas I spent several years using cookbook labs […]

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What’s My Motivation?

How do I motivate students who don’t want to do anything at all? — B., Utah If you ever solve this, you’ll be up for a Nobel Prize! There is no sure-fire method that will motivate every student. So, use several methods. You can engage students’ interest in the content you are teaching by having […]

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Surviving the Long Haul

I hope 20 years from now I can still get excited about being a part of kids’ lives. I am looking for suggestions on how to enjoy teaching for a long time. — J., Missouri One of the best compliments I ever received was in my last year of teaching: “I walked past your classroom […]

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[Sad Trombone]

Have you ever been challenged by student teachers and the methods they bring to the classroom that differed from yours? Have students ever favored your student teacher over you? How did you react?  — R., Ohio   On a few occasions I did learn some new activities or labs which I would gladly discuss with […]

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