Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Changing grade levels

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Next year there will be an opening in the high school science department. Although I love teaching middle school, I’m tempted by the opportunity to try something different and use more of what I majored in (chemistry). What advantages and disadvantages should I consider?—C., New Jersey Taking on new subjects or grade levels can be […]

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Managing Communication Channels

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Last year, I tried improving my communications with students and parents via electronic media. I had lots of responses, but I was being texted, tweeted, emailed, and called on the phone at all times of the day and night. While I want to encourage these communications, I’m looking for ideas to manage them and keep […]

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Teaching more than one subject






I’m a recent graduate. A school district where I would really like to teach has an opening for a secondary science teacher. But when I read the job description, the position requires teaching five classes of two different subjects (general biology and an environmental science elective). During student teaching, I just taught biology. Is it […]

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DIY Your Science PD






As a K-12 science department chair, I’m looking for professional development (PD) opportunities for our teachers. It’s hard to find speakers and programs for a small group. We have a very small budget, so traveling for conferences is not an option, either. Are you familiar with other options? —K., Minnesota Continuing education is an important […]

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Student reflections






I recently read an article about having students “reflect” on their work. I’m not sure what the value would be. What would this look like in a science class? –G., Ohio At a professional development workshop several years ago, I heard a teacher say “I do lots of activities. My students are so busy, they […]

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Should I present at a conference?






My colleagues and I recently attended an NSTA conference. On the way home as we discussed what we learned, they suggested I share some of the successful activities I do in the classroom, but I’m not sure that others would be interested. Plus, I’d be really nervous doing a presentation, and I’m not sure how […]

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The last days of the school year






I’m looking for suggestions for what to do during the last week of school, after final exams are over. I teach high school chemistry.  —T., Maryland It’s hard to justify students (and parents) why students should come to school on the last days of the year, if all they do is watch videos, do busywork, […]

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Meaningful class discussions






I’m looking for suggestions on how to have class discussions that are meaningful and help students with our learning goals, especially discussing current events or the results of our investigations. Sometimes it goes off-topic or students don’t listen to one another. —C., Virginia Being able to discuss issues and ideas in a productive manner is […]

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Attending a conference?






We are excited about attending an NSTA conference next year (it would be our first conference). The school has professional development funds to cover some of the expenses, but we have to write a proposal describing what we hope to learn from it. Any suggestions on what to include? We’ve never been to an event […]

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Apprehensive about teaching science






I’m nervous about teaching science. It was not my favorite subject in high school and I took only the required courses in college (mostly lecture). My elementary math-science methods course included science inquiry, but I had very few opportunities to do science activities during student teaching. Now that I’m on my own in a first […]

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