Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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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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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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Suggestions for a lab update






I have a chance to contribute to the design of the science classrooms in a middle school. What should be on a “must-have” list? —S., Connecticut I would strongly recommend using the NSTA Guide to Planning School Science Facilities. This publication has a chapter on safety guidelines (including material storage), sample floorplans, Americans with Disabilities […]

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How many “labs?”






I’m a first-year biology teacher. How do I decide how many labs I could or should do each week. My colleagues have different ideas about this.  —L., South Carolina Sometimes the word lab is used to describe any activities students do in groups in science class including investigations, experiments, projects, teacher demonstrations, laptop or tablet […]

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Encouraging questions






I need strategies to encourage students to ask their own questions. They answer mine and discuss topics, but when I ask them if they have any questions, I get a lot of blank looks. —A., Washington Asking questions and defining problems is one of the science and engineering practices of the Next Generation Science Standards […]

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