Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Scaffolding science skills






Some of my students have little experience in lab investigations. My colleague suggested I “scaffold” my instruction to help them develop lab skills, but I’m not sure what that would look like.  —C., Virginia “Scaffolding” refers to guiding strategies designed to help students develop greater understanding of concepts and skills to become more independent learners. […]

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Science education “trifecta”






I’m looking for creative ways for students to share what they know, other than traditional written reports or essays.  —K., Michigan The creative process in science involves novel ways of thinking, problem solving, and communicating. When students are given the opportunity, encouragement, and support, their creativity can be astounding. I found reworking information and/or experiences […]

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Mentoring — A team effort






The most experienced science teacher is retiring this year at the middle school where I am principal. The other five teachers on the science faculty are early in their teaching careers. What are your thoughts on asking an experienced non-science teacher to mentor the new hire?  —K., VA When I started as a teacher we […]

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Keeping Students Engaged Before a Break






I finished a unit in middle school science two days ahead of our winter holiday break. We went on to the next unit, but my students didn’t seem focused, and I think I’ll have to review or repeat the activities when we come back. My colleagues advised that next time I should do holiday-themed activities, […]

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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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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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