Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Classroom atmosphere






I recently took a teaching position, after several years in a different job. I thought I could create a calm, focused atmosphere in my middle school science classes, but some of my students have really annoying and off-task behaviors. How do I deal with this. —C., Maryland Even though they try to act like adults, […]

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Ideas for science “camp”






I’ve been asked to teach a voluntary summer enrichment science class for 20 upper elementary students.  I can determine the content and structure for the class. I have a modest budget, access to the science resources in the school, and the principal will assist with logistics. I’ve never done this before, so I’m looking for […]

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Sparking Discussions






Students in most of my classes actively participate. But in one freshman class, students are engaged in labs, but they just stare at me during class discussions. I ask open-ended questions a lot and make an effort to get students involved. How can I get these students more involved? – R., Iowa Who knows what’s […]

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Teaching as an art form






I’m preparing to be a chemistry teacher. In addition to chemistry and teacher prep classes, what else should I study to become an effective teacher? More math or physics? —T., Colorado While math and physics are important (especially if you’re pursuing other certifications), you also could become familiar with another language and the special education […]

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Contacting parents






I have several students in my biology classes who are very disruptive. I know I should contact their parents, but as a new teacher I’ve never done this. How I should handle this? —C., California I found at the secondary level, it was more effective to work with the students first, then contact parents (or […]

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Setting personal and professional priorities






I teach fifth and sixth grade science, and I’m finding it hard to balance teaching, grad school, and family responsibilities. Are there any secrets for this? —E., Washington Everyone’s situation varies, so unfortunately there are no universal secrets. It may help to prioritize activities into essential, nice-if–you-can-get-to-it, and back burner. Your family and your health […]

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Learning more about NGSS






I’m a science teacher in a small district, and I’m curious about lessons that incorporate the three NGSS dimensions of and what they “look like.” Where can I find examples to share?  —B., New Hampshire A good place to find examples of lessons aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is NSTA’s K-12 journals […]

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“Iron Science” students






I used to assign projects for students to complete at home. But I’m now at a middle school where many students do not have access to materials and resources outside of class. I need alternatives for in-class projects!  –A., Colorado In-class projects would level the playing field if students receive materials and class time with […]

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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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