Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Have a question for Ms. Mentor? E-mail her: msmentor@nsta.org.

“Time” on task

I’m a new high school teacher looking for suggestions on how to estimate the amount of time a lesson will take. My lessons look good when I plan them, but I find that often a lesson is either too short and we have extra time at the end of the class or I run out [...]

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Middle school to high school

I’ve heard that there will be a vacancy in the high school science department next year. The position is for three sections of general biology and two sections of environmental science (not AP). I currently teach middle school general science but I’m credentialed in biology and tempted to make a change after 10 years. What [...]

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Classroom science centers

One of my goals this year is to focus more on science. I teach at the elementary level (third grade), and I’m thinking of setting up a science corner in the classroom with materials and activities for students. Rather than reinventing the wheel, do you have any ideas? —Kate, Davenport, Iowa In a school I [...]

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Action research on notemaking/taking

In your response to my question about notetaking, you suggested “action research” on notetaking/notemaking as a professional development project. How would I go about beginning such a process? I have the question but I’ve never tackled something of this nature. —Kelly, Raleigh, North Carolina Action research is inquiry or research focused on efforts to improve [...]

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Notetaking vs notemaking

I really want to stop “giving” notes to students because it doesn’t seem like a good use of class time. They use tablets, so they can find facts easily, but I want students to actually manipulate the content and think about it. But I’m struggling a bit with letting go of the notes. Guidance or [...]

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Ideas for must-have strategies

I’m mentoring two new science teachers this year, and I want to focus on must-have strategies and effective practices for science. I’m sure they will have their own needs, but, based on your experience, what would be important to include in a plan for them? —Chris, Baltimore, Maryland Your new teachers are fortunate to have [...]

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Professional Development Options

I was recently appointed K-12 science department chairperson. Our professional development budget is slim, but I’d like to do something other than the generic “sit-and-git” presentations we’ve had in the past. I’ve heard about using social media and other online resources for professional development. I’m open to any other ideas, too. Where should we start? [...]

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What is “Rigor”?

At the end of the year, my principal mentioned—again—that he wanted Honors Biology to be the “hardest” ninth grade course. I have tried explaining and showing that my Honors students are having different, more thought-provoking assignments, in addition to going into more depth than my general Biology classes. I think he equates rigor with students [...]

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Science safety

Ken Roy, NSTA Chief Science Safety Compliance Consultant and NSTA Safety Advisory Board Contact, has some comments based on the issue of a substitute leaving a science lab unattended, a situation described in a previous blog entry: In lieu of a “safety contract” as suggested, there is a need to have a safety acknowledgement form. [...]

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Literacy and science: Writing and communicating

This is a continuation of a question about Literacy and science: Reading and comprehension. The question dealt with incorporating literacy practices and activities into science instruction and the role of the science teacher in doing so. At an inservice event I attended, a museum herpetologist described his work to a group of teachers. His research [...]

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