Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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The way it’s supposed to be…

I have been trying to incorporate more inquiry-based investigations into my biology curriculum. But the students are upset. They want to stick with the cookbook labs where they follow the procedure and complete a data table that I give them. —T., Colorado It seems like you’ve noticed how high school students (and some of their […]

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Elementary science connections

Help! At my school, science is a special that my first graders go to once a week. I’m looking for integrated and engaging ideas for science that I could use during regular instruction. As most teachers know, time is precious, but I think it’s vital to pique students’ interests now while they are still curious […]

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Student teaching frustration

Teaching is my second career. I used to work for an environmental agency, but I’m having second thoughts about this switch. I took over for my cooperating teacher at the beginning of this marking period. I have a very diverse group of kids. Some are willing to cooperate, others very willing to test or disrespect me. I do not […]

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Prepping for a pre-service teacher

I agreed to work with a student teacher next semester, and I’m looking forward to the experience. I teach three classes of biology and an AP class at the high school and two sections of middle school science. Should the student teacher take all of these preps, including the middle school one? In addition to […]

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Hesitate to Participate? Part 2

In a previous blog, a teacher posed a question about getting her students to participate in discussions. She shared her experiences in trying the strategies suggested by our colleagues and her reflections on the results: I have already implemented pair-share strategies, and students varied in their willingness to talk to each other. I found at […]

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Hesitate to participate?

I know this is a rare problem: quiet kids. But what suggestions do you have for a ninth-grade class that is made up predominately of students who seem to be unwilling (or unable) to share thoughts or ask questions during class discussion. They’re even hesitant to answer direct questions aloud. Add to that all the girls […]

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Any questions? Good.

I need suggestions on encouraging students to tell me when they don’t understand something. I ask my classes if they need any help, but no one seems to have any questions. The next day, it’s as if they never heard of the topic before! —A. from Nevada Questions are good, but sometimes people don’t have […]

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Play and exploration

I’ve been reading the literature on the value of play in learning. I do give my students unstructured activity time in science class, but I’m not sure they’re getting anything out of it. For example, I gave each group of students a board and several toy cars. They began playing with them, and when I […]

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“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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