Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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

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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Literacy and science: Reading and comprehending

One of our goals for the coming year is to incorporate more literacy practices into science instruction. Some of our teachers are eager to do more of this, while others are more skeptical about taking on this responsibility. As the department chair, I’m looking for some discussion ideas and resources. —Kevin, Chesapeake, Virginia The topic [...]

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Teacher on special assignment

I am a first grade teacher, applying for a STEM position as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). This will be the first time a position like this has been offered in our district, and ours is the first elementary school to have a STEM focus. What should be the STEM teacher’s role? How do [...]

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Organizing students for learning

I’m thinking ahead to how I will organize my classroom next year. Could you share some thoughts or resources? For example, should I let students choose where they sit each day or have a seating chart? Should I keep the desks separate or arrange them in groups? As a beginning teacher I want to do [...]

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Safety and substitute teachers

We had an incident in a high school physical science class where the substitute teacher left the room and several students engaged in dangerous behaviors with gas jets and flames. Fortunately, no one was injured and no damage occurred. I’m gathering suggestions on how to deal with this and prevent this in the future. –Paula [...]

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Calming the interview butterflies

I’m finalizing my student teaching, which has been a good experience. I’m excited about teaching science, but I’m not excited about interviewing for jobs. Will the school ask anything about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)? Do you have any suggestions to help me interview successfully? What can I do to calm the butterflies? —Steve, [...]

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