Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Student writing in science

My mentor and I are discussing if we should grade science notebooks, lab reports, and assessments for correct usage, punctuation, and spelling. Or should we ignore these errors and just grade for content?  —G., Maryland My contribution to your discussion would fall toward the content end of the continuum. It’s important to assess students’ content […]

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Science for preschool children

I’m taking a job with a preschool program. I’m concerned about how to incorporate science lessons with children who have had no experience with science. Any suggestions or advice would be welcome.  —C., Virginia Thank you for taking on the awesome responsibility of working with young children! I think you’ll find that even though they […]

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Tapping into student interests

It seems like it’s getting harder to get my middle school students interested in a topic. I’ve strained my brain trying to come up with new ideas. Am I the only one in this situation?  —B., Arizona You are not alone! Students have many distractions (e.g., electronics, social media), extracurricular activities, and other responsibilities competing […]

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Games for vocabulary

I like to provide activities that help students learn science vocabulary, but at a recent department meeting we discussed the value (if any) of word games and puzzles. Do you have any insights or research on the topic? –W., New York Many K-12 teachers use word games and puzzles to help students review concepts and […]

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Managing lesson time

As a beginning science teacher, I have issues with time management. Some days a lesson I thought would take the entire class period doesn’t. Other activities take longer than I planned. How do teachers handle this?  —D., Vermont It’s a challenge for science teachers to design activities and investigations that fit into our allotted time. […]

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Teachers learning new content

My background is in engineering and now I’m teaching middle school general science. I’m comfortable with the topics in physical and earth science, but I’m a little shaky on the life science topics, including cells, genetics, and evolution. Could you suggest some strategies or resources I could use to get up to speed quickly?  —T., […]

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Mentoring a colleague

My principal asked me as the science department chair if I could help one of our new teachers. From the beginning, she’s having issues with classroom management and organization. I’m willing to do what I can to help her, and she is open to this help. Do you have any suggestions on what I can […]

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Positive parent communications

When I taught at the elementary level it was easy to communicate with the parents of 25 students. Now that I’m teaching science at the middle school, I’m overwhelmed by the thought of trying to communicate personally with more than 150 parents. I’d like to go beyond quarterly progress reports or just posting grades online. […]

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Informal professional development

I teach in a private school that does not offer much in terms of professional development (PD), especially for science teachers. My colleagues and I would like to visit some science museums and centers. Would that count as PD? Do you have any other suggestions for us? —M., Maryland To a science teacher, an ideal […]

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Science vocabulary: See it, say it

How do you make vocabulary terms meaningful for students? I’m talking about really getting them to understand how the word or words are used in context. I feel students often just copy down a definition and never truly grasp how it relates to the topic at hand.   —S., Missouri Science students at all grade levels […]

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