Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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A graphic organizer for writing






When I ask students to write about a topic, most try to submit a collection of copy-and-paste paragraphs. I’m looking for strategies to help students create original writing.  —H., Georgia Before the Internet, when students were assigned to write on a topic, they went to the library, found the topic in an encyclopedia, and copied […]

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Finding out what students know and can do






I teach sixth grade science, and my students come from five district elementary schools and several private schools. Some schools emphasize science more than others, so it’s hard to know what knowledge and experience each student has. My principal suggested giving a pretest at the beginning of the year or for each unit, but that […]

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Meters, liters, and grams






Do you have any suggestions for how I can help my middle school students understand and use the metric system? We struggle with this at the beginning of every year.  –E., Indiana It’s hard for U.S. students to get a handle on meters, liters, and grams when in their everyday lives they are surrounded by […]

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Classrooms as ecosystems: The physical environment






(This is a continuation of Classrooms as ecosystems: Social interactions, in response to a question about creating a classroom that is a positive place for learning: The physical environment When I taught a graduate education class, I asked my students to provide visual tours of their classrooms with photographs and descriptions explaining why the room […]

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Classrooms as ecosystems: Social interactions

During my student teaching, I was impressed with how the classroom was a very positive place for learning. I wasn’t there at the beginning of the year when the teacher set things up, so I’m wondering what to do when I get my first classroom.  —A., Massachusetts I’ve had the opportunity to visit scores of […]

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Goal-setting

Our new principal wants us to come up with goals to accomplish in the next year. He hasn’t provided much guidance yet, so I don’t know what to do. How can I do this meaningfully?   —J., Delaware The end of the school year is a good time to reflect. This often leads to developing professional […]

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Gardening in schools






I want to encourage elementary students to spend time outside. We don’t have a lot of funds for field trips, and I think it would be better to have an ongoing project. I also want to involve teachers and students of all grade levels and subject areas, not just science. I’m considering a school garden, […]

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What time of day is best for science?






When scheduling science at the elementary level, which is better for students: having science class in the morning or the afternoon? We have always had reading and math in the morning with science and social studies in the afternoon. But now my colleagues and I are wondering if there are better ideas. —H., Maryland When […]

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Reviewing during a unit






Do you have any suggestions on how to help students review and apply what they learn during a unit? I’ve tried creating games and contests, but the students don’t seem to get much out of them.   —C., Minnesota Many teachers have special review sessions prior to a test. With my middle and high school students, […]

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Professional development strategies






I’ve been asked to conduct a science workshop for elementary teachers. Can you suggest fun activities for us?  —D., Illinois I’m concerned about science professional development (PD) that consists of gee-whiz, dazzling “experiments” done by a presenter in front of an audience of teachers. I witnessed such a presentation once. The K-3 teachers all replicated […]

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