Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Addressing misconceptions






My upper elementary students have had very little formal science instruction. I’m finding that they have a lot of “knowledge” that consists of misconceptions, half-truths, and opinions. I’m looking for suggestions on how to deal with these misconceptions.  –P., Minnesota Along with their notebooks and pencils, students often bring misconceptions to science class. It’s hard […]

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“Flipped” meetings






As the science chairperson, I’d like to change the format of our monthly afterschool meetings. Do you have any ideas what we can do in terms of professional development or other projects? It seems like we don’t get much accomplished with our current format. —C., Virginia Let’s face it—at the end of the day most […]

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My students don’t study!






I struggle with getting my biology students to prepare for assessments. What are your thoughts?  — J., Arizona This is not an uncommon problem and J. was able to provide some additional details: “I give them study ‘helps’ that outline the concepts to be tested and extra points if they complete them. I do flashcards […]

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Students communicate their results






I am interested in strategies to help students write lab reports. I have gone over this at the beginning of the year and a few times in between. But students still have trouble explaining the purpose, hypothesis, process, and conclusion. I want the students to describe and analyze their lab activities and to communicate their […]

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Planned, Purposeful Activities






My fifth grade students get excited about hands-on activities, but sometimes they use an activity as a reason to socialize or joke around. Sometimes the class appears chaotic. I’m looking for ideas on what I can do to make sure this is a good use of time for students to learn.  —F., Arizona As you […]

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“Group” work in elementary science?






I’m a first year teacher, teaching third grade. In my undergraduate work and student teaching, I worked with math and reading groups, but not much was mentioned about using small groups in science or social studies. I’m curious about how to go about setting up and managing group work in these subjects. —D., Washington In […]

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Teacher-leaders






My principal tells me I have “leadership potential.” I’ve been teaching Earth science for 11 years. I like my students and I feel confident with the curriculum. I don’t want to leave the classroom, but a little voice keeps whispering that she may be right. Should I try something new?  —B., New York What a […]

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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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