Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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

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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What to do at the end of the year?

I’m working with a beginning teacher, and I’d like to share some ideas on the challenges of the end of the year, such as how to keep students engaged and ideas for the summer break. —Alyssa, Corpus Christi, Texas There are many resources on what beginning teachers can do during the first days of school, [...]

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Displaying Student Work

I inherited a classroom-lab from a retired teacher, and I want to replace some of the generic posters with displays of student work. One of my colleagues says this is not a good idea. She didn’t explain her reasons, but now I’m not sure what to do. —Therese, Charlotte, North Carolina I’ve worked on statewide [...]

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Students as peer-editors (p. 2)

A previous question from a teacher related to using the peer-editing process in science class. Jaime Gratton follows up with a summary of her experiences: I would love to share what I did. I also received some responses and helpful resources from members of the NSTA email lists. For example, Jani replied with “My favorite [...]

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Students as peer-editors

My students are working on research papers about inventions or chemical processes set mostly during the Industrial Revolution. I was wondering if you had any suggestions about peer editing. —Jaime, Goffstown, New Hampshire Examining and commenting on each other’s writing can be a meaningful learning experience for students. By looking at others’ writing, students can [...]

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New teacher “nightmare”

I am looking forward to my first teaching job, but I’m concerned about how parents will react to my being a “newbie” in the science department. Will this be an issue? What can I do to start off the year on a positive note? My nightmare is that all of the parents will request their [...]

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Scheduling make-ups

At the end of a unit, there are always students who haven’t completed some assignments. Coming in before or after school is not an option for most of my students. Rather than moving on to the next unit, knowing they’ll fall even further behind, I’d like to provide some class time for this make-up work. [...]

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