Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Girls and science

I teach middle school, and I’m looking for ways to interest girls in science. I seem to get a lot of “It’s too hard” and “I don’t like science.” What strategies could I use to overcome these attitudes? —C., Texas It’s hard to believe we’re still having this conversation in 2016! And yet the NSTA […]

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Advice for a new principal?

Our new principal, who used to be a language arts teacher, doesn’t seem to understand what it’s like to be a science teacher. He’s a good guy, but what can we do to “educate” him on what we do?  –L., Massachusetts I posed your question to a colleague who is a middle school principal. He […]

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First Time at an NSTA Conference? Up Your Game With These Insider Tips

Are you attending the 2016 NSTA National Conference on Science Education  in Nashville in March 31-April 3? If this is the first time you’ve attended the national conference, it can be overwhelming! Here are some suggestions to consider before you go, updated from last year: At this point, you should be registering, making arrangements for […]

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Teaching on the record

My mentor wants to video my middle school science class. I’m not having specific problems with students and I think my lessons are good, but this still makes me nervous. Why would she want to do this?  —G., Minnesota Actually, your mentor may be doing you a favor by introducing you to a meaningful professional […]

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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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