Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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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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Electronic science notebooks






We’re a 1:1 school, and all of my students have access to iPads in class. I’m thinking of transitioning from hard-copy notebooks to electronic notebooks. My students are not thrilled with this.  —R., New York In a previous blog/column, Mary Morgan, a science teacher at Belton High School in Belton, Texas, shared her thoughts on […]

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Interactive science notebooks






Teachers often have questions about interactive science notebooks, especially at the secondary level. Mary Morgan, a high school science teacher from Belton High School in Belton, Texas, shares her experiences (These ideas refer to traditional formats. Ms Morgan will share her thoughts on electronic notebooks in a future blog.) Ms. Mentor: How are interactive science […]

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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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