Category Archives: Ms. Mentor

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Meaningful class discussions

I’m looking for suggestions on how to have class discussions that are meaningful and help students with our learning goals, especially discussing current events or the results of our investigations. Sometimes it goes off-topic or students don’t listen to one another. —C., Virginia Being able to discuss issues and ideas in a productive manner is […]

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Attending a conference?

We are excited about attending an NSTA conference next year (it would be our first conference). The school has professional development funds to cover some of the expenses, but we have to write a proposal describing what we hope to learn from it. Any suggestions on what to include? We’ve never been to an event […]

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Apprehensive about teaching science

I’m nervous about teaching science. It was not my favorite subject in high school and I took only the required courses in college (mostly lecture). My elementary math-science methods course included science inquiry, but I had very few opportunities to do science activities during student teaching. Now that I’m on my own in a first […]

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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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