back students the “Wet Jeans” question and letting them
revise their first answer using a different color pen, or
giving a new probe question. Students can also be given a
summative assessment such as writing a story of a water
molecule as it moves through the water cycle. When the
weather unit is taught, the improved “Incredible Journey”
will be used and the “Wet Jeans” probe will be given again
to allow students an opportunity to improve/correct their
first response.
Classroom management,
rules, consequences, and
rewards! Oh, my!
You’ve got that first job, your
lesson plans are ready, and
your room is spotless. The anticipation of the first student
walking in makes your heart
race. What can a new teacher
Teachers must start with an
organized classroom. Think
through how you want your classroom arranged, how
students will turn in work, and where supplies are located.
Students should also be instructed how the classroom is
set up and who should be retrieving supplies. Having numbered containers with supplies is a quick way to distribute
materials and check that everything has been returned at
the end of the period. New teachers need to develop classroom management plans that outline the following:
While we have engaged in a similar process toward
improving our instruction before, this was the first
year to improve our instruction using weather-related concepts. It will be three years before we see if
changes to the activity and instruction have carried
through from fifth to eighth grade. In the meantime,
we will continue to evaluate our students’ perceptions
and the change in their perceptions from beginning to
end of instruction in our classrooms using formative
and summative assessments.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
(AAAS). 2001. Atlas of science literacy. Washington,
DC: AAAS and National Science Teachers Association.
Henriques, L. 2000. Children’s misconceptions about
weather: A review of the literature. School Science
and Mathematics 102 (5): 202–15. www.csulb.
Keeley, P., 2005. Science curriculum topic study. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Keeley, P., F. Eberle, and L. Farrin. 2005. Uncovering
student ideas in science: 25 formative assessment
probes. Vol. 1. Washington DC: National Science
Teachers Association.
Keeley, P., F. Eberle, and C. Dorsey. 2008. Uncovering
student ideas in science: Another 25 formative assessment probes. Vol. 3. Washington, DC: National
Science Teachers Association.
The Watercourse, Council for Environmental Education.
1995. Project WET Water Education for Teachers.
Bozeman, MT: The Watercourse and Council for Environmental Education.
Susan German ([email protected]) is an eighthgrade science teacher at Hallsville Middle School and
Elizabeth O’Day is a fifth-grade science teacher at
Hallsville Intermediate School in Hallsville, Missouri.
by Julie Dean McIntosh
• Clear academic and behavioral expectations. A rationale for each rule should be included. What may not
be acceptable at school may be completely acceptable
at home. Students should be aware of how to behave
in all settings, such as the classroom, laboratory, fire
drills, and in the hallway. Part of your responsibility as a
teacher is to teach appropriate behavior.
• In a science classroom it is important to have clear
expectations on safety procedures. At the Flinn Scientific website (
asp) you’ll find safety contracts, Material Safety Data
Sheets, and other safety resources for the classroom.
NSTA also has a number of free safety resources for
download (see Resources).
• Know when to call an incident a discipline issue. New
teachers need to learn to pick their battles. If something
disrupts the learning of others, then it is a discipline
problem. New teachers can fall into the trap of trying to
control everything in the classroom.
• Have sequential consequences that include contacting a parent or guardian and some writing on the part
of students. Incident-resolution forms are common in
middle and high schools. They provide an instrument
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for students to voice their feelings and the facts of
what happened. Teachers can also complete a form to
show their side of the story. These two sides can then
be discussed in a one-on-one conference with the student. The resolution may give the teacher insight as
to why the student behaved that way and can help the
student explore alternative ways to resolve the situation at hand (see Figure 1).
• Make your classroom a positive place for students. Why
would students want to go to a negative room where
they don’t feel safe? According to the book Whale Done!
(Blanchard et al. 2002), redirecting negative behavior
into a positive direction can serve a teacher well. A single positive comment to a child is worth 20 negative remarks. Research shows that students who misbehaved
were three to five times more likely to get attention from
the teacher (Latham 2002). Make encouraging remarks
to students on paper and orally. Spotlight student work in
the classroom and take time to celebrate what they are
doing well. Ensure that each child in your room feels you
know him/her. Questionnaires are a great tool to get to
know your students, as well as just talking to them and
discovering more about their dreams and goals.
Find ways to communicate with parents or guardians
on a regular basis. Newsletters work very well and these
could be posted on your school’s website. Spotlighting
student work, classroom needs, how standards are being
met, and study skill tips can all be a part of these newsletters (see Figure 2).
Incident resolution
The student was asked to leave the classroom. Separately, the teacher and student will complete the following:
Please describe the situation that occurred in the
• Did the situation disrupt the teaching of the class?
• What did the student gain from behaving this way?
Teachers also need to take the time to get to know their
students. Greeting students as they enter the classroom or
talking with them informally during the day can help build
rapport. Attending extracurricular activities and discussing them briefly in class can help teachers connect with
students. Use “Getting to Know You” forms to find out what
students are interested in and use this information to engage
in informal conversations or within lessons as examples.
Daily strategies
New teachers need to have organized, engaging lessons plans. They also need to establish clear learning
goals and share them with students (Marzano and Marzano 2003). Teachers who start class immediately and
interact with students throughout the class period are
more effective (Latham 2002). One 16-year study of 252
schools in 50 states found that teachers who were able
to teach expectations, keep students on task, have positive interactions with students, and emphasize outcomes
were more successful. These teachers had more time on
Biology I
Just a reminder: Students will have homework two to three times per week. Homework is posted under the homework tab
by week.
Students should be keeping a journal of
observations of a tree that they have been
observing throughout the year. A leaf collection will be submitted by November 15.
This month
in biology
Biology Student of the Month is Suzy
Q. Suzy has done an exceptional job
on all of her labs and goes out of her
way to help others in class.
Keep checking Progress Book to see
weekly listing of homework assignments
• What did the student lose from behaving this way?
• What could the student have done instead of the
chosen behavior?
• What can the teacher do to help?
The student and teacher should meet separately after
completing this form to discuss a plan to be proactive
with future situations.
Sample newsletter items
State testing
is March
Study skill tips
Reviewing biology vocabulary terms with
your son or daughter can be helpful. It is
also helpful to go through labs and explain the concept that each lab taught. is a great website to help you study!
task and made more positive comments to students during the class period. Negative interactions with students
had a drastic impact on time on task and ultimately the
learning of all students in the course (Latham 2002).
Overall, first-year teachers are quick to point out that
building rapport with students is the best way to manage the
classroom. A meta-analysis of 100 studies found that teacherstudent relationships were at the root of all successful classroom management efforts (Marzano and Marzano 2003).
New teachers, however, may struggle with finding
the line between teacher and friend. Teacher-student
relationships should not be defined by whether students
consider the teacher a friend, but rather if the teacher is in
charge, appropriate levels of respect and cooperation are
exhibited, and teachers are aware of high-needs students.
The teacher needs to share a clear purpose and have
clear expectations. Again, the classroom management
plan outlined previously can help teachers define what
is important in explaining and supporting.
These rules and procedures should be clearly communicated and be backed up by consequences, such as moving
closer in proximity to the student, using verbal cues to get
back on task without distracting the class, recognizing good
behavior, and using group contingency policies that hold
each member of the group responsible. Teachers should
also use assertive body language and watch their tone,
volume, and cadence to get the message across.
Developing a plan for managing the classroom behavior, stating clear expectations, being organized, making
lessons active and engaging, and having a positive classroom can make a difference for student success and a
classroom teacher’s sanity!
Blanchard, K., T. Lacinak, C. Tompkins, and J. Ballard.
2002. Whale done! New York: Free Press.
Latham, G.I. 2002. Behind the schoolhouse door: Managing
chaos with science, skills and strategies. North Logan,
UT: P & T Ink.
Marzano, R.J., and J.S. Marzano. 2003. The key to classroom
management. Educational Leadership 61 (1): 6–13.
Flinn Scientific safety contract—
NSTA position statement: Safety and school science instruction—
Julie Dean McIntosh ([email protected]) is an
associate professor in the College of Education at
The University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio.
No excuses
by Rachael Wilkinson Parr
I truly believe the primar y obstacle to student academic achievement is the low expectations of their
teachers. I have one rule for my seventh-grade students: “No Excuses.” It is the motto I have adopted in
my classroom. When students enter my class for the
first time, they see this printed in bold letters across
the board. They recite this ever y day, until they know
it well. They say it until they believe that they can do
anything, because anything else is just an excuse.
I start the year by telling students the stor y of Kyle
Maynard. Kyle is a courageous young man, born with a
rare disorder called congenital amputation. Kyle has no
forearms and shortened legs, and he stands only four
feet tall, yet he has never allowed his disabilities to get
in the way of achieving his dreams. One such dream
was to become an accomplished athlete. Through his
determination and the support of his family and coach,
he was able to achieve what many might have felt was
impossible and became one of the top high school
wrestlers in the state of Georgia. Kyle’s book, No Excuses (Maynard 2005), is truly an inspirational stor y
that shows how a positive attitude can lead to great
achievements, even when against the odds. Each day
for the first week of school I read excerpts of Kyle’s
book to my students in hopes that they will adopt the
same life philosophy Kyle has. Teachers can purchase
No Excuses from a bookstore, or order it online from
any of the numerous bookstore websites. When I first
read Kyle’s stor y, I knew it was one I wanted to share
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