Teaching middle school is not for the faint of heart. But if you're called to do it, you know there's nothing else quite like it. Join us in discussing what works - and what doesn't.

Welcome, Brave Middle School teachers! Introduce yourself...

Heather Wolpert-Gawron Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Hey, all you brave tween teachers out there!
Welcome to the Edutopia discussion forum. Please introduce yourself a little before exploring our other discussions.

I am your moderator, Heather Wolpert-Gawron, middle school teacher by day and author/blogger at night. I was a California Regional Teacher of the Year in 2004, a Writing Project Fellow at the University of California at Irvine, and am a member of the Teacher Leaders Network. I'm a frequent contributor to Teacher Magazine and a staff blogger here at Edutopia. I also blog at www.tweenteacher.com. I currently teach 7th and 8th Grade Language Arts as well as 7th/8th Speech & Debate/Podcasting. Multiple-intelligences, differentiated instruction, Writer’s Workshop, student collaboration, student choice, and fluid grouping define much of my classroom instruction.

I look forward to talking about all of these topics and more here in the middle school forum. So please comment a little about who you are, what you're about as a teacher, and what brought you to Edutopia and our middle school forum.

For me, it's all about learning from each of you.

So challenge yourself to participate in the forum: comment, advise, criticize. Allow the Middle School forum here at Edutopia to be your brain spa of sorts. I look forward to meeting you all.

-Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Comments (156)

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Middle School Writing Teacher from Nespelem, Washington

Teach Forward

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I look forward to your ideas on all of your interests ("Multiple-intelligences, differentiated instruction, Writer’s Workshop, student collaboration, student choice, and fluid grouping") as they are also mine. I teach 8 reading and 5-8 writing. This year I am drawn back into writers workshop and writers notebooks; student engagement and learning flourish with a workshop format. I have been a "follower" of Edutopia for years as its focus inspires me to stay focused on what truly is important in education, despite all the pressure on test scores. I believe we must teach the "whole child," and also teach not the status quo, but teach forward into the future we can only dream but that our students will develop-- and that means more than just scores, but also social and collaborative learning. I think this community will provide teachers with connection to do just that. Thanks!

middle school art teacher


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I've been teaching art for 31 years and to middle schoolers for 27 of them. How true that working with students at the middle school level is not for the faint of heart! Never a dull day, it keeps me creative, flexible, energetic, a team player, and ever the optimist. I work in a community that supports the arts, and I have always had a decent budget. I work in a school with a supportive administration. That's why I'm still here. I love to travel the world, and I integrate my experiences into my curricula. I serve as mentor coordinator for my school and as a member of the Leadership Council. And I have my first student intern this fall. Since I am not a "digital native", I have been working hard at educating myself about integrating technology into my classes. I currently teach digital imaging to my 8th graders. I'm looking forward to sharing with this group.

Student Activities Coordinator, Yearbook, Journalism & Advisory

A book about "Apples"!

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For any middle level educator with a finger on the pulse of current teen literature - will truly appreciate this little ditty!

As with most 12 year old girls at my school, they are obsessed with the "Twilight" books. They chat, text, coo and drool over every chapter and storyline. They model the latest "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" shirts, tote bags and buttons. These young ladies can hardly contain themselves waiting for "New Moon" to come out - it's countdown which can only be rivaled by their thirteenth birthdays, or possibly Christmas.

However, no one has yet to explain this phenomenon to 12 year old boys who are simply clueless, as was demonstrated by a perplexed young man in my Advisory. He approached me one morning, after the rest of the class had left, asking the simple question, "Why are the girls so excited over a book about apples?"

After stifling my own giggle, I told him there was more to the book than just the cover. He shrugged his shoulders and trotted off to class. I then collapsed in hysterical laughter, wiping tears away. I love teaching this age!

Charter school humanities teacher for non-traditional middle grade learners

Greetings from Virginia!

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Thanks to all for supporting the middle school group with your participation!

I teach humanities at a charter school that seeks to re-engage struggling learners with their educations through literacy tutorials and an arts-infused curriculum. We draw students from all over our county which gives us rural, sub-urban, and urban kids with whom to work. I worked as the school's founding head teacher last year, though this year I'm in the classroom full time. Previously, I taught language arts for 2 years in one of my division's urban ring middle schools, and I taught language arts at a rural/sub-urban middle school for 5 years before that.

I try to teach as paperless as possible and intergrate technology so that it disappears into the fabric of the lesson (though I still tend to be too linguistic in doing so).

I am really eager for innovations to be made in American education so we can help students become entreprenuers of their own dreams somewhere out beyond the limits of the status quo.

I blog and publish anecdotes and case studies about authentic engagement with learning at http://classroots.org. I'm also availabe @chadsansing on Twitter.

Happy posting!

Middle school teacher-librarian in the Bronx, NY

Hello from the Bronx

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Besides being a middle school social studies teacher in New York City, I am also the moderator of the Special Education group here in the Edutopia forums.

I'm one of those career changer teachers. I started when I was 50. I choose to teach in New York City because I think every child deserves the high quality education I got in NYC schools. I spend a lot of my time fighting to make sure my students, all of whom qualify for free breakfast and lunch, get all the resources students in the wealthier neighborhoods get.

When I'm not teaching or hanging out here, I write on a freelance basis about food and beverages, listen to music, and eat well.

I look forward to getting to know you all.

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Welcome Ginny!

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Thanks for sharing the fact that you are such a brave teacher. It's true. It's also a sign of a great middle school teacher that you can evolve with teaching, continue to be a lifelong learner, and be flexible for the sake of your students. Welcome to the Edutopia online community!
-Heather WG

Hello from Florida

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I am a middle school media specialist in a magnet school for the arts in Jacksonville, Florida. I taught English at the magnet arts high school before switching to the library and opening the library at the new middle school ten years ago. It has been a challenging and rewarding time working with middle school students. I am especially interested in helping the teachers continue to integrate technology in their classrooms. In this time of budget shortfalls having enough technology and the right kinds of technology is a big challenge. I am also working with kids every day trying to help them deal with the huge amounts of information available to them and to evaluate and synthesize this information in a meaningful way. Our curriculum includes the standard academic subjects as well as the arts. We try to integrate the arts throughout the curriculum in addition to the specialized arts classes in five art areas. Our students come from all over the city (a large urban/suburban school district). They come from all socio-economic groups and many different backgrounds. They are united in their love of the arts and being with so many talented young people is really exciting for me.

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Welcome Harriet!

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Isn't is so strange to hear some people criticize internet usage as requiring little critical-thinking skills? As I read your words like "evaluate and synthesize this information in a meaningful way," I can't help but wish you were everyone's media specialist.

So glad you shared, and thanks for letting us know you're in on the discussions!
-Heather WG

5-8 Choir Director/K-8 Arts Dept. Head at Benton County School of the Arts

Hello! I am currently in my

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Hello! I am currently in my 5th year of teaching at the middle school level and 8th year in my total teaching experience. I thought middle school music/choir would be the last age level I would teach, but now I cannot see myself teaching any other age. I love it!

I love to help my fellow middle school teachers integrate the arts into their classes as well as bringing their subjects into my choir class. Maybe middle school arts integration could be a new discussion thread?

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Welcome Shelly!

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Isn't middle school great? They're nuts right? I always thought musical theater and history and ELA would make a great integrated match, but I also remember integrating art and math when I taught elementary. Integration in general is one of those skills from which we middle school teachers should take a tip from our elementary brethren.

Thanks for commenting! Hope to see you again in a discussion thread!
-Heather WG

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