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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

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

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

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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

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Comments (155)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Jen M's picture

Hi! I'm currently in my 3rd year teaching 6th grade math - and this year added a period of science to my plate! I have found I really adore this age of students - still young enough to have those "kid" moments, but old enough to be able to tackle information! I love being involved in my students lives; I coach volleyball, basketball and track, am advisor for the Student Council and am part of our Neighborhood Outreach Program. It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly different our kids can be outside of the classroom! I look forward to learning and discovering with everyone on this board!

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture

It certainly sounds like you've got a lot going on, but it also looks like you are involved with them. And with tweens, if you're involved with them on a deeper level, then they are more likely to buy-in to what you're asking of them.

-Heather WG

Brian Thomas's picture
Brian Thomas
A Passion for Teaching!

I love working with middle school students because they come in different everyday. As a teacher, I had to be on my toes planning lessons as they would challenge me and stretch me. I think working with middle schoolers was always the right fit for me as I was able to harness their energy, combine it with interactive strategies, and make the class come alive. I used History Alive materials in my classes and found the kids really took to them. It transformed me so much I wanted to share with others the joy of teaching. I now work for the same company that makes those materials I used. It's a wonder and honor to travel the country and meet the inspired group of middle school teachers we have out there. God Bless you all! I'll forever be a middle school social studies teacher.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture

We need more passionate pro-middle school teachers out there! All too often it is the fall back of those who really wanted some other grade level. They either get put in middle school and discover how really cool it is, or they bail altogether. I love your enthusiasm!
-Heather WG

Merrilee McCay's picture

Classical Mythology and Creative Writing classes keep me busy with my middle school students. I teach both Traditional and Gifted classes here in Baton Rouge. Like Sandy, my girls are "gaga" about the Twilight books...and the boys enjoy Percy Jackson. In fact, we are planning an after school jaunt to see "The Lightning Theif"!
I have been teaching for 37 years, mostly in the middle school. My favorite grade level is 7th...typical "middle-child syndrome" and weird. Even though I'm not a middle child, I seem to fit right in!
I'm looking forward to learning many innovative ideas from this group.

Nick Porter's picture
Nick Porter
6th Grade Earth Science Teacher in New Mexico

Hey folks, I'm new to the edutopia groups, and am looking forward to bouncing ideas around with you all. I am a 2nd year teacher, and a 1st year earth Science Teacher. I am focusing my time into figuring out how a standard public school teacher (not a magnet or a charter school teacher) who sees 150 students a day an integrate Project Based Learning. This in my inquiry-based project!

Michael Olsen's picture
Michael Olsen
Seventh and Eighth grade science and math teacher in Juneau, Alaska

I too am new to the edutopia scene, and hope to benefit from some excitingly new and fresh ideas through this online forum. I am a Master's in Teaching student teacher here in Alaska, and just want to open the door to communication with other teachers here on the web. I am curious as to whether any one out there has used a curriculum mapping program called Atlas Curriculum Mapping? Our district is piloting it this school year, and am looking for any suggestions or ideas on how to use it creatively?

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture

..and welcome the great faculty lounge that is Edutopia. I have an online colleague that is a teacher in Alaska, and I will pose your question to him in the hopes that we can help you with your curriculum inquiry. Once again, welcome, please feel free to comment and participate. We all learn from each other here...

-Heather WG

Katie Quiroz's picture

I ended up here at edutopia because I am looking for fresh ideas how to get students that are not involved interested in getting involved in their own learning. I'm in my 3rd year of teaching and I just have to say this has been the most challenging year. I have not a few students that are unmotivated but a huge number of students that just don't like math and therefore are not going to try it. Therefore, I've decided that it is time for me to get innovative and try something different. The pressure to finish teaching all of the ideas they are supposed to learn in the 7th grade is overwhelming when the majority have come to me with no basic skills. In short, they were not ready to learn 7th grade math and I am guessing by their reactions to the material I am putting in front of them they have given up. I have gotten some wonderful ideas hear and am anxious to get back to school Monday to start incorporating the ideas into my classroom. Honestly, I started out looking for some good projects that would go with what I am teaching because I do believe that if you give your students something to get their hands and minds involved in that they will appreciate it more than worksheet after worksheet! How boring is that! I did find some great ideas on creating groups to work on math challenges. But if anyone here knows where I can get some projects that would help me make ratios and percents real to these guys I would really appreciate it. Oh just let me add, when I finished school I started work with the attitude that I am going to be a great teacher because I believe that is what our students deserve :) well thanks to this sight. I have refreshed myself with, I can be a great teacher and I will be a great teacher. Our school is rural and is a very small district but I do believe that the students who leave our walls should leave prepared to live life regardless of what challenges face them.

Kim's picture

Kudos to you for looking at ways to make math motivating and engaging for your middle schoolers!
I have three books to recommend:
1 - Hands-On Math Projects with Real-Life Applications, Grades 6 - 12,
by Muschla and Muschla, published by Jossey-Bass in 2009.
2 - Another book by Muschla and Muschla is Math Games: 180 Reproducible Activities to Motivate, Excite, and Challenge Students, Grades 6-12, by Jossey-Bass.
3 - Mega-Fun Math Games and Puzzles by Michael S. Schiro, also published by Jossey-Bass in 2009. It says that the activities are for elementary grades, but some of them can definitely be ramped up and/or used for review with your struggling students.

I think that games and projects are excellent ways to capture your students' attention, and the real-life activities really help them to experience math as something that actually is useful and applicable to them.
Good luck!!

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