No matter how many years of experience you have as a teacher, keeping students engaged and motivated, particularly in middle school, is always a little tricky. Kids wise up to our usual strategies, and new apps and tech are constantly hitting the market with (almost) unbelievable claims. And after years of using the same methods, even veteran teachers are looking for fresh, novel ideas to improve their classrooms.

Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have a couple of tools handy. Check out our list of top products teachers can’t stop talking about.

Positive Behavior Tallies

So often in our classrooms, we find ourselves reprimanding students for their poor behavior. However, research shows particularly in younger children, positive feedback is more effective and registers better than punishment or focusing on the negative. This classroom management system designed by a middle school language arts teacher with over a decade of experience focuses on just that – recognizing the positive to eliminate the negative.

The system is easy to implement, encourages self-monitoring and is a flexible tool that works in a variety of classroom scenarios. The digital download is an affordable option for teachers on a budget and includes helpful tools like a teacher language guide for giving tallies, behavior expectations cards for students, and parent postcards to send positive messages home.

Teachers who have tried Positive Behavior Tallies describe it as “simple and easy but so motivating and positive addition to classroom culture”, and “a real game-changer” that “works like a dream”.

Classroom Management in the Digital Age

Like it or not, technology is a part of our lives and it is here to stay. Taking a hardline approach and banning devices from the classroom in order to reduce distractions and get students to focus is no longer an option. Teachers need to effectively harness the power of technology to create the best learning environment for their charges, but knowing how to navigate that can be tricky.

This practical guide lays out effective practices for teachers to manage their digital-rich classrooms while keeping students engaged and motivated. Authors Heather Dowd and Patrick Green draw on their first-hand experience as educators to layout thoughtful and practical strategies teachers can immediately implement in their own classrooms.

Described as a “valuable resource for teachers wanting to integrate more technology in instruction” and “hands-on practical source for effectively and efficiently using technology as a powerful tool for learning”, this book is a worthy addition to any teacher’s toolbox.

Read to Lead®

Need a way to get kids engaged and on task when it comes to reading? Add some fun and lots of learning to your classroom by incorporating Read to Lead into your curriculum. This unique gamified platform breaks through traditional barriers that keep students from reading and provides an immersive storyline through authentic workplace scenarios. The easy-to-follow gameplay is an effective tool for student engagement, and the platform is structured in such a way as to allow for self-directed learning.

Teachers need not worry about their classroom descending into chaos as their students complete tasks in each episode, and the responsive-learning ability of the platform ensures that students are given tasks according to their capabilities. The Million Words Read Challenge also adds an element of competition to the classroom, serving as further motivation for students to focus and hit their goals. Educators have reported “seeing success from Bridgeport to the Bronx” and that “because it feels like a game, some of the kids lose themselves in it, they become so immersed… it’s engaging for them.

ELA Word Wall for Middle School

As students progress through the various content areas in different subjects, they constantly need to refer to the specific terms and vocabulary that pertain to that topic. Take the hassle out of creating your own word wall with this handy resource that includes word cards from a great selection of academic and content-specific vocabulary terms.

This resource includes over 100-word cards with definitions and can add a burst of color to your classroom decor as well. “Easy references for my ELA students” and “one of my favorite purchases” are just some of the high praise that teachers have given this very budget-friendly classroom resource.

These are just a few of the tools teachers have loved using with their middle schoolers. What are some of the top products you have used and had success with? Let us know in the comments!

About Read to Lead

Read to Lead uses the power of game-based learning to empower middle school students to build literacy, life, and career skills. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get started!