Middle school students love to socialize, as I am guessing you have figured out. I would tap into their desire to socialize with group work and classroom presentations. Offer choices whenever possible. Perhaps you can put them into groups and debate climate control. The level of participation goes up with a little competition. Technology is also a great hook. They could present in groups using online web 2.0 tools: glogster (digital posters: http://edu.glogster.com) or voicethread (presentation tool which allows them to collaborate on line: http://voicethread.com/) or Prezi (a zoom-in presentation tool: http://prezi.com). Most middle school students know how to use these tools. Hope this helps.
~Good Luck, Mary
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