Differentiate homework & give students choice... Students choose when to do deliberate practice in math 20 min. [review (meet expectations) or take on a challenge (exceed expectations), & in literacy [write for 60 min./week & read for 60 min./week.] Logging what they have done & showing their progress to the teacher throughout the week is mandatory.
SS Journal -- this is a 5th grade classroom, but could be adapted for middle school
Middle school bulletin board idea: "Believe in your #selfie" Have each student take a selfie and put it up with a #adjective that describes them. "Do something today for which your future self will thank you." The kids love seeing their faces in the hallway and it builds a grade-level community too.
This would be a very fun activity the first week of school! Teacher says a statement (ex. Switch sides if you like hot dogs more than pizza.) and the students either stay or move. The kids could also talk about why they did/didn't move. Fun back to school ice breaker!