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Michael Thompson

Mike Thompson's class isn't your average classroom. And that's because Thompson makes an effort to mix technology and traditional teaching techniques. Thompson has changed how students write, from learning Shakespeare on a chalkboard to blogging about sonnets.

Thompson put his master's degree in instructional technology to use, setting up a website to create a collaborative online learning environment at Fairfield Junior High School in Kaysville. He was one of the first teachers in the district to set up a functioning website for his classes.

While Thompson is always updating, blogging and integrating, parents and students say that above all, he is as a brilliant teacher. Thompson said that he pursued a master's degree in instructional technology for the classroom to keep pace with change. He said that the administration never appealed to him as a career path because he loves being in the classroom. He makes regular use of interactive assignments, videos and Web content in his lesson plans, getting kids in on the discussion from school and at home.

How do you keep your students on track and learning despite today's challenges such as bullying, gang violence and digital distractions?

"One of my plans is to use those digital distractions to educate them. Social networking, in the next two or three years, is going to become a potentially very powerful educational tool. I realize a lot of people are still afraid of it, even within school districts, but I think there's great educational potential."

— Gina Barker