Thursday, May 28, 2020

Building Classroom Community Through Morning Meeting (Part 2: Sharing)

I'm going to continue with my series: Building Classroom Community Through Morning Meeting You can find Part 1 on Greetings HERE.

Today's focus is Part 2: SHARING.

Why is SHARING So Important?

Especially during the first 6 weeks of school, SHARING is such an easy, fantastic way to get to know each other. It plays a critical role in developing and nurturing your classroom community which you need to start working on as soon as the first child steps into your classroom.

The kids love to share in all capacities! Sharing during Morning Meeting not only contributes to a positive classroom climate, it allows the kids to practice their social skills and build/strengthen communication skills.

Take a look at the Common Core Standards for Listening and Speaking:

The Morning Meeting Share is a natural fit for working on these standards.

Right after you finish your greetings, you move into the Sharing portion of Morning Meeting.

What kind of Shares can be integrated into Morning Meeting?

1. Partner Shares: We sit in a circle for Morning Meeting. There are many days where a greeting or a share needs just one partner.  (or on each side of child.) I usually point to first two kids and say PAIR UP.  They actually turn bodies toward each other with both knees practically touching. This allows for eye contact.  After I pair up the first group, the rest pair up on own by simply turning their bodies. In the beginning this takes an extra minute but they get the hang of it pretty fast. 

An example share could be this:

After both finishing speaking, (I usually give them a signal  like a chime, clap or bell to switch partners to assure both have a turn speaking and listening) they turn back to the regular position and put thumbs up on their knees and stop talking.  This is an important management strategy.  For a minute or two, it's chatty/loud and then the volume slowly trickles off as each group finishes.

NOTE: Depending on whether there is an odd or even amount of kids, sometimes I am a partner.

2. Whole Group Shares: I do so many group shares in September/October so we get to know each other better.  I'll introduce the share and then we go around the circle, one by one, to answer.  At this time, I am reminding kids about maintaining eye contact with the speaker and squelching side conversations.

3. Academic Shares needs special mention here.  When I first started, we were told that there shouldn't be any "academic" shares/activities.  That has changed and I'm glad.  I still make sharing and activities fun even though I often incorporate academics into them.  (Partner or Group.)  We have so much to learn and only so many hours in the day.  I find myself doing more of them and find a lot of value in reviewing past content so it stays fresh in their minds. Here 's an example:

3. Assigned Day Shares: Some teachers assign kids (4-5) to share on specific days. Usually they share something from home or just about themselves. I did that for about two weeks which equates to a hot second in the teaching world.  Not a fan of this format mostly because I want the kids to share EVERY DAY so they can practice their social and CC Standard skills above. If a child only shares every Tuesday, does that really help us get to know the student or give the child enough opportunities to practice skills?  If absent, do they present the next day?  Although I don't use this method, I know teachers who are happy with that format.  Do what feels right to you. Experiment.

How To Avoid Common Pitfalls During Morning Meeting SHARING Time

1. Some whole group shares drag on. It takes forever to get through 22 kids!

It can feel endless when 21 students talk about their favorite vacation! Been there. Those types of shares might be better off as a partner share. Another tip: Divide large group into 2-3 smaller groups and have those kids share/discuss in smaller circles while you monitor them. This still provides a larger audience and drastically cuts down the time needed without sacrificing your goals.

2. During partner shares, I don't feel all kids are actively engaged in listening to partners.

Agree!  Here's a strategy that holds ALL kids accountable. When I have partner shares, I use my Name on Sticks jar and pull a few names for kids to share out. When I call on those 3-4 kids, they must tell me WHAT THEIR PARTNERS SHARED.  The first time you do this, call on someone who you know will nail it so they can set a good example. I use this method daily. Since the kids know this is always used, they are clearly more engaged and actively listening. What happens if the called on child wasn't listening and can't tell me what partner shared?  I don't make a big deal out of it but send them off to share again and then child reports to us.  No getting off the hook!

2. Some students are low talkers.  It's frustrating because no one can hear them including me!

When I first started teaching, I would constantly say, "I can't hear you." or "Use your Loud and proud voice."  I sounded like a broken record which negates effectiveness.  It was distracting to kids and wasted time.  One of my supervisors had a great suggestion. Simply say, "Voice."  That's the signal that more volume needed. (Don't forget to model appropriate volume during this time.) It is much less intrusive. 

Sometimes low volume is a confidence issue while, other times, the child is simply a soft-spoken. I've asked some parents to work on volume at home and have appreciated their help.

Remember this episode of Seinfeld?

3. Kids want to respond to others and shout out.

It is hard for a six year-old to refrain from saying, "I love Disney too!  And Space Mountain is my favorite ride, too." But since you can't have everyone chiming in, use the "Me, too" thumb/pinky  gesture. It really works because it allows the child to be heard.

NOTE: Every once in a while the share is SO GREAT that you need to let them all talk/discuss at once. When that happens, I simply say, "Well this seems to be something that we all have a lot to talk about. You have a minute to chit chat about it with a friend."

This works well but if you're going to implement it, be certain your have a signal in place to get kids quieted down and back on track in 1.5 seconds.  

4. Some of my kids overshare.  It can be pretty embarrassing!

Me oh, my!  When this happens, it can be awkward.  If I think a child's share is about to delve into private matters, I stop the child and say, "Is this something your parents/friend/sister, etc. would want you to share?" Usually, that stops them.  Usually.  If they insist it is okay to share, I have them share with me privately so I can determine if G-Rated.  Sometimes it's hard to know where a certain phrase/story is headed! (I once had a student start to describe seeing her parents getting cozy in the bathtub!)

NOTE: This does not relate to safety/abuse issues, obviously.  I make it clear that sharing to EMBARRASS someone isn't kind or acceptable and give examples. But if a child starts to share something that you know is a critical situation, I immediately call our Guidance Counselor to investigate. This has happened a few times during my career.

5. Some kids don't want to share or answer.  What should I do?

I ALWAYS allow a child to PASS on a share. They simply say PASS and that’s it.  I may talk to them IN PRIVATE at some point but I’m also respecting them.  I don’t say, “Are you sure?” or try to convince them to share. I find that many who pass eventually share.  That being said, I really spend time on modeling shares for kids and I usually go first.  I also ALLOW kids to “borrow” an academic share.  If someone says the same answer, that’s fine by me. If a child truly struggles academically and is always "borrowing" someone's answer, I'll discuss the SHARE with them while they are unpacking SO THEY HAVE AN ANSWER before coming to the carpet.  Some kids need it and I am all for feeling successful!  I don't want anyone feeling MM is a stressful time or anxious to join the circle.

While that's pretty much SHARING in a nutshell, I do a bit more and want to share here so you get the full picture of my Morning Meeting.  After the greetings are finished, but before I start the SHARING mentioned above,  I usually spend 1-3 minutes on MY SHARE which is news/problem solving that needs to be addressed.  While it's not officially part of the SHARING component, it usually kicks off my sharing portion and I feel like it's a good way to transition to sharing.

My sharing portion includes:

Quick News/Reminders.  This is quick and benefits all of us. Examples: Review weekly class goal/point to it, remind kids that I'm missing permission slips, a quick praise to reinforce behavior/work.  Usually no more than 45-60 seconds.  Some examples:

REAL TALK:  Reserved for problems that need to be addressed. Sometimes it's behaviors but I find a way to relate to my own kids or when I was younger so no one singled out. Or it could be a management problem. Example: Our coat closet was always messy. More coats on floor than on hooks. We problem solved and decided we were going to keep coats in backpacks so closet would be neater and kids would now be able to access what they needed in there without struggling.  This open discussion problem-solving really helps us bond as a class and contributes to a positive climate.  Everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the solution. Reinforces the notion that it is OUR CLASSROOM.  Not mine.

Real Talk, which only happens as needed, takes some time but the payoff is worth it and always leaves us with a sense of accomplishment.

After I share either my Quick News/Reminders or Real Talk (sometimes neither!) we go right into the SHARING as described above.

Let me know if you have any questions about incorporating SHARING into your Morning Meeting.

As I said in my last post, I recently decided to put all of my Morning Meeting materials together and turn them into a paperless/projectable product. (Unless you want to print out.)  It doesn't mean I show the kids each slide each day when up on screen. It depends. But to me, it's having everything in one place to save me time especially since I have Morning Meeting twenty minutes after arrival.  (On those few days when I don't have time to write a Morning Message, I use one of the five pre-made messages.)

I firmly believe that creating a strong classroom community and positive climate shouldn't be overwhelming or frustrating. Here's a ONE WEEK Morning Meeting freebie that you can download now and have it ready in your Back-to-School file. It might just get your juices flowing for some ideas of your own.

If you're a new teacher or someone who's looking to lay a strong foundation to start building your classroom community on Day 1 but are short on time, (your juices have too many places they need to flow!) you may want to peek at my monthly packets or the bundle.

Ready to Read Part 3: ACTIVITIES? Click here!

Ready to read Part 4: Morning Message? Click Here!

Any questions or something you want to share with me? Let me know! In the meantime, if you know a teacher who might like or benefit from this post, please send them the link.

Have a great day!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let's chat!