Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Building Classroom Community Through Morning Meeting (Part 4: Morning Message)

Today's installment of my series Building Classroom Community Through Morning Meeting is focused on the Morning Meeting portion.

You can find Part 1 on Greetings HERE. Part 2 on Sharing HERE.  Part 3 on Activities is HERE.

A quick word before we start: Yesterday, I wrote a P.S. on the bottom which didn't show up on my phone or my computer. ODD! Offering again in case yours didn't either:

From Part 3: Activities: P.S. My kids also love to play I Have, Who Has games for an activity. I had a love-hate relationship with the game but read this post to see my light bulb moment. I'd like to send you one of my I Have, Who Has games for free to use during your Morning Meeting Activity just for being a reader of mine. On that page, pick one of the vowel games you want (a, e, i, o, or u) and let me know if you want the short or long vowel by emailing your request to me at Lisa@firstgradebloomabilities.com

What is the Purpose of a Morning Message?

It's a message the teacher writes to the students to help kids focus on the day ahead or focus on a particular concept. It is INTENTIONAL. Your purpose should be evident.

I know teachers who spend one minute crafting it while others spend 20 minutes by adding pictures, borders, different fonts, etc.

As long as you're getting the message across, do what you want and invest the time you can afford BUT keep in mind:

Where Do You Write the Message? (Should be visible to all in circle.)

1. Project It 

2. Write it on White Board Easel

3. Use Chart Paper on Easel.

While I use a combination of all, I use chart paper 80% of the time so that is what I'll focus on.

What is the Correct Format of the Message?

There is no correct format.  It's up to you.  Most common I see in K-2 Classes:

***Friendly Letter format  (With or without a Do-Now on bottom.  I usually have one. See below.)

***Message with no greeting or closing  (Today we're having our Pizza Party for reading 500 books.)

I use the Friendly Letter format  (date, greeting, body, closing, signature) because we're always writing letters to friends, family and staff members.  Might as well get them used to correct format.  (During the first few weeks, I am constantly referring to the parts of the letter.)

Here are some samples of what I've done in the past.

Some Common Concerns I've Heard about Morning Meeting Messages:

1. They take a lot of time to write each morning. Time I don't have.

The payoff, I think is worth it and if you believe you are not ENTERTAINING kids, they shouldn't take too long. I spend about 5 minutes and although I don't draw pictures, I will BOLD or underline important words or change out a marker color for effect. But consider:

* Writing it after school for the next day. Alleviates time crunch.

* Projecting it in editable format where some fields pre-filled.

* Having a few laminated "generic, good-for-any day" ones ready to go when you are really pressed for time. (I include some in my monthly packets because I know I need to use them occasionally!)

* Subscribe to Short & Sweet (still effective!) and stick with it.

2. My messages seem boring.  Yawnfest!

Switch up GREETINGS: Hey Fabo Firsties, Dear Smarties, Hey, Awesome Readers, Hello, Marvelous Mathematicians, Greetings, Aliens!

3. Since most kids have already read it on their own, why bother reading together?

Slow it down. In first grade, we may Choral read, do an Echo reading, one child may volunteer to read to us, and if pressed for time, simply read to class.

USE your message if your goal leads you there.  (Mine often does!)

Want a peek in how I often USE it to EXTEND the learning with my First Graders?  Of course you do!  

This is a real message I used MANY years ago recycled here from an old post.  I don't do this every day but usually twice a week.  I may even save it for a quick activity after lunch.  (I would read as usual during meeting and EXTEND it after lunch in that case.)

Before reading the message together at MM, we use swatters PRACTICE SIGHT WORDS to "Whack a Word"  

I draw names out of a jar and that child gets to come up, say a word, and whack it.  (Really helps reinforce it for struggling readers.) After we have lots of whackers (and I do allow for kids to repeat words. That in itself is telling!) we read the message together.  

Sometimes I'll ask if anyone wants to read it to us. 

After reading, I simply ask the kids if anyone has a compliment for me (since I've been working SO hard on my friendly letter format!) or if they want to tell me something they've NOTICED.  (Obviously, I am trying to reinforce skills here.)

I'm always amazed what they come up with!  Sometimes they point out that I didn't spell a word right and you know what?  That's never on purpose!  It happens, right?

In this letter, some kids commented on:

*Rhyming words/silly words
*Contraction of Let's (quick mini-lesson)
*The word TO being a "no excuse word" and the child who said it is one who struggled with sight words...I was thrilled!
*I remembered the date!  (Yea, me!)
Someone noticed some short a vowel words
*That the "ir" in First sounds like the -er sound
 A "Chunky Monkey" pointed out that EAR is part of Dear, etc.
But my favorite comment that day was this: (HONEST!)

You made a funny smiley to entertain us.  
As a writer, you have to make it fun for your reader.


Now when the lucky kid gets to take this home, they explain all of the markings.
Parents LOVE it!

Officially, I suppose you are NOT supposed to teach/dissect your letter but it's just too good of an learning opportunity NOT to.  As long as you can justify...

Let me know if you have any questions about incorporating the MESSAGE into your Morning Meeting.  If you do, send them to me and I'll update here.  (Lisa@firstgradebloomabilities.com)

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.
I'll be back on Thursday to give my final thoughts/tips and a whopper of a suggestion for you to try out during your Morning Meeting time!

UPDATE: Link to Wrap-Up and Challenge

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!

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