The end of summer is so close. Yesterday, the hubs and I were at a concert and we took some drinks to tailgate and I was refusing to drink fall-y beers because I refuse to acknowledge the fact that fall and back to school are just around the corner. I am tenaciously clinging to the summertime!
I know I briefly talked about home visits yesterday, but I wanted to discuss another structure that my school uses today–Responsive Classroom. If you’re not familiar with responsive classroom, you can read more about it here. Responsive Classroom (henceforth abbreviated as RC, for obvious reasons) is really an umbrella term for a lot of different classroom structures, and I have to say that I’m pretty into RC. One part of RC that I LOVE is Morning Meeting. Morning Meeting is the first thing (or one of the first things) that you do in your classroom every single day in RC. There are 4 basic parts to Morning Meeting: greeting, sharing, a game or activity, and morning message. I’m not going to lie–sometimes Morning Meeting can go on for a while, to the extent that I sometimes find myself watching the clock, but at the same time I really believe that it’s an incredibly important time in our day. The Northeast Foundation for Children, the group who established Responsive Classroom, has an entire book dedicated to Morning Meeting–how to do it, ideas for greetings, games, activities, etc. I also own that book and really love it. But what I really like about Morning Meeting is that it’s useful in so many different ways–kids practice social conventions, like shaking hands, and making eye contact to speak; they learn how to take turns, and respectfully ask and answer questions; and through morning message you can build reading/literacy behaviors. I could go on for quite some time about Morning Meeting, but I’m going to try and be brief. I really want to highlight one part of Morning Meeting, which is the share. I follow a whole mess of other teacher blogs, so it comes to my attention that a lot of early elementary teachers are interested in how other teachers structure and manage their share, so I wanted to share how I manage our sharing.
For the first week of school, every kid shares every day. I will pose a question to the group and give them a sentence stem, and then we’ll go around in a circle and every kid will answer the question, and so will I. So that might sound something like this–me: “Friends, today we’re all going to have the chance to share. We are all going to answer the same question. Our question today is what is your favorite color? Let’s all take 5 quiet seconds to think of our favorite color” (silently count to 5, while ticking seconds off on fingers) “Great, friends. When it’s your turn, please stand up and say “My favorite color is ______”, and put in your favorite color. Then you can sit down, and it will be your neighbor’s turn”. We do lots of favorite during the first week, and then starting the second week I’ll have a sharing calendar that divides the entire class as evenly as possible across the 5 days of each school week. When it’s your day to share during morning meeting, I’ll call students’ names, one at a time. When I call their name they’ll stand and say “Good morning, class” and then the class will greet them in return, “Good morning, _________”. Then, that student will share in basically this format: “Today, I would like to share ________________. Any questions or comments?” Students are allowed to take 2 questions and comments–1 boy, and 1 girl. Then, they sit down, and the next student shares. I generally do not have my kids bring in items from home, and I also almost always make them share. If they say they don’t have anything to share I’ll ask them a few questions to get them thinking, like what did you do after school yesterday, what did you eat for dinner last night, are you excited about something this weekend, etc.
Responsive Classroom has a ton of structures that I use daily (as well as some that I really need to get about–logical consequences, I’m looking at you)–morning meeting, quiet time, choice time, closing circle, academic choice. They also have structures that you use on an as-needed basis to introduce new topics to students, like guided discovery and modeling. If you’re new to RC, or looking to learn more I would recommend their book The First Six Weeks of School. You can buy it on Amazon, or on the RC website.