Hi, team! Good morning! I hope your coffee is strong and your weather is as lovely as ours so far today. =) Today I’m following up on a blog post from a few weeks ago where I talked about greeting all of your students at the door and shaking their hand as they enter the classroom. Really, honestly, it doesn’t take hardly any time at all to do it and it’s so valuable. Okay, moving on to today’s scheduled content–Morning Meeting!
I get the impression that teachers use the phrase “morning meeting” loosely to refer to any type of circle time they might have with their students in the morning. But today I’m going to talk about Morning Meeting, a specific structure taught by the Responsive Classroom group. Before I continue I want to be clear about 2 things. 1. These are just my own feelings about Morning Meeting (MM) and Responsive Classroom (RC); I’m not getting anything to say these things. 2. One thing that I think is really great about MM is that even if your school isn’t an RC school you can use MM in your classroom still. And one last thing before we really get into it–if you feel interested in learning more about MM after reading this post I would highly recommend this book. You can get it on Amazon
as well as on Responsive Classroom’s website (responsiveclassroom.org); I think it’s slightly less expensive on Amazon, but don’t hold me to that. Honestly, I feel like the book is worth it for the ideas on games/activities alone.
Morning Meeting has a specific structure that you follow each day–greeting, sharing, activity, morning message. I was generally able to get through all of these components in about 15 minutes on an average day.
The first part of MM is a greeting. You might be thinking “why are you greeting all these kids again? You just did it at the door!”, but the MM greeting is a whole group greeting, so it’s a chance for the kids to greet each other. The book suggests lots of different greetings, and has a great chart of which greetings are better for younger v. older kids as well as early or later in the school year. Some perennial favorites in my classroom were the Skip Greeting (where you choose a number and you “skip” that many students, so you’re not greeting your neighbor every day), The Butterfly Greeting (where instead of shaking hands you basically link thumbs to form butterfly wings), and the Formal Greeting (where kids greet each other using titles and their last names). Generally, the greeting takes about 90 seconds, sometimes less if you’re using a straightforward greeting.
The next component, sharing, is one of my favorites. I love it because you accomplish the same idea as show and tell, without having to deal with the pressure of show and tell. For sharing, I always had a calendar that I made each year showing students who go to share on which day. It’s pretty bare bones because for us it was most important that it all fit on one page and that we could see it from a small distance, so here’s an example of our sharing calendar. Sharing Calendar_SY 2013-2014_BLOG Each kid has their name on one day. If you’re absent or late you miss your day to share; it just takes too long to loop back to kids who are out or late, which is always the reasoning I shared with my students as well. On their day to share, students will stand and greet the class (Good morning, friends) and the class will greet them back (Good morning, _______). Then they say “Today, I would like to share….” and they share what’s on their mind. Sometimes, they share that they had a sleepover party, that they’re excited about something coming up for the weekend, that they went out to dinner the night before, that they visited their parents, that they wrote a story, that they won their basketball game, etc. When they’re done with their sharing they “Any questions or comments?” and they take a question or comment from one boy and one girl. I LOVE the sharing part of MM; it really builds conversation skills for students, and it really vests them into listening to their classmates. Sharing usually takes a few minutes, generally I would say 3-5, depending on how prepared each student is and how much they share.
While my favorite part of MM is sharing I feel pretty confident that my students’ favorite part is the activity. The activity is usually some type of game that builds community and/or academic skills. Some annual favorites are Coseeki (Follow the Leader), Hot or Cold, and Buzz. We usually spend about 3-5 minutes on our game as well, so that we can get in several rounds. I usually use equity sticks to pick students to participate so that everyone has an equal chance to participate.
The final chunk of MM is their morning message, which is a message I write to them daily that shares something about our day. At the start of the year I read the MM to them, and then as the year progresses they take ownership of the letter by reading it to each other. I’ll also usually have a few students do things like find sight words, or our phonics pattern in the message. The message is pretty short, and usually goes something like this “Good morning, first grade friends! Today is Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Today is sunny and nice. We will play outside for recess! Today, we will start writing all about stories. What is something that you know all about? Today will be a terrific Tuesday! Love, Mrs. Wilser”. On the first read through we would not stop to answer my question, but after we’ve read the entire message I would give kids some ideas of things that I know all about and then ask 2-4 students for their own ideas.
I know it seems like this would take a really long time, but like I said, it probably took us 15 minutes on average and you get so many pay-offs from MM. Not only are you building community daily, but kids are vested in bulding that community with you and they’re also excited to learn. I LOVE Morning Meeting. Are you a Responsive Classroom school? Have you ever used Morning Meeting before?