Sunday, November 5, 2017
Happy Fall, Teacher Friends!

It's officially November and we are finally getting the hang of this whole "school thing" in Kindergarten. If you teach little ones, you know that it can take some time before all parts of your day are up and running completely because teaching every little procedure is beyond important.

Rolling out a Morning Meeting that followed The Responsive Classroom format was a goal of mine this year. I am happy to share that a complete Morning Meeting is finally happening and it's also one of my favorite parts of the day.

If you don't know... The 4 components of this Morning Meeting are:
1. Greeting       2. Share       3. Activity       4. Morning Message
I have to admit ... I was a skeptic of the Activity part. My first thought was that the Activity would be all fun, games, and silliness. I was unsure about the value that it could add to my classroom. Well.. I could not have been more wrong. Activities can be fun, academic, and most-importantly, an opportunity to strengthen your class community. To help myself better understand and implement an effective Morning Meeting, I purchased The Morning Meeting Book. GAME CHANGER. If this has been sitting in your shopping cart, click checkout yesterday.

Here are just a few of the valuable aspects that committing to this format of Morning Meeting have brought to my classroom:
My students are
    - Greeting each other spontaneously.
    - Saying "Goodbye ____" to each and every friend at dismissal.
    - Independently starting cooperative games that we've played during "Activity" time at recess.
    - Improving their speaking and listening skills.
    - Improving their ability to ask meaningful questions.
    - And most importantly... helping to build a positive classroom community.

If you're interested in starting Morning Meeting in your classroom, here are a few tips and tricks I've learned to help your students get the most out of it:

Go Digital & Visual 

- Use slides so students have a visual reference.
- Slides will also help you feel more organized. Have a template for each component to make prepping simple.
If you don't want to make your own, my Morning Meeting Slides include editable and ready-to-use options.


- Have an auditory cue that signals for students to get in a circle (less talking for you, yay!). Songs or chimes are perfect for this.
- Keep it simple to start; Handshakes, high-fives, pinky-shakes. This will help everyone get comfortable.
- Have a cue that signals the end of the greeting and for students to get back in a circle.

Share Time

- Start with prompts and turn-and-talks.
- Prompts: Simple share topics about things students like to do; favorites; etc.
- Have students turn-and-talk when first starting "Share" so that everyone gets a chance to talk.
- After the turn-and-talk, choose a small group of students to share out to the group. They can share on the topic or about anything they want.
- Provide sentence stems to help your students speak in full sentences. This is also a helpful strategy for ELL's.
- Don't forget to have sharers choose friends to ask them a question (You'll be amazed how their questions improve over time).


- Model appropriate behaviors. Then model again. (The book has a life changing format for interactive modeling that has been effective).
- Again, start simple. We started with a game similar to "Simon Says."
- You lead first. Then choose students. When starting with the similar activity to "Simon Says", I was "Simon" for the first 3 days. After that, I chose students to lead.

Morning Message

- Keep it brief and to the point. This helps your early readers and it helps everyone's attention span.
- Example: Good morning class! Today is Marvelous Monday. We are going to practice Math Centers today.

Last, and most importantly: Make sure you are participating in Morning Meeting fully. Not only is it vital for your students to develop relationships with each other, but with you too.
"No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship." (James Corner). 
*These are my personal tips/tricks that I've come up with from experience - for the official tips, purchase that book! Seriously, what are you even waiting for??

If you have tips, tricks, or ideas for those of us trying to set up a Morning Meeting please share them in the comments below! Let's help each other help our students :)

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