Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Morning Meetings

Our school follows the Care for Kids model, which focuses on enhancing academic, social, emotional, and ethical learning.  Although not technically a part of the Responsive Classroom curriculum, we do use The Morning Meeting Book as a reference when planning our morning meetings.

We hold a Morning Meeting each day in our classroom, right after attendance is taken.  Students know this will happen and are excited for the time to converse and share with friends.

Our Morning Meetings consist of four parts: a greeting, an activity, a share time, and a message.  This is a consistent routine, and one that helps students start the day confidently. 

At the beginning of the school year we do the same greeting each day for a week.  This helps students become confident in their knowledge of classmates’ names, their speaking ability, and the routine of the meeting.  A favorite greeting already this year is our Brown Bear greeting.  I introduced this greeting after we read the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?  The greeting, which can be an easy one to do at home with your family uses the same repetitive text: The first person says “Name, Name, who do you see?” and the named person responds with, “I see Name2 looking at me.  Name2, Name2, who do you see?” and the greeting goes around the circle until all who are present in the room have been greeted.

After the greeting, we participate in an activity.  Every activity during this time promotes collaboration and communication.  There is never an option to have a winner or a loser because this time is focused on teamwork and building community.  We enjoy a variety of activities, from making a rainstorm with our hands to playing Hot and Cold to creating a team-built monster. 

The third part of our meeting is a share time.  At the beginning of the year, every child shares every day.  I use a Lightning Round method and teach children to answer the question or prompt quickly—and with a complete sentence—so each person gets time to share.  During this part of the year, some of our favorite prompts and questions are: What is your favorite _____, What did you eat for dinner last night, Would you rather be a police officer or a doctor, and I like to _____.  I keep the prompts easy because students are just learning to share information and because we have 21 eager students who all want to share.  Later in the year, I introduce a sharing time where only one or two students get to share.  The other students must listen to the shared information and, as a group, respond with three comments and a question.  This share time helps students continue practicing listening to their peers, and also develop questioning skills.

The final part of our Morning Meeting is a greeting.  Each day, the teachers write a message to the students.  Because we must leave the message in a visible location all day, I generally write the message on a large piece of chart paper and then hang it on the wall.  In the message, I include the date (written in a variety of ways during the year), a greeting (which changes based on skill or theme, a message (generally tied to an area of learning that will take place during the day), and a closing.  Many literacy skills are practiced during the

reading of the morning message and other classroom content is reviewed.  There is always an important vocabulary word from one of our lessons in the message as well.

The message concludes our Morning Meeting and after that, students are set to go for the day.  We also wrap up our day with an afternoon check-in meeting where we discuss what went well during the day and plan for something we need to work on the next day to help our classroom run smoother.


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