Mornings: The First 30 minutes at School + FREE Morning Work

One of the hardest things for me to figure out as a new teacher was planning for the un-plannable.  A parent that has a quick question, a call from the office, or a student throws up.  It seemed like so many of these un-plannables happened during the first 30 minutes of school.
The un-plannables have a way of throwing off the rhythm of a teacher and all of the students. I had always been a morning person until I began experiencing the unplannables.  I would get all of my ducks in a row and then "BAM!" something would happen that would knock them all down.

I knew I needed to find morning work that students could begin independently and hopefully last 10-15 minutes. The key word is independent. Sixteen of my twenty years of experience has been in either a kindergarten or first grade classroom.  Independent isn't exactly a kindergartener or first graders middle name, you know what I mean?
Morning messages are my favorite way to begin the day. Messages include skills that are a review and a stretch for students. The variety of skills is important because classes will always include students that have a range in skill that is larger than we would prefer.

Students begin their morning message after they put away their backpacks and other morning tasks. They will complete as much of the message as they can independently.  My favorite "I" word.

After taking attendance, lunch count, and dealing with unplannables, I go over the message with my class.  Although students know they do not have to finish the message during the work time, I do expect them to try their best to answer as much of it as they can.
Students may not be able to answer everything. We will go over the message together at the end of the work time.  Something that seems hard today will seem "easy peasy" another day.  All it takes is a little practice.

Messages review important skills.  You will find skills that may be introduced earlier than you teach them or above grade level.  This is why I think my students bloomed when I began using this method of morning messages.

Skills are reviewed day in and day out.  We went over the message together at the end of our morning work time.  Students could correct their message if they made a mistake.  That immediate feedback is important.

A mini lesson is like a t.v. commercial. Students retain information from commercials because they are short and repeated.  It is so effective that companies spend millions of dollars and Congress passed the Children's Television Act which regulates the minutes of commercials during children's programming.

You will be surprised when you see some of your lowest performing students begin to bloom when you incorporate morning messages.  When I wrote messages on chart tablet or on the white board, I found that:
  • There were days that I forgot to write a message.  Oops!  There goes the schedule.
  • My messages were not always the best quality. 
  • My students were looking at MY message but did not have THEIR own copy of the message which meant more off task behavior.
  • Students did not have a copy of the message for fluency homework.
  • It was crazy time in my class when the unplannables happened at the beginning of the day.
Send home the message for fluency homework.  Perfect when you have an assembly, field trip, or other activities that prevent you from meeting with your reading groups.
Would you like to try a week's worth of FREE leveled morning messages? Click here and let me know on TPT what you think.

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