Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Morning Meeting Greeting: What's the News?

At my school we do Morning Meeting. 

Although most teachers were already pros at it by the time our current principal came along 3 years ago, it was new to me!  I felt like a fish out of water because it was such a stark contrast to Lorainne Monroe's "Do Now," teacher-directed, "leave your baggage at the door and do what the teacher says without a word" philosophy of my previous school.  My teaching style tends to fall somewhere in the middle of this wide spectrum!

By the end of the second year, I felt invested in Morning Meeting.  My principal had modeled how to run a meeting sitting in a circle in our rug area, having a fun greeting, share time, an activity, and making announcements.  I researched lots of activities to do for the "game" portion and greetings, and this year I've done a pretty good job of mixing things up.  Since every group of kids has a different dynamic, my fourth graders this year have different favorite "go to" activities this year from last year, and by far our favorite greeting has been, "What's the News?"

I have a very chatty class this year.  Even my most attentive listeners love the opportunity to talk, talk and talk some more.  So hearing their news is always interesting.  It always sparks great conversation.  And it always means that Morning Meeting runs the risk of lasting a half hour.

I know, I have the option of limiting the number of students who share.  I'm just always afraid of missing really important news.  I'd hate to listen to a kid talk about, "yesterday I got to go to the mall" while that other kid who isn't chosen that day gets no opportunity to voice, "my baby cousin was born," or "my dad was in a car accident."  Besides, everyone needs to be greeted.  And I know, I could have them partner up to greet each other at the same time...but it doesn't work.  They all stop to listen to each other and then feel bad when they run out of time listening to each other.  So once I started this tradition of sharing our news, it was hard to get out of it!

Then I thought about another strength of my class.  They enjoy technology (and as you can guess by the fact that I have several blogs, so do I).  This year was my first year using a classroom blog that is for them as opposed to their parents, and they're teaching me how to use my new iPad that was donated by the PTO.  I realized not only is technology a huge hook for them this year, but also what I really needed was to borrow from a well known website that is geared towards quick updates.  Something that would allow students to all be heard, but only for a moment. 
Hence the birth of our Twitter Board!

I'd seen another teacher create a Twitter bulletin board outside the classroom for the beginning of the year with sentence strips, so I thought about how I could improve on her idea.  I inherited that pocket chart when I started teaching at my current school, and it's always been under utilized.  So I laminated some sentence strips to put in the pockets.  Each strip has a student's name on it, that way they can each write only one "Tweet" per day, as soon as they come in in the morning. 

It is a work in progress teaching them how to put their news under the last person's news, and how to start fresh on a new day, covering yesterday's news but not anyone's news for today (there are fewer pockets than kids, so we have to accept there will be "overlap," but so far there hasn't been a day when more than 10 kids have news to tweet).   

Overall it's been a big hit!  For one thing, when I told the kids that, "Although I love hearing all your news each day, I feel like we're sitting in the circle for too long each morning," they emphatically agreed!  Since introducing this system, I usually get at least 6 kids who want to Tweet, so all I need to do for our "share time" is to run through the Tweets myself.  Between this and my Morning Meeting Shares sign up system, I feel like I've finally gotten a pretty good handle on managing this routine!  The kids are as glad as I am that Morning Meeting moves along at a quicker pace and we can move on to math each morning, (this month it's been fractions, which you can read about on my other blog, Shut the Door and Teach) without squashing anyone's news.   

Do you have any sort of "share time" in your class?



  1. What a unique spin on morning meeting. I really like this idea. The sentence strip forces them to keep their news direct and to the point. I find I have trouble with students going on and on, without getting to their point. This would work wonderfully. Thanks for sharing!

    Eclectic Educating

    1. Thanks, Amy :) It really is amazing, for all the work we do trying to get kids to find the main idea of a text, they are NATURALS at it when it comes to their own news written on a sentence strip! I am loving how it gets them interested in practicing this skill.

  2. My grade partner has a FaceBook status board in her class that I have been admiring for a while now. Your Twitter board is another awesome option. I really want to do something like this in my classroom. I just have to decide if I want to do it after testing is over or start fresh with my new class in September. Thanks for sharing, Stacy @

    1. I say do it! I started it late in the year. When there's a need, don't be afraid to make a change. It keeps things fresh and interesting :)

      Also I chose Twitter instead of Facebook since the whole point of Twitter is a limited message size. It takes creative thinking to fit a whole message into a Tweet!

  3. Great idea! I love the pocket chart an reusable laminated strips!

    I just love "The Morning Meeting Book" and "Doing Math in Morning Meeting," both by Responsive Classroom. Before morning meeting, we usually have a message on te white board that all kids respond to via post it notes. Sometimes the post it notes form a graph, and other times we read them out loud. Sometimes I just read them. No matter which way it is done, each child is "heard" each day :)

    1. I've never heard of Doing Math in MM, but since we do calendar math, I'm interested. I have a hard time getting Every Day Counts in along with MM because both are so teacher directed/whole class activities. I'll put this on my summer reading list!

  4. I love your Twitter board! What a cute idea!

    I can tell from your post how much you care about your students and what they have to say. Thanks for sharing your great ideas!

    1. Thanks, Peanut :) It took me a while to warm up to MM, but now I can't imagine eliminating it from our routine. I hope we get to keep it for a long time to come!

  5. Just a little addendum:

    Yesterday I wrote above, "I'd hate to miss a quiet students' news about their dad being in a car accident." Well today one of my students said nothing the first 15 minutes of school as she came in and we all got ready for MM. We sat down, I read through the board with them, and sure enough, she'd written, "My grandma and I were in a car accident yesterday." Weird coincidence! (They are both okay, btw!)


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