Friday, December 30, 2011

Morning Message in Upper Grades

I am a firm believer in repeated teaching.  I teach small ideas, in small chunks and constantly revisit those ideas.  (see Calendar Math for a math example)  In language arts, I have decided to incorporate "Morning Message" into my day.


I know, I know.  I can hear the gasps from the upper grade teachers now.   But don't worry, it isn't the same thing that  they do in Kindergarten and 1st grade.....well, it isn't totally the same. 


Click the picture for an upclose view
Each morning, when the students enter the class, they find a "Morning Message" pre-written and waiting to be picked up in the front of the room.  This friendly letter is written to both preview the day, as well as help all of the students practice the important standards they must know as 5th graders.  

As I am writing the message, I am embedding the key skills that the students must practice.  Figurative language, parts of speech, sentence combining, and basic grammatical skills can all be found in the messages.  When the students are reading them, they are to be identifying the different grade level skills, fixing any mistakes they come upon, and combining any sentences that need to be combined.  All of this is done within the first five minutes of entering the room.

Once they have completely "revised" the letter, the students are then to write back to me on the lined side of the paper.  Here they are not only practicing their writing skills, but also are using the skills that they learned in the message itself.  If, for example, the message of the day focused on conjunctions, the students will be instructed to include a few conjunctions in their own writing.  It is a good, in context way to learn the language arts standards.


After about 10 minutes of working on this, we go over it as a class.  It is here where I am doing the "small teaching".  We find mistakes, focusing on the convention standards they will see on the state test.  We talk about figurative language and what it means in context.  We discuss how to combine different sentences in different ways, in context, and exactly as they will see it on the CST.   All of this takes no longer than 5 minutes.


I know they won't internalize it in one day, and that is ok.  The next morning we start again. I put the same skills and standards on it and the students get a second (and third and fourth) shot at those standards, in context


This is just one example of how I have tried to maximize my minimal teaching time.  Have you done something similar?  I would LOVE to hear about it.

19 comments :

  1. Very good idea! I could totally do this with my second graders!

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  2. Most definitely Kelley. I started using morning message when I was teaching in a 2/3 team and saw the benefits of it in the upper grades (when I went back the next year...2nd was NOT for me ;) )I couldn't believe I hadn't been using it all along. There are so many great ideas that are done in the primary grades that have adaptations in the upper grades.

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  3. WoW - this is going to take a lot of thought and work. What a blessing it'll be as you advance their skills in this practical way!!

    Barbara

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  4. Barbara -- it does take a lot of work. I guess I should have written that in my post. ;) However, the work is TOTALLY, 100% worth it. The students learn the skills so completely, that the pay off for the work is a million fold.

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  5. You have such great ideas but they require so much paper!!! The copy Goddesses at my school would never approve! How do you do all of this????


    Lindsay
    My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher

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  6. You could actually just print out the one, put it on the doc cam and then have the kids do all of the work in a notebook. I used to have them do that. The messages were just shorter and they had to copy them into the notebook.

    As for copies, we have a set limit and I make sure I have enough for my morning message, calendar, homework, weekly tests, and reading log ;)

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  7. I love this idea so much!! Even though I teach first and second grades, I don't do a morning message... I've never been in a classroom who did a morning message, so I don't really know what I'm doing! I should add that to my "things I need to do before break is over" list... learn more about morning messages! :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

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  8. Love the constant revisiting of skills! So needed for students. One idea that would be fun is having a student or pair of students each week be the writer and compose your morning message for you! :)

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  9. Oh...I love that Lori. I wish there was a like button on blogger!

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  10. I love message time! I don't get to do it miuch with the older kids but writing them a letter is a great idea! I am going to incorporate this into my reading workshop time!
    Thanks for sharing

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  11. Stephanie, This is great idea! My Kinder students loved morning message and it really helped them. It really helped when I gradually released them into sharing their own writing and peer editing from the class. Love this idea and I love how it is geared to the older kids.

    I am borrowing this one, too! :)

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  12. Do you write a different message everyday? I feel like I would run out of things to say to my students. Do you just tell stories in your life? Also, could you send the template for this? jcmoha@gmail.com Thanks!

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  13. This year my school has started using Dictado. It is a dictated paragraph (one sentence per grade level). The students have the same Dictado for the week. On Monday I introduce the Dictado and go over the corrections/focus skills. Tuesday and Thursday students practice reading and writing the Dictado with a partner. Wednesday I read the Dictado again. Friday is the test. The focus skills for the Dictado each week come from the students' writing and the needs I see. It's also a great way for me to reinforce other content skills along with the ELA standards. I LOVE IT!

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  14. This is a great way to integrate the dreaded "test-prep" into our daily schedule without forcing so many test release questions down our students' throats. I actually excited about using this morning message to teach these high priority standards in context. Thanks!

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  15. This is a genius idea! Thanks!

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  16. I love this idea. Do you have more samples of what you have written? I would love any that you have. Thanks!

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  17. I love this idea, and would also like to see a few samples of what you have written. Do you have any? Thank you!!

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  18. I think this made all the difference in my students too. I use our mimio board and try to incorporate our read-aloud book's characters or a pretend dialogue between my students. I like the idea of putting it in letter form though. I think I will try doing that on mimio, go over it together, and then have them follow-up with a return letter in their journal to me...using the criteria of including whatever specific standards for the day. YOUR BLOG IS SO HELPFUL! Do you have blogs this good that you follow yourself??

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  19. I teach 6th grade science and for years I have used something similar-I call it the DIN (do it now) which is a brief activity;a question or two, vocab. matching/definitions, 3.2.1. summary, brainstorming, MCAS question etc... I use it to introduce a new concept, or as an informative assessment, and sometimes its the same as my ticket out at the end of the class to see who really paid attention! It also allows me to assess the learning from the previous day and quickly review any key concepts that are needed. Sometimes I even use this DIN time to have students set up their 2 column notes, draw a top down web,a graph or copy a data table which I use at some point in the period. While students work on this 10-15 min. activity, I am checking, or collecting homework. Like you said, every minute counts! :)

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