Thursday 18 October 2012

Morning Meeting Ideas and Fall Freebies

Thank goodness for Thursdays that are Fridays! :) We have a professional development day tomorrow, so no kiddies! It's a nice little break.

I'm going to admit that the beginning of this year has been difficult for me.... combine moving to a new school with a large class of needy/weak students, and I have been stressing out since September. I just haven't been able to get into the groove of things and feel like I'm constantly one step behind! After my resource teacher popped in for a few lessons on personal safety, she commented on how emotionally needy my class is. I think that was the moment I decided to make some changes--for myself and my students.  

I really want to work on creating a strong sense of community, so we are starting each and everyday with a morning meeting. There are three parts to our meeting:

1. Greeting--We gather in a large circle to say good morning to each other. Today our greeting consisted of turning to the person beside us, shaking their hand, looking in their eyes, and saying, "Good morning, ___!" Very simple, but important skills for students to practice! I have eight EAL students in my room, so practicing oral language skills daily is super important for them as well! I have been collecting a variety of fun greetings, so we will change it up every few days or so. Eventually I might let the star of the day choose the greeting. Responsive classroom has some great ideas for greetings you can download here. I found some other cute greetings here too.

2. News & Announcements--This just consists of going over the daily schedule and talking about important upcoming events. Pretty simple!

3. Activity--My school is using the program Second Step this year. It is a social-emotional learning program that focus on learning skills, empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. I really like this program so far... it comes with cute puppy & snail puppets and large scenario photo cards. So far we have finished the first unit on learning skills. We have talked about good listening, focusing attention, following directions, and asking for help.

I found that the morning meeting really got us off to a good start! We started the day smiling, laughing, and talking about the things we wanted to accomplish that day. I found that the rest of the day just flew by and everyone seemed to be in a happier, calmer mood.

At the end of the day I implement the 3 H rule: "Say goodbye with a hug, handshake, or high five!" It ensures I make a connection with everyone at the end of the day too.

Now, to work on our noise level, I picked up this awesome idea from Teacher Tipster! Today we started the whisper bell. Just an ordinary bell. When the voice level gets a bit too loud, I ding the bell and the students whisper "whisper bell" (accompanied with jazz hands). The first time it happens is strike one. If they get three strikes/dings, then it's five minutes of NO TALKING! Eek! If we make it through the day without getting three strikes, we get to pick a number for our prize bingo (fantastic idea taken from the lovely Miss Kindergarten). We are hoping for a pajama party!!

This week we have been talking about fall. It's been a lot easier since the snow melted! Now we're just stuck with gloomy rain. Yuck! So I made up this little five senses fall book. It's called "Fall is here!" and each page has a sentence frame: I see, I hear, I feel, I smell, I taste. We brainstorm a list of ideas together, then students choose one to write and illustrate. You can download the book {here}.

I found this cute fall poem on Kinder Latino's blog. You can download the student version (in English and Spanish!) from her blog {here}. I made some larger poetry cards to use in the pocket chart. You can download them {here}. We did some shared reading together, then students glue the poem into their poetry book. We keep our poetry notebooks in our book bins. I love seeing the kids take them out during read to self or read to someone time!

That's it for tonight. Off to watch Grey's Anatomy! :) Happy Friday!


  1. Sorry you are having a draining year! We have all been there. Kuddos to you for stepping back, assessing and taking the time for social skills. We use second step as well.

    I am having a book giveaway on my blog. I would love you to enter:) Enjoy your workday!

    The Resourceful Apple

    1. I love books! I will have to come check it out. Thanks! :)

  2. I can relate. I've got a hard class this year too. Hang in there! I LOVE class meeting. I've been doing a version of it for a couple of years now. GREAT!

    1. Glad to hear I'm not the only one.... :)

  3. Morning meetings are such a great idea! I hope your kiddos earn a pajama party, it made me smile to see you using behavior bingo :) and I love your fall book!!

    1. I hope we earn a pajama party too! That means I will have to go shopping for some brand new pajamas. I love new pajamas. Hehe :)

  4. Amanda, it sounds like you and I have similar teaching styles. I've been doing morning meeting for years and love it. We always a include a song and it's such a happy way to start the day.
    I like the whisper bell idea. I may need to use that, too!
    Have a great weekend!

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers