Good Morning, Friendly Workers!

Question:

In many classrooms, the morning message chart is an important part of the beginning of each day and the first place that students go as they enter the classroom. On the chart, students find a greeting from their teacher, some news about what they’ll be learning that day, and an activity which invites their participation. The message acclimates students to the day and helps them to feel excited about what they’ll be learning. We asked several teachers and one principal to share samples of their morning message charts and to highlight some of the key elements.

Comments:
  • Every day I think of a new and unusual way to greet the students. Depending on what we are studying, I might refer to them as merry mathematicians or super scientists or friendly workers. The children are always eager to see how I will address them and it offers an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary words. I use two different colors to write the message so that each sentence begins with a new color. This helps students to understand where one sentence ends and the next one begins.
  • After a few weeks, I begin to make punctuation and spelling errors in the message. The children enjoy finding them and fixing them. By making some of the same mistakes every day, even those students who struggle with editing tasks will begin to recognize the errors.
  • I always end with an interactive component which the children love. It’s a great place to practice new skills and to learn about each other.

Cynthia Basta teachers a first/second grade loop at Rockland Elementary School in Topton, Pennsylvania. Cynthia sees the morning message board as a “valuable teaching tool with many possibilities for practicing and assessing students’ academic skills.”

Comments:
  • The first few lines follow a predictable pattern all year long with only slight variations. Even the youngest children quickly become accustomed to the format and begin to recognize and read familiar words.
  • My intent in the second paragraph is twofold. First, I want to generate discussion about a topic of interest to everyone in the class. We are just finishing building a model of an owl and I want students to revisit an earlier discussion we had about how we might make the wings flap. By putting Jesse’s question on the chart, students have a chance to think about the question before discussing it during Morning Meeting. My second intent is to present an example of a question, especially an open-ended one, which is something we’ve been working on during language arts.
  • We are building the school in the block area. At the bottom of the chart I encourage students to talk with other group members before Morning Meeting and to sign up if they feel ready to share their work with the group.

Deborah Porter teaches a combined kindergarten/first grade class at Heath Elementary School in Heath, Massachusetts. Students in Deborah’s class build literacy skills by reading the morning message every day with older students helping younger students.

Comments:
  • I want students to see themselves as learners, so I always begin by greeting them as learners.
  • Around the middle of the year, I begin to write the message in script. Those who struggle to read this at first get help from classmates. As children learn to write in cursive, I ask them to respond in cursive as well.
  • I try to make the board visually interesting by using different colors and designs for the interactive part of the message. I might use squares or clouds or circles or hearts for the response bubbles. I often use this section to reinforce a lesson from the previous day.
  • Students feel a certain amount of comfort when they know what is going to happen during the day. I always include a paragraph which announces any special activities or changes in the schedule.
  • I end the message with reminders of morning responsibilities and a final reinforcement of the idea that we are all here to learn.

Carolyn Bush teaches fourth grade at K.T. Murphy Elementary School in Stamford, Connecticut. Her morning message charts “always emphasize the role of student as learner.”

Tags: Arrival time, Building Classroom Community, Engaging Academics

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