Many (far too many) years ago, I decided I wanted to do a morning message with my class. Participating in a shared literacy activity builds classroom community and academic skills. In many K-1 classrooms, teachers do a full shared reading/writing activity. I didn’t want anything that intense. I thought a “Question of the Day” format would suit my purposes well. The kids could come in and answer the prompt as part of their morning routine. We would then discuss their responses at the end of Morning Meeting. That first year I actually did this maybe 20 times. It just became one more thing I had to remember to do each night before hauling my pile of grading home (or in the morning before running to an IEP). And the lesson we learn here, ladies and gentlemen, is that IF IT’S NOT ALL DONE AHEAD OF TIME IT DOESN’T GET DONE!
So the next summer Em and I put some effort into compiling a year’s worth of morning messages. To help with organization we assigned each day a theme: Math Monday, New Term (vocabulary) Tuesday, Word Power Wednesday, Think About it Thursday, and Funny Friday. We wrote prompts to fit each theme that correlated with our curriculum map. (There are definite perks to teaching the same grade in the same city as your sister!) We tried to make each prompt open ended (or at least multi-ended) so kids didn’t just copy another student’s answers. We also tried to inspire creative thinking.
We printed off each day of the week on a different color. Then we organized a file box. Each month had a hanging file. Within the hanging file were 4 folders: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.. We put each week’s papers in the appropriate file. In the mornings we posted that day’s prompt on the easel for the kids to respond to. If the month had 5 Mondays we’d just use a page from the next month or choose a prompt from the “Special Days” file. These are prompts about making good choices, specific holidays, classroom management, etc. This system worked well for several years.
We made a full color version and as well as a black and white version, like we used before. The color version is in Powerpoint form so you can display it on your projector or smartboard but you can also print it out from there if you want printed copies of the color messages. The black and white version is in PDF form.
At the bottom of every page there is core documentation. The only note here is that we classified our Thursday thinking questions as CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.1, “writing and supporting an opinion” which may be a bit of a stretch since they’re only writing a sentence or two at the most! But the questions are so valuable for thinking and discussion that we couldn’t bear to leave them out even if they weren’t exactly matched to the core.
Here’s an example (from September) of each day of the week (in color):
In the full color version:
– 35 weeks of powerpoints (9 months, 4 weeks per month except December, which has 3)
– Each month has a unique color scheme. Each day of the week has a unique design, which is repeated. For example, October Monday 1 and January Monday 3 have the same striped design, but a different color based on the monthly color scheme.
In the black and white version:
– The daily PDFs are saved in groups as “September Mondays” “December Fridays” etc. This makes it easier if you wish to print a certain day of the week on a specific color, like we laid out above. But you can print them all out and organize them any way you wish.
Both the color and black and white versions are included in the purchase file. And each version includes an alternative set of non-Christmas related December riddles.
You can download the ENTIRE month of September in the preview of the messages on Teachers Pay Teachers. This way you can see the variety of questions that you will see throughout the year.
We also put together two FREE sets of extra morning messages. One set is holiday related, hitting days like the first day of school, Halloween, etc. If Halloween falls on a Wednesday and you don’t feel like putting up a word related question, you can use the Halloween question if you wish. The colors of the holiday messages coordinate with the color scheme for the month in which the holiday falls.
The other set includes questions related to classroom community topics like behaving in the lunchroom, welcoming new classmates, and preparing for a field trip.
Download the free Special Days Morning Messages. (Note: this freebie is already included in the download file of the full set of morning messages.)
Have you ever used morning messages in your classroom? We’d love to hear how you use them!