I love Morning Messages! It is a teaching tool that helps set the tone for the day and welcomes the students into the classroom. It also helps establish the routine with the students. Morning Messages are messages or notes that are written to the students. Often they are written by the classroom teacher, but students can be asked to write the Morning Message as well. The intention of the Morning Message is that all the students will read it as they enter the classroom in the morning, so it is typically written on a large piece of chart paper or on the SmartBoard. There are so many topics that can be included in the day’s Morning Message – the options are limitless. For example, you can share a fun fact that was taught during a science lesson that the students were excited about or you can make predictions about the weather for the day. When I use Morning Messages, I like to include an action step at the end, letting the students know what they should do once they have put their backpacks and coats away and are ready to sit down at their seat. This way, the students did not need to ask me what they should be doing. Below, are some reasons to include Morning Messages into your teaching – whether you are teaching remotely or in person.
Builds and Maintains a Classroom Community
Building a classroom community where the students get along is important. The Morning Message can help support the classroom community. I once worked in a school where all teachers in grades K-5 were required to have a Morning Message and a brief Morning Meeting with the students each day. Having a shared document for all the students in the classroom enabled the students to feel included and part of the classroom. Each student learned to read the Morning Message so that they did not miss anything that was shared. One suggestion is to be creative and shout out what individual students are doing well with in school or share something that happened to a student outside of the classroom. For example, when one of my students shared that he scored a goal in a hockey game over the weekend, I included it on the Morning Message during the following week. I have also included countdowns to upcoming school breaks – that is a fun way to keep the students involved in the classroom community!
A Form of Authentic Communication
Morning Messages should be something that the students are excited to read. Additionally, this is a form of communication that does not come from a teacher’s guide, but instead is a message to the class addressing what is happening in the classroom. One thing to be aware of when writing Morning Messages is that you do not want to talk down to the students. Instead, use real language that reflects and extends what the children know.
Extend into a Discussion and Review Previously Taught Word Work
Before jumping into the content of the day, one suggestion is to take a few minutes to discuss the Morning Message as a class. If you want to have the students practice their reading fluency, you can invite them to read the Morning Message with you – as more of a shared reading experience. As you are reading the text together, point to the words so that the students are following along. After reading the text together, you can discuss the content of the message and point out any language patterns. When teaching younger, emergent readers, you can review beginning letters and sounds. For example, “I see a word that starts just like Matteo’s name! Do you see a word on today’s Morning Message that has Matteo’s letter in it? That word is “many” – let’s say “many” and “Matteo” – listen to what you hear at the beginning – Many . . . Matteo. What letter makes that sound? YES! M. So, when you are writing a story and need to write a word that has Matteo’s sound in it, you will write the letter M – just like in our Morning Message.”
For older students, the Morning Message is a great time to point out spelling patterns that are commonly misspelled or misunderstood. For example, one year, I included a poll for a favorite dessert in a Morning Message. The goal including this into a Morning Message was not to learn about my fifth graders favorite desserts, but to authentically teach the difference between dessert and desert. When discussing the results, I told the students that we love desserts, so we need the extra s in the word.
Act as a Form of Communication with Families
Do parents want to know more about what you are teaching in class? Are you trying to find ways to connect with the families in your classroom? One way you can do this is my taking a photo of one of the Morning Messages and emailing it to the families. This way, you are extending the morning message beyond the classroom walls and into the students’ homes. This can also serve as a mentor text to the families. Invite them to write a Morning Message to their kids one weekend morning – giving them directions for what to do when they wake up and an idea of what will happen during the day.
How have Morning Messages supported the students in your classroom? Send me an email or comment on Instagram with ways you have used Morning Messages in your classroom!