June 23, 2016

Morning Messages for Independent Readers

Starting the day with a Morning Message is key in many classroom. While a fill-in-the-blank style Morning Message may be ideal for beginning and emergent readers, teachers working with independent readers have a tricky job. How do you keep the Morning Message fresh and engaging without going crazy coming up with a new idea each day?

I've found that third graders and up benefit from reading fun facts and contributing to a related chart. I keep a collection on my desks of cool facts and ideas to use over year after year. They include a main idea and some details for support. Using these cards makes it easy. During the school year I keep a list of subjects I think kids will find interesting. It's an ongoing process that takes just a moment to record.

Our cleaning crew only washes our whiteboards on weekends so I get a head start and write my message before leaving the night before. I DELIBERATELY make errors in my short message related to skills I've recently introduced or want to review. Next to the message I create some sort of graph or chart related to our day or make it a way to interact with the message.

In my room I greet students at the door. It is expected each one will read the message, contribute to the chart then sign up for our Daily 5 or Literacy rotations (discussed here) first thing.
After attendance and lunch count we conduct our Morning Meeting. As we review our Morning Message we identify errors then discuss WHY they are errors and correct them. A student leader then uses the pointer as we all read in unison. In 8 short minutes I've modeled editing skills, discussed grammar literacy skills and context and got in a bit of fluency practice. This process is valuable!

Keeping a list of topics to cover each year makes crafting a meaningful Morning Message for your independent readers a snap. You could keep your ideas on index cards on a ring. I'm sharing my Morning Message Idea Collection at my TpT store. If you're looking for ways to get Morning Meeting started check out my blog post here.

I'd love to hear how you keep your Morning Message engaging for your BIG KIDS. What sorts of strategies to you use to keep from getting burned out?

June 21, 2016

The Pointer Collection: A Variety of Tools for Tracking Text

To beat the heat this summer I'll be sharing things I plan to change or tweak in my room. Today I've been thinking about my readers and a simple way to help them.
A while back I started a collaborative Pinterest board called Pointers and Trackers Kids Want to Use.
I went through those pins the other day and it's a great collection of ideas. I teach a grade when most of my cuties are newly independent readers. Here's the rub. Most of them think pointers or text trackers aren't cool. Well that's not cool because I know they will still benefit from tracking!
Last year I kept it simple. Each kid got to decorate a popsicle stick to keep in their Book Bin. I found many kids used it because they made it. When the novelty wore off kids were allowed to trade if they wanted. This made it interesting again. I'm looking to my board to start collecting fun pointers to use during Guided Reading.
Here are the ideas I like a lot.
witch finger
Popsicle stick
drink stirrer
easy readers
Laser fingers

A few years back I bought a bunch of witch fingers at the dollar store. I gave them to the kids at the end of the year. Here are the contents of one of my student's book bin. You can see the finger.

I bet you all have ideas too. Are you interesting in joining my board? The rules are fairly simple. Pin no more than two related ideas a day. Follow the board then leave me a note either in the comments below or on my TpT thread with your Pinterest name.
Check it out some ideas may spark your creativity.
I also welcome any ideas you may want to share on how to integrate pointers and trackers in your routine so it isn't a battle.