Friday, July 19, 2019

Morning Meeting

In recent years, Morning Meeting has become my favorite part of the day.  I believe it's because I put more effort into learning about it and making it a meaningful time for my students.  You see, when I first started teaching, I did a daily Morning Message, but that was it.  Then as years went on, I would add in a few things until I had basically created a Morning Meeting time.  Three summers ago, I read a great book, shown below (affiliate link), about the Meeting.  It helped clarify why I was doing what I was doing and helped me streamline the components of the Meeting.  Today I am going to share with you how I run Morning Meeting.  I do try to follow the recommendations as much as possible, but I also like to include a few of my own things.  The Morning Meeting should last 20-30 minutes.  I will break down the time frames for each component below.  At the end of this post, I have linked all of my Morning Meeting products, including a FREE planning pages pack, to help you organize your Meetings!

Component 1: The Greeting (5-7 minutes)

The first component of the Meeting is the Greeting and the first thing you want to teach is MANNERS!  Just like adults, kids need to know that it's polite to smile, look into someone's eyes, and greet them in a voice loud enough for others to hear.  Practice and model this often.  Remind kids daily on what to do.  Show them what NOT to do.  

At the start of the year, the Greeting should be done whole-group.  Think kids sitting or standing in a circle and passing a greeting around.

The way the kids greet one another is what changes each day.  There are all sorts of greetings out there.  You can even make up your own!  Some of my favorites are pass the ball (students roll a ball to a friend and say good morning), silly voices (students pass a cup of name sticks, pull one, and greet the chosen child in a silly voice), and fist bump (self-explanatory).  I have compiled some of my favorite greetings into a little pack of cards so that I can have them handy each day.  There is no scrambling around to choose a greeting.  As time goes on, your kids can become more independent with the Greeting, but it still needs to be explicitly taught, modeled, and monitored...give kids free reign and they will go wild!  One of my favorite ways to teach this is by giving the kids something to be accountable for.  For example, I might say, "Your greeting today will be a friendly handshake (model).  You will find a buddy, shake their hand, look into their eyes, and say Good Morning (model).  Then, you will ask them how they are (model).  Finally, you will ask them what they did last night (model).  You will be sharing with the class, so pay careful attention to what your partner told you!"  After everyone has had a chance to greet one another and find out about each other's nights, I call the class back together.  I pull name sticks and ask the chosen name who they greeted and what they told them about their night.  Another thing I like to do for a Greeting is to pass out my Emoji Matching Cards and ask students to find their match and greet their friend by saying hello and answering a specific question (What's your favorite color/animal/subject/etc...).  Afterwards, I pull the class back together and repeat the accountability process as mentioned with the friendly handshake greeting.

Be sure to keep the Greeting fun and interesting all year long!  You can even start having your kids choose the Greeting each day!

**I also have this little Greeting poster that can be placed by your door to greet students as they arrive.  It can also be used for Morning Meeting!**

Component 2: The Message (10 minutes)
The second component of the Meeting is the Morning Message.  This is where you either write out (on chart paper or dry erase board) or type out/project a message/letter to your class about the day.  Kids thrive on predictability and LOVE hearing about what they will be doing each day!  You can be as creative or as basic as you want with the message.  I personally love hand-writing the Message each day.  I change up marker colors for each sentence to make the Message more visually appealing.  At the start of the year, keep the Message short and to the point.  As time goes on, you can add more sentences and make your Message longer.  I also enjoy incorporating some academic content into my Messages.  This can be as simple or as involved as you want.  Depending on what we are working on, I may leave out letters, words, punctuation, etc...I may also add some Math facts to the bottom of my Message as a spiral review.  The kids are obsessed with coming up and sharing the pen with me!  **MR. SKETCH markers are always a class-favorite!  Worried about mistakes?  I got you covered!  The Post-It Cover Up Tape is amazing!  I've linked it for you below (affiliate link). Once I have first read the Message to the class, we re-read it in an echo-reading format.  This ensures that I am modeling fluent reading.  As the year goes on, I call kids to come up and read the Message for us to echo, using a fun pointer.  They have a ball with that!

Morning Message Essentials!
(affiliate links)

Here's a super-fun tip:  because I write my Messages on chart paper, I hate to throw them away, so when I finish a spiral tablet, I rip the pages out and send them home with the kids.  They LOVE playing school and reading them at home.  By the end of the year, each child has received quite a few!  **The parents tell me the kids have a blast with them! 

Component 3: The Game/Activity (10 minutes)
The third component of the Meeting is the Game or Activity.  This can be as simple or as involved as you'd like.  The main thing is to have the whole class involved.  Some of my favorite games are "Who's Missing," a game where one person goes into the hallway and another person hides.  The class moves around to change where they are sitting and the person in the hallway comes back inside the room.  He/she has to guess who is missing from the group.  I also enjoy playing "I Have, Who Has" with my kids.  It's great for speaking/listening and vocabulary development.  I have compiled some of my favorite games into a little pack of cards so that I can have them handy each day.  

*I'm going to be perfectly honest here and say that many days, I do a read-aloud instead or in addition to a game.  This does extend the length of my Meeting by about 10 minutes, and I am ok with it.  I usually give a Go Noodle brain break before the read-aloud to get the kids up and moving.  Other than our after recess Junie B. Jones chapter-reading, my kids don't get to hear a story for enjoyment.  I also have so many great holiday read-aloud books that I love to share with my students!  Because of this, I choose to use part of my Morning Meeting time to incorporate a read-aloud.  

Component 4: The Share (5-10 minutes)

The fourth and final component of Morning Meeting is the Sharing.  I prefer to do this round robin for most of the year in first grade.  I have the class sit in a circle and I give them a sentence stem to start.  For example, "Over the weekend I __________________" is a typically Monday morning share for us.  Sentence stems help kids who may have anxiety about speaking aloud.  They also help students who are slow processors.  The stem takes a lot of the think time away and allows students to focus on just a few words about what it is they want to share.  Some other examples of sharing round-robin are "My favorite color is________," "I have ________ pets," "I have ______siblings" etc...The possibilities are endless!  You can also incorporate academic content into sharing.  For example, "Share one thing you learned about _________ yesterday."

As the year progresses, and for me I typically wait until 3-4 quarter, the share can become more independent.  I model this the first few times, sharing various events or things that are special to ma and allow kids to ask me questions about what I've shared.  When the class is ready, I choose one child to share and sit in the "share chair" aka my chair.  They can share a few sentences about whatever they would like.  Their share is followed by questioning from their peers.  The students in the class are taught how to ask open "yes/no" questions.  *I got that tip from my awesome teammate, Jenna!  I post questions for students as a guide (they come in my sharing cards pack).

I also have a sharing organizer that I prefer to send home the night prior to a child sharing.  This gives them a chance to think about and draw/write what they want to share.  It helps alleviate anxiety and creates predictability.  

I hope this post has been helpful!  Everything I mentioned above is available for individual purchase as well as bundled to save you some money!  Feel free to click the images below to view each product.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Preparing for Open House

At our building, we have an Open House of sorts in August.  This is where students and families come to meet the teachers.  It is typically during the day (in the afternoon) and is a week or so before school begins.  Open House is also an opportunity for parents to drop off their kids' school supplies.  I love the format of our Open House, because there is no formal presentation; parents and kids come in, meet us, look around the room, organize their supplies, and share how their child is getting home when school starts.  It's always a whirl-wind, but well worth it.  Today's post is all about how I organize Open House.  As with anything in elementary education, the more organized and prepared you are, the smoother the Open House will go.  Over the years, I have just about perfected my system for Open House and wanted to share it with you in case you are a new teacher, or just looking to improve your current system.

First up is prep.  Here are things I do to get ready for Open House:
  • Prior to Open House, I set up bins with supply labels on them.  Think glue sticks, crayons, pencils, hand sanitizer, tissues, baggies, etc...I also have bins that say "markers," "headphones," and "pocket folders."  In these three specific bins, I have sheets of name labels.  *More on that later in the post.

Another thing that I have done in years past is place all the forms in my "Open House Board."  This is a 3-panel board that I made one summer that houses forms for parents for Open House.  They simply go to the board and take one of each form.  It's a great alternative to sorting forms onto kids' desks!

  • Also on the middle of the tables (I keep my kids' desks into groups), I have table-top sign holders.  (You can grab those by clicking my affiliate link below)  These house directions for parents in terms of opening supplies.   Asking parents to open and sort supplies was something new I started doing a few years ago and I will never go back!  The parents don't mind helping at all, and it really is a game-changer!  This has been such a huge help for me.  Because of my Rheumatoid Arthritis, opening packaging is difficult and painful.
  • At the start of this post, I mentioned that you'll want to have labeled supply tubs ready.  What I do is have my parents fill their child's supply box and then open and sort the remaining supplies in the tubs for me.  I do not put names on anything.  I do not keep track of who brought what.  We always have more than enough with the extras I purchase during BTS sales.  The only thing I pseudo keep track of are crayons...each child brings 2 boxes of 24.  They get one to start the year and one additional as needed.  That's it.

  • I prep a clipboard with a checklist of student names as well as a transportation checklist.  The name sheet allows me to make notes about things the families tell me.  The transportation checklist ensures that I know how each child is getting home from school each day.  I also lay out Sharpie markers, safety pins,  and "Transportation Tags" for my families to complete.  They quickly complete a tag for their child and place it on his/her book bag prior to the first day.  This allows any adult who may see this child wandering the hallways to take them to their classroom.  

  • I also ensure that my classroom is presentable and ready.  This is by no means necessary, but I do want to get my kids and families excited and what's more exciting than seeing a clean, organized, and prepared classroom ready for the first day of school?!  Teacher Tip:  In more recent years, I've learned NOT to tape name tags down.  Oftentimes, parents will tell me that their child is BFF with the person I randomly sat next to them.  Or they may tell me the opposite about their child's relationship with their new "neighbor."  In addition, some students do not show up and then I have tons of stuff with their name on it.   Instead of taping name tags down, I lay them on the desks.  This allows me to switch them around as needed.  The only names I put up for Open House are a class list outside my door and cutouts on my door with kids' first names.  Both of those can easily be changed/removed.   I use a number system for the kids' cubbies (praise the lord for not having to re-label those every year!) and mailboxes. 

That's about it, folks!  Open House can be as involved or as casual as you want it (depending on what your administrator asks of you).  The biggest thing for me is to be organized prior to starting.  The chaos of having so many new faces in your room is overwhelming enough; the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling around the room looking for something.  I hope you found this post helpful!  


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday 6 June 30

Hi friends!  Welcome back to another "Sunday 6."  This is a post that I try to do each Sunday.  It highlights 6 events from my week.  This week's post is a culmination of a few weeks, as we were super busy in June and then were out of the country.  Enjoy!
At the beginning of the month, I treated my mom to her Mother's Day present...pedicures, shopping, dinner, and gambling!  We had a wonderful day together.  My mom is in her 70's, so at this point in her life, she really doesn't need anything.  I have been gifting her experiences for Mother's Day for the past 4-5 years now. 

June included lots of leisure mixed with fun!  We purchased a new patio set because our "starter" set that we were given when we got married 13 years ago finally bit the dust.  I am loving our new set!  I've spent many mornings sitting on our deck enjoying my coffee and breakfasts.  My favorite summer breakfast is avocado toast with hard-boiled egg whites.

I just received my Kindergarten Crate for the month!  The KC is such a great idea!  It's a subscription service and they send you a themed-box each month.  Each box includes a read-aloud picture book, student activities, supplies, and a teacher gift (or two)!  It originally began as a subscription box for kindergarten teachers, but has expanded to pre-K and first grade.  If you are interested in checking out Kindergarten Crate, click HERE!  You can always try one box first to see if you like it (or ask for a subscription as a gift!).  This month's box was a "stock-up" box.  It contained some items that teachers frequently run out of...pens, post-it's, Googly eyes, etc...I have all of my goodies in my school bag and ready to take to my classroom in August.  

We spent a week in Jamaica mid-June.  We stayed at Sandals South Coast.  It's on the South coast of Jamaica (duh lol).  This was our second trip to Jamaica and our fourth Sandals vacation.  We have been to St. Lucia, The Bahamas, and of course Jamaica.  We love Sandals because it has always felt safe, the service is top-notch, and the resorts are beautiful.  Staying at Sandals is a great way to see the Caribbean!  Our next planned trip is back to the Bahamas.  After that, we want to check out Barbados or Antigua.  Hooray! 

We travel often, and I am always on the lookout for good travel items...things that make packing and traveling easier.  I stumbled across these packing cubes a few years ago and liked them so much, I ended up buying my husband a set.  They come in a set of 5 and are a variety of sizes.  There are also 7 colors to choose from.  I like that they are lightweight.  When I pack them, I roll my clothes.  Rolling them and placing them in the cubes helps prevent wrinkling.  Once I arrive at my destination, I simply place the cubes into the hotel drawers.  I prefer not to put my items directly in the drawers in case they might be dirty/dusty. 

I also found a wonderful jewelry organizer!!!  If you follow me on Instagram (@mrswheeler44), you probably saw my Insta Story about it.  It's so compact but holds a TON.  I am obsessed with jewelry and wear a lot of it, particularly large, statement pieces.  This pouch has tons of pockets and pouches and zips up to fit anywhere! 

I also got a new backpack.  I use a backpack as a carry-on, and my prior backpack really hurt my back.  It was heavy to start with.  It was also ridiculous trying to find anything inside.  This new backpack unzips all the way around the top and fits SO MUCH STUFF!  Many pockets/pouches make storing all your items super easy.  Everything is so easy to find.  I love this purchase so much.  *It, along with the jewelry pouch, was an investment, but well worth it! 

If you would like to check out the cubes, jewelry organizer, or backpack,  you can CLICK HERE.   You'll find these in the "travel" area of my Amazon storefront.  * I only share products that I am pleased with and believe in.  Clicking my link gives me a small commission percentage.  Thank you!

As I mentioned above, Mr. Wheeler and I went to Jamaica mid-June.  Here are some photos from our trip!  *The trip started out shaky...I got food poisoning (or the flu???) the second day there and was violently ill for about 2 days.  I had to see the nurse AND the doctor (and got a nice bill to coincide).  I was given 2 medications and some drink pouches for dehydration....I made the most of the situation and pushed on, despite feeling awful.  By the middle of the week, I was able to eat (can we say $$ lost?) some.  I think I might be the only person who goes to an all-inclusive and loses weight!  Hahaha! 

In February, I shared that I have an autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis.  If you are not familiar, RA is an auto-immune disease where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the joints.  It's biggest symptoms are joint pain and fatigue.  It is also systematic and can effect major organs.  **You can read more about my diagnosis and living with the disease HERE.  I had my 6 month appointment in early June.  I was expecting the same news I had received during my prior 2 appointments: many joints are swollen.  You need to start prescription meds, etc...However, I received the opposite news!  My rheumatologist was very pleased with my progress.  I only had 2 swollen joints!  She told me to continue to do what I am doing, because it is helping to manage my symptoms.  She did mention prescription meds again, because although my symptoms are being managed, what's happening to my joints is not.  My pain comes and goes and always will.  The fatigue is a beast.  I can deal with the pain and fatigue for the most part.  With the pain, comes joint destruction.  Joint destruction is irreversible.  It can be slowed with medicine.  However, I have chosen to forgo meds.  They are just too scary for me.  Forgoing meds is a risk I am taking and I will have to live with my decision, but I am ok with it.  In the mean time, I am taking lots of vitamins and supplements.  I am also exercising 6-7 days a week.  I have become very consistant with lifting weights, because it really helps me by keeping my joints lubricated.  Overall, I was pleased with the news from my dr.  I wanted to share it with you all!