Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Student Led Morning Meetings in the Primary Classroom

Hey guys!  I stopped designing signs for just a minute to bring you this blog post!  This topic (and several others) sat on my TO DO list ALL SUMMER long!  Please tell me I am not the only one who feels like they accomplished nothing this summer? ;)

Before I start, be sure to like our Creative Teachers page on Facebook & IG!  I have teamed up with some amazingly talented teachers to bring you some awesome designs for your classroom and home!

Okay, onto morning meetings!  I have posted about morning meetings before but I wanted to do a refresher with some new content!  Click here to see my other posts!

My morning meetings are completely STUDENT LED (as are most of my activity after the first 2 months of school)!  I plan to blog soon about my calendar time (which is also on the neglected TO DO list!) and how I teach my students to become teachers... even as far as handling classroom management issues!  Yes, it's true.. and this is FIRST GRADE!  **Teacher Heaven** moment!

So, morning meeting consists of 4 activities...
1. Greeting
2. Sharing
3. Activity
4. Message

In this post I am mostly going to talk about the first 3 and how I teach my students to lead this.  As most of you know, I use Whole Brain Teaching so some of that will be incorporated into this post as well!

Once all your friends are sitting in a circle, it is time for a greeting.  You can choose the greeting or have a designated student choose (their choice or have cards/sticks for them to pull).  Some greetings do require my assistance such as hot potato where I am needed to play and stop the music.  I do this from my computer so I take charge but if you have a music player, you could even have the students do this part.

It will take some time to introduce & learn different types of greetings so initially, you will need to model and lead this part (usually for the first 6 weeks... longer or shorter depending on your class).  

The greeting is basically just a welcome.  Students say good morning to each other in a fun way.  There are SO many ways to do this!  Click here for over 1,000 ideas for morning meeting greetings!

Once students know the greetings (and they will end up having a couple favorites), you can designate a "morning meeting helper" or "morning meeting greeting helper" to choose and facilitate this part!

In this video, we did our syllable good morning where students choose someone to say good morning to & clap the syllables in their name... incorporate learning wherever you can, right!

From 0 - 1:30 are the students saying good morning to each other.  I did choose the student here.  I was on maternity leave for 3 months and this was shortly after I returned.  However, even if you choose the student to start, choose the first person to share, and choose the activity, as you will see in the video, it is still mostly the students doing the work!

I will have a morning meeting helper this year added to my job chart!  I will update this post with a new video of students leading without my help AT ALL in a couple months!

Watch from 0-1:30....

This portion is where students can share something.  You can decide what they share OR it can be a general sharing session.  Some ideas of teacher led sharing would be:
~ What did you do this summer?
~ What is your favorite animal & why? (complete sentence practice!)
~ Tell us something exciting you did this weekend?
~ What are your plans for winter break? 

In 1st grade, students usually want to share everything so another thing that needs to be taught initially is to keep it short!  I tell students if you tell us everything, no one will have questions!

So in the beginning, I call on a student to stand up to share.  When the student stands up, the class gives them an encouraging cheer.  The student shares something (in one short sentence!).  Then the student says, "I'm ready for questions and comments!".  

Teaching this process takes the longest!!

Then I allow them to call on 3 people.  In the beginning of the year, they are still learning each others names so this is a good time to practice that as well!  If they want to call on someone but do not know their name, I have the student tell them their name & the student standing up will repeat it.

Then the student sitting down can ask their question & the student standing up will answer.

Help them call on 2 more people.

Once 3 questions have been answered, the class will say, "Thank you for sharing!" and the student who was standing will say, "Thank you for listening!".  Then that student calls on another student to share.

I let 3 students share each day.

There is a lot of coaching needed at this part in the beginning but as you can see in the video, once they get it, I'm in teacher heaven!!!  (And honestly, sometimes I use this time to finish getting things ready for the next activity ... or drink coffee!)

From 1:30 - 4:40 is the sharing portion of our meeting.... so calling on 3 people and letting them call on 3 people might seem like it would take all day, but as you can see, once they get used to it, it only really took 3 minutes!

Watch from 1:30 - 4:40

This is the part where you play a game.  As an adult, I find that it is easier for me to get into a meeting or conference if we have a game or ice breaker beforehand.  Kids feel the same way!  So have fun with this part! 

In my video, we play Koseeki.  In this game, one student hides & then I (or your morning meeting helper) chooses another student to be the "leader".  The leader starts with a motion such as patting their legs.  Every so often, they switch the motion.  But they have to be sneaky about it so that the student who was hiding does not figure it out!  The person hiding gets 3 guesses to find the leader.  I always encourage students to be creative with their gestures and there is no talking!  This is one of the favorite morning meeting games!

You can see some of the game from 4:40 to the end...

I have created some games that my students & I love!  You can find them HERE!  I incorporated sentence building & team building into a fun activity that my students beg to play!  And there are different ones for each month so my students get so excited when I bring out the new sentences!

Here are some more ideas for morning meeting games!

This part also takes coaching and you need to teach the students all the games first.  Try as many as you can and then feel out your class for their favorites!  Once they get comfortable with one game, try having the students lead it!

The keys to student led activities are MODELING & PRACTICE!

Remember it will take a good 6+ weeks to get them to lead their own activities!  Be patient and model the behavior you expect!

I hope you all have a GREAT 2016-2017 school year!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

What is APTT?

Is your school using APTT this year?  Many schools are adapting this new way of conducting parent teacher conferences.  APTT stands for Academic Parent Teacher Teams.  For the past 3 years, I worked in a priority school where West Ed was our consulting firm.  They introduced APTT to us and I was one of the pilot classrooms for the program.  

Like all new things, many teachers (and parents) can be resistant to this change!  Most of our district still does traditional parent-teacher conferences so it was a struggle to get parents to understand what we were doing here!  I came up with my own letters trying to explain the process, spent time at the APTT meetings explaining the shift, and made plenty of phone calls yet I still had many parents who just wanted to schedule traditional conferences.  Don't get me wrong, one-on-one conferences are still a part of APTT and they are important, I just do not think they are necessary for every student.

So as you may know if your school has adapted APTT & you have attended the trainings, APTT is a group meeting where you establish relationships with parents & they establish relationships with each other.  You share student data (using numbers for confidentiality) and set goals for each student.  These meetings last for around 2 hours (3 times a year) so you get enough time to talk with parents as a group, present a skill, play a game, and talk with parents individually.  

It is always awkward at first but once you get through the ice breaker, most parents have loosened up & by the end of the meeting, you may have trouble getting parents to stop talking & go home! 

(This is what you want! ... when your custodian comes in to kick you out, you know it was a success!  Just prepare to stay late on APTT nights!)

Anyway, if you are on this page, you have probably gone through the training & got the West Ed resources but you have no idea what skill to focus on or what activity to send home, right?

This was the hardest part for all of us transitioning to APTT!

As a 1st Grade teacher, I chose to focus on sight words & addition.  These are skills that students NEED before they leave my classroom for academic success!  But what activity could I prep for 26 students that wouldn't take weeks to prep or cost an arm & leg?  And what could I play with parents at a meeting that would not be too hard to understand?

So, this is why I have created some resources for you!  All of these are ready to print & laminate, have a complete list of materials needed, & include teacher & parent instructions!

Click the pictures to view each product!

These resources are made for K-2 and have plenty of options for each grade and for differentiation!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment!